A Trip That Made The Difference
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
By Geandry Rodriguez
I think it’s about time we have a heart to heart about body image.
In an ideal world, everyone would maintain their carefree mindset, not concerned with how they look or how others look. In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as too skinny, fat, wide, narrow, short, or tall. We would love our bodies for the things they have and all the things they can do rather than hate them for things they don’t have or can’t do. I quickly lost that idealist mindset in middle school when my family realized my chubbinesses wasn’t going to magically disappear, and I became known as the fat sister. I remember everyone comparing my weight and looks to my sister’s constantly, everyone except for my sister. She was the one person who always encouraged me to not care and to just worry about being a kid for now.
However, her optimism could only go so far. No matter how much she tried all of the negative comments kept repeating in my mind. From ages 10 to 15 I wouldn’t wear shorts, or anything tight at all, even if it was going to be 100 degrees outside. I absolutely hated the way I looked and I would do anything to blend into the background and not have people look at me.
When I was 15 I gained a voice, for everyone but myself.
I encouraged friends to be confident in how they looked and not care about other people’s opinions. All that mattered was that they felt confident and comfortable.
At 16 was when I finally realized that I was the biggest contradiction to this message. I told people around me to feel confident in their bodies and to love themselves while I was hating the way I looked and the way I dressed because my wardrobe was designed to hide my body.
There was never an “I feel pretty” moment where I woke up one day as the most confident women in the world. It took months for me to be comfortable in my body. That summer was the first time that I spent most of the summer in shorts or dresses. I felt liberated and extremely proud of myself. However, I wasn’t done with my personal growth. There would be plenty of days where everything I put on would make me hate the way I looked. I would stand in front of the mirror crying my eyes out and pointing out all of my flaws. With every passing day it got better.
Then I went to study abroad in Ireland through Marist college for my first year. It was a new experience and I went there to become more independent, but I never expected to learn to love myself as much as I did. I met multiple people, some who were in the same program as me and some just complete strangers who live and study in Ireland. Most of those people felt extremely confident in their bodies, they would wear what they want, when they want. The best part was that they each were all different shapes and sizes and didn’t care. I quickly started to feed off of that positive energy, and by the time I came back I didn’t care about what anyone thought about me. The only opinions that mattered were the ones I let matter.
I would like to say that I’m always confident in how I look and that there are no bad days.
Being self conscious at times is normal and everyone experiences it. I have my days where I hate my figure and feel like nothing I own is flattering. But, I don’t allow those emotions to control my life. My trip to Ireland reminded me of what an ideal world would look like; what a judgement- free zone looks like. I’m going to wear what I want and act how I want to, without a care in the world about what other people will think about me. It’s my life and I’m living it for myself and not someone else who feels the need to judge people for embracing who they are.