Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Body Positivity & General Appreciation. Heck yeah!

Let's get one thing straight: there is absolutely, abso-freaking-LOOT-ly, nothing wrong, not even slightly, with looking at yourself in the mirror and...loving what you see. 

I know to some of you it will sound like I am stating the absolute bleeding obvious, and good for you for feeling that way because damn, for the last decade of my life I have been filled with disgust and ultimately the worst kind of sadness whenever I see myself in a reflective surface.

Firstly, no, I cannot simply not look in the mirror. That has never been an option. Why? Because I absolutely adore mirrors. Weird, I know. Hear me out...
I have no idea why mirrors are so irresistible to me. Ever since I was teeny tiny, when I'd take every opportunity to stare at my own face as it stared back at me, I have been drawn to them. Maybe it's slightly masochistic. I know I won't be happy with what I see, but I must look anyway. To torture myself. Or maybe it's because I am a secret optimist, hoping to see something agreeable each time I look. If that's the case, then well done me for being disappointed many times yet still keeping on.

Anyway, mirrors are the enemy for many girls and guys these days.
We are our own worst critics. That saying is a clich̩ for a reason. I first heard it in Year 9 when my 60 denier tights were stretching across my chunky pale thighs and my hair was always refusing to do that sweeping emo fringe thing effectively enough. My form tutor threw truth bombs at us every day Рmy personal favourite was 'oh cum doesn't dribble, ladies, it SQUIRTS! Beware!' Рbut this was next level. She was telling us that we saw flaws in ourselves that others couldn't. We would always see the worst, while our friends or partners had the power to pick out our most unique and gorgeous attributes.
So learning this changed my views quite a bit, yes. However it was still ages before I let myself truly believe it.

I believe it was Cat, my good friend* who many of you will refer to as Caitlin Moran, who spoke about a girl looking in a mirror and performing a body audit of sorts; a detailed examination of her physical form and the making of a list of what needs sorting out, or just getting rid of. I've been doing that for a while now, and only recently have I really made promises to myself when doing it, rather than just moaning about this and that and never inciting any change...

*we will be besties in the future, of this I am certain. 


Now, the inspiration for this post...the reason I felt the need to write it...I like my body, now. I really do. It's taken me ages, aeons, but finally I have made it to this happy place.
I have learned that when you hate your body, when you actively despise every part of it, then it just hates you right back. I showed my body my hatred of it by shoving in all manner of perfectly legal but poisonous substances – chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, more chocolate, and various disgraceful carby concoctions cooked up in a student kitchen at midnight. I would also give use of my body to many others who were less than lovely with it. I wasn't good at saying no, to anything. And thus, my body soon loathed me. I lost a lot of weight in my years at uni, due to stress mostly. Stress, and slight alcoholism, of course. I saw that as a positive, though. Then when I first moved back home and was fed properly by the family, I put on a healthy amount of weight and immediately was miserable. 

So then of course I had that ridiculous health scare. Just when I thought I couldn't hate my physical form more, it let me down more than I'd ever imagined it could. But then...I recovered. Twice. Three times. My body bailed me out and kept going after all manner of medical treatments and terrible trauma. That was when I started to like it again. Maybe even love it.

During my radiotherapy, I started feeding myself well. All the good fats, the anti-oxidants, the vitamins. I cut out the indulgences, and the general silliness. I needed to up my iron, and my lovely health-nut mum was delighted to help; spinach, kale, nuts, apricots, juices...it was a new world. I felt so clean suddenly! So fresh. I kept on the black coffee, though, I couldn't quit that. I discovered that I am dairy intolerant, which was tragic for me, a hapless cheese addict, but in 2016 I'll make veganism my new challenge.
At this time I was also letting myself sleep 10 hours per night. I embraced the regular peppermint teas trick. I went on long walks in the countryside, breathing in the delicious unpolluted air. I even started using the good shampoos and conditioners, the ones that cost a bundle but make what little hair I have left most luscious.
I may have lost around 10kg since my last operation in May. But the more important thing is that I am happy within myself. These days I look in the full-length mirror and I feel the most immense sense of achievement and excitement. I know I'm not done yet, I know I want to ditch a few more kg in the new year, but I am well and truly on my way. And that makes me beyond euphoric.



For some reason I've been anxious and reluctant to share this happiness with others, though. I feel like I'd be bragging most insufferably. Which is wrong – when a friend tells me he/she has lost a little weight, or is on a health kick, or just that they're comfortable in their shape, I clap them on the back and am truly delighted. Yet I feel like me telling people these recent positive developments in my turbulent relationship with my body would be...stupid? Annoying? Smug??

Now, it took a few glasses of rubbish rose wine and then a whisky chaser for me to get up the nerve to upload a photo to Twitter the other night, just a classic drunken mirror selfie in the loo of the pub, the caption: 'can we talk about the fact that I have lost 10kg recently and feel rather yummy? No? Okay then'. Even when tipsy as can be, the only way in which I could post a self-confident photo was with a sarky half-joking caption. It's a start; not a great start, but a start nonetheless. Hopefully someday soon I will be brave enough to make my Facey B profile pic a full-body standing-up shot...that may take a miracle, but who knows? 




'what's the greatest lesson a woman should learn?'
That since day one. she's already had everything she needs
within herself. it's the world that convinced her she did not.
- Rupi Kaur
(the genius)

1 comment

  1. This post is absolutely wonderful. I spent a long time hating my body. I have a fast metabolism, so I've always been very, very skinny. I had so much grief when I was at school, and constantly had trouble finding clothes that fit. It took it's toll. I spent a long time believing I wasn't good enough, that I was ugly and disgusting. I would avoid mirrors as much as possible.

    It took until my very late teens before I just accepted that this was my body and it wasn't going to change, and then my mid-twenties to get to a point where I'm actually now happy with what I see in the mirror. I've recently started putting on weight, which is bloody miraculous, but as my body is changing, I've noticed a few insecurities creeping back in. But I'm trying to remind myself that I'm fine as I am, no matter how my body changes. And putting on some weight is probably better for me. I guess change is just scary after taking so long to love the my body as it was. I'm sure I'm come to accpe tand love the changes too.

    Thank you for such an amazing post!

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