March 03, 2020
Loving My Own Body Despite Being Told the Opposite

Her journey to loving her own body involves unlearning what she has been taught about her looks by her own mother.

by Orrik Ormeari
English
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The journey to loving my body is a long and unfinished one. I've been struggling with how I view my body throughout my life, as I have always been insecure about it. I remember exactly the day I felt ashamed of my own body. It was in my teenage years, when my mother found out that my butt had darkened and that it had some stretchmarks. I had been a tomboy then and had never really paid attention to my body, but it made me ashamed because I didn't know what had happened to my own body.

It was only recently that I found out the cause of this. Apparently, several factors can cause parts of our skin to darken, including hormonal imbalance (which was what happened to me, as diagnosed by my doctor), genetics or tight clothing. The last one is what I always explain to my students: regular friction between the fabric and the skin can cause skin cells to die faster, leaving darkened area on the skin. It is a natural cause and effect and is normal.

Still, having known this now, I still feel conscious of my imperfections. My dark complexion, the darkened areas on my skin, my body hair. My insecurity comes from the need to be accepted by the opposite sex. Maybe it was because an ex-boyfriend once commented and criticized my body. Or perhaps because I am still not fully accepted by my own mother, who always criticizes my complexion and reminds me that men have certain standard when it comes to women. It makes me even less confident about my look.  

Kate Winslet said “As a child, I never heard one woman say to me: ‘I love my body.’ Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend. Not one woman has ever said: ‘I am proud of my body.’ So, I make sure I say it to Mia (her daughter), because a positive physical outlook has to start from a very early age”.

Her remark makes me think about how parents can affect a child so much. Our earliest childhood memories are the ones that we remember the most. If our parents show us how to love and respect our body, we will do just that. People might say a lot of things to bring us down throughout our lives, and, yes, some comments will hurt us, but in the end the earliest messages we have received and internalized will win this internal battle.

If my mother had encouraged me enough to love my natural appearance, I might be less self-conscious about my look. And if the media are not so powerful in influencing our perception, we may appreciate the varieties of bodies much more. Perhaps women will stop comparing their looks to other women’s.

The journey to loving my body is a long and unfinished one. I am still unlearning notions that have long been embedded in my mind. I am still learning to love my body. I keep in mind a friend’s advice to stand naked in front of the mirror and feel every inch of my body; to caress and thank it for accompanying me throughout all these years. I will do this advice from time to time.

What about you? What’s your journey to loving your body?

Orrik Ormeari is someone who believes there are many perspectives in an issue, and that is why she tries to keep an open mind (although sometimes it’s easier said than done).