As the summer months approach, the weather is finally becoming nicer and it seems like summer might actually come. I feel it in the air, I feel it when I look outside and I feel it inside myself.
The warmer weather has always been difficult for me. I love the season but hate what comes along with it. My body image issues don’t take the winter off, but they are definitely more prominent in the warmer months.
A version of me
Last year, around this time, I was in a motel in California. I was supposed to meet my sister at a festival but I had been trying on outfits for over an hour and was no longer able to look in the mirror.
From the minute I’d arrived in California, I’d spent a lot of time comparing myself to other people and all I could think of was how I was not good enough. I was alone in the room, sobbing. I texted my sister to tell her I could not come; I could not leave the room. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I ended up becoming so angry, I ripped a dress that didn’t look good on me.
I tried to reason with myself. I was in another country; this was an opportunity that would not happen often. I forced myself to go outside and just walk around the perimeter of the motel. I walked over to the pool area and looked at all the people. These were the people I had been comparing myself to since I had arrived. These people were who I wanted to be.
To me, these people were beautiful, but they were all different kinds of beautiful. They all had different types of hair, different body types and different styles. I wondered, for the hundredth time on the trip, why I couldn’t see the good in myself the way I can see it in other people.
I wondered why I am unable to notice the good in others without making a comparison to myself. This creates barriers, because I am in a competition that only I am aware of, when the other people have been nothing but nice to me.
I am constantly comparing myself to a version of me that doesn’t and probably never will exist. I don’t like who I become when I feel like this. I don’t like being unreliable with plans because I might have a breakdown beforehand and end up cancelling.
Trying to motivate myself
That day in California, I forced myself to go back to the motel room and get dressed. I ended up meeting my sister and having a great time. It makes me sad to think that I could have missed that experience because of my insecurities.
I thought about all the things I have missed because of my insecurities. That day, things worked out, but a lot of the time they don’t. I miss so much. The problem is, when I do find a solution, it’s only temporary. The mantra that helps me one day is useless the next. I find clarity so often, only to wake up and have it disappear.
I wasn’t even looking for summer clothes, but I got so upset in one of the changerooms that I began to cry and left the mall out of embarrassment.
It has been almost a full year since I was in California, and as the weather is warming up, situations like the one at the motel are happening more often. The other day I went to the mall to try to find an outfit. I wasn’t even looking for summer clothes, but I got so upset in one of the changerooms that I began to cry and left the mall out of embarrassment.
I walked the hour and a half back to my house instead of crying in an Uber or on the bus. I wore my winter jacket the entire time, even though I was overheated, because I was too self-conscious to take it off.
When I arrived home, I went to my bed. Days like that make me so tired. It can be exhausting, trying to motivate myself in new ways each day. I’m sure it gets tiring for my friends to try and motivate me, too.
People still love you
It is hard to talk about body image without sounding shallow. It is hard to talk about it without sounding judgmental. I find it hard to write about things like this because it doesn’t seem like there is an end. I can’t write about a solution that works.
I think the important thing is to keep trying, to keep waking up every day and trying new things or creating new mantras to feel better. Even though it is tiring, it’s important to try again once you are finished resting.
For me, it is also important to say ‘thank you.’ I feel immense gratitude for my family and friends who help me through these situations. I am thankful for the store employees who are nice to me and try their best to help when they see that I am upset. I am grateful for the Uber drivers who don’t say anything about me crying in the backseat. All of these people make it possible for me to continue waking up and trying.
I know the warm weather is hard for others, too. I hope they are able to keep trying and keep motivating themselves. I hope they have strong support systems. I hope they are as lucky as I am to have people that do their best to help.
Today, the thing that helped me was something a friend of mine said. I was talking to her and said something along the lines of, “I wish I wasn’t like this,” and she said, “But you are like this and people still love you.” It was the most comforting statement, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I often forget that I am the only one holding myself to these impossible standards. So, in case anyone else needs to hear it: Even if you don’t love yourself right now, people still love you.