I have this one memory etched in the dark corners of my mind.
I was about 15, soaking in the bathtub and scowling fiercely. Even though the lavender bubble bath smelled like a frothy purple heaven, I couldn’t enjoy it.
AlI could think about was how much I loathed my thick thighs.
At the time, I thought they were downright disgusting and fat; an unfortunate gathering place for grotesque blotches of cellulite and flabby skin that was anything but sexy.
I poked and prodded tirelessly, trying to see how my legs would look if they could just be a few f*cking inches thinner.
Then all my problems would go away, right?
I really believed that.
My thighs became an obsession for about 10 years. I’d boil with envy at every long-legged lady I’d pass by on the sidewalk, wishing with every ounce of my being to wake up one morning with slender, mile-long gams that would look dead sexy in bright red stilettos.
During those years, I had one goal in life: to be flawlessly beautiful.
What an empty, sad goal it was.
I dieted like crazy and exercised obsessively, even dangerously. But, as my thighs shrank, my problems quickly grew.
My quest for the perfect legs was only the tip of the iceberg. I began to long for washboard abs and elegant, sculpted arms. It would never be enough. I would never look how I envisioned because what I wanted wasn’t real; I wanted to look airbrushed. I wanted the kind of beauty that no one actually possesses—not even the girls who appear incredibly perfect in those glossy fashion magazines.
But, one day, something within me woke up.
I wish I could say I had a divine revelation of self love, but it didn’t happen like that.
I became absolutely, mind-numbingly bored of worrying if my thighs jiggled when I walked down the street. I yawned at the thought of obsessing for hours about whether a pair of cut-off shorts made me look bottom-heavy or pear-shaped.
I became hungry for life again.
I became thirsty for knowledge and substance and meaning.
My spirit was starving for something more, and I began to ponder my life’s purpose.
During those colorless years, my world had become small; too small. I lived (if I can call it that at all) in a dark prison of self-hatred. While I was worrying about the width of my legs, wars were being waged; people were struggling like mad, falling in love, coping with unbearable grief, fighting inner demons and conquering cancer.
And, there I was, flipping though the latest issue of Cosmopolitan, loathing my body with relentless determination.
“No! Not good enough,” my soul said loudly.
Perspective is a beautiful thing; a rare gift.
I began to wonder: what if I appreciated being alive? What if I used all the energy I spent hating my body and poured it into hobbies, learning, helping others, meditation and healing myself? Eventually, I stopped wondering and started doing. I threw myself into every corner of life and explored this juicy existence from the inside out.
It tasted painfully beautiful.
I cried many evenings out of complete joy, because I didn’t realize how deeply I longed for any conversation that didn’t involve the question, “Does this make me look fat?”
Because at the end of the day, who cares? We don’t have time to care.
I am not here to be beautiful or have perfect legs or look like a supermodel.
I am here to learn and explore and seek meaning and truth with messy hair and an imperfect heart.
And, oddly enough, once I shifted focus away from my body, I learned to love it. I realized that I am not my body; it’s just the vessel I came here in. It’s wonderful and worthy of respect, but it’s not worth obsessing over.
I’d rather use that energy to feed my soul.
I’d rather be so thirsty for life and adventure and exploration that I wouldn’t dare waste a single second staring at my thighs in disgust.
Life is far too precious.
From hair-raising inner adventures to long mountain hikes and strolls down dirty city streets, I’ve come to adore my legs.
They are not skinny, but they are strong.
They have carried me through good times and bad; heartbreak and love; pain and transformation.
And, that’s the kind of beauty that isn’t skin deep.
So, here’s to jiggly thighs and juicy asses and flabby arms and sagging stomachs!
Here’s to naked faces and curvy waists and stubborn wrinkles and double chins!
Here’s to all of it!
Because those things—the things we’ve spent so much time worrying about—they won’t matter at all when we’re on our deathbeds.
We will only cry a river of tears, wishing so hard we didn’t waste our lives.
Let’s start living today.
Let’s not just celebrate the beauty of our imperfectly delicious bodies—let’s celebrate the sheer joyous pain of being alive.
Let us celebrate, how f*cking amazing it is to be alive.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Emily Bartran