ELIZABETH

Well where do I start with my body image?

When I was growing up I never really had an issue with my body and the way I looked… that was until there was a catalyst when I was about 12 years old.

I can remember it so vividly.

I was in my final year of primary school and one of my classmates was having one of those fat free yogurts. We were in the classroom and he said: (out loud, so everyone could hear him) “Hey Lizzy, you should eat this because you’re fat”. Bearing in mind I was 12, I was distraught.

My parents had always brought me up thinking that I was perfect the way I am, so when someone else had looked at me and said something completely opposite to what my parents had said, my world was shattered.

Anyway, the way I looked at my body changed from then onwards. I was never the sporty one in my family – more the one where I had my nose buried in a book. So when I went to high school I pushed myself to become the sporty type. I took part in cricket, hockey and even tried my hand at athletics. Alas, I didn’t lose any weight (and I wasn’t all that great at athletics).

Joining in with these sports wasn’t to lose weight though – more to prove to others that I could be more than the girl with the brains.

The need to please others slowly faded when I moved to England in 2007.

It was a fresh new start, where no one knew me; I could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be. So, I put everything behind me in the hope to become more confident in myself.

At least I tried.

What I ended up doing instead was putting up a wall where I told everyone I was okay and happy with myself (I almost convinced myself). A lot of the time this was true, but for the other times my confidence would slide, but I would never let it show. My friends would always say that I look fine and that there was nothing wrong with my body. And I wanted to listen to them, I really did, but there was something still niggling in the back of my mind.

This is where I come to the media. I know to ignore what the media says, but you can’t ignore a skinny celebrity/model on the front of a magazine saying that there are “10 easy steps to losing that flab”. This can be totally contrasted with another article saying that you should be happy with who you are.

Well no wonder us women are confused about what we should look like and who we should be! On the one hand you have media saying you’re not good enough; and on the other the media are telling you to be yourself. This constant cycle has certainly confused me. So even though I don’t really take much notice in the media and magazines, it still plays a role in how I feel.

So where am I right now with my body image? I still have that wall up and I can still shrug off the way I feel. Over the years I seem to have become the class clown, and I’ve been able to make others laugh at my expense – and in some ways this is to cover up the way that I have been feeling.

In the past year I have found myself even more self conscious, trying to please others with the way I look.

I’ve been going to the gym; I even tried a diet, I had never tried to diet before! All because I was worried about the way I was perceived through others’ eyes. I’ve given up the diet because it was restricting me eating the food that I really love, and if it means that I would be skinny, but not eating the food I love, well, what’s the point in being skinny really? I have, however, kept the gym up. I’m enjoying the exercise. I’m enjoying the fact that I have more energy and I’m more awake. I’m enjoying that I am socialising with friends when we go. It is making me more confident. But it’s making me more confident for the right reasons.

It has been a long road to get to where I am at the moment. I will always be weary with the way I look, but the fact that I am starting to feel better about myself is incredible. This is about me, no one else.

The demons are slowly fading away. I’m starting to love myself again.

Elizabeth Gray

LIZ

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