This is a guest post by Michelle Donfrio.
These were the words uttered from a perfect stranger at the gym. I was working at the weight machines, minding my own business, when he approached me. He apparently thought I needed additional counseling because he continued speaking.
“You are already so skinny. I hope you are not trying to lose more weight.”
I put on a smile and cheerfully replied, “No, I’m here to build some muscle and take care of myself.”
I walked away, smile still steadfast, trying not to let him see how much he had bothered me.
Let me make something clear. From a medical standpoint, I am not “too skinny.” I am a petite girl, reaching the height of only 5’4. I am within the adequate weight range. I go to the doctor yearly for blood work and a physical. They have never told me that my weight is of concern. (I range anywhere from 112-118, depending on the day). I am not a size zero. I have curvy hips and thighs and normally wear a size 6-8 in shorts/pants. In my view, this all indicates normality for my specific body type and frame. However, I can tell you that before going vegan I probably looked “average.”
By average, I am referring to the viewpoint the majority of Americans follow. These are people who participate in the S.A.D. way of eating. (The Standard American Diet). I looked “fine.” I was never large, but I used to become lethargic after eating meals. When I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in my early twenties, my body only got worse. Not many people could see it, but my weight fluctuated a lot. It’s funny how I used to eat an entire carton of ice-cream at one sitting, or order McDonalds Big Mac sandwiches for lunch, and nobody was concerned about my health or my weight at the time. Now, everyone is concerned and thinks I’m “too skinny.” Whatever that means.
The words at the gym continued to float around my head, making me bristle. I discussed my feelings with my husband on the way home. A man with a very straight-forward, yet Zen-like mind, he said, “You know you are healthy. Why does it bother you what people think of you when you know what is true?”
Good point. I have always cared what people think of me. I’m not sure exactly where that stems from. I’m sure a variety of factors come into play. Simply being a woman, I find that our society teaches us at a young age that we are constantly being evaluated. As we head into early adolescence, the girl-on-girl comparisons start and we begin a journey of lifelong competition. I also have a complex of not feeling “good enough,” that I’m only starting to shake-off now, at the age of 30!
When I became vegan, (and maybe others of you have noticed it too), a lot of my feelings of self-worry and inadequacy melt away. Sure, some of my self-esteem changes were coming from weight loss and from becoming healthier overall. (When you are healthy physically, it shows in all aspects of your body). However, a larger part of why I felt better was because I knew I was embarking on a journey of kindness. I was helping the world and helping my body. (Double-win!) Obviously, not all vegans are kind people. In fact, some can be very judgmental. Still, the majority of the people I met in the vegan community also seemed “lighter” in their view of the world and of themselves. People I have met, and continue to meet along the way, show me through their own stories and life outlook that true beauty comes from your impact on the world. That is the true beauty elixir. By giving up my selfish tastes for egg, dairy, and meat, I ended-up giving back to myself.
As a Christian, I’ve known for a long time that true happiness lies in loving others, kindness, and protection of those that can’t protect themselves. Going vegan just enhanced that concept for me. It has helped me see the beauty in myself, in nature, and in Green Smoothies. I believe nature takes care of itself. We need to respect and nurture it. God gave us enough food to enjoy, trees for oxygen, and animals as companions. Animals are fellow citizens of Earth. It is human error and selfishness that turns all of these beautiful things upside down.
Now that I have been vegan for almost two years, I try to be more loving of myself. I reach for my inner glow more than the outer. I wear only organic or cruelty-free makeup. I try to have a positive outlook on life and be grateful for every moment. I hope many of you have had similar experiences when you started a vegan lifestyle. We are all beautiful. The most beautiful thing of all is that we are eating clean food that will nourish our bodies inside and out, and helping the world one step at a time by doing so.
Michelle Donfrio has several passions, but two of her great passions are writing and health/beauty tips. She wants to share the knowledge with all she knows that the body is a blessing and so is the Earth, so let’s take care of both. She currently works in advertising and has varied writing experience including WGN Television, The Joliet Herald News, and poetry journals.
About Guest Blogger (Guest Blogger's Profile)Love writing and trying out new vegan beauty products? Come write for Vegan Beauty Review! All we ask is that the products you review be vegan (i.e. no animal products). Interested? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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