Not leaving my plate empty, wearing a singlet when it isn't summer and drinking milk every morning are things that have been ingrained in me since childhood. Along with my family's culture and things that you find society (good old society!) presses into you, regarding my body I have found myself at certain crossroads. One thing, however, that I have found most to agree upon and hence drilled into me is that fat equals unhealthy, ugly, and unsatifactory, and that skinny means acceptable.
I can recall from a young age being aware of my mum's disapproval of her body. In my youthful innocence I can clearly remember not thinking so much of it apart from wishing I could alleviate her 'affliction'. I always did think it was her own doing, and the own doing of all that felt this way, to believe that they weren't worthy.
As I got older I inevitably began to dress myself in these feelings of inadequacy typical to females. In hindsight, it's very startling, to think even at just thirteen I was aware of the requirement to be ashamed of the parts of my body that didn't 'fit', but of course at the time I didn't realise this.
For example, when I was twelve, in the summer I'd come home from school and eat ice cream every day. That isn't healthy, but I never thought of the effect of an excess of sugar and animal fats and preservatives on my body (note, not my figure). And yet I knew that eating a surfeit of bad foods would be fattening - i.e. 'I wouldn't look good'.
By the end of my thirteenth year I knew which parts of me I didn't want anyone to see. The same when I was fourteen. But then that year, something happened that changed my thinking a lot.
I took a month long trip to Italy to see my family, and I hadn't been since I was ten and on the oblivious verge of all these realisations. It was summer.
Something that became very apparent to me was the body confidence of Italian women. When they went out, they wore skirts and shorts at whichever length they'd like, and they wore tight tops and sat down and there were rolls but they didn't care! And for some reason that was unbeknownst to me, that made them look great.
On the beach, everybody was in a bikini, no matter what their age or physique. Not only that, they were proud. Literally the only one pieces I saw were on women certainly over seventy. By trying to hide myself away in a full bathing costume I had become embarrassingly noticeable. My aunty told me it was a waste to look like a prudish old lady when I was so young.
I vividly remember a feeling of confrontation in seeing this immense assortment of women all showing themselves off. Now the fact that I felt this way just from seeing normal bodies makes me feel ashamed. Normal, as I learned, is no one thing; normal is in fact the natural state of difference. Normal is defined by what you're used to, and I had to expand what I was used to.
So timidly I bought a bikini, and what's more is I wore it.
And nobody told me I looked fat, or that I didn't look right, that I was inadequate, or that I should put myself away. I found out that I don't have to hate my body, that it's okay to not care about the parts I don't like, and it isn't wrong to feel good about that!! Shocking stuff! People won't hate me for it, and I won't hate myself!
I've posted this picture before but for some reason it's just one of my all time favourites
Unfortunately I also experienced some great health problems in my time away so upon my return I decided it was time to fully take charge of my body. That meant an overhaul in my lifestyle habits. For the first time it occurred to me to develop healthy habits for my wellbeing, my benessere, not so that I could wear a bikini. Because I could wear a bikini. I didn't know that before. I found out that the less I hid myself away, the more I liked my body!
That was almost three years ago.
Now, despite some health hiccups, overall it's been going well. I know that I am a healthy person, and that my weight is healthy, and all that gives me a healthy and assured mindset. While changing habits caused me to lose some weight at the beginning, since then I've pretty much stayed the same. The only change to cause me to love my body has been, frightfully corny as it sounds, in my health and happiness. I can only say that having those two things is what makes you look better, because you will never like a body you try to change because you hate.
|Robyn Lawley - unknown source|
I know that I (or anyone for that matter) can't just tell a person to 'start changing the way you eat or exercise or whatever for your health, not your weight' and 'just get over your body hate' because it's not that simple. You don't just stop caring about what your body looks like. Even if you tell yourself you're not changing to lose weight, in the back of your mind chances are you're taking notice of if you are. But the whole reason I'm writing this is because I think this happens to a lot of girls and I want to prove that hating your body doesn't have to be a normal part of being a teenager.
I'm not going to lie, it's not always superfantasticfeelingfabness. Some days I look at myself thinking, "Oh my God I didn't know I looked that gross" and others I think, "hey, I'm not doing too bad today". But I've finally gotten to a place where I don't instantly think to put myself down anymore. It's not in my nature to be very good at accepting compliments, especially from myself so as a perfectionist this is a great milestone for me and I must say I'm proud of it.
"To all the girls who think you're ugly because you're not a size zero, you're the beautiful one. It's society who's ugly." - Marilyn Monroe
"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'." - Diana Vreeland
"Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me." - J.K. Rowling
"A fit, healthy body - that is the best fashion statement." - Jess C. Scott
And wow okay deep deep deep breath. While this is a little unnerving, I want to walk my talk. So here is my wobbly, patchy, scarred, happy body. It's not the best picture of me and I'm not attempting any form of illusion to appear less imperfect, it's just me!
This post also appears over here on The Wandering.