I was called string bean in elementary school because I was tall and skinny.
I've been called anorexic, but I also had a "friend" point out my cellulite in middle school.
I've never had "thigh gap."
I've cursed my legs for being muscular and my belly for not being flat enough.
I spent a summer starving myself.
During bouts of depression I've lost more than 10 pounds in a couple of weeks.
At times I've had to consume Ensure in order to gain weight back.
In the picture above I was able to easily fit into a size 0. It was after a particularly stressful time in my life and I had lost a lot of weight. I can tell you that being able to fit into that size isn't what it's cracked up to be.
That year I was set to play Titania in our ballet company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It took everything I had to be able to dance. To be able to make it through a whole class without wanting to pass out.
I was self-conscious for years about my skin color - especially during summer when I had to put on a bathing suit. I was always the whitest girl at the pool. "You should really get some sun," people said. "I need to put on my sunglasses before you blind me with your paleness."
For a long time I couldn't be skinny enough. I measured my self-love by whether or not I could see my hip bones. By whether or not my rib cage showed.
How do we learn to love our bodies?
For some of us it takes many years of practice. It takes looking at our bodies from a different perspective, a fresh set of eyes.
There are so many shapes and sizes out there, each one beautiful in its own way. Including our own.
Tall, thin, short, voluptuous, big boobs, small boobs, muscular, apple, pear, hourglass, straight up and down. No hips, big hips, small lips. Whatever.
Of course I do have thoughts that try and squeeze their way in - you should really do some crunches, your belly is looking flabby - but I just let them pass. I see my body for what it is: unique, beautiful, exactly how it should be.
I don't have to wear a size 0 to be beautiful. I don't have to have a six pack or thigh gap or be tan.
And that's not to say that women who are a size zero or have six pack abs and perfect tans aren't beautiful. That's just not what works for me. I'm not naturally any of those things.
I am who I am and I accept myself. I choose to embrace my beauty.
Just because I don't look like so and so doesn't mean I'm less beautiful. It only means that I'm different. She is beautiful in her own way and so am I.
This is my body and I can't get rid of it. I can work on it if I choose to, keep it healthy. But most of all, I can praise it because it's pretty amazing. It allows me to walk, run, dance, laugh, hug, kiss, breathe.
I'm not a size zero, but I'm tall and toned. I'm not tan, but my skin is a lovely shade of white. I'm not a super model, but I can eat pretty much whatever I want and maintain my weight.
There are so many wonderful things about our bodies, things we overlook just because society tries to dictate what's beautiful. Put the negativity on mute and let love talk for once.
What are some things you love about your body? Gush about yourself in the comments. Tell me how much you love yourself <3