No more cottage cheese, please

It’s Friday night and I am two glasses of wine in and I am feeling pretty good. I started the evening off with a hot shower to wash away the work day. In there, I ran a razor over the curves of my legs removing any sign of unwanted hair. After drying my body, I lather it in lotion making my skin so smooth the hands that will be touching it later will be tricked into thinking they are caressing the finest silk. I sit in front of my mirror for an hour and a half covering up under eye circles, painting sharp black lines on my eyelids and curling each strand of hair.

I put on black matching bra and underwear and step in front of the mirror to examine my work. I am pleased with what I see. My hair is bouncy and full, my skin looks smooth and blemish free. I spin on my tippy toes flipping my hair as if I am filming a lingerie commercial, but the feeling goes as fast as it came when my eyes land on the back of my legs. A bumpy surface most women refer to as “cottage cheese”. The dimply skin triggers the inventory of food I’ve ate in the last week. The thought of the two bowls of pasta I had for dinner and the chocolate bar I devoured the night before suddenly make me nauseous. I try to shake the self pity from my mind as I walk to my closet to get the outfit I had been assembling in my head all week.

I take a red bodycon mini-dress off the hanger. I chose this dress because the long sleeves cover up my arms. I break a sweat putting the skin tight dress over my head without wrecking the hour and a half of work I put into my hair and face. My body, still sticky from the lotion, fights the fabric, but after some readjusting I feel as comfortable as you can in such a restricting outfit. I then take my new black suede stilettos out of their box and slip both feet in. With my legs feeling miles long, my dress hugging every curve, and my hair falling just the way I want, I step in front of the mirror again. My final verdict is a harsh one. Instead of noticing the beautiful parts of my body I turn to my side and see my protruding stomach, I see my too round face, and large thighs. I was aiming to feel like a bombshell instead I feel like a stuffed sausage.

This behaviour isn’t unique to me. I’ve watched my best friend go through the same routine. A dress she bought that week that she couldn’t stop talking about doesn’t make it past the door of her bedroom because it showcases her “back fat”. But when I look at her all I see is one of the most beautiful girls I know with a body that doesn’t need to be altered in the slightest. I see beauty where she sees imperfections. But no matter how many times I reassure her that the size of her thighs are perfect she will still pass up a late night craving because when she looks at the scale the number is 15 too high.

I can’t help but wonder if my friend is thinking the same about me. No matter how many times I complain about my body, she has never once agreed. So maybe it really is all in our heads; maybe the imperfections we see with our own eyes are undetectable to others.

I wouldn’t consider myself to have body image issues. As a woman today it isn’t normal to completely love your body without wanting to change something. We find ourselves trying extreme fad diets, trapping our bodies in Spanx, spending hundreds of dollars on gyms, fitness classes, and personal trainers, or altering our appearances with plastic surgery. Doing certain things to feel good, be healthy and happy are very important, but at what point does it become too much? At what point does the desire to change ourselves cross the line from normal to unhealthy?

As I walk through the streets of downtown, scroll through Instagram, or flip through the pages of a magazine I see beautiful women whose legs I’d kill for or a chin I’ve been dreaming of, but when they look in the mirror do they also see imperfections where the rest of the world sees beauty? Do we see a tainted version of ourselves through our own eyes? I don’t know what it will take for us to be able to look in the mirror and love ourselves just the way we are instead of picking ourselves apart, but I do know that it is time we stop being our own worst critics. So next Friday when I get all dressed up I am going to put on that red dress and my heels and I am going to slay.