Striving For The Ideal Body Can Result In Permanent Damage. It did for this reporter.
I was a teenager, and my body was going through some major maturation changes. I seemed to take longer than most of my friends. You know, when it came to getting my first period and developing a “chest.” In fact, I had been made fun of by boys about my flat chest. “If you blindfolded me, I wouldn’t know which was your chest or which was your back,” was a line I vividly remember hearing on the school bus. As if I wasn’t insecure enough as a middle-schooler.
Then, I developed, quickly. And, one of my boobs grew in larger than the other. I HATED it. It was the only thing I saw when I looked in the mirror. Or, if I tried on a shirt. And bra shopping? It was traumatic. I had two completely different sizes. I knew some girls at the time were talking about getting “boob jobs” and surgery to make their chest their desirable size. So, I wished for the same, and BEGGED my parents to let me get surgery to even them out so I didn’t look like a lopsided cyclops. At least, that’s how I viewed myself.
My parents kept giving me reason after reason as to why they wouldn’t allow me to have surgery. What seemed unfortunate at the time ended up being a blessing later on. My dad was in the field of law, and had seen first-hand “elective” surgeries turn out disastrous. He would use medical terms, and tell me what could happen to me if something went wrong. I didn’t buy his reasoning. I was so angry they weren’t willing to do something that would make me feel more attractive.
After reading this story, and many others along the way, I have a new appreciation for why my parents encouraged me to embrace my body for it was. I would’ve been much worse off if something went wrong surgically, or I had permanent damage to my body. But, the problem was, I was so desperate to look a certain way, that the possible side effects of surgery didn’t matter to me.
We are born and raised in a society where we all have the same vision of beauty and of the perfect body. We strive to conform to that picture, and when we’re unsuccessful, we become extremely hard on ourselves and attempt many different strategies to reach it — exercise, diet, make-up, even surgery. But, the question I keep asking myself is, why can’t beauty be judged by the inner self? Why can’t the most compassionate, giving and caring individual be pictured on the cover of magazines like People, Cosmopolitan, or InStyle?
I, too, still look in the mirror and cringe at flaws I see on my body. But, I must practice what I preach. Or, do my best. So, when I do catch myself in these moments, I remind myself of what my mission is—and, that is to have positive body image, and recognize that we are all different. And, that is what makes us each unique and special. It kills me to know that young girls out there are feeling insecure or ashamed by their bodies. It is far more important to be loyal, kind, generous, and loving rather than looking a certain way. Character over appearance is a major emphasis when given the opportunity to speak.