Learning to Love my Body
A lot has changed for me in the past year. New job, new relationship, new goals and along with those things, a new awareness of myself.
I’ve written a lot before about my tussles with my anxiety goblin and my daily pill-popping, but I’ve never written before about my body. I suspect this is because I’ve always felt ashamed of it and hopeless about it in a way that I never felt about my mental health. But, in this season of new discoveries that I’m experiencing, both in my life and in my self, my relationship with and opinion about my body are changing quite dramatically, so I finally feel ready to talk about it.
I’ve struggled to have a friendly relationship with my body for my whole life. I’ve dieted, fallen off treadmills at gyms, sweated it out at Zumba in my local church hall, I’ve had different hairstyles, ruined my nails with years of acrylics, and gone through more than my fair share of Spanx. The only thing that seemed to remain constant over these years of attempting self improvement and forcing myself to be a more attractive version of myself, was the underlying hatred that still bubbled underneath. At it’s lightest, that hatred would manifest itself as a heavy sigh everytime I looked in the mirror; at it’s darkest, it would become a row of razor slashes on my thigh, or wishing desperately I had the ‘discpline’ to stick to a regime of throwing up after eating. When you are actively wishing that you had an eating disorder, that’s pretty near rock bottom.
I’ve spent my whole life wishing I was skinnier, but these wishes have been surrounded by a struggle with polycystic ovaries, a very real fear and dislike of exercise, a love of good food, and an emotionally abusive relationship that destroyed any self esteem that I might have had when I was at a very vulnerable point of growing up. As a result, I’ve never been able to transform into a size that I deemed as acceptably attractive.
But in the last year, I’ve finally I’ve begun to really appreciate my body. It hasn’t changed at all, if anything I’ve actually recently put on an extra half stone (falling in love will do that to you as well- HI MAN SIZE PORTIONS), but my attitude towards it has. Maybe it has something to do with seeing my best friend and her amazing body fighting off breast cancer. Or perhaps witnessing my incredible friends and their bodies becoming pregnant and birthing beautiful babies. Perhaps it’s learning about how my wonderful boyfriend’s body survived a vicious brain tumour and how he proudly bears the scars to prove it.
And maybe it has something to do with, for the first time in my life, being in love and in a happy, healthy relationship, and that being a huge factor in slowly but surely re-building the self esteem I thought was all but destroyed. I suspect all of these things have started to make me view my own body in a totally different way than I ever have before. And different it is, but it’s definitely there- I am finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m starting to accept who I am both inside and out and learn more about what that means.
For me, on a mental note, it means learning to be okay with the fact that not everyone in my life is going to like me, that saying ‘no’ to things doesn’t make me a bad person, and that by looking after myself, I become a better friend/daughter/girlfriend/colleague to all those around me. On a physical note, it means learning that although there are still plenty of things I don’t ‘love’ about my body, it is important to respect it. It is healthy, and it works, and it carries my spirit through my days and allows me to enjoy my short time on this planet. And that is bucketloads more than so many people have, so I am learning to be grateful for it and it works hard, and so the least I can do is treat it with some kindness.
There are still days where I groan at the sight of myself in the mirror, but like LOOK! I have legs that WORK! And my heart beats all the time, everyday! And my lungs, man those guys are doing a stand-up job. DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON HOW MUCH OF A LEDGE MY LIVER IS!
Part of this EMBRACING of self, is an understanding that there are always going to be bits that I’d like to change about my body. A flatter tummy, less wobbly thighs, bigger hair, perkier boobs etc. But just because I feel that way, I don’t have to look upon those things with hatred, rather I should instead say thank you to those bits for being part of a bigger whole, a whole that allows me to travel, to spend time with people who I love, to experience new things, to eat delicious food, and see wonderful art and have sex and hear music and read brilliant books and marvel at amazing news and learn new things and feel strong emotions and express myself.
And something which feels very freeing is that I’ve stopped buying clothes purely on the basis that they’re ‘slimming’. FUCK THAT. Clothes are about so much more than being slimming, you can get clothes in GLITTER and SEQUINS and METALLIC COLOURS and SHADES OF THE RAINBOW and tbh I am bored of wearing A-line skirts and v-necks to ‘flatter’ my voluptuous/plump/overweight/curvy/incredible figure. And I feel so much happier for it because I’m finally not wearing my clothes for anyone else except me. If I like it, and I’m feeeeeeeling myself in it, then fuck it Imma wear it and if you think I look fat in it then girl, sorry ’bout it.
Now I shall go forth, and strut my big sequin-clad butt down the street, kicking my glittery high-topped feet and waving my bingo wings around like I’m about to fly. And if you don’t like it, you can munch on my muffin top.