Learning to love my body shape

This week is #BodyHonestly Week at The Pool, and over the past few days female writers have been discussing the topic of body confidence and the idea that being thin means we’ll be happy. Much like the ethic of Dove’s ‘Love The Skin You’re In’ and Boots’ ‘Let’s Feel Good’, #BodyHonestly is all about us learning to love and accept our flaws – from those weird freckles and moles on our skin, to the rolls of fat on our tummies.

What I’ve loved about #BodyHonestly is that it makes point of the fact that it’s actually quite hard to suddenly start loving your imperfections, after years of staring at them in your reflection and wishing they didn’t exist. Daisy Buchanan’s ‘I don’t love my body everyday’ piece tells us that even when we try, on our bad days achieving this can seem practically impossible.

From ludicrous trends like the thigh gap challenge, to the size zero models we see on the catwalk, to the bitchy criticism we glance at in gossip magazines, we all know that there’s a lot of pressure on us ladies to always look good. Last month it was even reported by Dove in the The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report that in a survey of 10,000 women, 85% said they’d opt out of an important life event because they feel bad about the way they look. 

You might say then that the growing presence of ‘inner beauty’ campaigns can only be a good thing, but I feel still like we’re not getting the whole picture. Because telling me to ‘love the skin I’m in’ still doesn’t really tell me anything, and or what I do with that when I’m staring at the fat on my arms and stomach that I hate so much, and the weird marks on my pale and bumpy skin. I just don’t know if I can learn to love my body like that every day.

My body and I have been on a lot of adventures together over the past ten years, and I’ve changed in more ways than I can probably count on one hand. I somewhat ballooned at University, as the stress from assignments had me pile on the pounds for comfort, and I watched my face become chubby and round. I had to buy new, bigger clothes, clutching onto any signs of body confidence that I had left, if any at all. Awkward exchanges when seeing old school acquaintances usually consisted of, ‘gosh, don’t you look different. I hardly recognised you’, when I’d rather we’d just agreed that I was fat now and be done with it.

I did lose that weight after graduating, with the help of diets, cycling everyday, and working at Costa (the barista’s equivalent of boot-camp that has you coming home smelling like coffee and sweat). I enjoy feeling healthier and fitting into size 12 clothes again, and I’ll admit that pieces of my body confidence are slowly starting to trickle back.

And while I will be forever thankful to Dove and Boots for celebrating real women, I’m more thankful to The Pool’s #BodyHonestly for reminding me that nobody feels 100% happy with their body 100% of the time. I may never be head-over-heels with my figure even in spite of trying. Maybe some of us just aren’t built like that, but sod it – I suppose we knew we were never perfect to begin with.

Image credit: Jim Hunt, Postmedia Province

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