by Samee Callahan Feminist Wednesday University Ambassador
Body love. Wow, what a wonderful, magical, powerful phrase. When I see phrases like “body love and acceptance,” I immediately feel inept and uncomfortable. Why can’t I accept my body the way it is? Why am I so worried about what other people think of me? It took me far too long to figure out how I was going to write this article because I don’t know how to feel completely comfortable in my own skin. While pondering the ways that I fight against beauty standards, it hit me. Although I am not entirely body confident, I have come a long way in a short couple of years.
Throughout high school, especially during my senior year, I woke up two hours before school started (that’s a 5:30 a.m. alarm, people!) everyday to look my best. There was not a day that I wasn’t wearing shiny silver “smoky-eye” eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, liquid foundation, powder foundation, and bronzer. Let’s not forget the hours in front of the mirror that I spent trying to perfect the art of backcombing my long, always newly dyed hair. Inside, I was a mess. Maybe, subconsciously, I thought I had to make up for that mess on the outside.
Since I was 14 I have worked a part-time job. I could lie to you and say I did this in high school because I needed to help my mom with the bills, but really, I did it so I could have fun and look good. The amount of clothes I would buy was absurd; I always had the cutest outfits. Although I was a good bargain shopper, I spent the majority of my paychecks on clothes and makeup.
Back in high school, I not only didn’t love my body, but also, I was unhappy with myself. Constantly being compared to my confident, genius brother was (and still is) a huge battle that I felt I could never win. I turned to boys (yes boys, these guys were definitely not men) to help me feel better about myself. The relationships I had with these boys, for the most part, involved them using me for my body and me using them to temporarily feel good about myself. But of course the relationships would end and that temporary feeling of confidence would disappear until the next guy came along.
Now, I am a sophomore in college. Let me tell you this right now, I am a RIDICULOUSLY different person than I was in high school. I have feminism to thank for that. It takes me 40 minutes to get ready in the morning and that includes showering, moisturizing, mascara, powder foundation, styling my pixie cut hair and eating breakfast. I should also mention that this is the first time since 5th grade that I’ve worn my own natural hair color. It’s a rare occasion when I actually get to buy clothes, and when I do it’s professional clothing for job interviews and what not. I no longer need a man to make me feel good about myself, but it has helped to have a man that has taught me how to love myself.
I’ve never felt as connected with the power and strength of my body as I do now. I know I have a long way to go before I can confidently say that I love my body, and that’s okay. One day, instead of feeling uncomfortable when I see the phrase “body love,” I’ll feel empowered and confident. What a beautiful thing body love can be.