As this is a lifestyle/happiness blog, it is only right that I write about body positivity. Of which, I confess to not have a great deal of. So without further ado, let’s talk.
In the winter, I am the kinda gal to style bedhead with baggy jumpers. When changing, I am straight out of one outfit and right into another. I do not hang about in the cold. I rarely have to look at my body during the colder months which, in England, is most of the year. Every single spring I say that I won’t get this way and every spring I am wrong. I am so predictable.
I start to actually look in the mirror when I change and I start to evaluate my body. I will stand in my underwear and scrutinise every inch of my chubby thighs and pinch at the birthing hips and love handles that suddenly seem a lot larger than how I’ve imagined them. Body image is something I have always struggled with. I’ll start at the beginning.
I knew I was fat when I was seven years old. I stared at my legs in my pink ballet tights and whispered to myself the realisation that they were starting to chunk up. I wasn’t big- that’s the realest part. I guess dancing builds muscle or I was simply a growing child, I don’t know exactly what possessed me because I don’t look like a chubby kid in any photos. And I know that it seems daft for a seven year old to even have any sort of concept of ‘fat’. But that didn’t stop the obsession.
I have strong memories of laying in bed at night grabbing handfuls of thigh and wondering where it all came from and how to get rid of it. How ridiculous. In middle school, I began dieting like every other body conscious teenage girl. In high school, along came the crash dieting, the only taking two Jacob’s crackers to lunch phase and over exercising to exhaustion. I became obsessive over numbers- the ones on packets of food and on the scale. I measured my worth in direct reference to my body mass. Because I thought I was fat, I even calculated the lowest BMI I could hit before it got unhealthy. And then I scratched that to fulfil my obsession with being 97lbs only. Again, it was ridiculous. That’s the past explained.
Now, in the present, every summer, despite being older and wiser and more safely dieting to be healthy rather than thin, I still spend every single day monitoring what I eat and nothing passes my lips without a huge pang of guilt to accompany it. And y’know what? Life is too short to pass up on a good cake because I’m convinced it’ll pile on another pound. What’s really important is to be healthy and it’s all well and good to have an active lifestyle, but one shouldn’t beat themselves up repeating a two hour workout video or run for hours on a treadmill to only eat salad for dinner. Does that make you happy? No. So what’s the point in it? The important thing is to be happy and healthy.
Another important thing I feel the need to note about body negativity is that people with obsessive or distorted negative images of themselves are only thinking of themselves. If I had a pound for every time a friend said ‘If you think you’re fat then you must think I’m huge!’, I’d be able to treat myself comfortably. Body image is personal and, although comparisons are natural, they are so unhelpful. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at another woman’s body type and thought they were hideous and this is important- if I’m not judging other people’s body, chances are they’re not judging mine either. Body insecurity is stupid, are we getting that message yet?
So, I’m giving myself this stern talking to and hoping you’ll take something from it too. Yeah, I’m a girl with thick thighs and not the boobs to balance them out and sure, I’ve got some hips on me and my stomach isn’t flat. What needs to happen is some cardio a few times a week and a toning session here and there, not guilt trips over every single thing I crave to eat that day.
I encourage you ladies- and guys, wear whatever you want with pride, look after your body even if you don’t love how it looks. Aspire to be healthy because that’s what’s really important.
Now, I’m gonna go eat a piece of cake…and I’ll see you on the beach!
I update this the night before it is published. Having returned from my sunny (ish) week away in Spain, I can safely say that I wore my bikini as confidently as I could and by the end of the holiday I had skinny dipped- butt naked, TWICE! There is something extremely powerful about four young, 20 something women, laughing carelessly on the edge of a dimly lit swimming pool and something very exhilarating about jumping in together, not pausing for a single moment to be self conscious of our bodies.
Be brave and bare all,