Under my skin

Unlearning the burden of physical insecurities


Photo by Diya Bahl

Diya Bahl

It was 80 degrees one summer day, the sun shining beating down on me causing the small of my back to drip with sweat. Yet, I was sitting there in my fleece-lined hoodie and baggy jeans, unwilling to wear anything that would even dare to show my skin or reveal the shape of my body.

My physical insecurities started in middle school, and constantly progressed throughout the years. They began to create a block in my mind, not allowing me to be comfortable in my own skin. I blamed myself simply for what I looked like, which sent me spiraling, questioning my choices, actions, abilities and overall ran my confidence into the ground. 

Insecurities carry a weight of burden. Wearing baggy clothes on purpose and never taking pictures of myself were all ways in which my self-consciousness about my body channeled into real life decisions and caused me to pay unnecessary attention to every little flaw in the mirror.

According to a survey of 143 MVHS students, 75% feel insecure about their body image. Constantly comparing myself to what seem like the “perfect” looking people on Instagram and TikTok with their small waists, clear skin and hourglass figures is exhausting. Thinking that nothing looks good on me or worrying that people see me the way I see myself –– these all contributed to a never-ending cycle of self-doubt.

But over these past few years, I’ve unlearned the things that caused me to feel this way. Spending so much time with myself over quarantine introduced me to discovering more about me, and I was finally able to learn what I felt good in. I bought a different style of clothes, such as more crop tops and tighter pants, that showed off the very features I used to hide, like my stomach and arms. I started to experiment with makeup, learning how to do eyeliner and buying the right mascara. I took more pictures that I felt good in and surrounded myself with people I could be my truest self around. I found new recipes that I enjoyed eating, leading me to making the same avocado toast every weekend morning. I explored new music that I liked. Ultimately, I found the things that made me happy.

Finding this new version of myself immediately uplifted my self-confidence and allowed me to look at my physical self in a more positive light. The societal standards for what a girl is “supposed” to look like disappeared from the expectations I set for myself, allowing me to finally accept and feel good about what I saw in the mirror. 

It’s important to recognize that another person’s beauty doesn’t take away from your own, and comparing physical features only worsens the insecurity. Learning from an insecurity allows the opportunity for growth, and unlearning the burden of them opens up the ability to become the best version of yourself that you can be.