My Journey To Self Love

Well hello there!


It's been a while since I've been on here to write, and I've been meaning to come back for so long. There's been many drafts written and then deleted, never really making it out into the world. I've felt like I have so many things I want to talk about and that I want to share but I just didn't think it was the right time. One topic in particular has kind of scared me to discuss because I'm not really sure if there's going to be backlash, but today I'm going to work up the courage to write about it and share it.

This post has come about because I was contacted by a member of the Dia&Co. team, a company that keeps body positivity and self love dear to their heart. It is always so inspiring and warming when I hear about companies that make it their mission to make their customers feel good about themselves. Dia&Co. does this with not only their personalized style boxes but by creating a much more loving shopping experience. As someone who has worked in retail and as an avid shopper myself, I know that dressing room can be such a daunting time that it often discourages you from going in. I think the most terrifying moment when you're in this little square box with a sales associate standing right outside questioning your every move, is when you put the clothing on and it emphasizes everything you determine as a flaw. And I want to tell you a story about how I've began the process of learning to love those parts of me.

In October of 2015 I started to feel that something was diagnostically wrong with my body. I went to the doctor and was sent for some tests, but nothing came back. So for the next few months I dealt with whatever it was that I had day by day. December brought upon a whole new set of health issues and I went to the hospital, where I was told that my inability to consume dairy was just the flu and to go home a rest. This was the beginning of my decline, not only in my health but in my self love. For the next few months my diet went from being mostly dairy to trying to avoid it at all costs, and that brought upon a substantial weight loss. I felt good about my body and how everyone was talking about it, until they asked how and I had to explain my dietary issues. I worked dairy back into my diet but for some reason my appetite was so suppressed that it was really hard to eat. By September of 2016 I had lost double the amount of weight that I had lost by March. And I had no reason for it.

The thing about losing weight is that everyone thinks it's the extremely great thing. And it is... when you can really spend the time learning to love your body and how you look during the process. I would lose weight unbeknownst to me until one day I'd want to wear a pair of pants that I bought a few months earlier and they'd just fall off. I went through the roughest confidence journey I have ever been through, even including in high school. And let me explain why.

I lost weight, but I also lost my depiction of femininity. I have viewed the ultimate woman as someone with curves and big boobs, because that's what I had for so long. I knew how to dress myself to accentuate those parts of me to really express how feminine I looked. I never did my makeup, my hair wasn't a big part of my routine, because I never felt that they were determinants of me being a woman. I relied so heavily upon this view of my body that when that body wasn't there anymore I had no idea how to feel like a woman. 

The first thing to disappear on me were my boobs. I have been known for having big boobs for as long as I could remember, and all of a sudden I felt like I had nothing. I remember so badly wanting smaller boobs in high school because they gained so much attention that it became an embarrassment to me. But now that I had finally gotten what I wanted, I couldn't stand them being smaller. In part that had to do with how much my waist to hip ratio had dramatically changed as well. I always believed that my hips were bigger because of how my body was built and not because of where I happened to carry weight the most. But as I lost weight my hips shrank, losing the small waist bigger hip image I had grown to know and ultimately love. The person looking back at me in the mirror was not me, or rather the idea of what I was supposed to look like. 

So I dove into the world of makeup and hair. If my femininity couldn't be proven by how my body looked I was going to make sure that my beauty routine did. Over the last year and a half, I've probably spent more money on products than I probably have on paying back my student loan. I threw my money at clothes that showed more of my body because that's what someone who's lost weight is supposed to do, right? As time went on I began to really hate myself and the way I looked. A fear of gaining weight grew which along with it came a fear of eating and that brought upon a fear of losing even more weight. I had such a horrific view of what I could become in terms of my appearance that I would completely shudder whenever someone mentioned my body. I thought constantly about how before I lost weight I loved my body, and how after having lost weight I hated my body, and what kind of ridiculous situation was that? Everyone I talked to about it thought I was crazy because that's not the way it's supposed to be.

Writing this seems so strange to me because I'm constantly surrounded by people that want to lose weight so they can be happier with their appearance. I constantly get told that "if only I could have your problem" or "I'll give you the weight I've gained." It used to destroy me because there was nothing more that I wanted than to have my old body back. These people wouldn't understand my troubles even if they tried because they determined their self worth so much on the bodies that they wanted they couldn't see the bodies they had. And then I stepped back from this wicked world inside my head to realize I was doing the exact same thing that they were, just at a different angle than they were coming from. 

I started my journey of self love by looking at all of the things my body does for me. I am a human being with a body. I am alive, I am breathing, and I am more than just my physical appearance. That was my first mindset. If I could learn that my self worth wasn't determined by the way I looked than I could make bigger and better leaps forward, and so I did. But then it came down to really understanding to love the person in the mirror. My body has changed immensely, there's no doubt about that. There are parts of my body that I absolutely love and that I am so infatuated with I can't even get my mind around it. There are parts of my body that I have worked really hard at to like, such as my smaller boobs, and that I continue to work really hard at to be in love with. There are parts of my body that are not my favourite but I am doing my best to remind myself that they will be loved as long as I continue to strive toward complete self acceptance.

My journey of learning to love my self and my body hasn't been a long one. I've only just started in comparison to the amount of self hatred I have gone through. But something I tell myself each day when I get dressed is that my body exists so that my soul can function on Earth, regardless of how it looks. If I have learned to love the person I have become and all of the things that have made me into that person, than I can learn to love the body that person comes with. But my body does not determine the amount that I can love, the amount of kindness I can give out, the amount of joy I can spread, the amount of good I can do. And neither does yours.

I am so thankful that Dia&Co. has asked me to break down the walls I've built around my thoughts to get the courage to share my story with you. I hope that you, the one sitting in front of the screen reading this, can get inspiration to start your journey to self love from reading this. And I hope that you, along with me, will learn to face your fears, fashion or not, because we all deserve the rewards that come from doing so.

Until next time...
P.S. Connect with me on social media!
Twitter: @mbaynham_
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