How do you feel about your body?
Posted on 12th July 2021 at 16:12
As a teenager I used to dread sunny warm days. I lived in the North East of England, it wasn’t a huge deal I guess but joking aside I used to feel upset. Actual upset at the “fact” that in my mind I believed my body and especially my legs, so hideous, that even on a hot day I had to hide it all under my layers of clothing. The layers of clothing protected me from being seen and from being noticed. But in truth I wanted to be seen and I wanted to be noticed. I looked in awe and also with jealously at the girls around me in their shorts and their summery tops and I hated myself even more.
Comparing myself to girls who probably on reflection, sat there thinking some other painful thoughts themselves about their bodies, or their clothes, or their face, or that spot on their nose that nobody else had given a second thought to.
I remember age 14 I went on holiday with my mum. We went to Paris and it was in the summer months and yes the sun was shining ! I had packed my one and only pair of actual shorts with the firm knowledge that I would never wear them but it seemed like the right thing to do. They snuck in among the other items in my case, my long Indian skirts, my jeans, my baggy jumpers. I could rock the goth look and get away with that but my Mum said to me, “ We are in Paris, the city of fashion and art, why are you dressed like that? “
My mum was a beautiful woman, she never wore a pick of make-up, she never went to the hairdressers or painted her nails, but when she walked into a room everyone noticed her. She was tall and confident and while she never really indulged in clothes buying, the things that she wore were nice, they had lovely patterns and fitted her well. She didn’t care about having flabby bits on her legs, or having a tan or any of the things that filled my head at that age.
Her words didn’t help by the way. They added on to my feelings of self-loathing and I was still boiling hot and uncomfortable waked round the Parisian streets.
My Mum would always tell us that it was great to be different, and ask us, why did we want to look like everyone else. I wanted to look like everyone else more than anything in the world. I wanted to look like anyone other than myself.
Why did I feel this way ? My own personal view of what I perceived as beautiful perhaps being one of them. Name calling at school for having spots and ginger hair? It was auburn just to clarify. (wonder if that one still hurts eh?) Having pale skin, when having a tan was the fashion? Not really knowing anything about clothes and how to wear them? Comparing myself to my friends who seemed to me to be much thinner, prettier and with a way better wardrobe? Being told by magazines that I read that being thin and pretty was the goal ? Never seeing anyone on tv who wasn’t thin or pretty?
I am 45 now and while I want to say that in our world now difference is way more celebrated, and on TV especially we see bodies of all sorts of shapes and sizes, I hear from young people that the feelings are the same. The comparison to others, the bid to look a certain way, whatever the fashion of that way is at the time.
Some say the pressure is even larger with the introduction of social media but I think it’s always had the potential to harm a person. That feeling of self-hatred about my body stayed with me for many years and it was strong and it was real and facebook didn’t have anything t do with that.
Cards on the table. I probably only started to say nice things abut my body in the last 5 years. And how ironic that this 45 year old body has way more flabby bits on it than it did when I was 14. Way more flabby bits on it that I had when I was 20 and when I was 30 even yet now I find the compassion for this body.
I found this compassion when I started to think about what my body does for me as opposed to how it looks. My body has allowed me to grow three children. My body allows me to move, to dance, to walk in beautiful places. My body allows me to see, to hear, to listen and enjoy the world around me. I am privileged to have a body that is in full working order. At age 11 It was discovered that I had a hole in my heart. My heart had been working at half capacity my whole life and I could have died. One operation later and this was fixed and my heart has continued to beat and keep me alive. Id be really sad if my body stopped working as well so I take care of it and thank it.
This is the weird thing that has happened. Since I began to appreciate my body I have begun to take better care of it. When I hated myself I would think nothing about filling my body with foods and substances that wouldn’t do it any good. I don’t live a completely pure lifestyle. I do eat sugar from time to time, I do eat takeaways from time to time, I do drink alcohol from time to time, I do slob on the sofa instead of going for a walk from time to time but that is the shift. Its now from time to time and not every day. The other shift is the way I see myself. And again, from time to time I do say those unkind things to myself but its less and its getting less frequent all the time.
Today as you read this think about how you feel about your body. Check out the wellness challenge for more on this!
Take care all, Silvia x
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