The whole culture of trying to get women to love themselves still tends to isolate and alienate women in some way (fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, colorism, etc.). The body image project is a series that highlights what real, everyday women (and some men) have done to develop a positive perception of their physical appearance thus far — how they’ve gotten to a healthy place, what they’ve done to get there, struggles and setbacks they still experience, and what they’re doing to get to a place where they feel the best about themselves and stay there.
With editing by Adwaa
Rihab has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Nutrition. She loves cooking and eating healthy meals. Her weakness is chocolate and SHE NEVER, EVER deprives herself from having it. She is currently training for a marathon so nutrition is definitely key! Fingers crossed she crosses the finish line with chocolate in hand 🏃
What issues have you had with your own body image that you’ve learned to love and appreciate about yourself?
The issue that I have had with my body was that from a young age, I developed at a quicker pace than other girls my age. I had more curves. I always assumed having curves was a horrible thing and I wanted to be just like all the other girls my age: RAIL THIN. As I got older, I began to get more compliments from friends that made me uncomfortable. It could have been as simple as a, “Wow, you look great in that top,” or “Those pants look really good on you.”
Now, at 30, I have finally learned to acknowledge my curves, love them, and appreciate my body. It is who I am and I love the me I am in my own skin.
What has been your experience with learning to be comfortable in your skin and love yourself?
It’s very difficult at first to feel comfortable in your own skin. People are always super critical of themselves and I am no different. For many years I would count calories and work out excessively just to fit in. But at the end of the day, I realized I was not me and I did not love the skin I was in. My mid-twenties was when I actually began getting comfortable with wearing a tank top and showing my arms or even wearing a bathing suit. I just wasn’t ever comfortable until recently.
What comments have you heard over time about your weight, height, or other physical aspects of your appearance that have made it difficult to develop that self-love and acceptance?
I am the youngest of five, with three older sisters and one brother. My sisters were all very tall and lean. I would say about 5’9 and about 135 lbs, while I was about 5’2 and about 145 lbs. I was always told, “You look cute for a ‘chubby, short girl.” What does that mean? I never looked my weight because it was spread evenly throughout my body, however, occasionally I would hear, “Oh, that won’t fit you,” or “Are you sure you want to wear that?” It made me second guess who I was and what I stood for. Now, at 5’4 and 122 lbs, I am comfortable with my body and my own skin!
People are always super critical of themselves and I am no different.
What would you say to someone who came to you about their own struggles with self-love and acceptance?
Being a Dietitian, I get asked by many friends, family, coworkers, “Can you put me on a diet? I am having issues here and there.” Or my favorite, “I just want to lose 5-10 pounds.” Mind you, most of the time, it’s not people who are overweight that ask, but rather, people who have struggled with someone verbally abusing them about their weight or people that have a skewed image of their body. I tell them that the number on the scale is just a number! Feel comfortable with who you are. If you still don’t, then we’ll work together to find the root of the issue and change it. Find your ultimate body happiness.
Since these issues never disappear completely, what are some things you currently grapple with and what do you do to overcome them?
I tend to count calories every once in a while, mostly when I am overly stressed at work. Just like others, I still struggle with that. I learn to let go and just enjoy that piece of cake or candy bar every once in a while without counting calories or feeling guilty. In a notebook or my notes app on my phone, I write a list of healthy foods I ate for the day and a list of unhealthy foods. After seeing that the healthy list outweighs the unhealthy, I let it go. It’s a constant struggle, but I am definitely working on it one day at at time.
In a short sentence or phrase, create and share your own personal mantra for positive and healthy body image.
You have this one life, this one body – love it, take care of it, and learn to accept it no matter what shape or size you are. LOVE YOUR BODY LADIES!!