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The most important day is the day you decide you’re good enough for you. It’s the day you set yourself free.

Brittany Josephina

This quote means a lot to me as a young woman. My name is Sophie and I am an Applied Health Care student studying in Waterford. The reason I chose to study this course was to help people. By writing this piece, I hope to help and encourage other young girls like myself to learn how to love themselves!

For us young girls, loving the body we were born with and have grown with can be a challenging concept. Body image can be described as the way you view and feel about your body and in general is often a sensitive topic and an issue that many of us, including myself, suffer with at times. Unfortunately for some people, the desire to have the ‘perfect’ body is overwhelming and can control them psychologically.

A harshly negative view on your body can sadly lead to mental health effects such as depression, self-esteem issues or eating disorders. As a student who has studied several aspects of mental health, It is clear that developing such disorders can be damaging and harmful.

It is important to remember that you are human! These insecurities are normal as you grow and change during your teenage years. I often find that from talking to my friends about this topic that it is extremely common so remember, you are not alone in how you feel. If you are unhappy with yourself or fear you are developing a mental health disorder, here are some ways that may help you with these negative feelings.

For example, begin each day with a positive affirmation. Tell yourself you are beautiful, strong and worthy. Believe it! Do not contradict yourself, allow the love for your body to grow. This technique is simple but effective.

Unfollow accounts on Instagram or Twitter that may make you insecure or critical of yourself. I must admit, I am a huge fan of Love Island and I crave summer nights in watching each episode. But I sometimes found myself not paying attention to the dramatic love story on the screen. Rather, I found myself saying “I wish I had her toned stomach” or “Imagine having clear skin like her?” Unfollowing can be a vital step in beginning to love the body you are in and is a step I decided to take.  Remember to not compare yourself to others and although these girls are certainly beautiful, you are too and if avoiding these accounts help you realise this, then take this step!

If you find that your friend is experiencing these feelings, be there for them as best you can! Young girls become easily influenced. Reminding your friend that they are an amazing person and that you are proud of who they are can make their day. I find that reminding them of their beauty and progress of becoming less insecure has major changes on their outlook and is certainly a great motivator. 

I would like to remind other girls that if you are struggling in your own skin and find it extremely hard to love yourself, there are professionals to talk to in your area who will make sure you are listened to, not just heard. Never feel defeated or embarrassed if this is the step you need to take! Always remember to take steps to improve your wellbeing.

So, begin your journey with wearing the clothes you like, eating the food you like, remind yourself you are worthy, replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, lose or gain weight because you want to, not because society pressures you to. The journey to a better view of yourself takes time and patience.

Once you finally begin to appreciate who you are and accept and love yourself, the immense feeling of freedom is incredible!

Sophie x