My mom once told me, Youll never find a woman who is completely happy with her body.Coming from a woman , a mother of two children who is in fairly good shape, I believed this to be true.
Living in a society where body image is emphasized more than having a well-rounded personality, its hard not to live up to the expectations media portrays women to look like: you have to be thin, but not look sickly, you have to have a flat stomach, big breasts and booty, and legs perfect for the runway.  
But how many women do you know actually look like a Victorias Secret model?
I have always been the girl who was naturally slim. I was a dancer for 15 years, played sports, and had fast metabolism, and have been a size 2 for almost five years. If anything, I thought I was perfectly healthy.
My insecurities with my body developed at a young age while constantly being picked on by the bigger kids that I was too skinny.Being a late bloomer caused me a lot of distress as I noticed other girls getting attention for their womanly shapes while I was still being referred to as skin and bones.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school, on the day where its totally acceptable to pig out and eat however much you want, otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day, my cousin said to me as I as fixing my plate, When are you going to gain weight because you know guys dont like skinny b*tches like you.
Until that day, I didnt take into consideration that I wasnt attractive to the opposite sex because of my small frame. That day going forward, I avoided any guy who seemed interested in me, for fear that I wasnt good thick enough for them. Besides avoiding guys, I also had it in my head that no one was even attracted to me since I didnt date during my high school or college years.
One of my favorite self-help guides is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The premise of the book is to rid yourself of old agreements and make new ones. In my case, my old agreements were skinny shaming myself and allowing others to skinny shame me, self doubt, and thinking that I was unattractive. After reading The Four Agreements,I decided to make a new agreement with myself: to focus on loving myself despite how others want me to look like. I wanted to make steps toward being in love with myself.
Here are some ways I built my self confidence:
1. I started going to the gym: You dont have to go to the gym to lose weight.  There are people at the gym with all types of fitness goals: lose, gain, and maintain.  I put myself on a diet and fitness plan to get closer to my weight goal. There are some times where I slack off, but I remind myself where I want to be when I reach my goal.
2. I cut back my time spent on social media: You cant scroll down your feed or go on your Instagram explore page without envying someone elses body. I unfollowed people who expressed negativity and followed people who motivated me to become a better person. I also started following women who were my fitness goals and were motivating other women to be their best possible selves.
3. I changed my wardrobe: Stupidest thing I ever did was buy clothes too big for me to hide my weight, which made me look ever skinnier. I started wearing clothes that fit me in the right places and made me look good. I credit working at Nordstrom for giving me my sense of style and appreciation for the fashion industry.
 4. I cut my hair: Last year, I had more teenage angst than a girl planning her sweet 16 party. I needed a change and decided my hair did, too. I cut my shoulder-length hair into a pixie that resembled Toni Braxton’s. I’ve never felt more confident with my hair cut and people noticed the change in my attitude, too. A noticeable changed hairstyle, whether it’s adding extensions, cutting if all off, or changing your hair color, is enough to get some compliments that’ll boost your ego.
5. Know that everyone’s a critic: My mother also once said, “People are always going to talk about you, but you don’t always have to listen.” The people who are really putting you down are insecure with themselves. The same people who criticized me for my weight were the same ones who told me they were unhappy with their own weight. I don’t have to allow the negative perspective they have on their own body to influence how I feel about mine.
What really matters is having a healthy mind and body. Women come in all shapes and sizes and should be celebrated as long as they are happy and healthy. The concept of a perfect body needs to be erased, as perfection does not exist. Beauty does not have a weight limit. We should all strive to be proud of our bodies, regardless if you’re a size 2 or 22.   
This article originally appeared on 

Published by Morgan Austin