Look in the mirror and think about what you see. Are you happy? If not, you're not alone.
According to dosomething.org, approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies. Kristie Ervanian, CAGS, LMHC is a practicing mental health counselor who sees these issues all too often.
"Negative body image can lead people to make choices to change their body to what they think they 'should' look like. In a profound way, this can lead to eating disorders and botched plastic surgeries," she told A Plus in an interview. "In other ways, it leads to anxiety about our bodies and a poor sense of self."
With all of the negativity surrounding women's bodies, it's nearly impossible to imagine someone void of any insecurities. But there are women who have taken unique strides to not only love themselves, but help others do the same.
Gillie Houston is one of them. She's a food blogger who boasts nearly 25k followers on Instagram and often stresses the importance of enjoying food, healthy or not, to her followers. Before sharing her love of food with the world, Houston struggled with her body image.
"I was heavier growing up, and as a kid and teen who is larger than her friends and peers, I definitely was judgmental and critical of my own body and weight, and couldn't help but compare myself to not only the people around me, but the young girls in advertisements, movies, and t.v. shows who had stick-thin figures," Houston told A Plus.
Tired of allowing her inner demons to continue to dictate how she saw herself, Houston had an epiphany. It wasn't about weight. It was about learning to love herself.
"A couple of years ago, over the course of about a year, I lost about 75 pounds through healthy eating and exercise," she said. "Which helped me not only understand better how to live a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, but also made me appreciate my body more — not for how it looked, but for its strength and capability and endurance."
Now a senior in college, Houston hopes that self-acceptance, and love for her own body, will influence others through the power of social media:
"As a food blogger with a strong following, I always try to encourage the idea that you can eat the things you want with balance and moderation, and to support the fact that all bodies are beautiful."
But as Ervanian says, we're our own worst critics, that is easier said than done.
In her experience, body insecurity comes from many sources. The media, presenting warped senses of the "normal" body for women of all ages. Another is the body image attitudes that surround us as children. Ervanian spoke of a woman who used to speak badly of her own body in front of her young daughter, and was then shocked to find out years later that her daughter had an eating disorder.
"She failed to realize that her negative attitude affected her daughter," Ervanian said. "Her daughter grew up in an environment where she was taught that being thin equaled being accepted and liked."
Even so, Houston wants to counteract the negatives voices. It was a long road for her, but through her Instagram, she was able to approach eating and self-image in a better light. Ervanian agrees that, while difficult, loving yourself and your body is doable.
"Focus on the positive. It is so easy to point out our flaws, but how often can we look at ourselves and point out what is good?" Ervanian said. "It is unlikely that we will like all things about our bodies, but if we can learn to accept the body we have it may put less pressure on us to obsess about the body we think we should have."
So, the next time you're staring in a mirror, picking your insecurities a part, remember: There is no one definition of beautiful, and perfect is a false construct. You are perfectly imperfect just the way you are.