Sailesh serves as the Chief Development Officer for MannMukti. MannMukti’s mission is to encourage healthy, open dialogue of mental health issues in the South Asian community in an effort to remove stigma, improve awareness and promote self-care. mannmukti.org is a one-stop resource for South Asians to learn about and address mental health concerns with each other. Check out our website, and follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest testimonials, research, podcasts, and more!
One of the worst feelings in the world is not being comfortable in your own skin. This feeling of shame regarding who you are is incredibly toxic and destructive, and slowly creeps into every aspect of your life. Trying to be the best you that you can be is pretty tough when you don’t even like yourself.
This is an incredibly hard post for me to write. As someone with a HUGE personality and a lot of self confidence, it’s tough to open up about what once was, and to be transparent about feelings that I once had. However I think that’s part of the problem; people only like to share the good things in their lives. We compare our bloopers to other people’s highlights, and thus end up in a cycle of people feeling truly ashamed of who they are. No one deserves that. You are all incredibly beautiful and talented people, and I truly believe that. This is why I want to share this with you, so we can destigmatize these issues. So, here is my body image blooper reel.
- I was overweight growing up.
- I remember googling variations of “How to look thinner”, “How to lose your stomach”, or “How to get a smaller face” pretty much daily.
- I remember always trying to wear oversized clothing to mask what I really looked like.
- I remember thinking that Indian boys were never meant to be physically attractive.
- I remember looking at my friends who “couldn’t gain weight” with utmost envy. I would have given anything to be them.
- I remember getting anxious from having to change in a locker room.
- I remember wondering why all the other kids were growing and losing weight but I wasn’t.
- I remember having the tiniest self confidence because I felt so small due to my height.
- I remember crying about being one of the slowest kids at tennis tryouts, or even in P.E. This goes as far back as elementary school.
- I remember thinking that being called cute was one of the worst things in the world.
When I got into working out, everything was rooted in anger. Workouts were fueled by emotions and shame. At some point, I reached a decent level of fitness. But yet, I was still ashamed. Why? Didn’t I reach my goal? Didn’t I have everything I wanted? No, of course not. I was still obsessed with random imperfections, and never happy.
It’s tough to remember these moments in my life. A lot of people think that the easy fix to body image issues is to work out harder or eat better. It’s really not like that.
There are people of shapes and sizes with body image issues.
There are people of all shapes and sizes who are healthy.
The greatest feeling in the world is working out and taking care of yourself because you love yourself, not because it would make you deserve to love yourself. Read that last sentence one more time, and think about how obvious it sounds. Why is it not the common truth?
And that’s honestly the beauty of this entire movement, to promote self love. Self love is the root of why people should take care of themselves and be happy with who they are. It isn’t stemmed from someone appreciating how good they look. That would just be an extremely accurate recipe for the wake of mental health issues that can stem from body image problems. No, self love comes from truly appreciating who you are and wanting to treat yourself properly.
Love yourself, and use that to empower your fitness goals. Use that to empower pride in who you are.
“Love yourself, and everything else will fall into place.”
Self love, self love, self love.