Your body. Something you look at as an outer shell for yourself. Skin, bones — just a shell that is tangible and that makes the outer world realistic. Something the mirror shows you and you either can stand the sight of it or absolutely think that you are the hoarder of flaws. Your body is more than a physical connection between the person you are inside and the person you show on the outside.
Ever since I was little, my person and my body have been disconnected. My body was something that I detached from my character, my mind and my spirit because I didn't want to associate this "different" body with the mental/emotional side of myself. My body had been more of an enemy than a friend. Looking at myself from the age of six, I remember looking at my body like a dungeon, trapped inside behind these bars of "fat." And being so tall (I'm 6'2" and no, I do not play basketball and the weather isn't different up here), I felt like my appearance wasn't a person — it was a jail. I always felt like a prisoner to myself.
Society is the curator of false imagery and false representation. Growing up African American and thicker than most children, I looked to the internet in my early teenage years for comfort, support and reassurance that I was normal — validation that the melanin in my skin didn't expel malice or discomfort or difference in the negative sense, or that the rolls on my stomach and back were something that many had for body types of all sorts, all shapes, sizes, etc. I wanted to feel like I was human. But society did not come through for me, as it probably didn't for many of you as well. They rewarded my cries of help with photoshopped bodies, clothes that come in "one size fits the one percent" and the vicious comments of so-called friends (and even family) that I was bigger than a whale. Years and years of questioning humanity, I finally found my light.
Now, at almost 19 years of life, my body aligns with the rest of me and it has a few lessons written on it. Comparison is the root of all evil: Do not compare yourself to anyone but who you were yesterday. You are your own best friend and your own worst enemy. The only person that mirrors reflect is you, and it's extremely important that you make sure you reaffirm your humanism with yourself.
Your body is a huge part of you and you are lovely in every form. If you did not hear that today, read that sentence as many times as you need to. You are something of a special breed of person, an individual. Treat your body with care. If you are tired or need rest, take a rest. If you are feeling uneasy about the way you look, look at yourself in the mirror and find three things that you have that no one else possesses. You are unique, different and that is the best part of being human: Difference is our main similarity. If we did not have difference, diversity would not exist.
Do not look to society for validation. Look into self-love, self-assurance, self-validation and the validation of your loved ones (ones who really love you, appreciate you and show you more than just tell you). Loving yourself is a journey; loving the bag of skin and bones you are takes so much time and patience with yourself. You deserve that time and effort. Take yourself on the yellow brick road of life and be sure to take every step.
You are valid. Important.
Think of your body as your home. Homes are to be renovated, to have permanent residents to build their lives into and to grow inside of. You are the permanent resident of your body — you are no tourist. Your rooms are all painted the perfect color and all of your doors are polished golden knobs. You are golden. Who you are and who you want to be are within you, but you must connect yourself with yourself.
From my body to yours, your body is a whole, not a quarter of who you are. Mind, body and soul make up you. Take care of yourself, holistically.
Six-year-old Cierra is looking at me and you right now with a sparkle in her eye.
Six-year-old you is looking at you, clapping — you're making it. Treat yourself with care and love and you will make it through, always.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels