Beauty is something many young girls strive for. We see it in magazines and on TV, and find ourselves wishing for that glamourized version of beauty. These thoughts develop at a young age, and unfortunately, don’t necessarily vanish, or even get better, as we get older. As a 20 something woman, I find that now more than ever, I am struggling to find the balance in my life that allows me to accept my body as beautiful. Instead, I am still that little girl drooling over the beauty I see in other women.
I check out other women possibly more than I check out men, and compare every aspect of myself to them. It can be in an influential way, like when I see an amazing outfit and I get excited to mimic; however, most times I find that analyzing other women gives me more envy than it does inspiration.
When I see a bigger woman with an hourglass figure strolling by me confidently in her bikini, I envy her poise and acceptance of herself. When I see a slim woman with a straight figure, I’m jealous that she can wear high-waisted skirts and I can’t. The truth is, even though I feel this way, its quiet possible that these women walk by and see something in me that they are jealous of. Basically it is not uncommon for woman to have misconstrued perception of themselves.
A dear friend of mine, an amazing soccer player with a gorgeous figure, had an eating disorder at a young age. Another friend, a workout queen with a perfectly toned body, will complain about how she looks in a bikini. And the one I can never believe, my girlfriend who was born with a fast metabolism. She honestly thinks that she can look bloated despite the fact that she is naturally model skinny. The reality is we simply see what we see when we look in the mirror, and nothing anyone can say, will change our perception.
When trying on clothes in a dressing room once, a saleslady noticed I was obsessing over my hips and came to me and said, “Sweetie, those are not love handles. Those are called hips, and you have them. You are nothing but woman with those curves, embrace them.” Somehow, a complete stranger can see my hips as voluminous curves, yet I continue to berate myself for what I see as love handles.
At this stage of life we know we need to watch what we eat, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and for the most part we do all of those things. The important thing to remember, even if we can’t stop dreamily staring at what others have, is to find the version of beauty that fits you. As a 20 something woman, with a full-time job, not much time to cook, and very few hours to get a good workout in, I will always be balancing and adapting to the version of beauty that works for my body.
All our bodies are different; therefore, there is not going to be one specific tactic that is the solution to all our negative body image perceptions. We can, and I encourage you to, share our own individual experiences and techniques to help give one another encouragement and ideas. But above all, I think the first step in learning to accept your body and find your own balance is to maintain focus on what specifically works best for you.
I know I will never feel comfortable strolling along the beach in just a bikini. I will always want to be skinnier and I will continue to check out and compare myself to other women. However for me, the most important thing to remember is balance. If I maintain a decent level of exercise throughout the week, while also giving myself my daily small portion of chocolate, I feel good. When I am balanced, I feel confident and beautiful, and that version of beauty fits my lifestyle and me.
Many 20 something women are learning to adapt to their new adult-like bodies, and also learning to love their body for the first time. Rather than comparing ourselves, we should find solace in knowing that we’re not alone. Beauty manifests itself in acceptance. When we start accepting our bodies for what they are and what we were born with, we can start to see ourselves as beautiful.