When you look at my photos, you may think to yourself…that girl she is so confident, I wish I had her confidence. I wish I had the confidence to wear what she wears, or to talk about what she talks about. And the truth is sometimes I look at myself too and I am amazed at who I have become. I look at the woman in the photos too, and I have to pinch myself. The woman who stares back was once a citizen of insecurity but is now proudly a champion of self-love.
But the journey to get here, the journey to love myself again for the first time didn’t happen over night. It didn’t have a clear beginning and I pray it has no end. That journey was made up of tiny steps. A simple introduction to myself each morning. A long silent gaze at what I had never dared to consider loving.
It started with an understanding that the reflection that stared back at me was not a body created to be exploited in an attempt to feel anywhere close to accepted. I had to learn to understand that what I saw in the mirror was nothing but a home that God had given a soul that was fragile on its journey to authenticity.
I had to look at myself each morning and conclude that this body was mine, and the power to love it did not lay in the hands of a lover, it did not lay in the frequency of Instagram likes or the compliments of others. I came to understand that there was no such thing as universal perfection, and without a scale to measure myself against, I began to understand each curve, each bulge and each scar was simply an element of who I was. A woman. A strong ass woman!
So when you ask me how did I got this confident, and ask me to teach you how to be this confident, I challenge you. I challenge you to stop searching for a reason, an excuse or permission to have the audacity to look at yourself and be okay with what you see staring back at you. No one can give you permission to understand who you were created to be.
What I will tell you is that self-love is not always going to be there everyday. Understand that you will wake up on some days and live outside of yourself, unable to find an ounce of you to even begin to love. Know that there will be the bad hair days, the makeup cant help you days, and the clothes no longer fit days.
Know that those days will come. And when they do, look in the mirror and at your stretch marks, follow them with your eyes, they tell the most beautiful story of the journey that your body is on, has been on and will continue to be on. When you look at your bulging belly, touch the skin that defines it, and if even for a second revel in the fact that it is yours, alone.
And if you are like me, and you see your big round cheeks in the mirror…smile baby girl. Smile till they rise above your eyes, and cover the view of the world that once held your worth in its cruel hands.
My life truly changed when I made peace with my reflection. My life changed when I began to court the reflection of myself, to get to know its imperfections so deeply that they appeared in perfection.
I fought for years for people to love me for more than what was on the outside, but I learned that I could not expect from someone else what I myself did not practice.
I got to know the real me, until confidence became me.
That Hayet Rida
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Body Positive fashion and lifestyle blogger.