They say your body is a temple. Well, I’ve been battling with mine my entire life. I grew up in the 90s which means that I grew up simultaneously as the Internet developed. The Internet, as we all are aware, exposes you to more people & opinions, peer pressure & media than any other generation. In my case, this equates to a young girl being more self conscious than ever, leading her to compare herself to others. With that being said, I’ve never felt like my body was good enough.
Growing up I was that awkward lanky skinny girl. My childhood nickname was Skinny Minnie. I hated being related to a twig and similar comments have followed me all my life. I distinctly remember in college, during a Community Assistant meeting, one of my female student co-workers said, “Oh shut up, Tanaye, you’re a twig,” when I complained about my uniform not fitting right. Today, members of my family continue to comment on my size and ask if I’ve been eating. Comments like these have woven themselves into my life from childhood into adulthood.
It wasn’t until I started doing track and field in high school that I began to build my frame. I grew up as a dancer, gymnast, and cheerleader. But when I began to pursue track and field as my new passion, my body began to expand in areas where they never existed. I broke four school records (still standing) and my body reflected as such. My thighs looked like chicken legs on steroids, at least to me. My butt was as high and hard as a basketball. I wasn’t ready for the muscle mass I put on; I had a grown so much that I went from a size 1 to a size 4 in jeans. But, I was happy with what I had because it showed that I was athletic, skilled, and a force to be reckoned with.
Note: If you’re a skinny girl trying to gain a curve in her back, I highly recommend you try out long jump, triple jump, or high jump as a sport.
As a DII college long jumper, I was the thickest I’d ever been at 135 lbs. When I retired from the sport, I was scared that I would lose all my mass and revert to my former skinny figure. Luckily, my muscle mass decreased but my shape remained. I never had issues with my weight, rather my shape. Now, more than ever, society glorifies the coke bottle bodies; large hips & ass and pronounced breasts. Some of my favorite shows, like Love & HipHop, are bursting at the seams with women who’ve had their breasts, butts, noses, and everything else done. Music videos are often filled with exaggerated bodies wrapped in teeny bikinis, revealing every curve in high-definition. Today’s music glorifies the “big tits” and “fat asses.” And popular online shopping sites use models whose curves looks so pronounced, most think the pictures were Photoshopped. Is it a surprise that for the past few years, I’ve deeply contemplated getting my butt done?
You could call it some form of trying to keep up with the Joneses, or nowadays the Kardashians. I like my shape but just never felt like I had enough. Society proves that these feelings are right. But then I’d meet girls on the street who would stop me to ask what I do to get the body I have. My own friends don’t even believe that I rarely workout anymore (the intensity of my college sports experience has mentally scarred me). I’ve even had women ask me what waist trainer I use! In these moments, I’d look within and wonder if my body is actually okay– if it’s well enough to not touch with a knife or silicone implants. You could imagine that these comments would leave a girl, who’s been told all her life that she isn’t good enough, a bit confused.
I couldn’t even count all the hours I’ve spent staring myself in the mirror, contorting my body to picture myself with an “enhanced” body. Suck in the stomach. Flare the nostrils. Lift the hair line. Jut out those hips. Pinch those thighs. Poke the rib cage. I’ve analyzed every flaw, stretch mark, uneven breast, and hair all while making a mental note of what needed “fixing.” But sometime recently, I stopped it. I stopped putting myself down or comparing myself to others and just embraced it. I can’t speak for the future, but for now, I don’t have that burning urge to get myself done. I’m okay that one breast hangs lower than the other or that my butt can only fill a smaller sized pair of jeans. I’m happy with what I got. Never said that before. And I hope this insight into my life can inspire a lot of you men and women to consider the same.
I’m not downplaying surgery because I completely support the decision and believe you can do whatever you want with your own temple. But simply, I encourage you to love yourself a little more than what you think you have. Stop comparing yourself to the false ideals we constantly see on social media and television and the Internet. Loving yourself doesn’t have a finish line, but there are monumental moments in that journey. This was mine. Thanks for reading!