“Ugh, I look so fat in this picture,” said every woman in the world at some point or another. No matter our actual size, pretty much every woman has experienced body image issues, whether they began during adolescence or didn’t crop up until well into our adult years. In none of these cases is anything ever actually wrong with us, but for some reason, we’re convinced we could always be prettier, thinner, and overall better looking. Newsflash: You’re not as fat as you think you are.
Not only is that thought process draining and a complete waste of energy, but it’s not even true. Even if you improved one area of your body you felt was problematic, you’d find another thing to bash about yourself in the end, anyway. So instead of thinking about how your thighs touch or wondering if your arms are jiggling enough to stop waving in public, just stop. Learn to love yourself as you are. “Fat” isn’t a bad word or a bad thing to be, anyway.
- Your weight probably hasn’t actually changed. Go ahead and weigh yourself. I know I’ve had severe moments of “fat panic,” only to see that I was exactly the same size once I got on the scale — or that I gained a pound rather than the 500 pounds I felt I gained. Even though it’s scary, the scale can bring salvation. On the flip side, it’s important to realize that the scale is just a set of meaningless numbers. If you do see a higher number than you hoped or expected, don’t let that get you down. It’s an arbitrary metric.
- It probably is just water weight. This one may not always be true but is often the culprit for your heavier moments. You can honestly gain up to five pounds around your period that comes right back off when your monthly friend vacates the premises. It’s worse for some, but it happens to most people who menstruate. So, put on those stretch pants for a day and know you still look great.
- Dressing rooms have the lighting from hell. This is definitely the time to realize you’re not as fat as you think. There are rooms apparently designed to make everyone look terrible, also known as dressing rooms. Anyplace with overhead fluorescents will make you look not only five pounds heavier but like a member of the undead. It’s extremely cruel.
- You could be wearing the wrong clothes for your body type. How clothes fit makes a huge difference in how you look. Even Halle Berry had to have her costume changed in Catwoman because the original cut made her look too big. Why the whole film wasn’t cut is a mystery, but that’s an issue for another time. While you should wear whatever you like and feel comfortable in, there are clothes that are more flattering on certain body types than others. If that’s something that matters to you, explore your options!
- You need to stop comparing yourself to others. Most of the time, our low self-esteem comes from comparing ourselves to others. We don’t do this with only models and celebs, but friends and even strangers. Why? It doesn’t matter what anyone else looks like because they’re not you, and I guarantee those girls are worried about how they compare to everyone else, too. This leads me to…
- No one is perfect. Literally no one. Although this is obvious, it’s something I always forget, but it’s true. Nobody always looks as good as their best Instagram picture and even Scarlett Johansson has cellulite. That doesn’t mean she’s not still hot, so why aren’t you? Whether you’re not as fat as you think or you’re fatter, stop seeing that as a problem. Your weight doesn’t define you, so don’t let it.
- Nobody notices or cares. Sure, if you gained or lost a bunch of weight in a short period of time, people would notice. But how often have you thought to yourself, “Hey, I think Carly’s jeans are slightly tighter than normal. Not enough to go up a size, but they’re certainly a less comfortable fit?” Probably never because you don’t care. No one cares about the tiny things we obsess about. No one cares about you in the best possible way.
- Anyone who does notice or care is just a douchebag. You might think to yourself, “People do notice — look at all rude comments and tweets about celebrity bodies.” One, you’re probably not a celebrity and people are not being paid to pick you apart. Two, yes there are people who say Christina Hendricks is fat, but those people are jerks. There will always be assholes online that live to say mean things. Hey, they may say a mean thing about you. But it doesn’t matter because their opinions literally don’t matter.
- You’ll look back years from now and wonder why you were so hard on yourself. Look back at your old photos — photos more than three or four years old. You always look thin and really beautiful, too (and not nearly as fat or ugly as you felt at the time the picture was taken). Try to see your current pictures with “five years in the future” eyes because you’ll definitely look back on your worst pic from today and think, “Oh God, look how cute I was.”
- Because you’re not actually fat. This is the real truth. You aren’t as fat as you think you are because you’re not fat. And if you are fat, either change it (if you want to) or embrace it because there’s nothing wrong with that. Obsessing about it doesn’t change your weight and your weight probably doesn’t need to be changed. You don’t need to be thin to get a man. Guys in real life are far less picky than women’s magazines portray. Typically, if you own a vagina, a (straight) man is automatically interested. More importantly, you don’t need to be thin to feel good about yourself. As long as you’re healthy, be a size 2 or a size 22, it’s all good. Being a good person is better than being a thin one, so feel good about yourself and that happiness will make you more beautiful than any diet ever could.