• Brennae McCulloch

- How to Learn to Love Yourself Every Day -

Just the title of this, I am sure, frightens a lot of people. Especially myself. The thought of loving myself seemed like a task completely foreign to me. Can any of you relate to this? So many of us constantly are comparing our faces, bodies, and our lives, in general, to so many others. Whether it be a supermodel, actor, or someone you know personally, it can be extremely daunting. Society can be so difficult to impress, especially now with social media. Don't get me wrong, social media can do incredible things for many; however, we mainly see the negative impact it has. No matter what age group, gender, or sexuality, comparing oneself to others is almost second nature to us.

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Unfortunately, I am guilty of comparing myself to others, not just sometimes, but constantly. And let me tell you - it SUCKS. Ya, you heard me, it sucks. I look around and see prettier, skinnier girls and I look at myself in the mirror wondering where I went wrong. From a young age, I have had extremely low self esteem. Constant thoughts would run rampant in my mind, saying I was too ugly and too fat. Sadly, those thoughts stayed with me for years. Social media was on the rise through my early high school years. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Quickly pictures of models and actresses were all over social media, and a lot were body shaming these women. At first, I was uncomfortable because I didn't know why so many were so harsh to these beautiful women. If they were harsh to them, what were people thinking of me?

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I was having a very difficult time figuring out how to view myself. Some days I felt beautiful and others I felt disgusting. I was a plus sized women who couldn't fit into regular clothes and couldn't fit into the plus sized clothes either. The "in-between". I constantly looked at petite, regular, and plus sized women feeling that I didn't have a group that I looked like. At that time, which was within the past two years, I felt I had to fit a certain mold or criteria. I felt I needed a guiding light to show that I could be who I was. However, I soon discovered the plus size model Ashley Graham.

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I saw a couple posts of Ashley on different magazines and photo shoots and found some of the conferences she spoke at. And the words she spoke at one in particular resonated with me and I realized that I didn't have to fit that mold anymore. She discussed how her husband was a huge advocate for her, loved her fully, and embraced her body. But she made sure to state that women didn't need anyone else to embrace it but that WE should embrace it. I am grateful to have my husband Tyler who loves me and my body despite my imperfections. But when I heard her words I realized that I have to love myself and the imperfections too. Her words were beautifully spoken and she showed me later on that actions speak more than words.

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Recently, Ashley posted a beautiful image of her newly pregnant body (shown below).



The picture showed her body close up with her stretch marks and skin. This started a "campaign" of women submitting images of their own bodies - nothing inappropriate. But women were supporting each other, loving one another's imperfections. It was an absolutely stunning thing to see, especially on a platform like Instagram. However, with great triumphs comes the wicked and evil that try and tear down others. Underneath the picture someone stated, "This is so f***ing disgusting. Like hey look at me I'm a fat b***h and I'm gonna embrace it cause I'm too lazy to change".

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Horrifying, right?

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Statements like that, unfortunately, are being seen more and more frequent. The scary part is that the age that social media is being introduced is becoming lower and lower. I know I am not a mom but I think of my future son or daughter in situations like these. I couldn't imagine them dealing with the nasty comments that are being typed or said. I hate to even think of what my future children would think of themselves if they read that.

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I don't want my future children to grow up wondering if they're good enough, or beautiful enough, or smart enough. I want them to love themselves fully. I want ALL of us to love ourselves.

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It took me a long time to get to where I am today, but I know I have a long way to go. However, I realized that to be happy in this world...we have to be happy and love ourselves. Yes, you heard me. LOVE YOURSELF. I know, it seems like a scary thing, but TRUST me you will be so much happier when you do. You're probably thinking you will never get to this point, but you will.

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Recently when I realized I needed to love myself I did a few things to help me learn to love myself. One thing I did to love myself was to write. Yes. WRITE. Whether it be in a notebook, on a sticky note, or in a textbook. I wrote something positive about myself. For me, I wrote to myself, "You are enough". It was something short but it meant so much to me. Every time I wrote that I thought of reasons why I was enough. Whether it be a small triumph in the week I thought of something I was proud of to where I felt I was enough. Next thing I did was listen.

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Music. I listen to music every day. I sing every day. It is my passion. I found music that inspired me to love myself. I don't know if you're familiar but listen to "Soulmate" by Lizzo. Matter of fact listen to any of Lizzo's music and you will feel empowered. A couple lyrics that popped to my head from Soulmate was, "Cause I'm my own soulmate, I know how to love me. I know I'm a queen but I don't need no crown, Look up in the mirror like damn she the one". When I first heard this song I was in awe of the lyrics. I couldn't tell you how many times I have looked in the mirror and said HORRIFIC things. After hearing those I changed my mindset when I looked in the mirror. From then on I promised myself I would always say kind things to myself when looking in the mirror and rid those negative thoughts. These two things helped me tremendously, but one more thing was my saving grace.

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Lastly, for me to love myself, I realized that I had to make extremely difficult choices to love myself more. For so long I lived my life choosing what was best for others and when I continually did that I felt I was becoming less of myself. I started hating the person I was becoming because I wasn't living my life for me. It took me a while to start making those choices and the process seemed long and difficult; however, day by day I started making decisions for myself and I was happier. When I made the decisions for me I loved myself more and more. It is truly incredible to have relationships with people that love you no matter what; however, the best relationship to have is with yourself. And the sooner you realize that the quicker you will love yourself. Yes, we all have differences, insecurities, and faults - but let's LOVE all of them instead of hate them. We were all made differently and we have to remember that's okay. It is okay to learn to love ourself.

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& To all of you beauties remember - love and kindness always.

- B

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