Every day, I pass by my mirror at least 30 times and there is not one time where I pass by it without lifting up my shirt to see what my body is looking like. This is something I do, every, single, day. When I finish eating a meal, I do it. When I come back from the gym, I do it. When I wake up in the morning to use the restroom, I do it. And even right before bed, I do it. Ever since I was a little girl, I have struggled with me body image. Between the ages of 6 and 13, I struggled with obesity and only hoped that one day I too could look like a Disney princess or even a Barbie doll. When I was 14, I decided that it was time for a change and I began to run and become active at the gym. When I began to lose the weight, I lost it dramatically and became addicted to my results. I kept going and going and soon I lost so much weight that my fat jokes started to turn into “boney” girl laughs. I just couldn’t win. I was either too big or too small. So I became dissatisfied with myself and just felt stuck because I didn’t know which way to turn anymore.
When it came to dieting, I was even worse. I would starve myself just because I just had to have that flat stomach. I remember when I was around 12, I would do this thing for a week, where I would eat two strawberries and a handful of almonds as my meal for the whole day because I saw a late night infomercial that spoke on how strawberries and almonds helped them lose weight. Sick, right? I’ve run through cycles and cycles of dieting throughout my short life time. Some where I ate once a day, some where I ate whatever I want but in small portions, some where I would skip meals, and some where I didn’t eat at all. Isn’t it awful that I did all of that for the sake of pleasing the world with my body?
When it comes to men and women, I feel like men have less worry about their body image than girls do. I feel like society has applied the pressure for perfection onto women, while men are usually accepted how they are. I think this goes back to society’s historical objectification of women and how we are seen as possessions, so we have to always look “polished.” Another thing I find is that a man will have the body of a penguin, but still expect their girlfriend to look like Tyra Banks. Trust me, I know this from experience. They have this mindset that we are the ones who should keep up our bodies and always look good next to them.
I feel like I’ve always been ashamed of my body image because no matter what stage of life I am in, I’m never up to par with what I “should” be looking like. For example, I mentioned before how I always wanted to look like a Disney princess when I was younger because they always had flat tummies and could wear two piece bathing suits. Now, I struggle with comparing myself to the bodies of Instagram models and the Kardashians. As a women with little to no curves, I feel like society makes me feel less than that. It feels like without certain features, I am not fully a woman. Not that I am a man, but that I am just less of a woman. I feel like this thought also comes from my cultural background. I am originally from Ghana, Africa and as an African woman we are vastly known for our bodacious bodies. In my family, the majority of the women have exceptional body figures, holding little to no waist, with massive curves. So a lot of the time I am teased about my figure and how it doesn’t stand a chance against everyone else’s. Even on the outside, my ethnicity is sometimes questioned due to the way my body is shaped.
As I continue to struggle with my body image, in search of self-love, I only pray that my younger siblings don’t go through what I’ve went through, or at least not as bad. I’m sure that in their lifestyle they will be faced with some type of body insecurity, but I just pray that they get through it and also find self-love in the mist of it all.
Jessica Ahenkorah is a senior at Old Dominion University, striving in her last semester to receive a degree in Mass Communications. Creativity is Jessica’s best attribute and will most likely be where her future career derives from. Her hobbies include reading, motivating others, video editing, and brand building. Her goal is to one day take her acquired skills through the doors of Nickelodeon Animation Studios where she would like to eventually land an executive position.