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Hello lovely readers, <3

Thank you for showing up to the blog once again, I appreciate that you are!

For this week's community blog I wanted to open up a conversation that I've been having offline & in private with the community.

Body imagewhy is this such a huge topic? Why does our body image impact so much of our lives? I want to discuss this issue because it is something I am deeply passionate about and I know it is a very important conversation to have. I struggled with this for years & years, I felt that I was alone for most of the time struggling with this until I decided to start opening up and sharing my struggles that I realized—Holy Shit—almost every single woman I know either struggles with this currently or has struggled with this at one point in the past, at least.

My first ever blog post, if you go way back, was in February last year about my "Chapter TwoA Story of Self-Love". I am recalling this blog post because it was when I made the decision to come back on social media and be completely open & vulnerable with my community.

If you've been following my journey from day one, you know that I took a break from social for over two years. Why did I do that? Because there was literally no other option. My "chapter one" left me in complete rock bottom, insecure, defeated, feeling like a failure, never good enough, and comparing myself to the unattainable ideal image of a woman, and of course, never getting there.

I share this in the hope that you realize that you are not alone. My struggles began when I was very very young. People always seemed to have an opinion about my body. At first, I was too skinny, flat, no boobs, no ass, my nickname was sponge bob. Then, later it was still flat for my young teenage years. As I started naturally gaining a little more weight as I got older it was that I wasn't thin enough, that I should watch what I eat. I wasn't strong enough to hold onto my truth so I believed them and found myself constantly trying to change my body, my looks, in hopes that I would ultimately be loved & accepted by my peers and society.

Looking back in retrospect this is what I've come to realize. None of this I knew at the time or had any clarity about it. It is in hindsight that I can share those feelings. When I was right in the middle of it, all I could think was whether or not the next meal I was going to have was going to make me fat or not. There was no more depth to it, everything was wrapped up solely in my body image. That's what I thought was the problem, the root of it was much deeper, I worried I wouldn't be loved or accepted if I didn't listen to the opinion of others. It had nothing to do with my body.

The good thing about getting older and understanding more about yourself is that you get to ponder on all those things and ask yourself deep questions, is that really true? Do I need to look a certain way in order to be loved & accepted? I've come to realize that that is further from the truth. After doing a lot of personal work I've realized that I am SO MUCH MORE than my body. Makes me so sad to think that I spent so much of my life only focused on this one thing that didn't matter so much at all. I am a good person, I am loving, I am caring, I have good values, I know exactly who I am, I am so connected to myself, I know I have good intentions, I know I want to do good for the world. All these beautiful things about me were completely left behind because all I could focus on was my god damn body!!!!!!

At a certain point, when you reach rock bottom you realize, there is no way you can continue living your life that way because if you do at the end of your life you will realize that you never even got to live at all. I used to be incapable of enjoying the present moment because either I would feel super insecure or I would be comparing myself to every other woman that was in the room and judging from that whether or not I was good enough.

After years of binge eating, starving myself then overeating, I decided that no more! I needed to seriously start taking care of my health, knowing social media was a HUGE trigger, I stopped it completely. My only focus was my mental health. As much as it was heartbreaking I knew that there was no chance that I would be successful if I continued the way that I was mentally. I realized that there was no amount of followers or likes that would give me a sense of worthiness like I previously had thought It could. I used to say things to myself like “if I can only get to 10k, then I will be happy”. I got to 10k and I can tell you nothing changed. My insecurities & sense of unworthiness were still just as present as it was at 1,000 and 9,000.

The journey has been a long journey, and I am still here, developing and cultivating a loving relationship with myself every day. It's work, its real work that you have to do every day because negativity & criticism is the default mode for most of us. It's hard, it's so freaking hard but damn it is worth it!!!!!

I am not perfect, like you I have these feelings that come by and cross my mind here and there. I've learned how to disassociate myself from those thoughts. When I think about it, if we live in a society that is constantly trying to tell us that we are not good enough, are those thoughts our own thoughts? Or are they just floating around because there's so much out there trying to reflect that to us? Is there a way that we can let it go and not make it so much about ourselves?

Now, let me ask you, when you came into the world, as your pure authentic self, as confident as ever, at any point did you ever think for yourself that you weren't good enough? What was the moment in your life that this radical self-acceptance you were born with changed for you? Something inside of me tells me that the little you never, never would have said one thing destructive to herself if she hadn't been shown by the outside world. There is absolutely no chance that your pure baby authentic self would have chosen this negative self-talk on her own, something must have demonstrated to her that she wasn't good enough, over and over again, and that’s why eventually she started believing it.

Your gift now as your older version is to realize that none of this crap is your own, you can let that out the door and move on. You have to nurture and cultivate the most important relationship you will EVER have, the relationship you have with yourself. The world is your mirror and it is always reflecting back to you how you feel about yourself in your friendships, relationship, career, work, etc.

Be in love with all the unique parts of you. At first, you might have say lie to yourself and say to yourself “I love you” when not one single cell in your body wants to believe it. That’s what I did, I fought for it, and kept repeating it until I after a while I started believing it. I still remind myself today that I am more than my body, my self-worth is not determined but how flat my stomach is & how thin my legs are.

Once again, I share with you all of this because I need you to know that you are not alone. Take care of yourself little by little, start small, but start developing a loving relationship with yourself because everything will be so much better once you do.

I love you so much & I am here for you always. If you need someone to chat, I am here to listen to you!

Raphaella Santana

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