Long story short, I tried to put on a pair of jeans that I own the other day, they don’t fit anymore, and now I feel shit.
I have always been an insecure person, and in my insecurity, I thrive off validation from my peers or even from strangers around me in order to feel a sense of security (in both an online and offline world). My main insecurities revolve around what people think of me, in regard to the way I look, and the way I come across. In terms of the latter, I am a particularly headstrong, passionate individual, and I feel as though there is a fear attached with that, notably related to the fact that I am a woman, which makes me worry about coming across as too strong, or too much to deal with. But, alas, that is a topic for another article, as I wanted to discuss my relationship with body image, and how it is inherently bound up with my compulsion to compare myself to others.
I lost weight last year after unknowingly eating better and I managed to squeeze my thunder thighs into a smaller pair of mom jeans (which, if you know me well, is my signature). I cannot even describe to you how I felt when I did up the top button in the Topshop changing rooms… just completely and utterly elated. It sounds silly, now, that the number on the label being just that tiny bit smaller had such a drastic impression on my mood. Before this, I was a firm believer in the ‘fake it till you make it’ technique – acting as if I didn’t care about my size/weight so I wouldn’t end up caring about it. The sense of achievement I had felt by buying a smaller size of jean made it apparent that it hadn’t worked, but I have only realised that now, a year later, where I have returned to the size I was before, the size I naturally am. It seems insignificant. ONE size, that’s all? What happened to that ‘body positivity’ movement I was once so passionate about and involved with? I have been in a funk about it for weeks now, and how I feel bad because of the weight gain, but also bad about the fact I feel bad about it.
Most people, it seems, tend to have a complex relationship with body image – a relationship that is sometimes good, and sometimes bad. My recent flair up of negativity surrounding the way I look is 100% linked up with comparing myself to other people. I think we are all, to a certain extent, guilty of this. Whether it be someone landing a big promotion, when you feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job. Or maybe your friends around you are in relationships, engaged, or starting a family, and you feel as though you’re lagging behind. Or maybe you have some beautiful women in your life and you feel insecure because you think you aren’t as beautiful as they are.
I am surrounded by so many gorgeous ladies in my life, and I compare myself to all of them. I feel horrendous admitting this, and about how I have a raging jealousy inside me when I think someone looks so much better than myself. When they don’t seem to have love handles, a tummy pouch and cellulite. When they seem to live and breathe the gym. When the extent of their relationship with carbs is their eyes gliding past it on restaurant menus and heading straight to the salad section. I wish I could be that person, but I know that with my current state of mind, I’d be doing it for all the wrong reasons.
“It sounds silly, now, that the number on the label being just that tiny bit smaller had such a drastic impression on my mood.”
The thing is, that although I view everyone around me as completely perfect in regard to their bodies and their attitude towards health, everyone has their own issues that they deal with. I open up to my friends about feeling as if I’m ugly and fat, and they have all felt the same way at some point in their lives! As cringe as it is to say this- society is built up on trying to make you feel terrible about your body, so they can sell you the next detox tea, the next anti-wrinkle cream, the next waist-trainer. A negative body image is a huge selling point for companies, that’s why Instagram has been reduced to a forum for ex-contestants from Love Island to tell you about a device that can whiten your teeth after a single use. ‘The Girlguiding Girls’ Attitude Survey’ in 2016 found that around 40% of girls aged 7-21 years old were unhappy with the way they looked. When I read this statistic, I was actually shocked, but not because it seemed too large, but it actually seemed too small. So many women around me feel the brunt of the desire for women to be perfect. It made me wonder if there is a certain taboo in admitting that you are unhappy with the way you look? Or is this just my inner-pessimist coming out?
One’s relationship to body image is a complex one. Your relationship to body image fluctuates as much as the shape of your actual body. Body shapes change continuously overtime naturally- things happen: methods of birth control change, mental states change. If your body is not exactly the way you want it to be, feel free to change it if you want to, but make sure it is for the right reasons. Your worth does not equate to how small a size you fit into, and it doesn’t relate at all to the way your friends look, and whether you believe yourself to be less attractive. Everyone has their own demons, and everyone will constantly feel as though someone is better than themselves, it is human nature. There are so many more important things for you to worry and concern your time with. Besides, your body does some pretty incredible things regardless of its size! Your body is your home, and you should always fill your home with love and respect. Above everything, it is important to be kind to yourself.
Image – Realbuzz