I spent a good majority of my life avoiding mirrors. I had never been satisfied with the body I was given; I was always jealous of my long, lengthy friends who never seemed to worry about how many calories they were consuming.
What started out as dissatisfaction with my body in my early teens turned into a nightmare when I grew older.
I hated my stocky frame and soft curves, and I longed for the Kate Moss body type.
I could see it was both what society wanted me to be and what I could never achieve.
After years of dodging my reflection in the mirror and dieting off and on, I slowly came to accept the fantastic body I had.
It didn't happen overnight; it took time to accept that what I had was worthwhile. In fact, it was downright sexy.
Here are some realizations I came to, once I accepted the body I had:
1. You want to take care of it
When you come to love your body for what it is, you find that you want to keep feeling good about yourself.
Where once you might have exercised to lose weight or dieted to fit into the bikini you've stowed in the back of your closet for months, you now recognize you want to do healthy things for yourself because you feel better when you do them.
2. You're happier in general
Hating your body takes up a lot of time and thought.
Not only are you thinking constantly about how much better it would be if you lost just another five pounds or whether or not you should really be eating that piece of pizza, but those thoughts tend to stick around until you don't even realize you're thinking them.
Over time, those thoughts can weigh you down and make you feel miserable.
When you've come to accept the body you do have, you feel good about the stunningly gorgeous person you are. That translates into all other aspects of your life.
3. You learn to treat yourself
Life is surprisingly short and chances are, you won't always be around to enjoy it.
You find you can have that piece of chocolate and enjoy it instead of hating yourself the entire time for having it.
Learning how to enjoy yourself can be one of the hardest things for someone who has struggled with body acceptance in the past, but once you come to love who you are and the skin you've been given, you know you can afford to enjoy your life a little more.
4. You know you don't have to fit society's standards
Our world today expects women to look a certain way, and although many advertising companies and corporations are more aware of body acceptance and might even be trying to incorporate it into their marketing campaigns, this is a new outlook.
Many members of Generation-Y grew up without exposure to body acceptance.
When you are aware, you come to realize that the images you choose to promote a product or those Photoshopped covers of our favorite celebrities simply aren't realistic.
You learn society isn't always right — and perhaps it is what's messed up, not your body and not your life.
5. You learn there's a lot more to life than how you look
Feeling sexy and good about yourself is important, but when you've come to already feel that way about yourself, you start to focus on other aspects of your life that can mean more.
You start to realize you have a specific passion for playing an instrument, or that you can spend more time reading books by your favorite author.
You might dive further into your career or learn a new language.
Most importantly, you can focus and spend more time on the relationships you have with those you love and care about because you already have a solid relationship with the most critical person of all: yourself.