When I was 14, I was snacking on chips at a friend's pool party and an adult commented that I "better be careful and think about my figure." That's one of my earliest memories of the body image issues I've dealt with for most of my adult life. In today's culture, I sometimes wonder if there's anyone who hasn't.
In high school, I would skip meals for a week before a school dance and instead have a Diet Coke at lunch. No food, or how would I look good in a dress? I dreaded summer because it meant I would have to get into a bathing suit. I would cry when I tried on pants in dressing rooms and the size I expected to fit didn't.
It wasn't always about "feeling fat." I wished for so long to have a smaller waist instead of my straight, athletic build. I wanted a prettier and smaller nose. I dreamed of my curly hair being straight. I wished that the big scar on my forehead from a childhood accident would disappear.
The thing is, I've never been overweight. I'm petite by most standards. My friends would get angry with me when I expressed negative feelings about my weight. But I'm a product of a society that has always told us we need to be thinner or look a certain way. Our entire lives, we're shown the ideal images and standards that make someone pretty or attractive. Why are we controlled by someone else's idea of what perfection is?
Thanks to yoga, I struggle a lot less with my self-image today. These are not thoughts that go away overnight, and like yoga, it's a constant practice to get past them. But through my yoga practice, I've begun to transform how I feel about and view my body.