Back when I was in sixth form I wrote an essay on body image in young girls and how it is affected by the sexualisation within the media. This helped me understand the effects of it though it didn’t help me with my own personal battle. There hasn’t been a day since the age of around 11 where I haven’t put myself down about my weight. It is something I have battled with for all these years and am nowhere near accepting my body for what it is. I am constantly looking for new diets and trying new things to be ‘skinny’. Saying that, I am happy with my frame, there is elements of it that make me feel physically sick and I think this stems from when I was at a young age comments that were said to me and in turn made me hate the body I was in.
I remember standing in the shower, no older than 12 crying my eyes out because I felt so fat and ugly looking down at my massive, huge belly. Why was I thinking about how I looked at that age? Was it the music videos? The TV shows? The other girls/boys at school? Who knows but I remember the overwhelming feeling of disgust at myself and decided I was going on a diet. At age 12. I am now 20 and still sigh when I look in the mirror.
At age 18 I lost a significant amount of weight due to anxiety and even then I was not happy and still felt fat and ‘wobbly’. I have no answers to my own questions on how I could be and still am so irrational.
This year when I went on holiday with my friends I was so excited, absolutely buzzing but overhanging that was the apprehension of wearing a bikini in front of others. Not so much my friends but people I didn’t know. For months leading up to the holiday I was eating right, going to the gym and though it improved my confidence a little it was still a niggling thought in the back of my mind the entire time I was away. I will never be a skinny petite girl ever, I like food way too much and my body isn’t built like that so it is a case of learning to love the skin I am in.
I am sure you have seen or at least heard about Jesy Nelson’s BBC documentary ‘Odd One Out’ which set in motion a lot of emotions I had thought I had buried. I have known for a long, long time I have a huge issue with my own body image and I know I see myself so differently to how other people may see me.
Body Image is:
• How we perceive our bodies visually
• How we feel about our physical appearance
• How we think and talk to ourselves about our bodies
• Our sense of how other people view our bodies
Which for me all of the above is simply negative, bad and awful. I am constantly aware of people around me and have some sort of anxiety that people are talking about me, even though I know it is a totally irrational way of thinking.
As a generation we are constantly seeking validation from others whether it be through compliments, Instagram or other sources. When we post on Instagram for example it is always about how many likes and comments you get. I know for my group that is the case, it is a race of the whole group commenting on the photo as soon as it is posted and if you don’t get ‘enough’ the photo is taken down. I, myself am guilty of this and by no means think it is right. It should be a place for collecting memories not collecting validation. This turns into a cycle of contempt and anger at yourself. When things don’t go the way you have planned in say, relationships for me it always stems back to how ‘ugly’ and ‘unworthy’ I am of happiness due to the way I look.
We, as a society are lead to believe we should be tiny, toned and petite to be successful, happy and popular, in reality not everyone is built like this. There is nothing wrong with being, skinny, slim or fat but it has been drummed into us if we don’t look like the latest hype girl we are disgusting and unattractive.
What is attractive? There is no definition for this as it is a personal preference, what may be attractive to one individual is not to another. How are we ever meant to achieve top tier happiness with ourselves when this ‘perfect’ level doesn’t even exist? It is an unattainable goal that everyone, whether consciously or subconsciously everyone is striving for.
Negative body talk is something I am so guilty for. I am constantly looking at girls and wishing I had their, stomach, arms, thighs. What am I actually happy with, let’s try and flip this round… I like my eyes, bum and smile. They are all completely different from each other and I’m not exactly sure why I am happy with these parts of my body and not others. Is it because these are the features that I do actually get complimented on? Or am I genuinely happy with these parts of me? Who knows.
The only way I will ever be at peace with myself is understanding that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I cannot control it. Beauty comes in many shapes and sizes. I need to understand it and believe it, which at the moment, with regards to myself I do not.
I feel like by writing this post I am starting the process of taking the reins back into my control and hitting back on negative thinking that has been so engrained in me from such a young age. I hope if, like me you have a negative relationship with yourself you can see you are not alone. Although I don’t have a lot of advice on this topic and this is more of a rant I hope you can see the constant battle I am at with myself and you are not alone in this. If you are someone who makes other people feel shit about themselves due to the way they look I hope this makes you realise it has lasting effects. We all have insecurities in all walks of life and it is so important not to fixate on them, physical features do not last forever. As the saying goes,
external beauty fades, internal beauty does not.