When I Say All My Friends Are Beautiful, I’m Not Lying

When you know someone for long enough, they radiate so much beauty it can be blinding.

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This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 13, 2017.

Self-love isn’t easy. Realizing the person in the mirror is the person other people see is even harder. When people give you compliments, you may shy away or lash out, because you don’t see the person they do. You know what is easy, though? Complimenting other people. When I say all my friends are beautiful, it’s because they are.

Ever since I was young, I’ve had trouble making long-term friends. My mom and grandmother have friends from elementary, middle and high school still and that concept was so foreign to me growing up. How can you bond with someone and be patient with them for so long? How could you enjoy each other’s company for more than 20 years? Could such a thing even be possible in today’s world?

I had dealt with so much negativity in my school years that I struggled to see beauty in anything, nonetheless myself. I had friends who seemed sweet at first, but turned out to be vicious later. There was so much toxicity in my friendships that I thought friendship was meant to be that way. I didn’t know what healthy friendships were; I didn’t know that healthy relationships, period, could exist at all.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I came to terms with what the word ‘friendship’ even meant. I had never experienced a ‘true’ friend, so to say, and it wasn’t until I left high school and transitioned into college that I understood anything about friendship. They say you find your real friends when you go through a difficult life event, such as a transition or illness. I cannot stress how completely true this is.

Though I didn’t have such a hard time transitioning into college, my friends did. Those who I kept in contact with formed a strong bond with me, one that is unbreakable to this day. When I say all my friends are beautiful, I mean it. All of my friends are beautiful, inside and out.

When you’ve been friends with someone through a stressful event, that is either your own or something on their side, you see all the beauty they have to offer. After you’ve seen someone at both their best and worst, it’s easy to see the beauty they express in a plethora of different ways.

When I say my friends are beautiful, it’s not a lie I tell them to make them feel better about themselves. All the friends I have right now are long-term friends. They are people whom I trust; people I could tell anything to without judgment and vice-versa. They are people who have stuck with me through the good, the bad and the in-between. I won’t call you a friend if I can’t trust you. The word will not even slip out of my mouth.

Even when my friends have parts of them that aren’t beautiful, I will still call them beautiful, because no one is perfect. Everyone has ugly flaws and everyone makes mistakes. Choosing to work on their mistakes and accept their flaws makes them even more beautiful, in my opinion.

If loving yourself isn’t so easy, or it’s a concept you haven’t yet grasped, you’ll be able to feel love by spreading love. Smile by spreading smiles and feeling positivity by spreading positivity are great ways to give yourself love when you aren’t quite sure of how to do so. You should always be a friend to yourself, even if that means something as small as treating yourself to a bath once in awhile or listening to your favorite music.

When you say that your friends are beautiful, it’s because they are. When your friends say that you are beautiful, it is because they have seen the same things in you. It is because they see something you can’t. Always be a friend to yourself, above everything else. Remember, you are truly beautiful, too, even if when you say that your friends are beautiful, you don’t mean you.

 

Body Positivity Is Great. Period

Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

If you are not a doctor, you don’t have the right to define someone’s health.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 10, 2017.

Body positivity is something that all people, regardless of size, shape, color or gender absolutely need to survive. Last week, an article was written in the UNC Greensboro community that criticized the body positive movement, saying that the idea is ineffective when it ‘ignores health concerns.’ The article goes on to ostracize body positivity, and although I think the author had good intentions here, they did not articulate themselves at all. Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

To begin, weight does not indicate health. Everyone carries their weight differently. Just because someone looks ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ to you, doesn’t mean they actually are obese or overweight. The actual definition of ‘obese’ is “grossly fat or overweight,” but who decides if the person is grossly fat? All of the women in the photo below weigh the exact same weight, 154 lbs.

Second, if you are not a doctor, you do not have the right or the qualifications to define someone’s health. There are several health conditions that can cause an individual to gain weight, and often these medical conditions don’t take into consideration whether you balance your fruits and vegetables. Some of these conditions can result from thyroid issuesmental-illness-related problems, or simply side effects from hormones.

Just as many of these health conditions make it more difficult for people lose weight. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)insulin resistance, or even something as simple as depression.

Next, I’d like to articulate some things. In the article written last week, the author makes a few key points which I’d like to debunk. First, they mention that the body positive movement “promotes a sedentary lifestyle.”

This is so incorrect that I don’t even know where to begin. Not everyone who is body positive is ‘obese’, or ‘super-thin.’ (I use these terms in quotes because I find those terms to be subjective – the opinion often lies in the eye of the beholder). Those you consider to fall under those terms aren’t necessarily unhealthy.

Bigger people are not promoting anything, they’re simply existing. Also, no one has ever looked at an ‘obese’ person and thought, “I’m going to sit around all day so I can look like that.” Not sure where this claim comes from, but it honestly sounds made up.

Self-love does not equate to negativity toward exercise and dieting. Like I’ve mentioned before, not everyone who is body-positive is plus-size, and those that are don’t necessarily hate health or exercise. I think the author was considering a very small group of people when they wrote this article, and that’s simply disrespectful because they generalized a whole bunch of people.

The author of the article also posed this question to their audience, “Where is the line between body confidence and obesity?” Why does there have to be a line between the two? Couldn’t the line connect both together? Since ‘obese’ is a subjective term, I’ll begin using the word ‘overweight,’ or the phrase ‘seemingly overweight’ from now on.

Can seemingly overweight people not have body confidence? Why should self-love correlate with health at all? The two are very separate things and do not depend on one another. They can reflect one another if the individual feels that way, but they do not require one another to exist. And again, you may be severely incorrect in assuming someone is unhealthy based on the way they look to you.

What you consider ‘health,’ and what someone else considers ‘health’ is always going to be different. When people throw up the middle finger on Instagram in regards to body-shaming, they are looking to shame those similar to the author of this article. That middle finger is to shame those who think they’re helping thinner people or bigger people by offering unsolicited and unqualified medical advice concerning that individual’s health.

To be fair, it’s never been about health. The author was correct when they mentioned the correlation between body image and society. Often people decide what is ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ based on what they see both in the media and in society. The truth is: society will never be pleased with how you look. Clothing companies will never truly accommodate for plus size people, and if people truly cared about our health, they’d advocate for an increase in plus-size active wear, or even for the decrease of fat-shaming so that plus-size people no longer have to hide.

For some reason, people think that fat-shaming bigger people will encourage them to lose weight. It’s the same with skinny-shaming, really. Here’s some tea: it may encourage weight-loss, but what about when that weight-loss isn’t healthy? What about when that weight-loss spirals into an eating disorder? Is that the individual’s fault too?

Society and the media will never take responsibility for its faults. At the end of the day, what matters is how you feel about yourself and your body. Self-love does not and will never correlate with the amount of love you have to give, or the amount of love others have to give to you. Unconditional love for yourself will come from you loving yourself unconditionally, no matter what state you’re in. You are lovable and acceptable the way you are, no matter how you are.

And no, we’re not sending a radical message to anyone. Let’s not pretend body-shaming is an issue that pertains only to women. We are sending a message to women, men, young boys and girls that there is a need to love yourself, rather than the need to be thinner or bigger. You just have to learn to love yourself.

Like I said, I think this author had their heart in the right place, but the execution of opinion was not the best in my opinion.

“Let’s leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize.” Yeah, why don’t we?