Body Image Issues: Learning to Embrace All of Yourself

We need to learn to love ourselves and embrace our bodies like Mo’Nique. Photo courtesy Oxygen.
We need to learn to love ourselves and embrace our bodies like Mo’Nique. Photo courtesy Oxygen.

American culture baffles me or creeps me out—like hash browns. But more importantly, the American obsession with beauty.

I never met people who ran so much or wished they had a bit of Michelangelo and God in them to redraw all the body parts they don’t like.

Every magazine I open has a weight loss or physical improvement advertisement: “10 Ways to Lose Weight while You’re Sleeping!” or “The 50 Newest Fashion Trends that Will Make You Sizzle!”

Television assaults me with every commercial break, as spiels about revolutionary contraptions that will burn the extra forty pounds that lie between you and the better, happier version of you flood the airwaves.
The same message applies to both sexes: you’re not good enough as you are.

That kills me.

In Africa, people care about how they look but they’re not so focused on it. It’s at least third on the list; people there have pride in their body and appearance no matter what shape or size. That’s what you’ll always look like, so you might as well love it!

Every time I go to the gym, there’s a girl who should be eating cheesecake with her girlfriends, instead she massacres her body on the treadmill to satisfy the cultural belief that skinny is better.

I pity the girls who gaze longingly at the dessert section and never approach it because they’re secretly counting the calories in that brownie.

I remember being like that when I was younger and wanted to fit into what everyone’s version of “pretty,” hoping that by becoming skinny people would accept me.

A lot of young ladies and gentleman—though they’re less candid about it—battle with insecurities about their bodies, wishing that they looked like Beyonce, Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie or another impossibly gorgeous celebrity.

Fact: you’ll never look like them because you’re not them. You’re you. Try this for a second: look in the mirror. See that person? That’s you, and you are quite the stunner!

A major reason those drop-dead gorgeous people are gorgeous is they see beauty within themselves. You have to see it before anyone else does.

Once, I was so high on society’s beauty endorphins, killing myself to fit the mold. Then I realized, “Stuff it, I won’t conform to anyone’s version of beautiful other than my own.”

You have to find what you think is beautiful in yourself; I learned to love my little Buddha belly and relish the fact that I’m the only woman in this world who has this body of mine.

I never started off being pretty, and I don’t know anyone who started off being handsome. I got there; you’ll get there.

You don’t need to figure out how to lose weight while sleeping or get botox, liposuction, breast implants, calf implants or chin implants. None of that will make a bit of difference if you still don’t see it.

You are happy, magnificent, smart and lovable already because you have a whole store-full of naturally-grown beauty.

All you need to do is let it radiate by absolutely loving yourself, tiger stripes, Buddha belly and all!

Philippa Hatendi can be reached at

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