What my body looks like is none of your business, and what your body looks like is none of my business; even if we choose to flaunt it or keep it covered. Judgement to tear people down or point out what’s different is playground behaviour. We’re better than that right?
Body image is a stressful dark hole that sucks you in and you don’t realise it, until you’re in the darkest depths and you’re like why the fuck do I hate the way my knees look now? The insecurity can feel like the end of the world, like you’re never going to be able to accept yourself as you are without changing this, or less of that. Especially in social media culture where people like to pretend they’re perfect with their tanned and toned bodies. For years we were lead to believe stretch marks and cellulite were something we had to get rid of! At the age of 14 I bought a cream to tighten up the skin on my legs and stared buying oil for stretch marks hoping if I stuck to it daily for 12-weeks they’d disappear, but hey beauty industry they never did, yet you still get me buying oil for my inner thighs and arse cheeks on the reg.
Don’t get me started on my lower belly, inner thighs and small chest. My mum used to grab her fat in front of her impressionable daughters and would say ‘brown fat is better than white fat,’ (as in tanned). Hmmm, I wonder why I prefer myself with a summer glow. She would always be on a diet, limiting what she could have, putting herself down. Then them words became mine and my sisters inner voices towards our bodies, picking ourselves apart, thinking we needed to change something to be pretty, to be more attractive. I felt I needed a flat belly and a boob job to be desirable.
There came a point where I was either insecure and negative living half a life or tried to accept myself and my body for what it was.
I wasn’t happy with this ultimatum, but I like to eat what would be deemed ‘naughty’ food from time to time and I didn’t want to change this, change me! I certainly could not stomach the idea of being cut open and have silicone inserted into me to be deemed a hot commodity by the male species. (I do not judge anyone who has cosmetic surgery, it can do wonders for peoples self-esteem. I wouldn’t judge someone’s choices for their body. It is just not something me or my mind could handle)
Enough was enough, but where did I start?
I have come up with 5 ways that helped me overcome body image issues and own my body for the beautiful life giving entity it is.
5-ways to build a better body image?
1. Start with positive thoughts, i.e. my body is mine, my body is what it is and that’s okay, my body isn’t perfect and that’s normal, thank you body for keeping me alive, for helping me move around, etc. Starting with, I love my body isn’t realistic if you actually hate it. You need to find words that accept your body as it is, words that can slowly build up to more positive and thankful thoughts.
2. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, clothes that feel flattering. Not clothes you think you should be wearing, but clothes that make you feel fab and that is different for everyone. I know if I’m in clothes that feel too tight it’s all I can think of and it makes me feel rubbish. Clothes that highlight what you could like or tolerate will help you feel better.
3. Purge your social media – honestly it sounds so simple, but this was a big turning point for me, less fitness models and models in general that had a figure I would desire, body parts that made me feel insecure and negative about my own. Following a diverse range of people makes you realise that there are so many different body types, not just the one that has been burned into our brains from mainstream media.
4. Pamper yourself – I know if I exfoliate, do a face mask and full on skin-care routine I feel better. It allows you to see what you can do with your body instead of drastic changes, you’re working with what you have and making the most of it.
5. Challenge negative thoughts – I now think, why am I putting myself down? Even on days when it feels hard to like myself, I try not to let that slip to hate, it’s hard to keep pulling yourself out from the dark places.
It’s not easy but it is so worth it. To loosen the restraints you have over yourself. To start living more authentically to you. To feel more care free, to not care what other people think or look like.
These 5 steps are a start, a foundation to build upon. There is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel, slowly you’ll start to see it shining through!
It has taken me two/three possibly more pain staking long years of tears, hateful thoughts and insecurity that has come between my relationship at times. It’s about putting yourself out there and not caring what other people think, I would wear tops that showed my A-cup and keep telling myself over and over again I was comfortable even though I wasn’t, then not dare wear a top like that for a while, then the next time would come around and it got a little easier. It flares up around the summer and that is something I may always have to deal with, but hopefully each summer will feel a little easier.
The best quality money and material things can’t buy is self-acceptance, self-awareness, owning who the fuck you are. Who’s with me?