At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.
Love is within; it is something that no other person can provide, no material object can eternally cover. Self-love is the root to success. In order to make it in this world we have to be willing to stand outside of the norms of hating our bodies, and, with a bold face, start a revolution of loving ourselves. I now take every day not as just a blessing to be thankful for, but I also look at each morning as a new way to spoil my body. I don’t necessarily mean by shopping for new clothes or getting all the new makeup, but instead I mean thinking of new ways to spoil my inner and spiritual body. What grains can I eat to benefit my physical body today? What time can take out of my busy day just for meditation to spoil my spiritual mind? My life is different because I no longer look at my body as a decoration, but as a working machine. ~Sarah
One of the main ideas I will keep with me from this class is the concept that beauty is not defined solely by physical appearances. Considering what I truly believe are beautiful traits or characteristics was different and somewhat difficult at first. I felt as though everyone, including myself, was conditioned to believe that beauty is solely how symmetrical your face is and how white your teeth are and how slim your waist is, but I have learned that it is truly so much more. I believe that to be considered beautiful someone must be positive and enthusiastic. I am also attracted to intelligence because I love being able to hold conversations with people who are articulate and knowledgeable. Discussing my definition of beauty with other people was refreshing and empowering as it opened my eyes to the fact that I meet my own definition of beauty. ~Samantha
So many times in this world we are judged for the length of our eyelashes and expected to keep contained the unique qualities that make us who we are. There is no rationality to judge and yet we all do it, every day. We don’t know what our side-glances and backwards comments do to another individual. We have no idea what is going on in that person’s life and how they internalize our silly judgments. Honestly, we all need to feel accepted. But there is no one path to acceptance. There’s no “perfect” skin color, face, body…perfect doesn’t exist. Trust me, that’s not a bad thing. Unique exists though…Stop comparing, stop envying, and stop judging. Devin
Life is tough, society is tough, and, with bad things going on around me, my focus on myself should be positive. In the midst of all things bad, I can be good. I am good. That is what I learned from this class. I learned that things happen in life and people say things, influences influence you, but at the end of every day the only opinion of yourself that matters is your own. Molly
Thankfully, I believe the world is promoting uniqueness more and more each day. Beauty is not something we earn, not something we can apply on our faces and not something we must work on. Beauty is something each one of us already possess. Devin
One of the things that surprised me those most this semester was what one of our guest speakers said, she said “I realized that there was one day in my past where I looked my best and I never knew it. I never took advantage of it then”. That was when I realized that I do that. I get stuck in constantly judging myself and comparing myself to others when I could just love myself for who I am right now. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, what could happen to me or what my body will be like in the future, so shouldn’t I enjoy the things that my body can do right now? I can run and jump and hike and swim, things which not everyone can do and I am blessed beyond belief to be able to do those things right now – so why am I not doing them? This was my “aha” moment. The moment when I realized that who I am right now is a blessing, not a curse and I should love my body accordingly. Rachael