Bikini Body or Bust...
We talk about it a lot. But we also don't talk about it enough. Our very personal, always vulnerable, never accurate self-image and body confidence.
I've always been someone who preaches (probably annoyingly) about alternative beauty. The people I girl crush on are "quirky" looking and different. I shamelessly look at the girls who have their own thing going on, who wear something a little outrageous, who have beautiful tattoos, amazing curly hair... and I try to emulate a little bit of their spirit, to be a little more confident when I put on something that's not necessarily liked by everyone or the "norm"; when I try out a different lipstick colour; when I wear my hair in double buns and getting called Minnie Mouse or Princess Leia (affectionately I think...). And yes, in that way I have body confidence when I'm dressed like "me", the same way we all feel good when wearing that piece, or that hairstyle that just makes us feel like the business.
But when it comes to weight, that's where I struggle. I've always been body conscious - my thighs and bum have never been the thinnest - and I've been the recipient of hurtful comments from past boyfriends and friends alike. Whether they considered what they were saying or understood the impact is still TBC. It cut me to the core though and there are days I replay those words in my head. Self destructive right? But I think we all do it, all think the worst of ourselves, look to others for self assurance - "can I pull this off? Doesn't it highlight my bad bits?" Bad bits.
I don't want to preach that you're all beautiful - there are many better people than me who do this- in fact I had a friend at school who was insanely beautiful, but the modelling industry told her she wasn't thin enough and now she's a body activist and really damn successful at it.
The point of this is to share a little bit.
Recently, and I blame a combination of my age and a stressful job, I've gained weight. My weight has always fluctuated- I was a size 12 at 17 and a size 6 by 21, then up, then down, changing shape, my body becoming something I didn't recognise for good and bad. And I've been whining these past few weeks, making jokes to deflect, making excuses for why I look the way I do when no one had asked and there was nothing to tell anyway. That discomfort, that body hatred, is so gender neutral and all-human-encompassing it's hard NOT to think about it. Every single one of us has those moments I believe (and if you don't please teach me how), and yet we still rate ourselves against one another, hate that person who has x and y better than you do, let our minds be infiltrated by a bombardment of media teaching us that looking like this is the answer to our problems.
Yes you are fine how you are, and no you should not compare yourselves to others. But I'm sharing my body woes and worries because it's taken over my life a little these past few weeks. I've dieted, intensely exercised, tried tea-fads, and talked incessantly to the point of boredom - all because I'm going on holiday next week. How ridiculous. You get it right? But break it down for a second- just because I'm going on holiday. A joyous event that we work damn hard for and somehow all my focus is on bikini fear.
So there's the problem - and what's the solution? Practice self- love for one. Change the media and how we perceive beauty for another. But realistically, it's probably a friend - or a couple of amazing ones - someone doesn't just tell you you look fine or keep quiet, who actually discusses it. And physically? Well if I'm honest with myself for a minute, Em gave me some pretty great tips, I followed them and I've felt a whole lot stronger and more energetic as well as my waistline shrinking. Fads are called fads for a reason, so don't try them like I did. There are some genuine things you can do to make your body healthier that don't involve only drinking juice for a week straight. And while I preach on about god-knows-what-body-love, Em is the person dishing out the tips - and damn the girl knows her stuff.... stay tuned. xo B