How to Love Your Body

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

I follow several female trainers on social media because they provide inspiration and motivation in terms of how and why I go to the gym, and I read just about every training-related article on my newsfeed simply because one of these trainers posted it. Also, I love fangirling over successful women from all areas, whether they are athletes, human rights activists, politicians, or my fellow bloggers.

One article I read this summer was on body types, and it felt like a revelation. The three basic body types are ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. The first has a slim build and fast metabolism. These people find it difficult to gain weight, so bulking up is particularly difficult. The second is the opposite: they have a slower metabolism, and can gain both fat and muscle relatively easily, but find it difficult to shift weight. The third type is basically a happy medium: they have a naturally athletic build, and can gain or lose weight easily. Of course, most people don’t fit neatly into one category, but are some combination.

Okay, I’ll admit: the article wasn’t actually ground-breaking, but the information was tangible and scientific and provided some interesting perspective. First, it encouraged me to consider the most efficient eating and exercise habits for my body type in order to maximize my result, and second, it put a spin on the body image discussion. I realize I’m risking sounding like a broken record here, but I will add my two cents anyway.

The model build has created an unrealistic and unreasonable standard of beauty, which inherently makes no sense. How can there be a “standard” body type? But people believe it, because the media promotes it.

I became very conscious of this when I met Martha Hunt, the Victoria’s Secret model, this summer. She came to Toronto Eaton Centre to launch a new collection, and I got an autograph, which is slightly embarrassing to admit. (But come on, she’s gorgeous.) She was sitting behind a table signing photos, and my first impression – no exaggeration – was shock at how small her arms were. I’d become so accustomed to a certain image on ads and posters that it now seems like the norm, so I never consciously realized how ridiculously skinny models are.

I can tell you from experience that skinny should not be everyone’s goal. I won’t pretend to have body image issues, because it feels disrespectful to those with legitimate insecurities, but I used to hate being a twig as much as I hated when people pointed it out. I think it’s key for girls to understand this: skinny does not necessarily mean healthy, and being underweight is not desirable by those who are. Don’t aim to be skinny for its sake alone.

I’m still built like a thirteen-year-old, because I was tall for my age in eighth grade and haven’t grown in either direction since, but I don’t mind anymore. I wish I could say I had a transition moment, but the truth is that I didn’t – I just became accustomed to how I looked and developed my own sense of style, and that was that.

I would love for other girls to reach this point as well, so here is my advice: don’t subscribe to this idea that there is a standard body type. It is unreasonable and discouraging. For example, I could yearn to look like Kim Kardashian (I don’t, by the way), but I know I could squat every day for a year and never look like her. I’m just built differently. It’s the same idea for all these girls who want to be stick-thin.

Just remember that the grass may seem greener on the other side, but everyone has their own problems. Wanting to look like someone else is never the solution.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want abs like Kayla Itsines, because I would love to achieve her level of fitness. But don’t let this be the “be all end all” of your body image. Don’t hate yourself because you don’t look like Gisele. Don’t idolize the images that the media throws at us every day.

The only way to be happy is to accept your body the way it is, and move forward from there. Exercise, establish your own sense of style, wear clothes and makeup that make you happy. Don’t worry about impressing people, and don’t wait to “look good” to feel good. There is no single definition for attractiveness, and once you understand this, it all gets easier.

Follow Raessa on Instagram at @raeesashique

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