When You Look Back, You’ll Miss How You Look Now

Published on 2/22/2021

It feels like a bad trip, a psychedelic dream. As I can remember it so clearly, looking in the mirror and clutching the fat on my stomach or changing out of a pair of shorts at the way my thighs bunched around them. Photos I couldn’t manage to post on Instagram, as after close examination, they revealed countless impurities.

But now I’m looking at those photos, I’m looking at the proof of how I looked at that age, and all I see is thin. Collarbones that could break through the skin, a stomach so flat that my uterus must be absent, and thighs aching to find each other again.

How can my memory, or rather my reality of the time, differ so much from this snapshot of it? How could I have been so wrong?

I look back at that girl, so thin, so tired, so hungry, and I wish she had at least enjoyed that body. Worn bikinis, crop tops, whatever she wanted, whatever made her feel sexy. I wish she had enjoyed her body and taken pride in it, because it cost her so much.

What we’re taught

We see a distorted version of ourselves in the mirror. We zoom in on our insecurities, and we create flab out of a mere stomach. We create ugly out of a healthy body. It isn’t entirely our fault, as we’ve been conditioned to do exactly that. We’ve been overwhelmed by magazines, TV shows, and other forms of discourse that tell us thin is beautiful, nothing else can be.

So we believe it. We believe it so vehemently that even when we begin to re-educate ourselves, even when we start to realise that not everyone can be thin, not everyone should be thin, not everyone has to be thin, we are still unable to reflect these new wisdoms to ourselves.

We’ll tell our friend that she looks beautiful at any size, that she should feel confident in her healthy body, before returning home to cry at our reflection. Any body is beautiful as long as it isn’t our own.

She can be plus-size, he can be chubby, but we don’t share that same allowance. We look at ourselves and see only our flaws. We look at ourselves and see only things to change and ‘fix’.

Five years from now

In five years, you will look back at the body you have now, and you’ll likely miss it, you’ll admire it. You will have gained weight, loosened slightly, adopted stretchmarks or other tattoos of life, and you’ll yearn for the canvas you wear now.

Don’t believe me? Look at a photo from five years ago, or ten years ago. Look at yourself as a teenager, in the body you resented and felt desperate to change. You look back at that figure and wish you could have it now, so it is only natural that the same will occur again.

Five years from now, you’ll wish you had this body, and you’ll wish that you enjoyed it. That you wore the crop top you feel too fat to wear then, that you wore the leather pants that make you feel self-conscious. You’ll be filled with regrets about taking this gorgeous vessel for granted.

And there it is: the proof that you are perfect. That you don’t need to change, drastically reduce your weight, hide yourself away in baggy clothes. It’s right there in the fact that you’ll one day yearn for this form.

If the you in the future will miss and desire this body, then the you of today can do the same.

What now?

Don’t let another five years pass you by. Don’t let another year, another month, or another day be spent detesting the figure you’ll miss one day. Regrets are painful, but they are also avoidable. Appreciate your body today, and tomorrow, and every day after. So that you don’t have to wonder, to miss, to regret, you can know that you loved your body.

It won’t be easy. I write this, but at times I’m the person curled into a ball crying or furiously glaring at my reflection. I’ve been thin, I’ve been fat, I’ve been everything in between. My body is the biggest it has ever been, and this scares me. But I have never loved my body as much as I do today. It has scars, stretch marks, and imperfections, but it is all that I have.

I don’t want to look back in five years and wish I had enjoyed it more. So I’ll ignore the voices in my head that tell me that top is for skinny people; why should they get all the fun anyway? I’ll ignore the comments left on articles, the way photos of me in a swimsuit get fewer likes than someone half my size. I’ll listen to future me, as she knows me best, she has my interests close to heart.

I’ll wear what I want to wear. As a size doesn’t own a clothing style, a smaller size isn’t permitted to more freedoms than I am. I’ll wear what I want to wear, whether that’s covered, bare or anything in between.

I’ll learn to appreciate my body because it has carried me so far. It is the strength that takes me through my day, that moves me on a run, that allows me to connect with another human so intimately.

It is my strength, and it is my beauty.

If you regret not taking advantage of the body that you had five years ago, ensure the same doesn’t happen again. This is all the proof that you don’t need to change your body, merely your outlook on it.

Fleur

Fleur

Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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