This one goes out to all my ladies,
As women, something we have all struggled with at one point or another is body positivity and the way we view ourselves. This in part is due to the “beauty standard” presented by society as well as our own insecurities. In today’s society beauty is often presented as being thin and having a flat tummy. Yes, that body type is beautiful, but so are body types different than that. There are body positivity movements and “normalize normal bodies” movements that we see today, but it’s super hard to feel confident and beautiful when one specific body type is the “beauty standard”.
I put “beauty standard” in quotes because I find it absolutely ridiculous that there even is such a thing! Who gets to determine what is beautiful and what isn't??? And if someone in the public eye says a certain body type is beautiful does that mean other body types aren’t beautiful? Absolutely not!
I won’t lie, body positivity is something I have struggled with, especially when I first started college. While some women are more confident than others, I think that if we are honest with ourselves we can all admit we have struggled with this at some point. I have seen some girls seriously struggle with body image and it absolutely breaks my heart.
There should be no set standard for what is beautiful because we are all uniquely made, and no two bodies will ever look exactly the same. One thing we do all have in common is that we are created and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and that right there is what makes us beautiful. Your body type doesn’t determine your beauty. Your eye and hair color doesn’t determine your beauty. How tall you are doesn’t determine your beauty. What size jeans you wear doesn’t determine your beauty. The fact that we are created in the image of a perfect and sovereign God is what makes us beautiful. So no matter what your body looks like, know you are beautiful and endlessly loved by the King of Kings who created all things.
Being a female Division I athlete, I have seen so many beautiful and strong women struggle with their body image. In female sports I believe there is almost this toxic perception of what our bodies should look like. Female athletes often step on a scale and are told a number that they need to weigh. Oftentimes many girls become obsessed with reaching that weight, because they know if they do not there could be negative repercussions. This leads to skipping meals in order to try and shed a few pounds. I know this is not the case for everyone, but I have seen it firsthand several times, and sadly have made this decision for myself in the past.
This absolutely breaks my heart, so I want to take a moment to say something to all my female athletes out there. You are not defined by that number on the scale. Your body may be different from the “beauty standard” presented by society, but that does not make you any less beautiful. Your body was built to perform at high levels, so of course your arms and legs are going to be more muscular. You train hard to be the best athlete and competitor you can be, and your body is proof of that.
Strong and healthy looks different on everyone. Someone might need to weigh 135lbs in order to perform their best, while others may need to weigh 180lbs to be their best. So just because your teammate weighs a certain weight does not mean you need to weigh the same weight as her, because your body is different from hers.
Listen closely ladies: strong bodies are beautiful bodies. We as female athletes need to stop obsessing over that number on the scale or how flat our stomach is. Instead we should learn to love our bodies, because without them we would not be able to play the sports we love at a high level. Your body has helped you become the competitor you are today, the least you can do is properly fuel your body and love it.
One thing my volleyball club (Upward Stars) always taught it’s athletes is that, “You are strong, you are smart, and you are beautiful”. This is something that has stuck with me throughout my years, and this is something I want all female athletes as well as all women to know. This is something I have to constantly remind myself. I even have it written on my bathroom mirror, so I see it every day. Ladies be confident in the fact that you are strong, you are smart, and you are beautiful, because you are made in the image of God.
When it came to body positivity and being confident in myself, I used to think it meant that I had to be confident in my body and in myself 24/7. I have come to realize that that is not the case, and that is almost impossible. No matter how hard I tried to be confident, there would be some days where I just felt insecure. It wasn’t until recently I learned it’s okay to be insecure somedays. Body positivity doesn’t mean you feel confident every single day and never feel insecure. I believe being confident means acknowledging your insecurities, and working to move past them. There will be days where you don’t like how your body looks, and that’s okay, but you cannot dwell on it. On days when you are feeling insecure, look in the mirror and remind yourself that you are beautiful and you are loved.
If you are like me, you probably beat yourself up on the days you feel insecure. I was brought up and taught to be confident in myself, so on days that I am not, I get frustrated with myself. Thankfully, I realized being confident and being perfect aren’t the same thing. There will be days I feel insecure, but that does not change how strong, confident, or beautiful I am.
So ladies I’m begging you, learn to love yourself. Learn to acknowledge your insecurities and move past them. Take care of your bodies. Please never forget how beautiful you are and where that beauty comes from. The Lord of all creation made you in His image. That is what makes you beautiful, and nothing can ever change that.
In case someone hasn’t told you:
You are strong.
You are smart.
You are beautiful.