Loving Every Inch of You

"I love every inch of me." One simple sentence that is so hard to say and believe.

Laura LeeFor years, I let others' comments crush me and ruin how I saw myself. Growing up, I was the "chunky" friend — the one who couldn't borrow clothes, the one that boys didn't look at because I was too big. When I lived overseas, people would call me "Gorda" or "Gordi," which is a term of endearment, but it means "fat woman." Yeah, no — not cute. I dealt with it by keeping those thoughts and feelings to myself, and I let it eat me alive. If you knew me back then, you had no clue what I was going through, because I never told a soul. I don't think people realize what their words can do to someone. They have no clue what the other person is dealing with — what I was dealing with because of their words.

I would hear a comment from someone and allow it to fester in my mind for hours. Every day, I would nitpick at everything on my body. It was almost like an obsession. My brain would keep reminding me of so many horrible comments. The mirror and I were not friends. I would look and stare and see all the things they said I needed to change, because it seemed my appearance was an issue to them. I couldn't understand why people didn't love me for me.

One day I woke up and told myself NO MORE. No more listening to people's opinions about me, no more thinking negatively about myself, and most importantly, no more saying I wasn't good enough. I couldn't allow these negative thoughts to bring me down anymore, because hearing them and thinking them turned me into someone else. I would become so angry — even about the littlest things. I hated the feeling. I wasn't me. I felt almost like I didn't belong and that I was alone.

So I started replacing others' thoughts with my own. Why was I trying to change for them? Deep down, I thought I was pretty amazing overall. I started reminding myself about those amazing parts: I have a good heart. I'm loud, funny, and I'm involved in every activity known to man. I took a good look at myself, and for the first time I could say, "I love me." My rolls, my cellulite, my thick thighs, I LOVED IT ALL. I decided to embrace everything that made me ME. That is the day that I really started living. It took a long time to get there — to feel beautiful and to walk proud. There is no turning back.

My advice? Throw away everything that society and others have said about what you "need" to look or be like. Stop trying to mold yourself into a specific body, which is defined as the "perfect" or "ideal" body. We all come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Others (even people closest to you) may try to dictate who you need to be. I dealt with that by finding ways to be comfortable in my skin. To me, that means accepting and loving all of myself, which includes every flaw, every scar, everything that I possess. Know your worth, see the beauty we all see, and open your heart to loving yourself. Once you allow this to happen, I promise you your life will change. Your sparkle will never be dimmed again. You will humble, and you will inspire those who are in the shoes you used to stand in. We get to decide how we feel about ourselves!

Whether it's National Women's Health Week or just a regular day, you need to look in the mirror and push all that hate you have for yourself away. It's harder said than done, but NEVER allow comments or feelings to blind you. Stand up for you, your mind, and your body. BE CONFIDENT!!! Confidence is not a feeling, it's a way of life. It's believing in yourself. Strutting to your own beat. Feeling unstoppable, unbreakable, and flawless. Feel it, breathe it, live it!

About the author

Laura Lee

Laura Lee is a plus-size model. She wants to inspire women to love themselves and what they see in the mirror every day.

The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health.