I thought a lot about writing this post, mostly because I feel like there is too much out there on the interwebs on the subject already and in a way, even if you write something positive about body image, you are srill drawing attention to a topic that is essentially, well, urgh.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that most women have a fairly flawed body image. That's not to say that we all have body dysmorphia, but I'm pretty sure that at certain times of the month you can, with a straight face, declare that you are fat. Maybe the time of the month extends into every day of the month.....and perhaps you have even declared today, Monday morning, that you are 'fat'. And I can confidently say, that most people who say they are 'fat' are not even remotely fat.
I am totally guilty of this by the way and absolutely don't want to be a smug, preachy douche who contritely declares all the reasons why you should embrace your figure and reclaim the word fat, changing it to PHAT and pepper your speech with it. No way. I am not that well adjusted sadly....I am one of you, I am narcissistic and place an unhealthy amount of time picking out my flaws, yet not doing much about them, bar whinging to Oli. Endlessly.
I remember becoming aware of my appearance at a pretty young age. I did ballet from the age of 2 so was actually in pretty damn good shape by the age of 12, but remember comparing myself to some of the other girls in the class and wishing I too had long flowing golden locks and looked like a Disney princess (Neither Mulan or Pocahontas had been released yet). I am half Egyptian so I'm olive skinned, with seriously thick brunette hair and man, am I hairy (oh hai monobrow). I guess you could say I was an ugly duckling, or if you were being kind -- ethnic. I was a slightly below average height skinny minny and looked a wee bit on the scrawny side.
Life didn't get any easier when puberty hit and I grew boobs....and hips and a lovely rounded tummy I hit my puppy fat stage which I'm pretty sure lasted throughout secondary school (which FYI was an all girls school, so HELL) and boys started noticing the opposite sex and all our lovely lady lumps. I was not a pretty girl and had terrible taste in both clothes, haircuts and makeup (although man alive, I rocked silver eyeliner flicks like no one else y'all). It was the 90's, so clothes were vile and GHD's hadn't been invented and I had the most horrific mushroom bob. Why?!
Through uni, my weight fluctuated and I have been as skinny as a size 6 (7.5 stone at my lowest which was grim) and as 'big' as a size 12 but since about 2009 I have stuck fast at a size 10 gaining a few pounds, losing a few pounds but happily not having to exercise or diet. Ever. I have my dads metabolism so have always managed to eat and drink whatever I want and not worry too much. Calorie counting isn't something I do, but I am naturally pretty aware of what goes into my body (calorie wise, not health wise).
I don't say this to brag, because at the age of 31 I have never felt a healthy size. I don't feel like I have ever looked my best, or reached my body potential...if you know what I mean. I think I could do better, and that's something I write down in my metaphorical report card often. Recently though, something changed. I started to actively enjoy exercise, and to be honest what goes hand in hand with feeling better about your body looks like on the outside is obviously what you fuel it with.
I am not gonna start juicing, detoxing or cutting anything out. I have zero willpower and a stubborn streak which essentially means that I am doomed to sabotage any diet I attempt. I don't believe in them, for that reason. I'm too contrary to follow the latest genius lifestyle change and secretly love it when it's revealed to be bullshit.
Even so, I can't dispute the fact that my skin, body and even my hair have improved whilst travelling, and get worse again when back in London. If there's one thing that I will give up my favourite foods for, it's having good skin and a longer life. Oh, and avoiding icky diseases. SO, with that in mind I have been making some changes, reading lots of literature and generally trying loads of exercises out on You Tube.
And you know what? I'm not cured of my silly mirror obsession and hatred of my thighs and tubby tummy but I do have a new found determination that I just need to tweak a few things and a whole lot of enthusiasm for living a healthier life and understanding my body more. I have even come up with a bit of a manifesto.....
Water is king. That means no coke and my beloved diet coke is even more of a devil due to the aspartame.
Meat features pretty low in my diet, but protein won't suffer -- chickpeas, tempeh, tofu....they are all protein heavy and I love em luckily.
Sugar is THE DEVIL. Luckily I don't have a mega sweet tooth but I'm only human and I love a dessert, especially if it involves pastry. I'm not cutting anything out, but I am swapping out artifical sugars for natural sweeteners like maple syrup, raw honey, dates, cacao etc etc.
Dairy is not my friend (I actually am lactose intolerant) however, I was not brought up to cut any major food group out (especially as I'm not allergic) so cheese is relegated to a treat. A pretty rare one (Christmas is open house though, naturally). I love tea and like it white, so have swapped cows milk for almond milk (which is pretty easy to make as it goes!).
Snacking is my downfall, so I'm going to attempt to start making sweet protein balls (which sounds pretty filthy) as well as a few raw vegan numbers that have caught my eye. I'll never give up my crisp and dip obsession though but like cheese, it's a rare treat.
I don't want or need to lose weight, but I do want to feel healthier and get my skin in check, so I hope my new lifestyle changes will enable this. I will NEVER turn down a tiramisu though, not even if someone told me it cured cancer......ok, maybe I would then but it doesn't so I will still indulge in it.
What are your downfalls when it comes to body image? Do you have a healthy attitude to eaing or like most of us, do you comfort eat?