Mollie Hawkins
October 29, 2015 8:23 am

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about body-acceptance and terminology. With ModCloth making the big announcement that they were retiring the term “Plus” from their website, and Tess Holiday standing up for the term, it’s become a topic that begs the question: how do we talk about our bodies without grouping ourselves into categories and diminishing our individual sense of self?

In an essay published in Suited magazine’s “Body Issue” and reprinted on Refinery29, professional model, artist, and writer Myla DalBesio pours her heart onto paper about what it’s like to have her body scrutinized by the fashion industry and the world at large, and how that led to a mindset of cataloging her own insecurities based on critical feedback. DalBesio writes, “Isn’t that the way it always is? You never notice those things until someone tells you it’s wrong.”

At 5’11, DalBesio has a 34″ bust line, a 29″ waist, and 41″ hips, technically making her a “plus size model.” And not only does she describes being criticized about her weight, but the toll it took on her own self-confidence. She describes how photographers would get the note: “De-emphasize chin,” during photoshoots and how Internet commenters would  write that she had a “cowboy jaw.” One commenter even wrote, “She’s the fattest one. Zero muscle tone. Last place.”

The essay, which is addressed to “you” as a kind of open letter to herself, picks apart every single “flaw” DalBesio was at some point in her life criticized for having—and every body insecurity she still grapples with today. Then, she takes a hard left turn with the essay. She goes on to say that it’s important to catalog the good things about ourselves, too—that’s it’s far too easy to continue down a spiral of negativity, especially when people are confirming our greatest insecurities. She says, “Let’s include some nice things. You love yourself, remember? ”  

She talks about her imperfect tattoos, a layer of fat she feels adds character to her stomach, and all the pieces of herself that make her her, the history that her body tells makes her that much more interesting. It’s a powerful message that we should all carry with us: whether we define ourselves as skinny, fat, average, or plus-sized—we are all our own worst critics, and we should really stop that. For every negative comment received, there is a positive one to push it off the table and into the garbage, where it belongs.

She also addresses how women are expected to walk the fine line between having confidence and maintaining a deep-rooted insecurity about their looks.  We may get compliments but god forbid we believe them.

By the end of her powerful essay, DalBesio confronts the fact that we’re all complicated, ever-changing creatures:

DalBesio’s last lines are a reminder that there’s always that inner-critic, waiting, watching as our bodies evolve. And, without actually saying it outright, she implies that it’s redundant. Maybe it’s time to put to rest our self-scrutiny and just embrace our ever-shifting beautiful bodies. As DalBesio suggests, there is no one way to describe yourself, no matter how much self-evaluation and outside input you’ve received. You are complicated, you are always evolving, you are “your whole you.”

Read her entire essay here, because it’s beautiful.

(Image via Instagram)

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