This past weekend, I stood on the beach in Massachusetts, looking through the pictures on my phone that my mom took of us. The only thing that came to find as I flipped through was "I look terrible in these pictures," an opinion that was totally my own. I momentarily ignored the sun shining down upon me, my family surrounding me, the dogs that were running through the sand, completely carefree. For a moment, I was consumed by my body image, and disappointed in it for no specific reason. But, why?
I consider myself to be a pretty in-shape person, but there are still days when I look in the mirror and wished I could look different, as almost everyone does. Thankfully, these days have become fewer, and as I grow older and more accepting of myself and reality, I care less and less. However, I still have those days, and I know that this can be extremely difficult to let go of. I personally believe there is a reason behind all of this, why we feel comfortable in our own skin until someone snaps a picture.
Whether you're a girl or a guy, media influences us left and right about how we "should" look, and what's considered attractive. While this is a personal preference either way, it's easy to compare yourself to people who have flatter stomachs, longer legs, more defined muscles, etc., because they are everywhere. You can't scroll through Instagram or Twitter or look at Snapchat stories without seeing at least one person who, in your mind, might be better looking than you or more appealing because of their lifestyle. As self-conscious as this can make you feel, there is something that should be understood about these posts and these kinds of people–something that's not as negative as you may think.
People have different lifestyles than you do, and sometimes, what they may do is something that just wouldn't be realistic for you, and that's okay! If you can go to the gym twice a day every day, great! If you can't, it's not the end of the world, and you shouldn't shame yourself because of it. It's great to have goals, and to work towards them in a healthy, dedicated fashion is really admirable. Some people are completely comfortable going vegan or vegetarian, but you shouldn't digress if it's not something you can commit to either. There are other ways to be healthy and happy without giving up your own lifestyle.
As long as you are healthy, it shouldn't matter that that girl from your school looks so skinny in a bathing suit, or that one of your friends is bulkier than you are. Societal standards make it difficult to accept yourself if you don't fit into that "perfect" mold, but realistically, there is no such thing. It's more of a brand than anything else, and often, people who are seemingly more fit aren't actually the healthiest. It's important to value healthy choices and regular exercise over trying to achieve a certain number on the scale, because just because you feel as though you're too skinny, or don't look skinny enough, doesn't mean that your body isn't beautiful and shouldn't be celebrated.
Not having the flattest stomach, and that fact showing in pictures makes you think about what's really important. To be healthy should be one of the only things you need to look at when assessing yourself, and if you really aren't where you want to be, making goals is all the more important to get there in a safe and healthy manner. Don't let society make you feel like you have to be someone else, or make you uncomfortable in your skin. Regardless of what you look like in a picture, you are beautiful, and it's important to realize that you see an amplified version of what everyone else does.
Your beach body is set as soon as you step foot in the sand. Media distorts our ideas of what "good" looks like, but if you look around at everyone else on the beach, despite how they look versus how you do, realize that genuine confidence comes from within yourself (and only yourself!), regardless of what you look like. Don't let twisted ideas of how you feel you should look come between you and enjoying the beautiful experiences life has to offer—you are worth so much more than that. So what is the perfect body type? It's yours. It's yours when you embrace it, it's yours when you take care of it—the perfect body type is when you're comfortable.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash