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Authenticity & Body Image

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When we try to mold our bodies into something they’re not, we lose ourselves.

We sabotage our self-discovery.

For instance, years ago, I was so focused on my outside that I didn’t take the time to discover my inside.

Who was the real me? What did I like? What truly made me happy?

I thought it was thinness, so I zeroed in on that goal.

That’s partly how I lost my voice.

But then again, my sense of self has always been shaky. Typically, I was too busy wanting to be like others, and thinking that what they had was way better than what I had.

Not only did I want someone else’s hips and hair, but I wanted her inner qualities, too, which, again, I assumed were superior to mine.

It’s a slippery slope.

And, over time, I wasn’t sure what it meant to be me. At its core.

So when the desire to be thin started slowly materializing throughout my middle school years and into college, I had a less and less sense of my true self.

How could I be myself if I wasn’t sure who she was?

To me, the more we count calories, the more we strive to change our shape, the more we yearn to look like someone else, the more we think we need to work off our holiday cookies, the less audible our voice.

The more we forget what we sound like.

The more we chip away at our core.

We let others – like women’s magazines, the media, people who don’t have our hearts in mind – speak for us.

Personally, I felt like a puppet, like someone who was always regurgitating someone else’s words, whether that was related to my body or myself as a whole.

Being yourself is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself and others.

Sure, it may seem obvious but when you’re deeply entrenched in a negative body image and someone – a weight-loss or diet company, women’s magazine – offers you a solution, you hold onto it with all your might. You grip the rope tighter and tighter, hoping that your hips being smaller will give you something you’re seriously missing. Hoping that happiness will come through the door.

But the ultimate happiness and freedom reside in being you. Authentically, all out, you. In exploring your likes and dislikes. In finding what truly makes you smile. What jump-starts your heart. What makes you comfortable. What makes you uncomfortable. Your values. Your beliefs. Your heart.

And realizing that you can let go of all the body rules and instead start being yourself.

It’s a lesson that I’ve slowly started learning myself.

This post was written as part of our Self-Discovery Series, Word by Word. The super talented Katie from Health for the Whole Self came up with the word authenticity for this month.

Do you think that your desire for thinness stalled your self-discovery? Do you think being yourself is separate from your looks or wanting to look a certain way? How have you discovered the real you?

Authenticity & Body Image

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Authenticity & Body Image. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Dec 2010
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