We’re excited to share this excerpt from StyleLikeU’s new book True Style Is What’s Underneath: The Self-Acceptance Revolution: A StyleLikeU Manifesto
by Elissa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum. The excerpt below is by Lily Mandelbaum, and the photos are from the chapter ‘Create Your Own Definition Of Beauty.’
Looking back, it is hard to remember the me of ten years ago, a girl who was completely consumed with trying to ‘fix’ the body she was born with.
Enchanted by the people I was encountering through StyleLikeU, I began to awaken from this trance. For the first time, I was exposed to robust souls who marched to the beat of their own drum in their style, their bodies, and in their lives. Awed by the vibrancy of their unapologetic spirits, I was determined to unlock that same sense of freedom in myself.
I began by rejecting any clothing that felt demoralizing. I threw away everything that fit me only during my ‘skinny’ days, and as a result, I stopped dieting and started exercising to feel good, not to alter my appearance. I began staring at my undressed body in the mirror and had my mom photograph me without hiding under loose clothes. Before starting What’s Underneath, I’d almost never seen a positive representation of a body like mine presented back to me, so at first, looking at myself in this honest way was terrifying.
But with time, this unfamiliar image became normalized. The same rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite that used to be the source of extreme angst, started to feel like home. It was a reprogramming of my mind and I was able to start to see my being through uncontaminated eyes.
Today, there is not a bone in my 200 pound, Amazonian body that I would trade with the waif I once wished I could be. This is not to say that I don’t have my bad days—there are moments when I’m trying on swimsuits in a dressing room and old voices pop into my head, telling me there is something wrong with me. But when these occasions arise, I have the perspective to recognize that this is just a repetitive story. It is not the truth of who I am.
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