Today I looked in the mirror for the gazillionth time and asked myself if I was pretty. Not out loud in the obvious way, but subtle in the way I checked my legs, my stomach, and the broadness of my shoulders. In my mind I wondered if my upper body was getting too masculine and if my weakness for food was going to overwhelm my figure.
Reality says I’m 5’3″ with long legs, a shorter torso, and a weight that puts me in a BMI range that almost counts as underweight. But I’m human. I drink, I fight (and get defeated by) cravings, I battle the bloat, and then compare myself to celebrities on their best days.
There’s a part of me watching myself criticize myself. It’s like watching a train coming, but just sitting on the tracks thinking how great it would be if you just stepped on the gas. I want to stop, but years of conditioning has made self-criticism a reflex and self-esteem hard work. In some ways, it’s paid off – I make sacrifices to stay in shape so I don’t have to look in the mirror and really hate myself. In many ways, it’s been totally destructive.
Sometimes my mom catches me looking in the mirror and feeds my insecurities. “You could tighten that up.” “You need to work on that area.” Or simply, “Get out of the mirror.” I’m sure she doesn’t realize that what appears to be vanity is practice. I’m practicing affirming my self-worth by facing the mirror and taking pride in what I’ve accomplished instead of criticizing what I can do better.
When I look in the mirror I’m noticing the dark circles under my eyes, the split ends haloing my head, and the lack of curves from my hips to my waist, but I’m telling myself I look stunning when I smile. Or that my legs are beasty. Or that my abs are really coming through. Maybe people think those are the things I think about naturally. I wish that was my actual soundtrack.
I’m trying to figure out where the line is between self-love and self-hate. Two things that seem so very different actually work together like pedals of a bicycle. The things I hate in myself motivate me to becomes slimmer, healthier so that I can feel more confident and in love with myself. But what if I was motivated by my confidence? How much more could I accomplish?