I was finally able to accept that I will never be stick thin again and that I was blessed to have a curvier figure, so I should love it and embrace it.
I will most likely never be one of the cover girl models I see on magazines with a perfect body and flawless skin and long flowing, shiny, never-frizzy hair.
But that's okay with me because I have also realized that I no longer have to measure myself against those girls to feel and be beautiful. As long as I eat right, exercise, and continue to live healthfully, I am just as good as any supermodel!
It took ten years of struggling with my self-image and self-esteem to come to a place of understanding, acceptance, and self-love for my body and myself, regardless of my dress size, and to not only understand this message but also to finally stop listening to my inner critic.
My journey of how I got here is what ultimately led me to wanting to share my experiences with you in this book. I've been through the various problems, issues, and concerns you are now facing or will face in the future.
Even if you feel like you're the only girl in the world who is suffering, I assure you that you're not.
I've been there.
I've cried alone in my bedroom at night. I woke up in the morning filled with angst about going to school. I've stood in front of the mirror and wanted to scream about how I looked. I've been embarrassed to go outside in a bikini. I heard the cruel commentary from the boys and girls in the cafeteria or the back of the classroom about my weight or dumb questions.
And guess what?
I lived through it all, and so will you!
In fact, someday you may even look back on all of the drama you're now fighting and laugh about it, like I do. It may not seem possible now, but it's true. Believe me, when I came home from Costa Rica twenty pounds heavier, it wasn't funny.
Not even a little bit.
But now, just a few years later, my girlfriends and I laugh about it. I can look at my best friend, who said I came home "healthy," and say, "Did I ever look in the mirror when I was there? How could I not notice an extra twenty pounds!" and just laugh.
The gift of laughter is the best tool you can arm yourself with throughout these turbulent and awkward years.
I know. Easier said than done, right?
But if you can find the humor in the absurd daily struggles, if you can laugh at others' irritating remarks, if you can learn not to take every little thing so seriously, if you can learn to allow your inner beauty to work its way outward, those awful feelings will eventually slip away, and you will not only survive, you will thrive.
Happiness isn't found in being emaciated, having flawless skin, or supermodel legs that never end. We can only gain true happiness by loving ourselves, our inner and outer beauty, for all that we are and even for those things that we are not—or as I have defined it, learning to Rock What You've Got!