The modern body paradox: Love to hate, hate to love

Alvaro Azcarraga/Staff

I don’t wear pants.

And no, that doesn’t mean I go around in my underwear. I just prefer to wear dresses and skirts. This is partially because of my style, but also because I don’t particularly like the way my legs look.

They say that you are your own harshest critic. Although I don’t know who “they” are, they have a fair point. I notice flaws in myself other people wouldn’t notice, and I blow them out of proportion. I walk around constantly aware of my legs.

“And yet, somehow, I insult myself 13 times a day easily.”

According to Cosmo, in a 2011 survey of more 300 women, on average, women have at least 13 negative thoughts about their body per day. Per. Day. There is not one other person in the world whose physical appearance I could insult 13 times. And yet, somehow, I insult myself 13 times a day easily. Talk about being your own harshest critic.

What’s strange is that the thing I dislike most about my own physical appearance is the first thing I notice in other people. I find myself jealously noticing when other girls have nice legs, immediately comparing them to my own. However, while I might be focused on her legs, she could be focused on something in me that reflects her own insecurities. We tend to look for our own self-declared flaws in other people.

On the other hand, my parents taught me to first look for positives in others, such as an attribute I admire. Upon meeting someone, I can probably name 5 things that make them beautiful, and off the top of my head I can think of so many appealing qualities in the people around me. We have no trouble complimenting each other, but what about complimenting ourselves?

Being mean to yourself is so ingrained in our culture. But if a girl says something positive or admits to actually liking her body, we are shocked and may even call her vain and conceited. Why is that? Why is it that self-destruction is so accepted, but self-love is still frowned upon? Sure, we all like seeing plus-sized models pop up more in the media and love to hear celebrities talk about how they found self-love. But within our immediate community, we seem to still be body-negative-centric.

“So, instead of noticing your own insecurities in another girl, notice something in her that you also like about yourself.”

I’m not going to pretend I know how to fix this. It will probably take a bit of time before our culture begins to change. But I do believe there are little things we can do every day to love ourselves a little more — something I need to work on as well.

So, instead of noticing your own insecurities in another girl, notice something in her that you also like about yourself. The next time your friend says something negative about her body, make her aware of it and have her point out something she loves about herself. For every one of the 13 criticisms you’re probably going to give yourself today, give yourself a compliment. There are so many amazing, beautiful things about you that deserve some way overdue recognition. Stop hiding behind your insecurities.

I’ll start by wearing pants tomorrow.

Contact Frida Schaefer Bastian at [email protected].