By Ritvi Ranka
Trick or Treat! Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. In elementary school, our teachers would put together a class party where every year we would watch the same Charlie Brown episode in the pumpkin patch and eat the same frosted sugar cookies. My favorite part was that in the evening, my friends and I would make a game plan to hit up all of the houses in the neighborhood and bring home the gold: bags and bags of delicious Halloween chocolate. These were some of the best moments of my life, sitting in front of the TV and eating all the candy I could stomach in one night.
But as I grew older, I started to become more self-conscious of what I was eating and how my body would react to what I was consuming. People started calling me names and rudely indicated that I was gaining weight; this quickly became something I grew to be embarrassed about. As a result, I stopped eating foods that made me happy, chocolate being one of them. My insecurities were slowly taking away my happiness. As much as I feared that, I couldn’t help it. I punished myself when I ate chocolate and it soon developed into my worst nightmare. It was ironic because to most people it resembled bringing two people together over a box of holiday chocolate, eating a sweet treat after a momentous event, or even just a Sunday morning brunch with a dozen chocolate donuts.
These are known to be happy memories, but for me, chocolate became a fear food. I rarely let myself indulge in desserts because I was scared of the consequences. This continued for a long time until I came to realize that it wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t eating chocolate that was haunting me. Instead, it was my underlying feeling that I was not worth it, that I didn’t deserve the happiness one felt when eating or doing something enjoyable. I can attribute this realization and my subsequent newfound empowerment to Ashely Graham, a body positivity activist, and plus-size model. Hearing her speak about body positivity and her journey made me feel more confident with myself. She proclaimed, “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t. Be real, be authentic, be your favorite kind of person. Don’t let anyone else take that job. And remember you are bold, you are brilliant and you are beautiful. There is no other person like you because you are your own kind of person.” Ashley Graham truly made me feel like I was someone who belonged. Because of her, I soon began eating things I loved again–especially chocolate–while also making sure that I was taking care of my body by not overeating these sweets. The joy it brought me was unmatched. Realizing that I should treat myself better with care and respect gave me the confidence I needed.
Self-care is an underrated topic. It is so important because self-care encourages you to have a healthy and positive relationship with yourself which, in turn, projects good feelings towards others. This is the idea that you can’t give others what you don’t have yourself. And, as some may misconstrue, self-care is not selfish. Being able to take care of yourself, sleeping well, eating balanced, and not overworking or burning yourself out is an important life skill to keep your motivation high in order to achieve your goals. For example, in my life, not eating foods I loved didn’t help me have a better life. Instead, I started fearing them. This is not the type of mentality we want to maintain. Being able to treat yourself is crucial to reach stronger feelings of happiness and self-acceptance. So, have a piece of candy. Allow yourself to indulge and tell yourself that you are worth it because you are a beautiful and confident person. Happy World Chocolate Day!