It is now common knowledge that social media has disturbed how we see our own bodies. You only need to hover over the ‘find’ section on Instagram, and your feed becomes filled with pictures of toned, skinny and most of all, photoshopped women.
I applaud every woman that looks after her body, that works out because she wants to feel a certain way. I wholeheartedly encourage the fitness lifestyle if that is what makes you happy. But, what is this doing to all of our own self-esteem, when we cannot look at our bodies and even begin to compare them to these picture-perfect women?
My own story of learning to accept the skin I am in is still ongoing, and I cannot sit here hypocritically and say that I love my body. It is so much harder to say to yourself, “girl you look great” than it is to spread that compassion to other people around you.
It is so much harder to say to yourself, “girl you look great” than it is to spread that compassion to other people around you.
When I was in year 10, I lost a lot of weight because I had appendicitis, meaning I went into hospital. I had never really been ‘skinny’, and yet here I was after the operation a lot of pounds down. This was really a time when I began to think that maybe people would like me more if I maintained this weight loss. If all of my clothes were baggy on me then maybe I would somehow become more loved and/or more valued.
I have never had an eating disorder, and I do not want to try and pretend that I know how consuming having one is to somebody’s life. What I can say is that, like many, I have struggled with my body image and food ever since this time in my life.
Evidently, I began to put weight back on because it was unhealthy for me to stay that thin. I have always loved my food, with my mum being an amazing cook. Eating for me was a communal and social event, and it was genuinely a way for our family to share love and to spend time together. However, I became mildly obsessed with calorie counting and with exercising, and I struggled to accept that putting on weight was not a bad thing.
Eating for me was a communal and social event, and it was genuinely a way for our family to share love and to spend time together.
For many years, I lived in a world where I was trying to shrink myself in order to, paradoxically, become a bigger and better part of everybody else’s lives. Spoiler alert: losing weight did not make me any more or any less loved for that matter.
I think that at this stage in my life, having experienced both weight loss and weight gain, and I have felt mixed emotions from both stages. In my final year of university, with two years of looking after me in my belt, I know that staying healthy is what really motivates me.
I am not a bad feminist for saying that I like to look after my appearance, and so I go to the gym, I go running and yes, I do eat avocado and egg on toast. But, I do this because I want to look after my body so it can fill my days with doing things that I love. I can go to a café and I can order a chocolate brownie without guilt consuming me, and that is because I know that I am looking after my body, honouring it, and that eating ‘unhealthy food’ is sometimes part of that process.
Losing weight did not make me any more or any less loved.
Currently, I am trying to improve the relationship I have with my body, and I always say that you need to be at a happy place in your life to learn to do this. When you are sad or upset, then loving your body seems an impossible task. But, what I can promise you, is that when you find yourself in a place of contentment, you realise that your love for your own body comes from a place of genuinely loving your life and surrounding yourself with people that love you for being you. Self-acceptance does not equate to the irrelevant number on your scales.
Featured image: Pinterest