I am beautiful, just the way I am.

*Just to warn you all, this is a pretty lengthy post, so I won't judge you if you don't read it all :) it is just something that hit me pretty hard, so I had to write it down.*

Today I had a life changing experience. And when I say life changing, I mean it. In one of my classes this semester I forgot to do an assignment so I grabbed at the chance to do some extra credit. There was a lecture give this afternoon on body image in the UVU student center and if I went I got 5 extra credit points - and since my perfectionist self isn't satisfied with a B grade, I decided to go.

And I am forever grateful I went.

Quick background of myself, I have never been happy with my body - Ever. I have never been overweight or had an eating disorder, and my parents have always told me I was beautiful, but I have always struggled. My experience all through junior high, high school, and entering college has been somewhat based on my "need" and want to loose weight, and comparing myself to some of my best friends. I have thought about it at least everyday. One of my life goals I have written down is to have a "beautiful stomach at one time in my life." I look at skinny girls everyday and painfully long to look like them. On the other hand, I looked at beautiful girls who were "overweight" and I felt sorry. I have bought countless magazines with exercise workouts and "in shape" celebrities hoping that I could learn their secrets. And all this time I thought I had a healthy view of what it meant to be "in shape." I never struggled with an eating disorder or excessive working out, so that meant I was right in the way I thought.. right?

Wrong. And that clicked in my head today. When I walked into the lecture a few minutes late, here are some of the things she was going over:
  • 56% of girls think that models have the perfect body, and 40% percent of girls only see flaws when they look in the mirror
  • After only 3 minutes of reading a magazine, 70% of women feel depressed, guilty and shameful.
  • only 2% of women in the world can call themselves beautiful
  • 60% of kids have t.v.'s in their room - and over a 3 year period of time, those girls who had t.v.'s in their room had a 3x's higher rate of an eating disorder
  • 90% of all women diet, and 90% of all diets fail after one year. By failing I mean those 90% gained the weight back, plus 10% more weight. Our country is dieting ourselves heavier.
  • 14% of 5 year olds diet, 50% of 9 year olds diet, and 80% of 10 year olds diet, and 90% of high school girls diet.
  • When Jennifer Aniston was on Friends she was working out 8x A DAY to keep her body the way it was. And when she was on the cover of Redbook magazine the only thing they kept of her body was her hand (it had her wedding ring on it) and her head. Everything else was airbrushed and someone else's body. Also it's not really Julia Roberts body on the cover of "Pretty Woman."
  • Studies show that girls today are more afraid of getting fat than nuclear war or losing a parent.
I was shocked. Not only at the information that was being given, but because I understood and could relate to it. I starting realizing how distorted my view of "beautiful" was. I knew that a lot of the media wasn't real, but its hard to see a skinny beautiful woman on the cover of a magazine and not think its possible, if you work rreeeaallly hard, to look like that. You forget that its airbrushed, and start thinking of all the things you can do to start looking like that. She gave a healthier and better way to look at food and eating called "intuitive eating." Some tips she gave on that were:
  • No scales or measuring cups
  • No label reading or counting calories
  • No more dieting!
  • There are no "good" foods or "bad" foods - Everything in moderation!
  • Exercise that you enjoy
  • Honor your hunger and fullness (in takes about 3 months for you body to change from you old eating habits to know and understand when you are actually full.)
  • Eat 3 meals a day and3 snacks a day
I was suprised how hard all of this information hit me, because alot of it I had heard before. But for some reason this time it clicked. I finally understood. I left the lecture once it was over and broke down crying because I realized I could finally love my body exactly the way it is. I can focus of eating well and exercising to stay healthy, but I no longer have to focus on the numbers and how much I weigh - it doesn't matter. And I don't need to compare my body to others because what's mine is mine and what's theirs is theirs. I went to the bathroom, looked at my "love handles" and my stomach and smiled. I guess I can finally cross off that life goal :)


Kat said...

Oh my gosh, so inspiring! I think all girls need to read this post. I wish more girls would have this realization like you have had. You are totally gorgeous, Danica! Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and we just need to accept everyone. I have several friends that obsess about their weight, and other issues, and it is so tragic! It takes over their entire lives, and it's all they talk about. I get bored of hearing how their "diet" isn't working yet, and we can't just have fun and go eat somewhere because they are dieting. Get over it already! I'm glad you posted the statistics.... diets don't work, no matter how much you convince yourself that they do. Because you're unhappy when you do it, and when it's over, they gain weight faster than it took to "lose" it. You are a smart girl, Danica, and even though we all have our own insecurities to deal with, you hide yours well. :) Way to go for overcoming it. Now if I can just overcome my own..... :)

Jake & Bryton said...

you are such a darling girl. thanks for the uplifting post. i should send my little sis in this direction as she is around rockin bods in the dance world. it has taken quite a toll on her self image...thanks danica! love you!

Madi said...

missy you made me cry! its weird this is exactly what we have been talking about in sociology and in nutrition. Love you missy!

Leslie and Matthew Bybee said...

Danica I love your post! So true everyone is beautiful in their own way. I have had such insecurities about my skin and still think about it everyday. I need to adopt your attitude! Thank for the encouragement.

Jill said...

In honor of your post I'm going to make chocolate zucchini cookies ... that we can intuitively eat.


Your Mom

Petersons said...

i cant even put into words how your post has touched me... but i can say this. i am going to be happy with my body 3 kids later. and im glad your happy with yours pre kids cause it will make it easier to be happy after kids!

Dallin and Kelly Crane said...

Danica, I love you even more for posting this! I definitely needed to read it and I wish I would have gone to that lecture! You rock!

Matt and Mal said...

I almost went to this lecture but didn't! Thanks for writing about it- I struggle with this myself. You are wonderful and beautiful! Thanks :)