I am no famous actress or celebrity. I am just your average 42-year-old woman.
For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to lose weight, maintain my weight, and be thinner, more toned, fitter, and sexier than every woman in at least a five-mile perimeter.
Sad, maybe, but it’s true.
It started at the ripe age of 12, when my best friend swapped me for the new blonde, blue-eyed, modelesque girl in the neighborhood.
As children, we are egocentric, which means when something around us is not right, we internalize it and think it is because of us; it is our fault.
So obviously, it was my fault my friend dumped me. I was not as thin, blonde, or cool as her new best friend.
I have always had an athletic physique. Compared to my siblings and most girls my age, I looked plump and rather muscular, even as a child. I hated it with every fiber of my being.
Unfortunately, no one sat me down and explained that while we are all the same in many ways, we are also unique in many other wonderful ways.
After this occurred, I started dieting and exercising a lot. Only it was not to stay healthy and feel good—like I do now—but rather to become a woman I was never meant to be.
Over the years, my body has resiliently survived all the crap I put it through: extreme calorie restrictions, single-food-group diets, liquid-only diets, paleo diets, vegetarian diets, 21-day diets…the list goes on. At one point, I stopped eating altogether because, you know, what was the point?
I lasted two whole weeks before one night I got legitimately scared.
I was lying in bed awake, listening to the beat of my own heart. It drummed so damn fast and hard that at one point, I thought I was having a heart attack. In terror, I got up, ran to the kitchen and ate tablespoonfuls of sugar until I resuscitated myself. I was 16-years-old.
I have made myself sick and scratched my skin bloody—such was the immensity of my self-hate at one point.
I have worked out most days of my life. I played basketball, cycled, ran, lifted weights, did calisthenics and aerobics, Pilates, yoga…you name it. I squatted until my butt was perky and my knees were raw.
I have worn special pants to make me sweat and lose pounds of water weight, wrapped myself in stupid “magical” inch-loss wraps, scrubbed my thighs until they were purple, and lathered myself with smelly anti-cellulite creams.
Ironically, all the while was I working in the fitness industry for years, many of which I felt like a complete and utter hypocrite. I know I am not the only ex-fitness professional who has felt like this.
Yes, I achieved the body of a goddess for many years. I had toned legs, the “two eggs in a hanky” ass, the six-pack abs, and lean and toned arms.
I was the object of admiration and jealousy. Some women hated me, others wanted to be like me. Friends and complete strangers constantly asked for advice: “How do you do it? Can you help me lose weight?”
If I had invested half the time, thought, energy, action, cash, and other resources in building up my self-esteem and an authentic and meaningful life, I would not have suffered as much in every other area of my life.
The price we pay is astronomical when we want to be someone else—when we don’t love ourselves.
Self-improvement is one thing, but the radical abandonment of our true essence is another entirely—denying and disowning who we are in favor of some ideal.
Religious or not, I believe the latter to be the greatest sin we can commit as human beings; it is an insult to the people who lovingly brought us into this world.
It’s like being a hummingbird and wanting to be a tiger, just because it is in fashion.
You hate yourself, you say? Well, you are going to suffer until you let go of that nonsense and learn to love yourself as the incredible miracle you are.
How do we learn to love ourselves with all the media crap out there telling us we are not enough?
For me, it was removing it from my life, and constantly reminding myself that it is just that: toxic crap. It’s bad sci-fi, and at the end of the day, it’s not real.
How do we deal with all these unattainable beauty parameters?
Today big lips, big butts, and exploding breasts are “trending.” Tomorrow it will be androgyny.
How do we keep up with it all?
Well…we don’t. We stay classic, classy, and healthy. We remain true to ourselves.
I write these words from the bottom of my heart, and if they help you or any other beautiful woman stand in your power, then so be it.
Don’t be like me, don’t wait half a lifetime to love yourself.
Bonus: 108 Little Things to Appreciate about Being Single.
Author: Gizi Aparicio
Image: Youtube Screenshot
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 1: Yoli Ramazzina
Supervising Editor 2: Catherine Monkman