Gosh, I feel fat today. Fat is not a feeling, they say. Right… but it’s how I feel right now. I say “how I feel” because, objectively, I am not fat. I have some body fat, as does any human being, but I am not what would be considered a “fat woman.”

I was always self-conscious growing up, and for as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with body image, loving myself one day, hating myself the next. I think that has a lot to do with the way my mom behaved, praising my beauty and intelligence whilst despising her own physique. My mom has been dieting all her life, and she felt it was very important to teach me about nutrition; she didn’t want me to have a lifelong fight with my body and weight, as she did (and still does). Yet here I am, nonetheless—a self-love advocate, crying over my squishy tummy on my bedroom floor.

Does that make me a hypocrite? Don’t get me wrong, I feel very good about myself most of the time. This little voice inside my head always comes back though, at times when I am a little more vulnerable: when I am trying on new underwear, or when my really hot 20-year-old colleague wears a particularly revealing outfit. The question is, where does that little voice come from? I know it is hard for us all, women in particular, to feel good in our own skin when society is so mean to us, and always eager to impose its standards. The thing is, when I am trying to rationalize my issues, I always come to the same conclusion: I do not have any valid reason to feel this way. I check nearly, if not all, society’s imposed boxes, and I still can’t reach a perfect peace of mind, or an absolute self-love.

Torturing myself with these thoughts, refusing to look at my reflection in my bedroom mirror, it suddenly hits me: I can’t, and will never, check all of society’s boxes, because it is truly impossible! Everybody has an example of an ideal body in mind that they would like to resemble, but this model is different from one person to the next. Society imposes its vision of perfection, and of “what must be,” but doesn’t acknowledge imperfection. You will always find someone to criticize you, no matter how good you look, or how smart or kind you are. We tend to dismiss this simple fact, leading us to forget that what we think of ourselves when we take a look in a mirror is not really our thoughts, but merely a reflection of society’s ruling.

“In society, there’s so much about what a woman should be, and, of course, it’s just so unobtainable. You can never become that thing, because it’s such a projection.” -Agyness Deyn

Now that I have realized that, I have decided to come to terms with the fact that I cannot feel good about myself all the time. And you cannot either. We shouldn’t ever let ourselves be discouraged by the dictates of society, but when we do, it doesn’t mean that our feelings are any less valid. When you feel it coming though, when you begin to hear that little voice telling you that you are not good enough, don’t listen! Find coping mechanisms that will make you happy again: make yourself a cup of your favorite tea and cuddle with your loved ones; take a bath; dance in your underwear; go for a run.

Whatever your coping mechanism becomes, make sure to take good care of yourself—body and mind—because you deserve it. Set yourself goals and stick to them, aiming to become the best version of yourself you can be, based on YOUR OWN standards. Find your happy. Do what you want to do, for you.