I will tell you why I don’t get flattered by ‘physical appearance’ compliments from guys. Because ever since I started school, I was teased for being ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ and that I didn’t fit in. I got teased for being a different skin colour from everyone else, that my dark skin tone was far from desirable. And I started to like a boy in high school and told him out of pressure because of my ‘friends’. But in response he looked me up and down and choked on a laugh, “no way fatty”. His friends laughed at me. My friends laughed at me.

Over-exercising. No meals. Starvation.

Because no one wanted a non-slim girl. No one wanted a girl with thicker thighs and a round face. No one wanted a girl with acne.

That’s what I forced myself to believe.

I fit into a size 8 dress within a small-time frame. But for some reason when I looked at myself in the mirror smiling… I realised I didn’t feel happy at all. In fact, I felt like I wasn’t myself.  It got to a point where I was so ruled by the pressure of ‘trying to look good’ that I forgot who I was when I looked in a mirror. There was no self love, no self confidence, nothing.

And I heard a voice in the back of my head. A voice I looked to ignore and store away in the deepest part of my mind:

Please don’t become that person that self-loathes themselves.

Please don’t lose your identity and the beauty that reflects in the deepest corners of your eyes.

Please don’t be someone that tries to impress society.

Please don’t try to be the person that only wants to be loved by other people rather than loving yourself.

Please don’t try to change because you like someone.

Please don’t.

Oh Lord please don’t.

I didn’t listen. I came so far after all, no?

How could self love exist within a human shell like me?

After all… When I hung around with friends they would always find me embarrassing:

“act more like a girl!”

“those girly clothes don’t suit you well”

Then what did you want with me?

And one day I shattered in front of the mirror. She broke down because she saw how self-loathing I became, She broke down because She thought She was the one at fault. She broke down because She thought it was her ‘wrong doing’. That it was her fault that She could not come to love her own reflection

“It’s my fault, it’s my fault!”

Those words still echo in my head.

And that’s when I began to change. I exercised, putting aside the voices I used to use as an excuse. I ate what I wanted, regardless of what other people said. I dropped the reliance on makeup (PLEASE NOTE: I have nothing against people who wear makeup!). Let people see my acne for all I care. I didn’t care now whether people saw me as a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’. I didn’t care anymore if I had imperfections, or if I wasn’t classed as ‘slim’, or if I didn’t fit into those size 6 jeans. I wanted to prove to my myself:

“look, I am damn happy with what you have given me”.

I dropped all the medication, I dropped all the pills. I stopped looking for ways to easily clear my skin through damaging ways. I worked out to get fit rather than to look good for other people.

I wanted to look good for myself.

I wanted to love myself before I loved anyone else.

I receive a lot of compliments now, I’m not going to lie.

“You’re pretty”

“You’re slim”

“You’re beautiful”

But the ‘compliments’ didn’t make me happy. For some reason it didn’t make me as happy as when someone called me ‘uplifting’ or ‘brightening’. Being called ‘pretty’ didn’t make me feel good like the words ‘exciting’ and ‘sweet’. And his phrase “who knew you would become so sexy” didn’t affect my heart like the words “you are intelligent and strong” like my mother always said to me.

So give me that hair tie and let me tie my hair back.

Give me that baggy sweater and let me wear the most revealing crop top underneath it.

Bring me to a restaurant and watch me eat 12 plates without giving a damn what other people think, no matter how many stares I get I won’t care.

Because I, 

I am where I am now. 

Because I am happy

And I hope to never see you break down again.

And I hope to never see those tears that I caused.

Because I, 

I will never be defined by anyone ever again.  

But these words I will never say to you,

Because I hope that the way you see me smiling now, was not the same forced smile as in the past.

I’m happy.

This is a letter of self love, a letter of self appreciation. 

A letter to thank myself for how far my body has carried me to this moment.

So to myself…

Thank you.