When you wake up in the morning, how do you feel about yourself? I’m talking about that moment when your eyes are greeted by that first beam of light through the bedroom window and you take that first glance in the mirror as you rise out of bed. Your vision adjusts as you grind your knuckles into your eye sockets and look at yourself just for a moment. As you try and fix your hair so it doesn’t resemble a dead cat, and let out that one last yawn, you begin to feel a bit more human. When the sleepy haze dissipates and you find yourself staring in the mirror, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
How you feel about yourself is the most important part of being happy. It starts with positivity. You might be thinking that I’m about to impart some words of wisdom or start talking in bumper sticker any second now, but the truth is, being positive all the time is just not possible! We all have those sucky moments, or in my case entire phases, were we find it really difficult to be positive about the skin we live in.
As an Indian transgender woman who grew up in a Muslim community, my experiences with trying to be body positive have been a constant struggle. For so many years, I felt so disconnected with my physical self that I felt like a prisoner in my own body, unable to escape. It took many years of self discovery before I finally found a way to be at one with my body.
Being body positive comes differently to every individual. For some, it’s about being aesthetically pleasing, to others, it’s about being comfortable and owning who you are despite what anyone else thinks, and for a lot of us, it’s a mixture of both. None of them are wrong, as long as you’re doing it for yourself.
When I was comfortable enough to express myself the way I wanted to, my inner vibes began to flow out of me and I could feel myself growing more and more confident. Truth be told, I only began to feel my confidence grow when I started my transition almost ten years ago. I still had a lot to learn about myself, but I knew I was on the right track and that being body beautiful meant more than how I dressed or what lipstick I wore that day. It was a state of mind.
As I was going through the early stages of my transition back then, I had so much to learn about body positivity. I lived inside a body that I didn’t feel belonged to me, but instead of treating it like a prison, I embraced it as clay to be moulded, and owned myself. After a lot of soul searching, I liberated myself and told myself that I could be who I wanted to be, and my physical self could reflect who I am, instead of taking away my identity.
As I completed my journey of transition and gained the physical self I identified with, my confidence soared and I truly felt body beautiful. I treated every street like a catwalk, every street lamp like a spotlight and every gust of wind like a Beyoncé music video hair moment! I owned everything!
Cut to present day and I still feel the same. Of course I have my moments when I feel like I’ve gained too much weight or have a panic attack when my hair turns into a full on Diana Ross fantasy in public when the air is humid, but at the end of the day, I’m secure with who I am. I take all the little flaws that sometimes make me feel insecure and remind myself that I am a force to be reckoned with.
Confidence is all you need to be body beautiful. When you have confidence, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about you. I’ve been called every name you can think of, in English and Urdu, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I know who I am, and that’s all I need. Nobody can take my confidence away unless I let them.
No matter who you are or where you come from, we all have the ability to be body beautiful. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say or what their opinions might be, just be yourself. No matter what your size, it all starts with how you see yourself and what makes you happy. Nobody has the right to make you feel like you need to meet the expectations of others.
If you want to express your body beautiful, nothing is stopping you. Whether you choose to express yourself with fashion, fitness, art or simply with your positive attitude, do it because you want to do it for yourself. I love seeing individuals around Manchester who express themselves with confidence because I know how freeing it is to embrace who you are.
When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I get past the train wreck of a hairstyle, readjust my lop-sided bra and I give myself a little smile. I’m always happy to see myself every morning because it took years of self discovery to finally be confident with my body. It started with accepting who I am and continues to be a part of me…and you can do the same.
Learn to love yourself and life becomes a lot clearer. You finally see that the opinions of others don’t dictate how you should perceive yourself. Your body is yours and positivity comes from within. Embrace how you feel and make sure that you be body beautiful, no matter how you choose to do so.
Now the next time you wake up in the morning and take that quick glance in the mirror as the toothpaste foams around your mouth, say to yourself…I AM BODY BEAUTIFUL!