So usually I think very little of myself in terms of appearance. It’s not unusual, I don’t think, considering most of the girls I know have struggled with body image issues at some point since their teens. I’m in my mid-20s now, and in the last few months I’ve put on a bit of weight which has been a bit lame. Essentially, feeling like a blob is not a great boost for your self-esteem, and as such, it’s been bothering me. There’s more wiggle to my walk and more curves than before and though I can see and understand that it’s at most 5kg, it’s something I noticed, even if others (claimed they) did not.
I spent a lot of time as a teenager trying to balance between being social and bubbly and studious and ambitious with being angry and lost and totally unhappy with aspects of myself and my life, and as a result of this constant see-saw of self-loathing, I have some battle scars. But as a 20-something, I have come to accept and sometimes love the person I am, and every day I discover more about what makes me tick. I just can’t shake the judgement when it comes to looking in the mirror.
Now, I am proudly bootylicious, and have never been unhappy with being of a curvy shape. I’ve never wanted to trade and be a stick insect, and I have never been obsessive about weight. But when you’re a woman who isn’t a size 8 in a world that is consistently flooded by images of size 6s who still are trying to lose weight, the moment you put a few kilos on, you notice. You realise you aren’t Nicole Richie thin, and you never will be and for some sick reason, this shit eats away at self-esteem. I wouldn’t have a clue why, because I don’t even like Nicole that much..!
Basically, this is what happens:
You look normal, perfectly fine by society’s standards. But when you see yourself, your eyes compute data that your brain can’t read, and what your see is not necessarily what everyone else does. This picture perfectly represents what I’ve come to realise happens to me almost every day.
So yesterday, when I fell out of bed and traipsed into the bathroom, I didn’t expect to glance up and see myself any differently than before. Tired and grumpy as I was, I stood in front of the ridiculously big mirror and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, prepared for another day of “oh god, is this what we’re working with today?”
Instead, my first thought was “hell, you’re doin’ alright today gurlfrand!” and let me tell you, it’s not often that occurs.
In recent months I’ve learned that there are days when my brain will take over. It’s had enough of my heart bullshitting the rest of me, and it takes a stand for what it knows and understands to be true. Yesterday, it had enough of my judgemental face glaring at the not-flat stomach, the not-slender thighs, the not-toned hips. It had enough, and it got mad. My brain didn’t even allow the negativity in, it just overflowed my thoughts with acceptance and gratitude for what I do have, and the realisation that I could have far worse body image issues to tackle.
I stood looking at myself with what felt like new eyes, and for whatever reason, I felt good and healthy and like a normal person. I guess it’s just that moment when, as you *ahem* get older, you feel better about being in your own skin. I don’t know, I guess that must have happened. In any case, having that moment, and the subsequent a-typical non-loathing of my body, I just wanted to write down somewhere that some days you can’t trust your own judgement. Some days your hateful eyes will not let you see what really is in front of you. And some days you’re going to feel like a blob and wish you were someone else.
But then there are others, where your logic will knock you for six, and it will show you exactly what it is you’ve got (or don’t) and you will realise that you’re not a hideous psycho hose beast, like you thought for all those years. Yeah sure, you may still say “good lord, better put in a few extra laps in the pool”, but you’ll be saying it for the right reasons, and not because you hate yourself or wish you were a different person. You’ll be saying it because you can see exactly what you are, and you’ll understand what’s there and what isn’t. And you will feel so much lighter for it.
Some days you just have to realise that what you see isn’t actually what’s there in front of you. And when you have that glorious day of acceptance, acknowledgement and relief, you’ll realise that for so long, you let your judgement get in the way.
Appreciate what you have, ladies and gentlemen. Take stock of what’s truly there, look at yourself from another perspective. Don’t allow yourself to use negative words, just look at it as though you were looking at someone else. Praise the good parts, the parts you love. Be reasonable about the parts you don’t. Can you work on it so you will love them? Do whatever it takes so that you love who you are. Because self-perception is everything, and the warped versions we come to accept in our teens? They’re just not okay for a lot of us.
Body appreciation day friends – get yourself one and love the hell out of who you are.