Story Time. Three and a half years ago: I was in my recovery process, and I insisted on going to the gym, regardless of the fact that  I didn’t quite have the energy to fully make any progress at this point. Despite this, I also insisted that cardio become my best friend. Hours upon hours per week spent on a stationary bicycle (that only gave me what felt like a permanent wedgie) and an elliptical machine that I most likely looked super uncoordinated on. I wasn’t gaining strength by any means. But at the time, this didn’t matter because my main goal was to see “lines.” I wanted a specific body. I wanted “muscular definition” (which really was just undernourishment and a lack of fat), and more than anything, I wanted abs.

How many times do we see on magazine covers “6 moves to get 6-pack abs!” or “get summer ready with flat abs”? Too many times to count. And it’s not just abs being advertised. Hey magazines, stop telling me the butt I have already isn’t good enough. Stop showing me different exercises to help me gain a butt that society deems is attractive while ignoring what I may want for myself.

Magazines and ads make assumptions about what we want to look like, or what we should want to look like. And they never fall short of providing us with, in my opinion, a very restricting diet plan and 10-15 exercises that are all demonstrated by a girl that we may or may never have the exact same body as (ahem- genetics).

The problem with this is that we receive messages over and over again that in order to have our face and our body plastered on magazines and ads, then we must have a very specific body. We are made to feel worthy or to feel beautiful if our stomach is flat, our butt is round, and our thighs don’t touch. The irony in all of this seems to be that “health” magazines are actually encouraging some behaviors and thinking patterns that are far from healthy. They seem to advertise a very skewed and biased and societal pushed view of what health should look like rather than what it should feel like. When did our identity become limited to what we look like externally?

My stomach is not flat. What it is, however, is filled with joy from the donut I had at breakfast (classic glazed, you never let me down). It is filled with memories from a really delicious pear cider that I drank at a bar last night with my best friend. It is filled with love from self-realization that it does not need to be “perfect” in order for me to feel beautiful and worthy as a person. It is filled with humor as it bulges over my pants after I eat one taco too many. It is filled with peace as it waits to be filled with nourishment throughout the day, and excitement knowing it will receive it. It is more than any flat-tummy-tea-detox will ever be able to provide it with.

The girls and models on magazines? They’re beautiful, no doubt. However, what is important to remember is that their beauty is not the ONLY form of beauty. Appreciate the diversity in what it means to be beautiful.