My relationship with my body has been a complex one for as long as I can remember. There are days when I revert back to 14 year old Kemi, who hated everything about the way she looked, and thought she needed to change every single thing about herself before she could be loved and accepted.
Now looking back at this young girl, I just want to give her a huge hug and let her know how beautiful she is.
I remember being in a health class in high school, and one of my classmates did a presentation on eating disorders. Her objective was to spread awareness on organizations like "Pro Ana" that create a community for people with anorexia to openly promote anorexic behaviors. Even though the point of the presentation was to let us know the dangers of eating disorders, all I got from the presentation was that if I followed the Pro Ana rules, I would finally succeed at being thin, which was in my mind, the only thing I needed to be, in order to be happy. So I went home, googled Pro Ana, and started to follow the rules of the organization.
Somehow I had convinced myself that fat was the worst thing I could be, not a murderer, not a pedophile, not a thief, but FAT. So, it didn't matter what measures I took to change it, as long as I changed it. I went back and forth between Pro Ana and Pro Mia organizations and beat myself up for not being "anorexic enough", or "bulimic enough" to succeed because no matter what I did, the one thing I wanted the most, evaded me the most.
It didn't help that the people around me felt the need to "help" by so kindly pointing out that I was gaining weight, and "letting my body get out of control" as one acquaintance so thoughtfully pointed out. As if I wasn't torturing myself enough, their voices and comments reinforced my belief that FAT was the worst thing I could be. Family, friends, and even strangers all have had something to say about my body and how much they disapproved of the way it looked. How much they disapproved of my body.
But it's MY BODY. It's MINE. It's the body that I have, the only one I'll ever have. It's the one house where I have no choice but to stay in until I die. Why am I constantly fighting it? Why am I constantly fighting the one place where I should always be at peace. Why am I at war with my own body? Why does anyone but me, get to have an opinion of it. And even if they do, why does everyone else's opinion of my body matter more than my own.
This blog post unfortunately does not have a revolutionary happy ending, because my relationship with my body is something that I still struggle with on a daily basis. The only difference between 14 year old Kemi and 23 year old Kemi is that I'm no longer fighting my body. I'm now fighting my mind. I'm fighting the negative thoughts that come to my head when I start to doubt my self worth as it relates to the way I look. I'm fighting my impulse to pick myself apart when I see a picture of myself taken by someone else. I'm fighting the way I think about my body because I now know that I'm not defined by the way that I look.
Whether you are in a place right now where you are fighting your body, or you are fighting your mind, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that its ok to be a work in progress. I want you to know that it's ok to still be figuring out how you feel about yourself. I want you to know that it gets better and that you don't have to be at war with your own body.