The Shape of Me

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This is the story of a student who has asked to remain anonymous, as told by Carolina Muniz.

In a society where body image is something that is praised so highly, I am always striving to fit into people’s idea of a “perfect” woman. This whole idea of being skinny started when I was in fourth grade. I was not by any means obese, but I can’t deny I was a bit chubby as a child. I always sought to feel accepted at school, especially with my peers. I vividly remember playing tag as I ran throughout the field when a boy said, “come on Big Show!” I was being compared to an American wrestler who is seven feet tall and weighs about four hundred pounds. I was nowhere near seven feet tall or four hundred pounds, but at that instant my self esteem stooped to the ground, maybe as hard as Big Show’s opponents. The boy who told me this will probably not remember he ever said such a hurtful comment, he will probably never know that he instilled the idea that I needed to change my physical appearance in order to be beautiful, and he will probably never know that almost a decade later it remains a constant thought in my mind when I perceive my body image.

As I grew into my teen years my desire to be satisfied with my physical appearance grew due to the rise in influencers setting unrealistic beauty standards. As I scroll through my Instagram feed I come across girls with hourglass figures and flawless skin. I look in the mirror, grasping onto my stomach as I cry uncontrollably, I feel appalled by what I see. I become fixated on having a toned body with unrealistic physical features. I deprived myself of meals throughout the day along with excessive workouts. I continued to consume the nonviable ideals, and sought external validation from others in order to feel worthy of my own appearance.

The increase in social comparison consumed my everyday thoughts. It is so ironic that I can be an advocate for body positivity for other people, encouraging them to be proud of the skin they are in. But, when it comes to my own body and physical appearance I feel as if I cannot enjoy any positive aspect for myself for more than a day, I am the epitome of hypocrisy. I walk into a dressing room and avoid looking at all my flaws as they are emphasized through the bright light. I cannot wear certain items of clothing because I do not compare to the size two models wearing them or I avoid not wearing makeup in fear that it will solely add on to my various insecurities. I know I am not ugly, but I constantly feel ugly, where is that disconnect?

At a young age I fed into the idea that I can feel worthy of myself when I look like women who have undergone Country ess plastic surgeries or practice unhealthy diets. I am aware of how society’s standard of beauty is distorted with unrealistic features of women that oftentimes are achieved through technology, yet I still find myself loathing my physical appearance. My fulfillment with my appearance is a never ending struggle, my satisfaction fleeting like the last star before sunrise.