by Ronny Maye

There are many ways to define “confidence” and “self-love.” When people ask me to define either of these words, my answer is simple: it’s the way you choose to carry and love yourself, despite the opinions and influence of others. I would be lying if I said that my actions upheld this definition during every phase of my life. I also recognize that these words are synonymous to me, but that isn’t the case for many people. 

Looking back at my confidence in my younger years, I was fearless. I was never concerned with how things looked or sounded – I just did them. I fearlessly believed in myself and my abilities. It wasn’t until other people magnified my appearance that I became aware of them. Instead of remaining fearless, I focused on what someone else thought I should be doing.

Suddenly, I was self-conscious about doing things I’ve always done. I quickly realized that words are powerful, resonating, and hurtful. Like most people, once we’re aware of our flaws, we fall victim to tying our self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence to other people’s opinions of us. Notice how those words start with “self.” As the late Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” No one. 

I have been plus-size my entire life, and while my weight has fluctuated, I have always been fat. The world regularly tries to tell me that, because I am fat, I must not love or care about myself. They’re wrong. If loving myself or any part of me is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Fat bodies are deserving of love — all bodies are. Whether you’re seeking to change any part of you, or not, you must show love towards yourself in the skin that you’re in now. Here’s how I learned to love myself again: 

1. By understanding that words can only have power over you if you believe them. So, I began to speak positively about myself. 

2. By recognizing that people who are hurting tend to hurt other people, too. Jealous or intimidated people do the same. 

3. By dating myself. This allowed me to explore my interest and raise my standards about the type of people I allow into my life. 

4. By surrounding myself with like-minded, inspirational people. 

5. By changing the narrative. Fat is simply a description, not a limit. I’m fat, and I’m still doing incredible things. I’m fat and still traveling. I’m fat and dating incredible men. I’m fat and enjoying my life. 

This journey of confidence and self-love is not linear. It looks different for every person, every single day. Nevertheless, you should love yourself for the amazing, dynamic, talented, beautiful person that you are. I challenge you to write down at least ten things you love about yourself. Keep these notes handy, so on the days that you need an extra pop of inspiration and self-love, you can remind yourself just how badass you truly are! 

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