Today I looked at myself in the mirror, which usually wouldn’t be noteworthy. Because, well, I won’t lie, I look at myself in the mirror all the time.
I check my reflection, not once, not twice, but three times before I leave the house. When I get in the car, I instantly pull down the mirror in front of me and check it one more time before I leave. Then I check it again once I get to my destination. I stop in the bathroom at least once a day to make sure everything is still in place, and I glance at my reflection every chance I get as I walk by dark windows throughout the day.
I remember somebody once accused me of being obsessed with myself, which I suppose, in a way, they were right about. I am obsessed, just not in the way they thought. They thought I checked myself out constantly because I was so in love with the reflection that glared back at me. I laughed off their accusation and agreed, playing off my fake confidence so well. “I love my makeup today, sue me,” I murmured with a casual shoulder shrug.
I thought about that today as I gave myself a once-over in the mirror. Like I said, a glance in the mirror isn’t noteworthy for me. But today it was, because today, I did something different. I did something I consider to be unbelievably brave.
I looked at myself in the mirror while I was — wait for it — completely and utterly bare-ass naked.
Ugh, I know, right?
Then again, maybe that isn’t a big deal for you. Maybe you look at yourself in the mirror every single day, tell Alexa to play ‘Truth Hurts’ by Lizzo, and then shake your ass as you feel yourself completely.
If that’s the case for you, I applaud you. Seriously. You are the woman I want to be, the woman I hope to be, and I am so fucking happy for you.
Unfortunately, I’m not there yet.
And yet there I was, naked and staring at myself in the mirror.
I let my fingers trail gently over my belly and felt the softness of it. I pinched the fat I’ve been trying to lose over the last few months, then turned to the side and glared at my cellulite. At one point I think I even gripped my boobs and wondered when exactly their weight had forced them to drop to my stomach. I traced my stretch marks and poked my scars, and then I straightened my spine, placed my hands on my hips to cover my love handles, and actually thought to myself, “Maybe if I just constantly stand exactly like this, it won’t be that bad.” Then the realization hit, and I unfortunately understood that just wouldn’t really be feasible.
I remembered a podcast I listened to recently. They said how important it was to practice self-love. My best friend, my husband, my mother and my therapist had probably all told me that before too, but of course it was the podcast I listened to in the car that really got it to seep into my brain. I forced my gaze up and looked into my own eyes. Biting down on the inside of my bottom lip, I thought about what self-love really meant to me.
Was it to console myself? Usually, I’d remind myself that I ate healthy almost daily now and exercised quite frequently. In a few months, I’d tell myself, my body might look a lot different. And maybe then I’d love it. Maybe once my stomach was firmer, my arms were stronger, and my legs were smoother, I’d be able to practice self-love.
Once I loved the shape of my body, I would buy some lotion to eliminate stretch marks and maybe get a tan. I could buy a flattering new dress, dye my hair, wax my eyebrows, and then look in the mirror again and love myself.
Once I looked the way I wanted myself to look, I’d go on trips with my friends, buy a cute bathing suit, lay by the pool, and hit the town at night. I’d wear a dress that hit above my knees and maybe even get a tattoo. I’d decorate my body with beautiful art to cover up the ugly marks I hate. And I’d love myself.
But then I thought, is that self-love?
I realized that no, unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Because in that moment, as I stood in my room and looked in the mirror, I looked right through myself. I shut myself out in that moment and decided that while I couldn’t love myself now, maybe someday I would. I deemed my present self unworthy and dreamt of a future me that didn’t exist. That very well may NEVER exist, and that was the problem.
So I took a deep breath, let my fingers trail over my body one more time, and thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, I was allowed to love myself like this.
My stomach wasn’t flat, my boobs hung a little lower than I’d like, there was cellulite on my legs and my booty, and I had stretch marks between my legs and on my stomach, but maybe I was still beautiful.
Maybe, even more than that, I was beautiful because of those things.
So to test that theory out, I told Alexa to play ‘Truth hurts’ by Lizzo, and shook my ass in front of the mirror, and confirmed that I very well am that bitch.