Apologies, its been a while! As much as I love sharing these posts with you and the weight I feel lifted off my chest when I do, I needed to take a couple of weeks away to really acknowledge and understand what I was writing about, and the effect it is having on me. Its definitely taken a lot out of me but I feel refreshed and ready to share the next chapter with you all. So this week I am looking at the complicated relationship I have with my own body and asking myself the question why is it that we all struggle so much to love and accept the skin we are in...
I have a love hate relationship with my body. I try to think of all the times I felt truly confident in my own skin and proud of the body I have and I could probably count those instances on one hand. Is that normal... I mean probably yes.
I grew up in the 00's era of 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels', bombarded with photoshopped images made to make any teenager feel insecure and unworthy. I didn't have some of the body positivity influencers to look up to and admire that we see now. I didn't witness any women over a size 8 on the covers of magazines until I was into my twenties. I therefore had an unrealistic and idealistic view of my own body. I always wanted to be that little more slim, my boobs just a little bit smaller, my bum just a little more perkier. I was never satisfied, always striving to be something or someone else. I feel if you ask a lot of other young women at around the same time, they would have thought the same as me. The idea that life would be a lot more easier if we looked the like the women we saw in the media.
As a teenager I felt like my body never really felt like mine. I didn't feel like I was in control of what I did with my own body. It felt like I was always dictated by what society told me. I was trying to carve out who I was, but constantly felt like the way I was divined or seen by others was partly influenced by my appearance. I felt like I had to portray my body in a way that was deemed acceptable by those around me. If I chose to wear a short skirt because I thought my legs looked nice in it, I was asking for unwanted attention. If I wore a top that was fitted, the fact that I had boobs meant people would make comments. The first time I was cat called I was about 13 or 14 and I had bought a skirt from Topshop and I was so excited about my purchase. I wore it just once and had someone yell at me from their car. I remember going red in the face, feeling so belittled and humiliated. I ran home, immediately took off the skirt and didn't wear it again for a while.
When I was younger I wanted to be deemed pretty by others. I envied the girls that we had collectively decided were the prettiest in school. The idea that someone was beautiful based on the way they treated others was a foreign concept. I didn't look like these girls and therefore went mostly unnoticed. I suddenly grew a pair of boobs when I was 16 and unwanted attention was all I got. I hated them. Covered them up in oversized sweatshirts, positioned myself in photographs so that they would seem smaller. People told me my curves were beautiful but I whole heartedly disagreed. I felt like I suddenly had this body that I didn't fully understand and wasn't like the ones I was seeing in magazines. My body felt so foreign to me. I still don't fully understand my body and sometimes feel as it was supposed to belong to someone else. I feel someone else could embrace the curves better than I can and really enjoy it.
Whenever I get a compliment based on my appearance I bat it away. It makes me uncomfortable. It's as if I sort of want someone to say something negative about me so I can agree with it. I want them to say your ugly and not good enough so the thoughts that berate me were not just thoughts but real, I wasn't going mad. I dig holes for myself to get trapped into. I get stuck on a train of thought and like a dog with a bone, I do not let go. I want someone to say the negative thing I have been thinking of for so long. But why do I want to make myself feel bad, and why do I want to bring others down with me into this negative train of thought?
I've been yelled at, barked at, whistled at, spoken to inappropriately, been groped and I still feel like it may be partly because of the way I showcased my body to the world. I sometimes sort of feel that because others have not demonstrated respect towards my body I therefore shouldn't. I sometimes got stuck in the idea that those who belittled me are the ones in control and I should be the one to change. I feel like women have felt this way for years. Its the whole idea that to make our lives easier and slightly safer, we adapt. Still do this day I feel this sense of obligation to cover up. To cover up my femininity as if its an issue that needs to be fixed. Our bodies are constantly sold to us as sacred but shouldn't it ultimately be our choice how we showcase it to the world?
They also say to treat your body like a temple. Treat it with respect and it will give so much back to you. Its fair to say I don't always treat my body with the respect it deserves. Sometimes the wear and tear of life is physically shown on my body for the whole world to see. I will live with the scars, the ones I deliberately carved out on my skin, the others accidents that bring back weird and sometimes wonderful memories. I will forever bare the stretch marks that show that I'm a real living and breathing woman, I will hopefully one day learn to love my furrowed brow line from years of sarcastic comments, maybe I will wear proudly the moles I inherited from my dad's side and try to love them. But this is all part of a long journey. I don't believe I will get there over night by any means.
You know who the people I notice when I walk into a room now? They are the ones that radiate positivity. The ones that hold their head high and embrace all life has to offer. The ones that forget what people might say and instead choose to be forever present. I one day want to be this authentic. To say this is me, take it or leave it. But I am willing to accept that it may be a while till I get there. Its hard to reprogramme your mind into a more positive mindset, but all we can do is try. I have to remind myself daily that we really only have this one life and do I really want to spend it comparing myself to everyone else?
Why is it we can't find the love in ourselves that we hold for others. Why is it that we want to erase our stretch marks, our scars, the frown lines or whatever we deem as imperfections. Are they not a sort of road map of our lives, our experiences, where we have been and where we are going. I sometimes forget, choosing instead to focus on what I see as my flaws and what others may think of them. But in reality we are all struggling with body insecurities that are exacerbated by what we see and hear in the media. We all look different and that is what makes us all so utterly and completely unique. Maybe we should focus on what makes us different instead of attempting to all feel and look the same. We all love the idea of feeling like we are part of the same thing, so much so we want to all look like each other so maybe we don't feel so alone. I am guilty of feeling this way. And its taken me 26 years to only start to realise that this is an unhealthy way of thinking and to maybe readjust my mindset. I suppose acknowledging it is really the first step...