THE BLOG
12/31/2013 12:14 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2014

I Love My Body: How to Stop Listening to the Haters

JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images

By Erin Russell
Originally posted on Literally, Darling

Go to any "women's website" and tell me how many articles there are about a woman's body or physical appearance. Count anything similar to "How to Get a Flat Stomach," "How to Love Your Round Stomach" and "Celebrities With Perfect Stomachs." Hell, some of the all-time most popular articles on Literally, Darling are about big boobs, small boobs, butts and stretch marks (though, we may be getting some "unintended" traffic from the first three). This may be the most Captain Obvious statement ever, but seems that, as a whole, women need a confidence boost in our bodies. I would argue that when we're constantly reading, talking and thinking about them, it's hard not to overanalyze and nitpick. Well I'm here to tell you -- I love my body. It's not a source of insecurity for me, and as New Year's resolutions approach, I hope that others will resolve stop worrying about their perfectly good bodies as well.

I'm not going to tell you what I love about my body. If I did, maybe you would say, "Well, if I looked like THAT then I wouldn't be insecure!" Or maybe you would think that really, I don't have that much to be confident about. To quote RuPaul, "What other people think of me is none of my damn business." Either way, I would be furthering this idea that body perfection exists. What I do want to share is my thought process.

Let's take a look at how someone evaluates their body. I would say it can be based on three things: societal standards, ability to attract someone and their assessment of themselves. Regarding the first point: a) that depends on how you interpret societal standards (making it subject to self-assessment) b) "society" only has as much of an impact on your life as you let it c) 10% of society still believes Elvis is alive, so let's just go ahead and discount the vast majority of what society thinks. They don't know what's best for you as an individual.

As far as attracting other people, here is the important thing to remember: Everyone has different preferences. If you read the comments on our articles on boobs, some people prefer large, some prefer small, some couldn't care less. And any preference is fine, as long as you are not hurting anyone else and you don't mistreat or put down those who aren't your type. If I am at a bar and no one hits on me, it doesn't mean I'm unattractive, it just means there aren't people there who like my type that particular night. Plus, the number of people you attract is not relevant. How many of them are going to be your life partner? You can have a perfectly happy life if you only trick one person into thinking you're attractive.

Now let's get into your head. If you are evaluating your entire self based on a few body parts, you are doing a huge disservice to the spectrum of services your body provides. Do you even KNOW what your pancreas has done for you lately? Or how about your involuntary muscles, keeping you alive and you don't even have to think about it? I am not saying you should never change your body. Ask anyone with a chronic disease: Your health is precious, and you should absolutely do whatever you can to stay healthy. But take a good hard look at sources telling you to change and be extremely skeptical of anyone who is looking to sell you something and is not a medically trained doctor/psychiatrist or therapist.

When I walk into the dressing room at H&M and walk out without buying anything, it's not because I think there's something wrong with my body. It's because those pants weren't made for my ass -- but somewhere out there, a pair exists that will fit perfectly. Maybe that's externalizing, but I don't think clothes that don't fit should be taken as a personal failure. I hate the stereotype that a woman asking, "Does this make me look fat?" is a loaded question. I know I LOOK GOOD, so the question is, does the thing that I chose to put on my body deserve to be there? (Also -- can we, as a culture, agree to stop telling other people we are fat? Someone please tell me what this accomplishes.)

I remember sitting with my friends in high school while they went around in a circle to compete as to who had more "deficient" body parts: "My hair is so blah." "I hate my stomach." "My feet are the worst!" Then the circle came around to me, and I honestly didn't know what to say. I didn't hate any part of myself and I felt strange that I was expected to. I made something up -- and then internalized it for a while. Why did that circle exist? Why are women expected to hate a part of themselves? Personally, I think it's a self-perpetuating cycle of the media talking about women's bodies and women developing insecurities. My solution would be to cut down on the former. There are so many other, more relevant women's issues out there than bodies and less coverage, less Photoshop and more real people may make the issue less top-of-mind. Plus, I don't care what other people think about something I don't need to change. I know my body better than anyone else, and I love it.

"It's quite simple: If someone says UR beautiful, believe them. If someone says UR ugly, don't believe them." - RuPaul

Literally, Darling is an online magazine by and for twenty-something women, which features the personal, provocative, awkward, pop-filled and pressing issues of our gender and generation. This is an exact representation of our exaggerated selves.