A personal reflective essay: body image and acceptance
Embracing self: a personal reflective essay on body image and acceptance
A conversation with my reflection
She looked at herself in the mirror. She saw a stranger whom she didn’t want to identify with. She was not the fat person she saw. She was the dancer, athletic, vibrant and full of life. She did not know who this zombie was, who had to take antidepressants so that she was normal, according to doctors.
Huh, normal! Well, what is normal?
The ones who did everything according to the norm?
But who sets these norms anyway?
It was not God, for sure. Because no superpower like God exists!
Just some human who wanted to control everyone created them. But, well, who cares?
The dancer who danced did not care. She was happy. She was thin. She was beautiful. Not fat like her. So who was she?
“Yes amma.” Athira blinked. Her thoughts had taken hold of her again.
“Well, you are not beautiful, so just stop dreaming! Athira told the mirror and went to the hall.”
“Athira when will you exercise? Look how much weight you have gained? Its just not healthy.”
Oh! here we go again. She is again at it, thought Athira, and rolled her eyes.
“I saw that, Athira. Why don’t you understand?
You may get Diabetes. You are taking these meds. You need to exercise. You just don’t listen!”
“Aaargh! Why doesn’t she just get it? I am tired of it. I don’t like being told to do something. I will do it when I feel like it. Not when she tells me!”
Ruffling her hair, she went to the balcony with her mobile and earphones.
“Autumn days that dawn your face...
You can be reckless like birds in the sky
Wherever you go... “
Aaah! closing her eyes, the lyrics of the Otherside, by Birdy playing on her mobile, brought that smile, that her mother would have been so happy to see. But well, it was only solitude that gave her happiness and peace.
Thud thud thud! She saw someone on the other balcony, dancing! But wait! She was not thin. She was not like those thin dancers but still she looked so beautiful. She looked so happy. Athira was mesmerised. Unknown to her, her feet started moving to the beats of the music, and there she felt it, she felt like the carefree , vibrant dancer that she wanted to be. It was magical!
“Hey!” Athira turned. “You dance so well!”
It was the girl. She had seen her dance. And she said it was good!
“I have a community dance space. Do you want to come?”
Athira hesitated. Others will be there. Would it be ok? Would they laugh?
Well, who cares? She wanted to dance, and that’s it and she would not worry what others think.
“Yes, amma!”, came a joyous reply.
As she came downstairs, her mother was surprised and overwhelmed. She had not seen her daughter so happy for a long time. She did not know what had happened on the terrace. But her daughter’s smile was all that she cared about.
That night, Athira looked at herself in the mirror. She saw the vibrant dancer smiling at her. And, she was home.
"In writing this personal reflective essay, I discovered that true beauty lies in the depths of self-acceptance and the courage to dance to the rhythm of my own heart."
Apoorva Ravi, the author of "Personal Reflective Essay: Body Image and Acceptance," is a writer and researcher who was diagnosed with psychotic depression during their post-graduate studies.