I can’t really say that I have a bad body image – because I don’t. In fact, I have a pretty good body image in comparison to most women my age but I also don’t have a perfect image – I have good days and bad days but let’s just say the good days outweigh the bad ones.
I, however, am conscious of my body which is something very different to your body image but it does affect how you look at your body. My body consciousness is about knowing when something doesn’t feel right, a bit like knowing when you feel sick. But its more about knowing how you feel inside your body – which is vastly different to the shape of your body – but also knowing when something isn’t right. An example of this is that when I am unfit or haven’t been exercising as much as I should have, then I feel uncomfortable. I feel like I should be doing something more or probably should have gone for that walk/run. This feeling doesn’t usually make me feel guilty but it does make me want to exercise more – whether I actually do it is a different story.
But I am conscious that I feel different when I am fit or unfit – flexible or inflexible.
But what I want to specify is that it is okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to not feel 100%. And it’s okay to feel insecure every once in a while. It’s hard to feel perfect all the time and that’s fine. I have some days where I go shopping or wake up and put on some clothes and just don’t feel too good about it or feel insecure. Somedays it’s harder than others and some days it’s not too bad – but I get on with it. Why? Because at the end of the day no one really cares and most of it is in your head anyway.
The best example of this is Physical Education class, standing in that change room filled with girls the only thing I can hear is negativity. This one needs to lose weight, this one’s on a diet, that one changes in a bathroom stall because she doesn’t want anyone to see her ‘fat rolls’. I remember people would say what a great body I had and how amazing it was that I wasn’t really afraid to change in front of everyone. Any insecurity I had – no one else could see it, no one else noticed it – it was all in my head.
Here in front of me were 30 odd girls – beautiful girls. With beautiful bodies who were made perfect and none of them could see it. None of those girls needed to change a thing and yes most of us could do with a little more exercise and not eat as much junk food but none of them had any weight issues to the point it was a medical issue. So why were they all so adamant they needed to change?
The answer is because all we ever hear in clothing and beauty advertisements is that we aren’t enough and to those standards, we never will be. But who wants airbrushed people who all have the same body and same features when we can have a variety of body types and hundreds of different features from all places and all different people. Why would you want a computer generic when you can have a person?
Probably the other best story to go along with this is one my mom told me. She said that shortly after she had me – and I was her third child with 20 months between each kid – she went to a lunch with close family friends. At the house they were at there was a pool and it was a hot day so everyone was swimming. Most of the women had just had kids and of all the women there my mom was the only one who swam. She remembers feeling a little unsure before she got in the pool because she had just had three kids and she said she had a real mom body.
When she got in all the women said how great she was looking and such. She says she remembers thinking at that moment that it really is all in your head and that why would you stop living your life just because of your body. The other women probably didn’t want to get in the pool because they had post-birth bodies and were worried what others would think. I can’t say for certain as I was a baby at the time but with the trail of events, that’s probably what was going through their minds.
Women and Men too stop themselves from living because of what they think others will see in their bodies but at the end of the day, most of the time our biggest ‘hater’ and body shamer is the person staring back at us in the mirror. We stop ourselves from doing things from a fear that usually doesn’t play out in reality. In the few times that I haven’t done something because of my body, I’ve regretted it the moment I walked away and that regret is often far worse than the insecure feeling that I had before.
There are exceptions to the rule – there always are. Fat shaming is an issue that can be really harmful but something that I’ve learned is you really just gotta do what makes you happy at the end of the day and to the hell with anyone else. This is your life, own it. Live it – no one else can do that for you. So wear the bikini or walk around shirtless. No one can live your life so stop letting people do that for you.
The other exception is medical. If your weight is becoming a medical harm or stopping you from living your life then you need to change something. It doesn’t make you less of a person or take away from your worth it just means you need a change. And that’s okay.
Live your life. Experience it, breathe it in and do what makes you happy. You can’t let either phantom or unfair comments dictate how you live. Most of it is in our heads anyway. Live body conscious not body self-conscious.