Disliking (or even hating) one’s body is something we hear about all too often. The amount of pressure put on women and men to look a certain way can be overwhelming and we eventually find ourselves staring at our naked reflection in a full length mirror thinking of all of the things we’re going to change when we eventually earn enough to get plastic surgery.
I wasn’t an overly large child but i was tall and sturdy, and when i got my puppy fat, it never really left. Kids at school always had plenty to say about it of course. It’s amazing just how cruel kids can be when they put their minds to it? It’s rarely adults that make other adults commit suicide or self harm through bullying them, but it’s becoming more common in kids and teens. Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time.
I was – and still am – lucky in the sense that i’ve always had a certain arrogance about me. I decided as an 11 year old when first experiencing online bullying (Piczo was the “social network” of choice in ’04 and my classmates used to make pages of “Hot and Not” and then publicly insult the ‘Not’ girl) that listening to other’s people opinions of me as a person is pointless because i am the only person who truly knows me. Nearly 11 years later, i still stand by that statement. I feel that other people’s opinions on your body are irrelevant to how you should feel about yourself. After all, it’s none of their business and you’re the one who owns yourself.
It’s quite easy to throw away the opinions of people you don’t like, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to decide you’re not going to listen to the opinions of a parent. Don’t get me wrong, my Mum was never cruel about her comments and i know she had good intentions, but i was still offended when she suggested i lose a bit of weight or that maybe i should do more exercise.
Looking back, i know she was just worrying about my health, but even now i don’t believe my body was at a size that should cause her to feel the need to comment on it (i was a size 14 and 5’9 for the majority of my teenager years). I do think parenting is really tricky and everyone has a completely different approach to it. I for one know i won’t be suggesting my future children go on a diet or wobbling their squishy bellies.
A big worry for me was that all boys in the world only like size 8-10 girls. It’s unbelievably stressful being a teenage girl who is first getting interested in boys! You worry about every little thing. Do boys like girls with lots of makeup or none? Do boys mind spots? Should i shave my legs? Should i shave everywhere? Does that include my arms? Do boys notice arm hair on girls? Will he be grossed out by my braces? The list goes on. It took a few years of dating to realise that boys generally don’t care about your weight or dress size, especially hormone driven teenage boys who seem to be interested in girl-kind as a whole.
It’s great to read about body positive girls on Instagram who write lovely messages in their caption about how all bodies are beautiful and everyone should love each other. I love that attitudes are changing and big can be seen as beautiful. But i know how difficult it is to truly take the message home. Sure you can appreciate the sentiment, but do you really believe it? Possibly, possibly not. I know i didn’t for a long time.
But something changed in me last year. I realised i’d put on two stone. I was shocked and disgusted at myself for not paying attention to the amount of junk food i’d been eating. I berated myself and told myself that i would have to go back on the horrible 1500 calorie diet i tried a couple of years ago (i used to pass out a lot because of it). I sulked and wallowed in self pity for a good few hours until something in my head just changed. I spent some time looking at myself in the mirror, in photos and at my mental image of myself. I thought about how the past few months had been the best in a long time. I considered how unhappy dieting had made me in the past and how i would feel if i had to live my life constantly keeping an eye on my weight and food intake. I thought about the prospect of weighing even more, gaining dress sizes and how i would feel about it. I realised that gaining weight didn’t make me a bad person, just a human who was enjoying herself maybe a little too much. I thought of what i had put my poor body through in the past, and how it had never given up fighting. I thought about all the times i’d wanted to kill myself and how my body had suffered through my attempts. I looked at my scars and considered how i would feel if i ended up with more because i continued to hate my body.
And at the end of my pondering, i realised that this is the only body i will ever have. It’s the only body i will ever know and i’ll be with it my entire life. My body is the reason i’m able to type this blog post. It’s the reason i can explore the world and lay in bed watching Netflix. It can do amazing things like digest kebabs and recover from a night round town. It never gives in, it never fails and it does it’s best to keep me safe and happy.
I’m a human being. I’m a serial Netflix binger. I’m a terribly lazy person.
I have lumps and bumps and squishy bits. I have cellulite and dry skin and spots.
My body and i are 100% unique. There is nobody else in the world who looks like me.
And there is nobody in the world who looks like you (unless you’re an identical twin of course but you get the point).
Your body is your own. Nobody in the world has the right to make you feel bad about how your body looks.
Fall in love with yourself. Realise that your tender areas are just part of yourself. Remember that if you’re truly that unhappy with yourself, change is not impossible. Just don’t let other people dictate to you about your own body.
I hope this post was of some use to you.