Dear Readers, Jen Pastiloff here. The post below was written by a 19 year old student. I love that I have teens following the site! I am hoping to develop a series for young writers to express themselves. It is my great honor to be a platform for these beautiful voices. If you would like to send a piece in please email it to email@example.com. We want you to be heard. We are listening. See you all in London at my July 6 workshop.
And I Like This Picture of My Cellulite by Victoria Erickson.
A Young Woman’s journey to self acceptance and appreciation.
Now, I’m not the cute blonde on the left but rather the more prominent, jean-jacket covered, cellulite charging, woman to the right.
And the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture was how HAPPY I look: I’m jubilant, radiant, fresh home from my first year of college and ready to celebrate with my hometown best. And I should’ve stopped there. It could have been enough to admire the photograph, to rejoice in the photographer’s ability to capture the joy and carefree art of two friends catching up after a year apart. It should have been.
But instead, I let my subconscious take over. I let that little voice in the back of my head tell myself that “I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t enough…or rather I was TOO much. I let the brainwashing, nerve damaging thoughts seep in and overwhelm my mind, allowing the thoughts to poison my spirit. My mentality went from You look HAPPY!! to Yeah, you look happy…but why? you’re fat. Followed by, don’t believe me? Just look at that lump of cellulite you call a leg take over the shot and deplete the image of any beauty there may have been.
And the smile faded.
The disgusting part? I let it. I let my stomach sink, my chin drop, my eyebrows furrow, and my spirit shrink. I let the negative thoughts brew until they reached a dangerous boiling pointing as I asked myself Why didn’t the photographer just edit that out?! and What should I do?! As I wondered if it would be best to try to edit the cellulite myself, crop the picture from the waist down, or just “hide” the photo from my timeline all together?
A lot of distress and worry over a photo. A photo that did nothing more than capture the image presented before itself. And that’s when I realized, when you look at this photo, you might see the sorrow of imperfection, the impression of one (or two) many visits to the all-you-can-eat-University cafeteria as I did at first glance.
Or rather, you might see a young woman jubilant with friendship and conversation as I have now chosen to.
That’s the wonderful part! I decided that it is what I -independent, strong & mighty me-decide to see, feel, and believe that counts.
Because I’m nineteen and I’ve had enough. No more to comparison and emotional affliction. No more distress caused by preconceived notions of body image. No more to any of it.
So what did I do? I decided that I loved the picture. I decide that it was a wonderful snapshot of my friendship and that image truly captured the essence of a rain kissed stroll- flaws and all! And most boldly, I decided to share it.
That’s right. I decided that I love this honest and flawed picture so much so that I am going to embrace it, celebrate it, and yes, share it. Because I decided I would fight my demon and embody it because I didn’t -and don’t- have the time or energy to let it wear and tear me down anymore. Because it’s not important. And more so, because I hope when you look at yourself, whether in reflection or spirit, you do the same.
Because we’re better than that.
And because it’s actually ok to look at a photo and say yes, “I like this picture of my cellulite.”
Victoria Erickson is studying Journalism, Art History, and Studio Arts at the University of Iowa. As a student journalist and becoming adult she is trying to the find the balance between learning and leading.
Jennifer Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, is a writer living on an airplane. She leads yoga/writing retreats and workshops all over the world when she is not writing. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif and she and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: Seattle, London, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson (guest speaker at Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff. Join a retreat or contact Jen by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.