Acknowledge the Diva Within You

April 20, 2015
Acknowledge the diva within you
All guys know that they are never allowed to talk about a girl’s weight. Absolutely never.
 
But why?
 
It is a fact that everyone has flaws. Even a 4-year-old will be able to share the insightful wisdom: “Nobody is perfect.” Yet, we have high expectations of men in relationships with us: They should notice absolutely everything about us, (um, how dare you not comment on my new nail polish?!) but at the same time they are only supposed to see the good stuff.
 
I want you to look at me, think about me, even talk about me, but only if you perceive me as perfect. If you mention the slightest flaw, no matter how obvious, I am justified to break down emotionally for the next eternity. 
 
Rational, right?
 
The issue here is not that women are irrational. We are not. The issue is how we view ourselves: Why do we feel like our flaws define us?
 
I have never been a person with body image issues. In fact, I have often found myself acting more humble than I really felt – for fear of judgement from other girls. The truth is I have always secretly thought that my body was as close to perfect as I could’ve ever wanted. I feel almost ashamed to be saying this, but I really do think I’m beautiful. I love my curves, my crazy curly hair and even my giant nose that my family recommended rhinoplasty for, in case I ever decided to “fix it.” I describe my skin as mocha (if that doesn’t tell you I love myself, then I don’t know what will) and I even flaunt my scars because they make me feel tough and adventurous.
 
I am surrounded by amazing people who also love me. Despite all of that, one word from a single boy managed to turn my life upside down for four days. That’s 96 hours of an emotional roller coaster.
 
Coming into UVA as a first year last year, I was both excited and overwhelmed. College was bound to be great, but a complete reversal of the lifestyle that I was used to. It only took a matter of weeks to trade in the fresh berries and whole grains that I had grown up with eating for comfort foods that proved irresistible at the dining halls. Meanwhile, going to the gym was also a hurdle. In high school, my position on the crew team gave me a competitive drive, as I pushed my body to its limits for the sake of the team. But arriving at college, all that was left was me, a treadmill and what felt like lots of strange faces watching me as I figured out what it meant to “go to the gym” without a coach telling you exactly what to do. This lifestyle was just strange.
 
Ultimately, overeating due to unlimited meal swipes and added stress, as well as a lack of exercise contributed to natural body changes.
 
So one day, when I asked my boyfriend if I had gained some weight, he answered yes. What is interesting is that the answer was obvious! It wasn’t much weight, but it was there. I knew it, he knew it and the scale knew it too. I didn’t want him to lie to me, so why was the truth so hard to hear? What could he have done differently? Nothing, but the damage was done.
 
“How do I look in this shirt? Should I eat that delicious looking burger or settle for a banana? I don’t need that cookie. I should work out more. I need to watch what I wear.” The list never ends.
 
The only way to break a cycle like that is to put aside the nice, gentle, empathetic, humble side of you for a few minutes, and be a diva. Let your hair down, take the makeup off and dance in the privacy of your own room. See how liberating it is?
 
It wasn’t until I took that necessary time for myself that I was able to make sense of all that I was going through. My body was reacting to being uncomfortable in its new environment, but that did not mean that I had to feel uncomfortable in my new body. It was OK for me to be happy, but that had to start from within. I had to reconnect with my confidence and my inner diva – even if she was telling me to be healthier.
 
We all think it’s OK for Beyoncé to say “I’m a Diva,” but when it comes to the rest of us, we despise girls who think they’re beautiful. We call them egocentric, self-obsessed or “queen bee.” We tear each other down, and we are ashamed. Not because we hate each other, but because we are afraid to admit that we want to be divas too. A girl who truly loves herself makes us feel bad about ourselves because we are too busy looking at our own flaws to appreciate how nearly perfect we really are.
 
But being a diva is not an accomplishment; it is an outlook. It is an understanding that your imperfections make you even more beautiful than any image of beauty that we have been socialized to accept. It is realizing that it is OK to be a little conceited or to call yourself a princess every once in a while. It’s OK to have high expectations of yourself, and those around you, but it is also OK to give yourself the compliments that you have earned. 
 
It is only when we recognize this inner diva that we will be able to live with criticism without internalizing it and letting it consume us. Letting it define us. Define yourself, instead.

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