Growing up, Veronica Bonilla was teased for having cellulite and stretch marks. So, she covered up, feeling ashamed and insecure. But when she started college in 2012, she decided she wasn’t going to hide any more. She started baring more and more — and as her body confidence grew, she felt more powerful in other areas as well. Now 25, Veronica is an active model and blogger, encouraging other women to love the skin they’re in. 

When I was younger I organized my life around my anxiety about my skin. I wore long sleeved sweaters and shirts and long pants, even in the summer, because I didn’t want anyone to see my stretch marks or my cellulite. I was picked on a lot as a kid for having stretch marks on my arms and cellulite on my legs, so I learned to be ashamed and insecure about those parts of my body early on, and I saw my stretch marks and cellulite as abnormal and ugly. I was very shy, and I walked around with my head down. My mom tried to help me, to boost my confidence, but I was a teenager. I just wanted to fit in.  

I began to realize I couldn’t go on hating my body forever. It’s draining and it’s exhausting. There is nothing I can do but love and embrace it. I was starting college and I thought, OK, new school, new people. I need to be a confident person in order to be taken seriously. I can’t be out here being all insecure because of the natural state of my body. I started doing affirmations while looking in the mirror, focusing on the parts of my body I used to hate and appreciating them instead. I wanted to think of my body as an accomplishment, not a burden.  

So, when spring came, it was sort of like go time. I felt like I couldn’t keep repeating those words and not showing any action. I made a plan that I would focus on one thing every month. I started with my arms because that’s what I was most insecure about. I tossed all of my old long-sleeved shirts so I would have nothing to cover myself with, I would have no choice, no turning back. And I shopped for stuff that would show off my arms.

“I started doing affirmations while looking in the mirror, focusing on the parts of my body I used to hate and appreciating them instead.” – Veronica Bonilla

I remember the first day I went out with bare arms. There was a heat wave, and I told myself, “Everybody is going to be in tank tops, and nobody cares.” I had a tube top, and I decided I was just going to wear it and go outside and put all of my affirmations into practice. And I went out there and it was perfect. Nobody looked at my arms and said, “Ew.” That stuff was all in my head and it wasn’t something I had to worry about any more. I looked around at everyone in their summer clothes and lots of other people had stretch marks and other skin imperfections and they were just going about their day and nobody else was looking or judging. It made me realize my arms were fine, they were normal… they were just my arms. I called my mom and she was so proud of me for turning something negative into a positive.   

I still have anxiety, though. I feel like the main thing is stopping it in its tracks and pulling myself back. I write down the first word that comes into my mind, then start listing all the things in my head that are rambling all over the place. And I meditate too. I used to do it every day but now it’s more like three times a week. It helps me focus.

One thing I love to do is find other women on Instagram who have the same body type as me, or even who are curvier than me. I try not to follow the famous people who all look the same. I like to see diversity and people who have the same struggles when it comes to things like buying pants that fit. It gives me motivation to keep on going. And I am not a fan of the word “perfect” or people trying to be perfect. I’m not perfect. I have flaws, and I appreciate my flaws. I appreciate the journey that I took for this body. My body is beautiful, and so is yours. Let’s stop worrying about being perfect, because we are beautiful, and that’s enough. 

Too-small-to-fail steps anyone can take to challenge perfection anxiety