Dominique Boyer, 25, Brooklyn, NY

This year, as part of our Take Back The Beach program, we are asking YOU to tell us about your experiences with body talk and self-perception. Below, one reader's story.

"You Don’t Want To Look Back And Think: 'I Spent So Much Time Focused On The Size Of My Jeans'"

Many of us grapple with self-esteem issues and insecurities. Things we wish we could tone up, make bigger, make smaller, make more appealing, more "acceptable." For me, I was my worst critic. There wasn't anyone that could hurt my feelings more than myself.
My low self-esteem started at the ripe age of 11. I got my period and a set of A-cups, and thick thighs tagged along with it all. The girls around me hadn't developed yet, and somewhere between playing tag and running home for TRL, it was ingrained in me that being chubby was the end of the world. I had more curves than my friends, and being more developed meant being chubby, which meant I was automatically unattractive in my mind. Fast forward to high school, and I was more obsessed with body image than ever. I had an "inspiration wall" full of thin women, and I poked and prodded my body in the mirror waiting for the day I looked like them. Fast forward to my early 20s, and not much had changed. I found myself falling victim to comparison, using food as my frenemy, and never quite feeling comfortable or okay in my own skin. Baggy clothes were my best friend, and I avoided bathing suits like the plague.
Sometimes, you can hear the same advice over and over, but it takes one person to say it differently — and at the right time — for it to resonate. In all things in life, it's about perspective and how you choose to look at things. One day, I chose to stop throwing myself pity parties, and then ironically, that same week, I came across a very special YouTube channel. This YouTuber had a video talking about body image, and it really struck a chord with me. "You don't wanna look back on your life and think: 'God, I was really miserable, because I spent so much time focused on the cellulite on my ass or the size of my jeans,'" she said. She went on to mention how your physical body is just that: a physical body. We should focus on all the things it can do and has done for us, like heal, walk, run, love, forgive, and give birth.
When she said that, I actually had to pause the video. She was right. Yes, it feels good to look good, but looks aren't everything. I'd hate to reflect back on life thinking about all the the things I refrained from doing because my thunder thighs might jiggle "too much." Once I limited the amount of pressure I put on myself to look like the women I found most sexy, and focused on all the things my body could do and was continuing to do every day, and took care of it properly, it's almost like my body started to thank me in return.
I'm in no way "cured" of my insecurities, but I welcome them. It's an everyday journey and a constant effort, but I've learned to shift my perspective. Would I like certain things to be a bit smaller and toned? Sure. Am I going to make myself miserable and miss out on life because of these insecurities? Hell no. And that's how I wanna be from now until forever.
#TakeBackTheBeach essays are meant to reflect individual women's experiences. They have only been lightly edited (if at all) by Refinery29 and do not necessarily reflect the company's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Have a story of body image and self-perception that you want to share? Submit your essay to our Take Back The Beach contest here.

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