By McKenzie Ward
“No one could ever love you.”
It has been over 560 days since I was told that.
And although there has been over 560 days separating me from that statement and I am no longer in contact with the individual who drunkenly slurred that to me, I think of how I’m unlovable at least once a day.
But it wasn’t always like this.
I grew up loving myself.
I loved my laugh, my ability to always put others first, and most importantly, I loved that I was me.
But at about 10 years old, I began to lose that love. I was no longer allowing myself to feel happiness about who I was because I hated who I saw in the mirror.
Unlike most 10-year-old girls, I was the chubby girl in class. I used to hide my body in sweatshirts even when it reached 90 degrees outside, and I wore shorts that went almost to my knees hoping they would hide my “thunder thighs.”
Every year when the weather begins to get warmer, I begin to panic about having to wear clothing that doesn’t allow me to hide my biggest insecurities.
My arms, my thighs, if I’m being honest – the top of my head to my toes.
To say my weight has fluctuated over the years is an understatement. During the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I was a size four after losing roughly 30 pounds in less than two months. But by the end of junior year, I was a size 10 after overeating due to birth control and the constant stress of my then relationship.
My struggles with my body image were only heightened when my toxic ex-boyfriend would repeatedly belittle me for any and all weight gain despite my best efforts to lose weight.
He was supposed to love me, but during the time he was supposed to be loving me, he instead fed into my biggest insecurities that he was well aware of.
Having to hear the individual who was supposed to love me repeatedly make comments concerning my weight worsened my anxiety about how others perceived me then and how they perceive me now. I felt as if I had all eyes on me when I wore anything that showed what he considered “unattractive.”
I could feel myself slipping into a deep depression and could no longer see my own self-worth.
At 20 years old, I still struggle with my weight, but I struggle even more with learning to love myself despite what I consider “flaws.”
To help love myself, I began to get tattoos on parts of my body that I was insecure about. I have slowly begun to transform the body I hate into a walking art museum.
I now have a new found appreciation for those areas of myself.
To my tattoo artist, Joe: you have given me the confidence boost I never knew I would find. You will never know how truly honored I am to wear your artwork on my body. Thank you.
But still, I struggle with intrusive thoughts that pester me with the question, “If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone to love you?”
However, the statement, “Nobody can love you until you love yourself” is, as our current president would say, “A bunch of malarkey.”
Because although I struggle with accepting and loving myself, that does not mean that I am less deserving of love.
Although I understand that those who preach this statement might be well-intentioned and could possibly be trying to advocate for self-love, they are feeding the narrative that those who struggle with self-love aren’t deserving of any form of love.
Each day, millions of individuals struggle with mental illness that can oftentimes destroy their
perception of themselves and lead to self-loathing. But each and every one is just as deserving of love as the person who can wake up in the morning and think to themselves, “I love myself.”
So, it’s 560 days later and I still struggle with the belief that I will never be loved.
But each morning, I wake up and I try to remind myself that anyone would be honored to love me.