Hmmm, writing a piece on my body image, I nearly cringed. We all have issues with our bodies at stages of our lives and all of a sudden I’m sharing mine.
I thought about what to write and what to say that would make people think about the thoughts they have before making assumptions and hurtful comments about other people’s body shapes and sizes.
It then occurred to me that nothing you say will ever stop people from judging what you or anyone else looks like. The only thing you can do as an individual is be aware that if you have body image issues its most likely you’re not the only one and thus you should be more open minded in making assumptions about other people and their body shapes.
We all come in different packaging, from the bootylicious girls with curves to the skinny-ain’t-a-curve-in-sight girls to everything in between.
I fall into the skinny-girl category and all my life I have had comments about my weight; some of those included me being unable to play sport because I might ‘break’, then there were the stares and the teachers who asked if I needed assistance with my ‘problem’ of being so underweight. Uhm, what problem? I was born skinny, and always probably will be, it doesn’t give anyone the right to point fingers at me and tell me I have a disorder.
In all honesty I pretended for a long time that it didn’t bother me, but it really did, all the hurtful comments affected me on a subconscious level especially when I left home and started university away from the familiarity of my high school group of friends.
I was no longer in my comfort zone and university seemed very far from the romanticised idea of some great adventure into the unknown. It was more like a daily routine of getting up, catching the bus and keeping my head down not looking at anyone as I went from one class to the next hoping that nobody would see me. I got to the stage where I never wore anything but long pants and closed shoes. I thought maybe if I covered it all up nobody would notice. That didn’t help, because a skinny girl wearing skinny jeans can’t really hide what she is trying to.
I eventually reached my all-time low. I withdrew myself from all social interactions; I stopped playing sport and felt extremely self-conscious about my appearance. My life consisted solely of studying, sleeping and studying some more.
I think at this point I realised I needed help. So, off I went to see the dreaded ‘shrink’. My decision to get help was honestly the best thing I could ever have done. He didn’t make a diagnosis; he just sat and listened, letting me figure out things on my own which is the best thing he could have done. He let me work everything out in my own mind. He helped me realise for myself what I needed to do and gave my self-confidence a huge boost.
I finally realised that my body was mine, only mine. It is the most important and valuable thing I have; it houses all of my organs in a neatly packaged unit and it lets me ride my horse, participate in sports I enjoy; it lets me dance when I go out and enables me to experience life to the full. So why shouldn’t I be happy with it.
The truth of the matter is that once you are content in your own skin, outsiders can no longer control your feelings or thoughts in a negative way. And why on earth should they? Living your life to please other people really isn’t living at all. People are always going to have opinions no matter what you do so why worry about them?
I can honestly say that I have reached that point now, I’m finally brave enough and confident enough to wear dresses, skirts and shorts in public, yes not a lifetime achievement award on most people’s lists but to me it is. I think I’m finally proud of my body, I have embraced ‘the skinny’, and if someone wants to point fingers at me and make assumptions about my so-called ill health, good for them, I won’t waste time worrying about it.
I’m finally LIVING; I eat what I want to, I wear what I want to and feel good in it . . .and I can do it all because I have this amazing body.