Looking Back

By Shani Petroff

I went back to my old stomping grounds—my alma mater. It was college reunion weekend. I originally had some concerns. They were silly. Fears over not looking the way I wanted to look—of not being the size I was working toward. Those feelings bothered me. I’m doing the Weight Watchers plan for my health—not to be “skinny.” I wrote about my concerns. I want to feel good about myself at any weight.

With that in mind, I went to the reunion determined not to obsess or worry about what I looked like.

Did I still have some self-conscious moments?

Yes.

Those bad habits don’t go away over night. But I made a real effort to love myself, to be kind to myself, to get rid of those negative thoughts that sometimes arise. I made it a priority to follow my own advice:

I treated myself like I’d treat others. I find people of all shapes and sizes beautiful. Yet, with myself I can be a harsh, cruel judge. Instead, I looked at myself the way I’d look at a friend or someone I just met.

I smiled at my reflection. I was going to be seeing people I hadn’t seen in years. When I found myself critiquing my looks in the mirror, I’d smile and give myself a compliment. It feels odd at first. I’m not alone in that thinking. I know so many people who put themselves down repeatedly, that it’s almost second nature. When talking about themselves, I rarely hear them say—I’m beautiful. It’s as if they’re concerned people will think they’re conceited—or wrong. But I wish it were the other way around. I wish that people loved the way they look—with or without makeup, in fancy clothes or sweats, at goal weight or at starting weight—and that the self-deprecating comments were the rare occurrences that everyone was so unaccustomed to hearing. We can make that happen, and it starts with loving ourselves unconditionally.

shani - statue

I took part in it all. I didn’t let self-consciousness stop me. I posed for pictures and didn’t judge. I tend to like to use my camera for the picture-taking, so that I can choose which ones get shared. But I let that go. I got in the photo booth with friends numerous times. I let people snap my photo everywhere (with their phones) all over campus. Even when I was sitting, even when my hair was pulled back. (In the past, I was more likely to “approve” a photo if I was standing and my hair was down—which made me feel less exposed.) I danced, even though there were people recording video, and my body was going in all sorts of random (and often uncoordinated, haphazard) moves that even included some unintentional body jiggling.

And it was fine—I had fun!

I wasn’t judging anyone’s appearance, and they weren’t judging mine. And if they were, well, it wasn’t blatant. And at the end of the day—even if it had been—who cares? If they didn’t like the way I looked, that’s their problem, not mine.

We can’t let others define us.

And we can’t let our insecurities mess with our heads either.

As we continue on Weight Watchers and work at becoming healthier, don’t forget: That includes our attitudes about ourselves too. Have a wonderful week and remember that you are amazing!

What are some things you love about your appearance? Have you said them out loud? If not, you should! And I’d love to hear them too! You can find me on Connect @shani!

Read more Shani Weighs In