About the interview: Haley and I have been friends since we were very young, and it breaks my heart to read some of the terrible things she heard about her body when she was younger (and I can relate). She’s a beautiful girl with a great body, and is now finding herself (and love for yoga and hiking) in Seattle. I’ve always admired her for keeping her independence while being in a relationship, and some of her honest thoughts during the interview can be taken as advice for other couples/women. Read Haley’s story to learn more and get inspired!
CC: What’s your body image story?
H: Since I can remember, I’ve been concerned about the way I look. For quite some time I wasn’t too too hard on myself, I truly thought that I looked “normal” and it wasn’t until the evil years of high school when a lot of that changed. I remember several specific occasions of being called “fat”. All it takes is one occasion of being body shamed for the image of yourself to kind of change. I did lots of healthy things, I was always involved in sports, my mom is super active and healthy and always tried to raise us with a healthy lifestyle, but I was never a “petite” girl. I remember once I was on a run with my friend Jacky, you know, to better myself and my health, and a kid who I will not name from high school drove past me and yelled out “YOU’RE FAT!” to me, in front of my friend. I was absolutely mortified, ashamed, and so hurt. I really had never spoken to this person in my life, but he had all the intentions to bring me down. And someone I didn’t know and frankly didn’t care about, got to me and really made me feel so low and unworthy. So from this period of my life its been a long journey for me, to find a balance of staying healthy physically and mentally with body image. However, when I was a freshman in college I was going through a breakup and Nina asked me to do a half marathon with her (I was in no way shape or form a runner) but I agreed, I needed a distraction, and I succeeded! I wouldn’t say I am obsessed with running, but through that process I learned that I could accomplish anything if I believed in myself and put my mind to it, no matter what I looked like or if those around me “approved” of my body and/or image. Since then its still been an on and off struggle, to love myself. No matter how much weight I lost or haven’t lost, I’ve always stayed pretty curvy and I’m finally starting to really love my curves and accepting that I probably will never be a petite size, it just wasn’t a body type for me. I like when I feel strong, both mentally and physically, yoga helps encourage that for me. I like when I work for muscle, vs. a smaller size. It’s a much healthier mental game for me. I still have a long way to go when it comes to self love, but I think the world is slowly changing into acceptance, whether it be major companies including petite sizes to plus sizes in their advertising, or amazing blogs such as this. I hope to keep growing and learning about myself.
CC: How would you describe body image/how has it impacted your life?
H: It’s been a pro and a con. A con because the negativity I associated myself with my body is an additional stressor to my life! Also it can break me down if I let the negativity back in. However, my shift into liking to work towards strength and embracing any curves I have has made me much healthier and motivated. I now have realistic exercise and self goals (aka “I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months” isn’t a goal).
CC: Why is body image/self love/self acceptance important to you?
H: Because if you don’t love yourself, no one will. This has even played a role in my relationship! Many times I try to get words of affirmation and confidence from my boyfriend. Who obviously loves me and my body for what it is…and I find myself relying on him to tell me I don’t look fat or that I look good in a new outfit, etc. and it hurts and affects him as well. So I’ve been working hard towards self-love so that I can allow him to love me the way I should love myself!
CC: Does the media/models/celebrities have an impact on how you see yourself?
H: For sure! For better and for worse… For example, seeing an article of clothing on a model, lets say a swim suit… the model is probably wearing a size extra-small? Small? Well I don’t fall into that category, maybe I try it on and its notttt looking too hott on me, that really affects me and I think others! And these models aren’t realistic, and a lot of times photoshopped and that can be hard to remember. I feel like I should look like that, and if I don’t, I have failed myself. But these days there are a ton of celebrities who embrace their bodies or just embrace acceptance and love and that’s really cool. Sophia Bush, Brie Larson, Kate from “This Is Us”, Jennifer Lawrence, the list goes on and on.
CC: Do you compare yourself to other girls a lot/feel pressure to look a certain way at times? Why do you think you do?
H: Yep. I think this is a very very important topic to bring to light. Especially for the next generation that has social media introduced in their lives at a young age. I think a lot of negative comparisons has to do with social media…which is so unfortunate. However, I read something the other day that really stuck with me. And it talked about how when you see someone’s social media, you are seeing their BEST. If all you see is others bests you get confused with reality and your own bests, because you’re aware of your worst that you don’t see in other people. Whether it be someone else’s body or their looks, or clothes, or travel. It’s hard not to compare when these days everyone’s best moments are always in your face.
CC: What’s one thing you’d say to your younger, middle school aged self if you could go back? Or to younger girls today?
H: Stay off of social media, snap chat, etc as long as you can. Don’t ever do things to impress a boy, especially look a certain way. Get yourself a strong woman tribe that lifts you up, never brings you down (shout-out to my DBS)
CC: What do you do to love your body?
H: Working out for sure, but this includes lots of yoga. Yoga gives me so much strength both mentally and physically. Literally – while in class I can feel my core strengthening and my mind becomes more grounded. I’ll make healthy eating choices that won’t make me feel sluggish and crappy all day, but will trade that in and treat myself often too, knowing that I work hard to enjoy life – food included. I like to be outside, especially living in Seattle, even if its getting outside and going for a walk, utilizing nature and God’s gifts helps me realize that I’m beautiful just the way I was made 🙂
This interview is a part of The Curve Confessionals, a new content series on the Curve Confessions featuring other’s body image stories. Want to be interviewed, or know someone who might? Email email@example.com for more details.