It takes a lot for women in society today to feel beautiful, and that’s a shame. I have fallen to the media’s portrayal of how women should look too. I use the word should loosely, because women shouldn’t have to look a certain way to appease anyone. But why is the media telling us how to look, diet and exercise? It took me a long time to find peace with my body, and I don’t think that journey is even close to being over. Some days are easier than others, but I have come a long way from my self perception in high school. Everyone has a journey, and there is importance in learning to love yourself and your body.

The journey to self love is long and can be daunting at times,especially with the messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis. “10 diet tips to help you get a summer body” or one of my favorites from Cosmopolitan, “When he shouldn’t see you naked.” Really? What kind of message are we sending to ourselves and young girls? I remember the first time I picked up a cosmo and I immediately thought I wasn’t good enough after reading through it. I realized that I wasn’t tall enough, comparing my 5 foot stature to that of a 6 foot models. I realized that I wasn’t toned enough and was automatically considered fat because of it. The media has hurt us, granted they are taking steps to change, but it’s slow and we are still seeing these images of societal beauty everywhere.

It took me a while to finally realize that I am beautiful for who I am, and I shouldn’t let a magazine, TV show or movie persuade me to think a certain way about myself. When I went away to college, I saw so many different body types on women. My biggest issue was trying to be just like them and that made it harder to accept my own body. I can’t grow five inches or change my eye color, but I can change my own mind into accepting myself just the way I am.

This journey to self love hasn’t been the easiest, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It takes time to accept yourself for who you are and to not let outside influences change what you see in the mirror. For me, this has been more of a process than anything, and other people need to know that it won’t be an easy one. At almost 21 years old, I am still struggling to have confidence in myself. But I’m not alone, especially with the media influences we have today. I have to give certain celebrities props for standing up for their beliefs on body positivity, because they are under intense scrutiny to comply to an image many of us know is impossible. There shouldn’t be a set body type for anyone, no matter how you identify yourself in this world.

For those of you reading, I hope this perspective has helped you realize that you can reach your own potential, not outside potential. I know it takes more than one writer to change your mind on this subject, but I want you to know that you are not alone in this process. You can’t change every single thing about yourself, and you shouldn’t have to. You are you, and no one else will ever be exactly like you. That’s amazing and wonderful. We are all so unique. We need that.

We aren’t what we see in the magazines, and we never should be.

We are more than our bodies and that is what is important. We’re special. We’re more than an expectation that was forged into our brains as teenagers. For men and women, we shouldn’t have to worry about what “societal norm” we need to comply with, especially not in regard to physical appearance. We need to learn how to love ourselves above all else. We need to find the love we won’t find in the magazines, because the only place it truly lives is in each of our hearts.

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