WRITER: Alexis Dreyer
I had been a gymnast my whole life, since I was three years old. Being in a sport that intense, it was hard to let me body image slip away from me. I never had to intentionally think about working out, or pull myself to the gym. I had to be healthy or else I would not be able to do the sport. I think this helped me a lot in the way I was able to feel so confident about myself through high school. I never had anything to worry about, and neither did my friends.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I even realized there were girls out there who hated who they were. It blew my mind. Shortly after I got to college I realized a big change in one of my very good friends whom I did gymnastics with. Since I was far from home I was not able to see her until winter break, and when I did I literally wanted to cry. Since stopping gymnastics, she realized how easy it was to lose weight and she took on a very serious eating disorder. When I saw her weighed only 80 pounds. And that’s when it hit me. The issue of body image is not something that doesn’t affect me. If it is affecting my friends, it is affecting me, and it is within my responsibility to do something about it.
It is important when we look in the mirror that we are not only looking at our appearance but also consciously making the effort to look deeper. Our appearance is the surface but it is past that and into our souls where our true beauty lies. Take the time to get to know yourself all over again. Take pride in yourself and everything you do, not just what you look like. If you cannot be the first person to build yourself up, you will never be able to accept support from others. This is something I have stood by my whole life and something that I honestly have to put a conscious effort into every single day. My confidence doesn’t just come naturally. It takes work and it takes believing others when they tell me I am beautiful and that I am worth something. I control what happens in my life and I control my future by putting in effort. I have learned that despite my many imperfections I must love myself before anyone else can love me. If I don’t love who I am and where I am, I will not be willing to let other people love me either.
It is so much easier to fail than succeed and all I ask of you is to take that control in your life back. Accept that you deserve success. What others think of you is unimportant, but what you think of yourself is vital. Start accepting what you have and realizing it is the most beautiful you you can be. And more importantly, realize you are not the only one going through it, and there are so many people out there that need your love.