I was in the 4th grade when someone told me that I had thunder thighs. My first thought was that she was stating I had strong legs. I took it as a compliment thinking she might have seen me during recess get a triple while playing kickball with the boys. She saw my happy response and decided to further state, “That means your thighs are bigger than normal.” From that moment on the label ‘thunder thighs’ went directly onto my heart and marked the beginning of an extensive collection of hurtful labels.
We have all labeled ourselves both good and bad things whether we realized it or not - fat, shorts, tall, skinny, smart, athletic, successful, and so on. These labels are created by big and small experiences that leave a lasting impression. Driving us to all lengths by being a constant reminder of what we believe to be our flaws. We keep them tucked away in our soul, where no one can see them and cause them to hurt more than they already do. We hold on to them as they continue to remind us to stay inside our box; the box that social standards construct for us all. They are constantly there to trick us into thinking that they are our own built-in reality check. Telling us what we believe we need to hear to keep us in line – according to the world and our onlookers standards. Keeping us controlled and timid not able to think for ourselves and be who we are truly meant to be.
How discouraging does that realization sound? Living a life lacking so much hope for the gift we are given as human beings – the gift to be intentionally proactive. Instead we give in to society and become intentionally reactive to the labels branded on our hearts. Intentionally skipping meals to lose weight; intentionally picking certain clothing to hide what we see as flawed; intentionally forcing ourselves to push harder and faster, for what? To show the world that we are above its standards? Floating on a cloud of positivity and perfection for all to see. Do we choose to conform for the sake of the world? Or do we consciously and intentionally do what is best and right for us as individuals for the sake of the happiness of our hearts.
As someone who has struggled to love what I see in the mirror for most of my life I can honestly say I’m right there with you. It has taken me many hard years to come to the realization that everyone, men and women, struggle with loving their appearance. I would idolize skinny women and think they must have their lives together because they look perfect. I never once thought that maybe, just maybe, they didn’t want to be as thin as they were; or that they wished for more curves; or that they struggled with their image as much as I do. Thinking the same things as me, idolizing an ideal and perfect image for the sake of pleasing the world.
"As we peel the labels off our hearts and allow them to simply beat without added weight - as they were intended to - we set ourselves free."
Free from people’s opinions, free from hate, free from judgement, free from the perfection this world so ridiculously calls for. We put our loyalties in ourselves and not in other’s opinions. We then hold the ability to protect our hearts and cause a positive reaction in ourselves and proactively influence the world around us.
So, to the man that verbalized his opinion about my appearance, I don’t have time for you and your words because my loyalty is to the protection of my own heart. To the girl who looks down upon me, I don’t have time for your looks of disapproval because my loyalty is to the protection of my own heart. To my ex who hurt me in more ways than one, I’m sorry we weren’t fit for each other but my loyalty is to the protection of my own heart. To the world that throws opinions around like confetti I can’t hear you over the compliments my heart constantly hears from my head about my strong, curvy, beautiful, purpose driven body.
"Find peace in knowing that you are not alone. This is a big world and Dear, you are not forgotten in any step of the way. Being able to deflect looks, judgement, and words takes practice, time, and a lot of grace. Find confidence in that you and your heart are beyond worth the investment."
If you take one thing from this reading please understand that you are enough just the way you are. You are not a work in progress because, you are already fully equipped with all that you need to withstand this world. It simply takes a moment, a moment of acknowledgment; accepting that you are enough; to believe that you are enough; and to live your life knowing that you and you alone are enough to conquer all of your dreams- just the way you are.
-Alyse Douglas for Jade Roller Beauty