It can be hard to love or even accept our bodies, especially if we have experienced bullying. Samantha, 16, shares how she came to love her body.
When I was four days old, I was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called ‘Incontinentia Pigmenti’, or ‘IP’ for short, which comes with a lot of health complications. Luckily enough, I didn’t inherit those complications, but it did cause patterns to develop on my skin. These patterns faded over time, although that isn’t always the case for others like me.
Growing up, I was bullied a lot. I was already made fun of in primary school, and when I was 13 years old, boys in my class hissed at me and body-shamed me whenever I walked into the classroom. I always stood out from the crowd and I hated that element about myself because I thought that if no one could accept and love me for who I am, then I couldn’t either.
I hated the way I looked. I hated everything about myself, and because of this, I know exactly what it’s like to hate the body you were born in. And this was the darkest time of my life.
I always stood out from the crowd and I hated that element about myself because I thought that if no one could accept and love me for who I am, then I couldn’t either.
However, one day, I looked into the mirror and rather than focusing on everything I disliked, I realised how lucky I was, standing there, alive and well. And this is where everything changed. From being someone extremely insecure about my appearance, I discovered myself and turned into someone who started loving the patterns on my skin. I started to embrace my flaws because these are the things worth loving about ourselves, as they are the treasures found within us all that make us unique. I learnt how to enjoy living in the body I was born in because at the end of the day, you are going to live in this body for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not. You either come to terms with it, or go against it and suffer. Either way, it is what it is.
One habit I have adopted that has improved my body confidence is not going on social media as often. I find that social media really does a lot of damage to my self-worth and can be a drain of our self-love. We often make judgements based on people’s appearance online without knowing what they are struggling with behind closed doors. Even people you think look perfect struggle sometimes with self-confidence.
We often make judgements based on people’s appearance online without knowing what they are struggling with behind closed doors.
This is why during my own self-discovery, I lived life offline for six months. Even though it might seem like a short period of time, this helped me immensely with coming to terms with the way I looked, especially since I wasn’t bombarded with photos of models with the perfect bodies every day. This really prevented me from comparing my body to others’ – which again, ties into self-love. No one should be in competition against other people for the “The Ideal Body” trophy, since there is no such prize.
No one should be in competition against other people for the “The Ideal Body” trophy, since there is no such prize.
Once you feel an ounce of negativity about your body, it can be easy to start to overthink everything, which can lead to you wanting to change yourself in order to feel loved. Yes, by all means change yourself for the better, but do it for you; don’t you ever think of changing yourself for other people’s liking.
One person can come up to you and tell you to lose weight, while the other one tells you that you’re too skinny. Everyone has different opinions and they have different views on you. If you’re really planning on changing yourself each time someone says something different about you, wouldn’t it be so exhausting?
By all means change yourself for the better, but do it for you; don’t you ever think of changing yourself for other people’s liking.
My task for you today is, go to a mirror, look at your body and give yourself compliments - whether they be compliments on the way you look or your personality. Anything works. Really look at yourself and realise how beautiful and blessed you truly are to have come this far, living in your beautiful body, whatever the height, weight, shape and colour. The more you say these beautiful things, the more you develop self-love and believe in it. After all, you deserve to.
More information and advice
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Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Text YM to 85258.
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
- Opening times:
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times: