Let’s get rid of the notion of having a “perfect body.”

We’ve all been there: You’re eating a cookie, and the thin girl at the table next to you isn’t. All of a sudden, you feel ashamed of eating that cookie. You’re hyper-conscious of the eyes of those around you; you think that they must be judging you based on that cookie.

Do they think you shouldn’t be eating it? Are they laughing at you in their heads, thinking that that cookie is the reason you aren’t the thin girl to your right?

Maybe you put down the cookie. Maybe you don’t. Either way, that experience seriously sucked.

Ok, it’s possible that you haven’t been in this exact scenario before. But I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced one like it. Have you ever felt self-conscious doing something you would have felt absolutely a-okay doing, had you instead been someone with a “perfect” body?

It’s unfortunate, yes. But we’ve been trained to think this way. We’ve been trained — by society, by our own insecurities, by the ads we see on TV — to feel as though we need the permissions that comes with looking a certain way in order to do certain things, act a certain way, or flaunt a certain level of confidence. 

You might feel like, without a perfect body, you can’t go to the beach in that super cute swimsuit you bought last week. You can’t attend that spin class your friend’s been talking about. You can’t enjoy dessert food in public. Without a perfect body, you can’t be a dancer. Without a perfect body, you can’t go about your days without also carrying with you the shame of imperfection, the scorn of failing some invisible expectation. 

However, read this closely: this is wrong. You CAN. You can do these things, regardless of what your body looks like. You DO NOT need to have a perfect body to have permission to do anything. Regardless of how you look, you should be able to make the same, self-servicing, self-caring decisions you would have made otherwise. 

I’ll tell you what you DO need in order to do the things on this list: a body that feels good. A body that’s cared for, that’s given the nutrients it needs and that sometimes indulged in its cravings — a body that’s not worried, mistrusted, mistreated, and battled against, all in pursuit of gaining a perfect body

Here’s a list of 6 things I wish everyone could feel confident and comfortable doing, even without looking “perfect”. Because anyone — ANYONE — can do these things, without the permission of perfection. 

1) Feel comfortable eating whatever food you want to, in front of whomever you want to.

People of all shapes and sizes are allowed to get seconds at that dinner potluck your friends hosted. You don’t have to feel ashamed of going for it when you’re still hungry, just because you aren’t the thinnest one there. Go get seconds. Grab a cookie in public every now and then, and do it shamelessly. These opportunities for indulgence and enjoying food are not preserved for people who are thin or fit or small enough to gain that imaginary approval to feel like it’s okay. It is okay, no matter what you look like.

2) Wear whatever clothes you feel like wearing.

Clothes are made for you to feel comfortable and to express yourself. You are allowed to do both of those things, regardless of your shape and size. 

3) Flirt with that cute guy/girl you’ve been eyeing.

Confidence does not have to come from your image alone. You are so much more than your body— and, chances are, there’s so much more to you that that person potentially cares about/is attracted to than your body alone. And if not, that person might not be good for you, anyway, relationship-wise. So why not go for it, regardless of your insecurities? Because the insecurities are the only thing telling you your body’s not good enough, anyway. And who knows? That person COULD think your bod’s pretty dang great 😉 

4) Take up a new hobby, even if it involves food or cooking.

You don’t have to feel embarrassed liking/enjoying/spending time on food, just because others might associate “being fat” with “liking food”. News flash: ALL HUMAN BEINGS like food. It’s just a fact of life. So go learn how to cook, and don’t feel like you have to be thin to be seen doing it, either. 

5) Try something new.

Let me tell you a story. I’ve wanted to learn to dance/be a dancer for quite awhile now. There was a time when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to dance, just because I didn’t feel confident enough in my own skin. I wasn’t able to picture a world where others would watch me dancing without judging me. And looking back, that is SO unfortunate! I could have been a great dancer, even if my body didn’t feel perfect.

The same goes for trying out a new workout class. Yes, there might be really fit people there. No, not everyone there is going to be super fit. Everyone is at a different level, and everyone has different goals, fitness-wise. No one’s the same. And just because you aren’t as fit as some of the other people in the room doesn’t mean you still can’t fully absorb every benefit, great feeling, and endorphin rush that a workout has to offer. Moving your body isn’t exclusive to those who’ve been training it to move a certain way. All bodies are meant to move! So go move yours however you wish 🙂 

6) Be 100% yourself.

Bottom line? You do NOT have to look perfect to do what you want. You don’t have to look a certain way in order to feel like you have permission to be who you are! 

A perfect body is not a permission slip for life. 

I repeat: a perfect body is not a permission slip for life.

My wish for you? I wish for you to make many of your decisions without considering what you look like. I hope you choose to go to the beach without worrying about how you’ll look in a swimsuit. I hope you choose to take a ballet class without thinking about your waist in a leotard. I hope you choose to tell that joke to your coworker without hiding your face because you think your cheeks might look too big when you laugh.

I wish for you to experience a world where you can live life to the absolute fullest, without feeling as if your body is holding you back. Because at the end of the day, when you miss out on doing something because of the fear of embarrassment or judgment based on your body, the only person suffering from that decision is yourself. Those people you think might be judging you? They’re not going to be affected by that choice — YOU are. Make your decisions for you, and those other parts of yourself (other than just your body) will thrive in the end.

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About The Author

Holly is a senior at Northeastern University from Boca Raton, FL, where she is a double major in English and Mathematics. She loves books, math, and all things nerdy, as well as fitness. Holly is a group fitness instructor at her school's gym and at BURN Fitness Studios. Her favorite classes right now focus on HIIT training and cardio boxing.

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