Bodies are such funny things, they carry us through the world and keep us alive and yet many of us hate them. We hate our own and strangely we have opinions on the bodies of others! Our bodies impact the way people see us, the way we are able to navigate the world, the way we experience every part of our lives. Bodies come in every shape and size imaginable but the world seems to have decided there are just a few acceptable shapes and sizes…how the hell did that happen? Although body positivity has swept the western world via social media and other media campaigns many woman and men still struggle with their body image. Worse, many boys and girls struggle.
I have been one of these girls and later one of these women. The first memory I have of hating my body is before my brother was born; so I must have been around 6 and it continued in many forms, peaks and flows for 20 years (what a waste of time and energy!). Sometimes I would be able to project body confidence and pretend I was okay with who I was ; wearing mini skirts and High heals; but always loose fitting tops to hide my tummy, little jackets or cardigans to hide my arms . Even when it was too too hot. Make up to cover my spotty skin and switching photos into black and white to hide all sins (why dose everything look better in black and white?). If I didn’t take these precautions I would spend the whole day/night uncomfortable worried and miserable. I would proudly say ” I eat what ever I like!” while consuming copious laxatives and making myself sick in private. I was never thin enough for people to notice the destructive relationship I had with food and my weight. I would care what people thought of my clothes and hair and struggle to always look the way I thought people wanted me to. Short skirts and dresses sucking my tummy in, always trying to copy the hair and make up people told me would look best on me.
I have been called fat, thin, not pretty, chubby, beautiful, ugly, sexy, child like, pizza face, curvy, womanly (although aren’t all women womanly????), the ugly sister, the fat sister, and more. I have felt much like Agnes Nitt from the terry Pratchette novel; where the only positive thing people would say about the way I looked was that I had great hair.
A few years ago I conquered my issues with food, my amazing husband gave me the room to heal my issues by gently disrupting any ridiculous diet I tried. And since that relationship has healed my relationship with my body has began to heal too.
In the last year I have begun to drop the idea of what I should wear what suits a “curvier woman”. I have embraced all the clothes I stayed away from for fear that people would think I looked ridiculous, in recent months I started wearing a swimming costume to the beach (this is a bigger deal for me than you would think). Investing in clothes that I love rather than what I think people think I should be wearing: I have embraced colour, patterns, movement and lace! I’ve discovered that yes I can wear jump suits and no one gives a crap if I am in clashing colours. I use to worry that I would look to young or too old in my fashion choices and now I don’t give a flying fuck! okay, sometimes the worry sneaks in. But I try to remind my self its okay, its totally okay .
Lock down has seen me abandon make up most of the time and although it feels good to sometimes pop on a good coat of lippy and mascara, it also feels good to walk around B&Q with out feeling like I HAVE to wear make up.
I wont pretend that every time I look in a mirror I love myself because I don’t. But I’m comfortable, I’ve stopped buying clothes because I might look good in them once I’ve lost some weight, I’ve stopped buying what I think others think I should wear and have started to invest in the clothes I love most. No longer aiming to hide the bad bits and emphasise what others say looks good. I get my husband to take a pictures of the outfits I love to remind myself what I adore and remind myself when the hate sneaks in how happy I look in that outfit not giving a fuck.
I’ve stopped caring about sizes. mostly because I can buy a dress from Tesco’s kid collection (ages 13-14) a top from River Island in size 12 , a top from amazon in XXXL and a top from joules in a 10 all in the same day. It’s okay. I care more about the number of deadlifts I can do than the number of Kgs on the scale. Most important I’ve started wearing sleeveless tops without a jacket in public!
I love clothes! they bring me a lot of joy, I’ve started to embrace my body to allow me to wear what I want when I want. To walk around in my bra and pants around the house with out caring if my husband sees the little fat rolls that bunch together when slump down on the sofa (because he has never cared about how many rolls I have). I bare my spotty little face in public with pride (its my face and I am proud of it!). And I still eat a whole pizza to myself, but mostly without even an ounce of guilt.
After 20 years of hatred me and my body have found a truce. I caught corona virus and was suddenly unable to punish my body in the same way as I just couldn’t physically continue as I was. As I continue to recover even now; the pang of pain and deep cough every time I push myself too far reminds me to be kind to this body and to give it the rest it needs to keep it strong. The post viral exhaustion reminds me that sometimes an hours nap is more important than 50 push ups. That after a run its important to refuel and more importantly life is too bloody short to not enjoy every second. With over a month confined to my bed missing out on the beautiful weather and joy of life sucked … but it could have been worse and could be worse in the future.
So I will cartwheel on the beach in my swimming costume, dance around the woods in my dungarees, swan around London in my tweed skirt suit, run in my sports bra and leggings and eat out in my mom jeans and fluffy jumper…. because I don’t care what people think of my fashion choices but most importantly I don’t care what others think of my body because I bloody love it.