Learning to love myself has been one of my longest life challenges. My self esteem has been at battle with a twenty-year old eating disorder. Turning eleven brought a birthday gift of weight gain and put me on a path of restricting, binge eating and over-exercising. It seems like it has taken forever to understand how manipulating my weight and appearance in both healthy and unhealthy ways was a reflection of how I felt on the inside of myself. Bombarded with images in the media of impossible beauty standards and socialized norms of feminine behavior, my eyes looked into the mirror for a sense of self esteem. Instead of empowering female friendships, mine were competitive. Who had a thigh gap? How many boys were drooling after us? Whose closet was larger than life? All that criteria was external and I couldn't win. So I skipped parties, weddings and graduations because I felt unattractive. The "when, then" game ruled my life: I thought 'when I lose twenty pounds, I will have a boyfriend" and "when I lose twenty pounds, I will be happy." I didn't realize that projecting my happiness to the future meant I was missing out on the present moment. I lost a lot of time to this unhealthy obsession. Instead of building personal coping tools like meditation, work-related skills, or even participating in sports, I spent years hiding in therapy and eating disorder programs. I was desperate to find out what was so wrong in my core that I put so much emphasis on looks and weight. One mind-blowing incident started my journey towards self-love. I remember spotting her six years ago while I rode the subway. She was my ideal self: petite, with manicured nails and blond hair. Why couldn't I look like her? For sure she had a boyfriend! I ruminated over this for most of the ride. Finally my ears decided to interrupt my brain and I heard her speaking to her friend. Her voice was sharp and she spent the whole subway ride complaining about her life. She seemed miserable and shallow. I came home and told my mom I would never want to be that pretty if it came with being so negative. My family physician also held the key to a lesson I still think about daily. She sat me down once and asked me to look outside her door. There was a woman in head to toe Michael Kors, dripping diamonds, with highlighted hair. She asked me what I thought of her and I went with "beautiful." Within two breaths my doctor told me that her patient's life was falling apart because of divorce and bankruptcy. "Never assume someone's happy based on what they look like or what they wear," she warned me. That day my doctor really called me out for the way I was looking at the world. It was as disordered and self-destructive as my eating. Working in fashion was also one giant leap towards recovery for me. I am a sales associate, fitting women of all shapes and sizes and working hard to establish our collective self-esteem. When I accompany my clients to their fitting rooms, young women and their mothers regularly share with me their fears regarding the shape of their thighs, booties, and breasts. It was out in the open now and I confronted how ingrained body shaming is across my gender. Answering “does this outfit looks good on me?” or “does this make me look fat?” is my opportunity to reassure women. I let them know that confidence, posture, and inner beauty radiates beyond body shape or size. As they try on the latest in Spring styles. I like to vocalize my appreciation for what sets them apart, be it their freckles, or their life accomplishments, friendships and career achievements. There are too many stresses in young women's lives. The pressures of social media, peers and fierce academic/job competition face girls every day. Dinners are hardly made at home anymore. Routine discussion between family and friends is often interrupted by constant texting. The pressures of exams, lack of sleep and Red Bull, penetrates young lives. I hear about my client's struggles with their bodies, Mara Teigen and Ashley Greene on Instragram, as well as what boys think about them. This the context in which our feelings and thoughts about our bodies are developed. So when will this self-deprecation end? As long as there are to be beauty products and fashion brands to be sold, marketing may continue to rule female self-esteem. I am writing to let others know that there really is a path to becoming self assured in ourselves. When I chose to put the most value on achieving personal goals, and deciding to really interact with the world, there was socializing and activities which built up my self-esteem. I could really list what I liked about myself based on my capabilities and social media has been banned from my life. I am finally doing the activities I always dreamed of despite of how I worried I am or anyone else is about my looks. I cross my fingers and wish that for every girl and women I ever get the opportunity to dress!