Opinion: The rollercoaster of my body image


Ashna Haiderali

At about age 13, 50% of young girls start feeling insecure about their body and by the age of 17 the percentage increased by 30%.

Being in control of my own body is something I could not achieve up until my late teens. I was apparently too young to decide what was right for me. Growing up in a traditional household, my appearance said everything about my personality. I was raised to think if I looked a certain way, I would be more approachable and life would be easier, but trying to achieve that “perfect” look became the No. 1 conflict in my life. 

This idea of achieving the “perfect” body was the only thought replaying in my head all of freshman year. Everyone around me was starting to explore themselves while I was held back, imagining what my life would look like if I appeared a certain way. I love my family, but their judgment and comments, such as, “you’re getting a little chubby” with a chuckle at the end of the sentence, never helped. In the beginning, I would convince myself they were simply concerned for my health, but in reality, I knew what it meant. 

There are quite a few things I loathe about my physical appearance including my stomach, arms, nose and thighs. I have tried to work toward “fixing” these traits so I could be comfortable in my own body through doing different workout routines, eating healthier food and drinking more water. However, even when strictly following a nutritionist’s diet or a lifestyle blogger’s workout for weeks, the results were not quick enough to satisfy me. 

Despite this, I kept going, but I couldn’t help but think of unhealthier alternatives to make the process run faster. These included thoughts of starvation, major calorie deficits or a water detox. As school started to get more competitive in terms of grades, extracurriculars, and rank, these dangerous alternatives started to become more present in my mind. I thought about them almost every second of the day, and it corrupted my motivation to even try at all. 

My family was proud of me for “finally” overcoming laziness and actually putting in work toward my appearance. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I felt pride knowing that I was making them happy, but I knew that I wasn’t. The work I was putting in was for everybody but me. All the working out and eating nutritional foods were just part of a healthy routine, but I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. 

I realized that insecurities were easy to contain, but they never disappeared. They always reside at the back of my head, but I am proud to say that over the past few years, I have grown to love myself in ways I never would have imagined. The process was hard, but the result has been refreshing. I started catching myself in moments of insecurity and learned to stop putting myself down. Of course it was hard coming to this authentic, healthy mindset, but validating myself started to physically show the confidence I endured. It is still difficult living with the fact that my body is not perfect, but nobody is perfect.