This weekend, I stopped by my parents’ house and had the urge to look through some old photos. It’s always hilarious to remember your old Halloween costumes, the year you had no front teeth, or (if you’re me), the fact that you seemed to exclusively wear bicycle shorts for your entire childhood. I guess hating pants is something you’re born with.
During my little excavation, I came across a photo of my 5 year old self at gymnastics class. I am standing next to two of my kindergarten friends in nothing but our leotards. My arms and legs are entirely exposed, and yet I don’t seem uncomfortable at all. I’m not worrying about whether or not my friends think I look fat or telling myself my thighs are too disgusting to show people. I wasn’t a large child by any means, but my thighs were actually the largest out of all my friends. The thing is, I don’t remember ever thinking my thighs were better or worse than theirs, just different. It makes me wonder: when did I start ranking my body with others’? When did I decide that the body that allowed me to run and tumble and do cartwheels was worthless unless it could be thinner than others’?
I would never tell that little girl that her thighs were disgusting or needed to be more toned. I would never pinch at the skin on her arms. I would never tell her to harm herself or make her skip dinner.
But I am that little girl. Those are my arms and my thighs. And I have told myself these things for years. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to envision this girl within me every time I have the urge to call myself ugly or “fat.” I want to love myself the way I love the spunky little gymnast in that photo.
Another thing that was interesting was to see that my relative build is the same as it is now. I mean, I’m an adult woman with curves and such, but you can see the same framework in my childhood pictures. It was a cool reassurance that I have always been designed this way and that this is the way my body is made to look.
If you’re ever interested, I would totally suggest looking at some pictures of yourself as a baby or toddler. Try insulting your adorable chubby cheeks or your tiny baby fingernails or your toothy smile. I bet you’ll discover a newfound compassion for yourself.