Body Image Series: Part 1

In the height of perfect bodies, small waists, perky breasts and a flat stomach with a big bum, it can become dangerous to flip through magazines, scroll through Instagram, or even so much as go on any social media platform. Body image is our own perception of our body, how we think and feel towards it, how aesthetically pleasing or sexually attractive we find our body, usually compared to the society’s standards of beauty. Beauty, however, is subjective. And this post is going to be about me and my personal journey with self love and self hate, and the way I see my body.

The featured image I included is one where I felt something akin to nonchalance about my body, not entirely confident or proud of the way it looks but not completely hating it either. By saying that, I know if there’s something I don’t like about myself, i should change it. But the issue here is: i can’t motivate myself enough. I will work out at most, for a week, and at the very least for three days. I want to, that’s the thing, but i just can’t bring myself to do it. I love myself though, i truly do, but i also hate myself–and by myself, i mean more my body.

In all honesty, i would love to have a perfectly flat and toned stomach with abs, hell even a two pack would suffice, and a smaller waist with more defined curves.

I wish I could say that i thought of myself as being good enough, in all aspects of my life, but the truth is, I don’t. I’m in constant comparison mode with myself and the gorgeous women I see on social media, wishing I could have their perfect figures and flat stomach. it’s not bad enough that it severely affects my mental health–it just gets to the point where I’ll go through those specific pictures, comparing myself, and thinking what I would change about myself. What i want to change.

At one point, i actually contemplated getting liposuction, about saving up for it–and not going to lie, a huge part of me still does, just to get rid of that stubborn fat. I mean i’m eating cleaner which is making me love myself more, and is making me feel better and healthier in general.

But those few moments where I dare to relax and let go of the reigns for just a day or two, and indulge in chocolates or ice cream, or even a samosa or three, I go back to hating myself. I hate myself so much, in those moments, that I try to punish myself by consuming endless mugs of black coffee–which I love and will always drink, and don’t eat until half the day has gone by. Whether its healthy or considered to be intermittent fasting, I don’t know. Because some days, I don’t eat until 3/4pm and then have fruits a little later on during the day. Other days, I binge and that makes me feel sick.

The thought of even eating makes me hesitant; I don’t count calories and i don’t think i’ll ever resort to that, because I know i’ll end up becoming obsessed with calorie counting and obsessing over how much I’m losing. I’ve been at 50kg since January or February, and it’s not gone down. I wish it would. and I wish it was physically obvious–particularly on my tummy.

Thing is, it’s not even that I’m fat, but I have fat. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being fat. But i just want to fit into my idealised version of me, or maybe society’s ideal, perfect version of sexy.

Self Hate

For years, I’d hate the very person looking back at me in the mirror. Obviously, I fall in the category of ‘acceptable’ body types, but not ‘the best’–size 10 is a good, okay size, until you notice that my stomach isn’t flat and i don’t have that line down the middle of my abdomen. When I sit, i have rolls, and yes i know that is normal and everyone has it, and it also depends on posture. (Speaking of posture, mine is atrocious–i look like a shrimp.)

By focusing on the things i hated, or hate, about myself, i am making the parts of me i love insignificant. My ex once said “you’re not attractive” to me which severely impacted the way i viewed myself following the breakup, affecting every aspect of my life–from the way i ate to the clothes i wore and how i acted. During that time i lost weight, and was 47kg which is, actually, the weight i want to go back to. For being 5ft and 21, it’s still a healthy weight.

Depression and anxiety are two battles i’m still having to fight.

So having low confidence regarding my body-image and more self hate than self love was affecting me more and more. But the relationship i have with myself is one i’m going to be in forever, really, so i can’t be letting it get damaged by hating myself and hating who i am and hating my reflection.

The mirrors and the scales are only a fraction of who i am.

Society tells us to be hairless too, and having been in a relationship where my arms were brought under the bright spotlight of silent but blatant disgust caused me to, for the first time ever since i grew hair on my arms, shave them. I never cared before then, and now i actually don’t care much about body hair–whether I miss a few hairs when shaving or not. But the way someone says something can really hit hard.

Trying to get to a place of self love from almost never-ending years of self hate and disgust took some time, and it is still a place i am struggling to make permanent.

Self Love

I know I need to change my mindset and the way i view myself, I need to become a better me, more in love with my body. Whilst I love everything else about myself, my creativity and my passion for things I enjoy doing or characters that don’t exist and trying to help make a difference in this unjust world, I hate my body. But hating my body will negatively influence my mental health, and the one relationship I will always have no matter how many others come and go: the relationship I have with myself.

Trying to love my body, when I really hate it, is so unbelievably difficult. I know I need to work on myself and that won’t come without its challenges, but the first step toward getting that self love in my body image is actually starting somewhere.

  • I need to start exercising and continue exercising.
  • I need to eat healthier and cut out unnecessary junk food.
  • I need to incorporate more mindfulness meditation and yoga into my days.
  • I need to be kinder to myself.
  • I need to set attainable goals for myself, believe in myself.

Whatever i don’t like, i can change, and by change i mean in healthy ways. Punishing myself won’t make me love myself. And for good change, i need to be able to love me and my body.

Self love isn’t a journey you can easily arrive at; it takes time and dedication and trying again and again. Failing at something once, or making a mistake, or a hundred, doesn’t make anyone any less of a person. Society’s standards of beauty are forever evolving and it should never define the way we see ourselves.

I shouldn’t let it break me or wish i looked different. But honestly, i do, and i’m going to try my best to change that–to build a better relationship with myself and my body. For me.

Sumaiya, x

Posted by:Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light. She is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Poised.

22 thoughts on “Self Love vs Self Hate

  1. I love this! You said everything I felt and feel. I’ve struggled with my body image for most of my life and this year I started actively working on loving myself. I’m so glad you posted this and I came across it. Keep it up and I wish you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much — i’m glad it was able to resonate with you! body image is so difficult to deal with, and loving yourself is a journey that doesn’t have any end, or deadline, to it. thank you for reading! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I myself got transformed from a perfectly atheletic body to a chubby body type. I gained more than 15 kg in 4 months due to certain medication. Firstly, I panicked then, after sometime seeing my girlfriend accepting me without any problems at all, all of my insecurity just vanished away and I again started loving my body.

    Liked by 2 people

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