Like many young girls, my whole life I have struggled with body image. I had always been told to cover up, smile more and to sit like a lady. I had been taught that my body was something to be ashamed of. That I was in the wrong for the way that grown ass men looked at me. I had survived a eating disorder, bipolar disorder and an abusive relationship just by the age of 19. I have always been strong willed, loud, and vibrant. I have always been told to "calm down" whenever I got excited about virtually anything. That I was selfish for putting my own needs before others. I was told to never look in the mirror too much or I would become vain. To never shave my arms because the hair would grow back darker and thicker (it didn't!). To never date a boy because I would get pregnant and dumped. These are all the ideas that had enforced my insecurities and caused me great pain. I grew up with no sense of self confidence. It took me a long time to start to believe in myself. Especially when no one else did. Slowly but surely I blossomed into the woman i am today. It all started with me surrounding myself with postive influences. Meaning going through all my social media and removing anyone who made me feel bad about myself. This may seem like such a small step but it makes a HUGE difference. After that I realized that the relationship I had been in for three years was extremely toxic. He constantly put me down, made me feel worthless, and refused to let me see friends and family. He often abused me physically, emotionally and mentally. I made a plan to escape and arranged to stay with a close friend of my brother. Soon after living together we fell in love. He has brought so much light and love into my life. I will forever be thankful for him entering my life. He taught me how to love again and that I deserved happiness. The rest is mostly internal. You have to realize that only you can set your own self worth. That's why they call it "self" worth. You should not give other people power over you. By letting them tell you who you are. They haven't lived in your body and experienced what you have. Only you know who you are. Once you find yourself you should embrace it and never let it go. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. Your body has carried you through everything. It has always been there for you and it always will be. You should appreciate everything it has done and will continue to do for you. My body is a temple and I will decorate it anyway that I please. I will never let anyone extinguish my inner flame again. I am who I am unapologetically.