Thoughts on Body Image and Self-Love

Writing by Haylee Penfold // Photograph by Chiara Baldassarri

There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk about, to share my opinion on, for quite some time but never really found a way to share it– that is, until I came across a human named Gala Darling. Darling started Radical Self Love, a project that began in her bedroom but is now a worldwide movement. Check it out.

Darling tells her story of struggling with depression and an eating disorder until she was 23, at which point she shocked (and impressed!) herself, dealt with her disorder, and eventually kicked it to the curb. Afterwards, she basically saw the world from a new perspective– one which inspired me quite a lot. So, with the inspiration of Radical Self Love from Darling, I want to talk about YOU loving YOU.

“Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first” -Carrie Bradshaw

A few months ago, I’d have found self-love a crazy concept, because these days, loving yourself and accepting your own beauty often seems to be seen as selfish and self-absorbed, when in all honesty, it’s healthy. Girls that accept compliments seem to almost be looked down upon; everyone is expected to say, “No, I’m not, but thank you!” An online social-experiment was casually conducted by young women, the results of which speak to my point on just how frowned-upon self-love is with this generation. Gweneth Bateman decided to reply to messages she’d receive from males complimenting her on her social media websites with agreement, but her acceptance was criticized and insulted! (See for yourself.)

Something I’ve noticed about being a teenager in this day and age is that the view on beauty feels like it’s being mutilated– played with and almost destroyed. If you look on covers of magazines, you’ll see nothing but skinny, Photoshopped models. Size 10 is considered “curvy,” and the pressure on teens to have that almost impossible-to-achieve model beauty is ever present. It’s as if society has shaped an image of beauty that is impossible to fit, setting MANY up for failure and disappointment in themselves. But my question is, why do we have to fit that image? Fit your own image of beauty.

If you don’t like wearing make up, don’t. Acne is common and natural in teens, as a side effect of the maze of hormones racing through our bodies, so why the shame behind it? It’s normal; it’s no big deal. Just like hair– if you’re a girl and you haven’t shaved your legs in a week, so what?! It’s 2015 for crying out loud! Is it really that shocking that females have hair in places that men do too? If you like your weight as it is, that’s fantastic news! I’m really happy for you; it’s okay–it’s GREAT– to love your body! The truth is, not everyone can or should be the toothpick thin models in magazines, but you can be YOU and you are beautiful.

If you’re struggling to find positivity in your body image, I have a challenge for you. Every day, look in the mirror, and find one thing you love about the way you look– it can be as small as a freckle on your left cheek or something bigger like your hair or your stomach, anything! But the next morning, find something new to love, and embrace your own beauty.

The fact that teens rank their beauty on the amount of “likes” their photos receive on Instagram upsets me; what’s so important about numbers on your social media profiles? And without fail, the trends I see on social media are ridiculous– things like thigh gaps, flat stomachs, and box gaps–things that aren’t important! While your own self-approval is more important than the acceptance of the boys you may be hoping to impress, I can still tell you that I’ve had a guy tell me, in 100% honesty, that they couldn’t care less if girls have a thigh gap or not.

So, if your thighs touch or your stomach isn’t flat– it’s okay, and it’s certainly not the end of the world. This generation has gotten so caught up in society’s standards of beauty that we forget that people are all different– and we find different things beautiful. Whether you’re tall, short, curvy, or thin, I guarantee someone out there finds you beautiful– and there’s no better person to love your beauty than yourself.

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Hayley Littlefield

Hayley is a 24-year-old artist, poet and flower picker from the United States. She was raised by the sea and the woods and did not grow up. Currently she is working on a collection of poetry, making ornaments to sell on Etsy, and conquering her fears. She believes beauty is everywhere and Ian is her love.

Chiara Baldassarri

Chiara Baldassarri is a 26-year-old Italian photographer. She loves to represent her emotions through digital and analog photography. Find her on Flickr, TumblrFacebook, Behance, and her website.

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