In the past I have addressed body image and self-confidence. Everybody out there can relate to having concerns, or being self-conscious about their body. The reality is everyone’s idea of beauty, the perfect body and what makes them feel pretty are as different as how the rest of the world perceives them. Healthy looks different on everyone, and this is something I have learned through this journey to Miss USA and as life continues post-Miss USA. My body has changed so much over the past few years and each transition has given me a new gift and a new challenge.
If you follow my writing, you know the story, I was a member of one of the best dance teams in Wisconsin (not completely bias, the team actually has the history to back up the claim) but it was not an easy road to get there. Physically I was not strong or a technically skilled dancer, so I had to work extra hard to find success. Along the way I developed my pride and joy, those dancer thighs. All my dancer friends out there know exactly what I’m talking about, off-season you lift to maintain them and in-season they are the reason you can do all those switch leaps and toe-touches (and they are reason it is crazy difficult to find jeans)! By the time I was done with High School I had beautiful dancer legs that I was so proud of.
When it came time to compete for Miss Wisconsin USA, I had a body I was proud of! Two years after dancing every day and I was still strong and I was healthy. That being said, when it came time to walk the Miss USA stage I had goals in mind and leaning out those dancer muscles was one of those goals. I switched up my exercise routine and changed what I was eating. I asked for tips from fantastic trainers and friends to help me reach my body goals, without compromising my weight or my daily consumption of cheese. I lost inches around my thighs and hips, but I maintained the weight I have had since high school. At Miss USA I had reached my goals for that point in my life, and I felt healthy and happy. Those same thighs I was proud of as a dancer I had become proud of for a whole different reason.
The point of this story is that healthy means something different for everyone, and can mean something different to an individual at different points in their life. Body image is a continuum for most women. The part you love one day can be your worst enemy the next. We think about it, we obsess, we judge ourselves even when no one else likely notices. This process never ends. If you are a dancer, a student, a weight-lifter, a mom, a bikini model the things you are most proud of might not even make sense to the rest of the world. But it isn’t their body to love, it is yours. So love your large muscular thighs, your waist, your hips, those biceps and triceps. LOVE IT ALL. The ability to change and grow with who you are at even given moment is part of the self-acceptance process. Being body positive should change as much as your body changes.
Embrace not only what god has given to you but what you are able to create through hard-work and commitment, both are equally worth celebrating!