I, Tanaya Cardenales, am a sophomore at Connecticut College and the treasurer of the Black Student Union, Umoja, on campus. I am also the founder and creator of Built by Flaws.
My body image has always been a flaw of mine because I have always listened to other comments, words, thoughts and judgements of how I looked. When I entered my first year of high school, my body image became a big deal to me. I was always worried about my stomach not being flat enough, my butt and boobs being to big, and my stretch marks being abnormal. People always made comments about how since my boobs and butt were big, I might be fast a**. A fast a** means you are having sex and doing other things. In all reality none of that was/is occurring, I was just given these features of having a fat a** and big boobs. I had no control of how my body parts decided to develop. I was not okay with these things, so I began to starve myself to lose weight. It was the most horrible thing I have either done to myself. What hurt me the most was knowing that I was hurting my mother because she did not fully understand why I was doing what I was doing. It came to a point where I stopped starving myself because I realized how unhealthy it was. However, I continued to allow people’s judgements to effect how I looked at myself. I remember my god brother telling me that he was happy I gained weight because when I was “skinny” I looked like a slut. Also there was this boy that would constantly tell me I was fat and needed to lose weight. So I was in this constant battle of trying to figure what would I have to look like for people to accept me. This flaw followed me throughout my whole high school career and even my first year of college. I was participating in a war of perfecting my body image to gain acceptance from others. I was doing all of this and I was not even happy with myself.
I have accepted this flaw by saying screw everyone’s opinion about how I look. My first year of college, I started going to gym. I was going faithfully, but I was still eating badly. I was not treating my body like the temple that it is. And plus, once my second semester came around, I stopped going to the gym. When I came back home for my summer break, I went to the gym but fell off. When entering my sophomore year, I realize that I was trying to lose weight to meet expectations of others. I accepted my flaw by sitting myself down and brainstorming. I thought about what did I want and why I wanted it. I began to eat right and go to the gym faithfully. I pushed myself to limits I never thought I could reach. Every Friday, I weigh myself in and once I get off that scale I stand in front of my mirror and admire myself. My a** is not going any where, it’s always going to be fat. My boobs will continue to be the size they are and I love it. The stretch marks that run across my thighs and butt will forever be a part of me. My decorated love handles are perfect because they give me this beautiful curvy figure. The line that divides my tummy is beginning to be the most adorable thing. I came to accept my body image because I am one of a kind. The healthy lifestyle has taught me that I am doing this for me. I am not losing weight to have this perfect figure. I go to the gym and I eat healthy because my body is a temple. All I want to do is express my inner beauty on the outside.
Don’t you ever allow anyone’s words or judgements to make you do things that are not healthy for you. You are beautiful. No matter how big or small you are accept what you have. If you want to change that, change it for you. Never change who you are for other people. You have been given this flaw because you have the strengthen to accept who you are. Love yourself because you know you more than anyone else in this world.