My blog is long overdue a lifestyle-turned-rant post, and to be honest there are so many things I could write about that I’m not entirely sure where this one is going, so I’m going to start with body image, as I feel that it has such a prominent place in today’s society. No matter which way you look at it (and no matter how much you tell yourself how different it should be), there’s no denying that society as a whole places a disproportionate amount of self-worth on the way that we look. I think it’s sad really – image is just a tiny part of a person, and so much less important than personality or heart, but inevitably how someone looks is one of the first things you notice about them, even if it’s not what you later come to love them for.
I absolutely loved the Everybody campaign done by Selfridges where they promoted celebrating the beauty of how different we all are! Yes, perhaps it was just a clever way of marketing new products, but the fact that the women featured in their shoot were chosen based on strength, personality and presence as opposed to pure looks was so inspiring.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are” – Marilyn Monroe
So.. What do I love about my body?
“Nothing.” I know – a ridiculous answer for someone who is trying to help and inspire people. But stay with me here as I just want to be honest with you! The truth is that when I was growing up that would always be my answer. I’d be the one hiding away in the corner in photos, the one who didn’t want to smile because I hated my teeth, the one who dreaded lining up in class as it would give someone yet another opportunity to make a short-joke or draw attention to the fact that I probably wouldn’t have looked out of place joining the class three years below. I’ve spoken about this briefly in a previous blog post but for as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with body confidence.
“There is nothing wrong with your body, but there is a lot wrong with the messages which try to convince you otherwise” – Rae Smith
Throughout my teens I couldn’t find parts of my body that I liked – I’d avoid looking in the mirror and I used to wonder if anyone would ever be attracted to me. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d dream of the things I’d change – how I’d make myself look if I had the chance – I’d be taller, have longer legs, lighter hair, straight teeth, a flatter stomach – you name it. Luckily for me though, unlike many others who I sadly see battling away with eating disorders, I never really made a link between food and body image in my head – even at my lowest points of confidence I never felt that losing weight or ‘being skinnier’ would make make me any happier and I’m thankful that I realised even back then that my issue was mental, not physical. Eating more/less was not going to change the colour of my hair or the length of my legs! Now that I’ve grown up I’ve changed a lot. There are still plenty of parts of me that I don’t like but I’ve learned to appreciate the good parts of me, and now I can’t imagine wanting to be someone else. Of course I can appreciate how beautiful other people are; how they have features that would like to look in an ideal world, but I’m not them, I’m me 🙂 Even now I’ve improved my mentality a lot, I still acknowledge that I have a long way to come. I live in baggy tops and slouchy jumpers, partly using the fact that I eat a lot so it can hide my food babies as an excuse, but partly because I just don’t feel confident going out in tight clothes. I wanted to be open and honest because I get so many messages on social media asking how I eat how I eat and look how I look, which is lovely of course, but the chances are I’m probably thinking that you look incredible too! So many people are so quick to notice and praise all of the good parts of others, without realising how amazing they are themselves. So I wanted to write a post as a reminder to both myself and everyone else about how incredible our bodies are. How incredible we are. We all look different, we’re all unique but that should be celebrated! There’s no point in trying to conform to a ‘perfect’ image – firstly because one doesn’t exist (how many people would describe their other half as ‘perfect’? I know I would, but yet so would many other people whose partners look completely different!) but more importantly because life would be completely boring if we all looked the same.
“Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or make up: it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own” – Valerie Monroe
Ask people what they love about themselves and they so often think of all of the obvious answers – legs, abs, glutes, etc. but there’s so much more to our bodies than physical appearance. Ask me now what I love about myself and rather than being negative about the physical things I dislike I’ll tell you that love my body for what it can do!
I love my eyes. Not how they look but how they allow me to see everything that is beautiful in the world.
I love my legs. Perhaps I wish that they were stronger, faster or longer but they carry me around and allow me to live my life independently, every single day. Isn’t that far more a reason to love them than how they look in the mirror!? So what if I can’t jump as high as Sally or lift as much as Susie? It’s thanks to my legs that I’m even able to do all of the things that I love and explore so many exciting places.
I love my arms. Again, I’d love them to be more toned but at the end of the day, does that really matter!? I love that they can carry things, can allow me to live everyday life and carry out everyday tasks that we take for granted. They allow me to cook, bake, text my friends, call my boyfriend, carry bags back from the supermarket. Everyday things which we so easily take for granted.
Most of all, I just love how my body works. It allows me to communicate with people, to think and make decisions for myself, to learn and form opinions, to absorb information and find new interests, to eat and enjoy food. Our bodies are so much more than how we look. Everything works together perfectly to help us to function.
“When you’re always trying to conform to the norm, you lose your uniqueness, which can be the foundation for your greatness.” – Dale Archer
Sometimes, as sad as it is, it takes something bad to happen for us to appreciate how good we truly have it. When I was bed-bound for 3 months after my ACL reconstruction it was only then that I realised how little I could do. It wasn’t even a serious operation as far as operations go, but I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go up and down stairs, I could barely move without pain. I was completely and utterly reliant on everyone else for the tiniest of things – I even needed someone to help me into the bath! Now a few years on I can’t run as fast as I could before my operation (to be honest I can’t even run much at all as it has aggravated my knee the few times I’ve tried), I can’t play badminton pain-free, and my left leg will probably always be slightly weaker since that day – in the surgeon’s kind words “your leg will never be the same again”. But that’s okay, I still have times when I get really down when I make comparisons to my past-self, but I try to tell myself that I’m being ridiculous. I’m lucky that the medical knowledge even exists for me to have had that operation, and there are billions of people who either don’t have that luxury, or who have been through/are going through far, far worse injuries and operations. So next time, when you come to criticise your body, or moan about not being able to workout for a few weeks, stop and put everything into perspective – you have a wonderful body which does so many incredible things – love it for what it is 🙂 Sorry that this turned out to be a far cheesier post than I first envisaged but I definitely have a habit of rambling on about topics I feel strongly about!
“There is no wrong way to have a body” – Glenn Marla