Updated: Dec 31, 2020
I sat there in enough plastic bags to single-handedly create global warming itself. Scattered amongst the sea of plastic, what was buried beneath? Clothes. So many cheap and nasty clothes that should have looked bloomin’ sexy on but alas they didn’t. Well that was the most soul-destroying twenty minutes of my life I’ll never get back. More like an hour and twenty if I count the time I spent actually shopping for it online. Here goes another trip to the post office AKA the biggest walk of shame there is. Hello again. Yep, can you return this? Yep, it doesn’t fit, again.
A lot of girls love trying on clothes, and sat in my pile of nylon and other offensive materials it dawned on me that the two seem to have to correspond: loving clothes and loving your body. This hurt me intensely, because I love fashion, and I’ve always loved expressing myself through my outerwear.
Then I remembered what utter rubbish this is.
When we pledge to better ourselves, or become the best versions of ourselves, why do we automatically think of going on a diet? I mean the mental journey is hard enough as it is without depriving yourself of all the treats in life. The way I look at it is this: I don’t know what body type you are, what your view towards it is, neither do I care. I can preach body positivity all day long but your view towards yourself comes from you, and not from me.
When I left school I was size 8, stick-thin, and even then I thought I was fat and edited the living daylights out of my photos. We all go through these stages as girls where we compare ourselves not just to other girls, but to our former selves. I look at teenage me and I am in shock at how I was so skinnyyyy. Well, firstly, I need to stop romanticising that body because it was the shell of an unhappy person. That unbelievably hot 2016 picture is also the picture of a starving and FaceTuned girl who was going to parties to impress a guy and leaving with a gaping hole in her chest. And me now? My brain is growing bigger everyday, my mind is evolving, my body is preparing to bear a child, I’m falling in love with the planet and my life around me, and quite frankly being a ‘smaller person’ is not on my list of goals I want to achieve anymore.
I want to take up more space as a woman, not less, and I’m done with starving and shrinking in order to feel worthy.
I want to taste all of the beautiful foods there are to be tasted, I want to wear all the gorgeous bathing suits in the world, and I want to dance and shake my hips to Shakira all night long, whatever size I happen to be in that year.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring for health, or aspiring to feel happier. But telling yourself that you won’t be happy until you’re a certain size is the opposite of health and happiness. You have to understand that you can work on the physical appearance of yourself until the cows come home, but if you abandon your mental outlook, the mirror will never refresh. However we view ourselves, that is what we give out to the world and what we will see reflected back at us when we catch ourselves in windows or click on a tagged photo.
I guess it’s actually easier to eat less and exercise more than it is to wholeheartedly commit to loving yourself.
Think about that for a second. As women, our bodies are miraculous. It makes me so sad to think of the years I spent in high school skipping lunch and having nothing but a stupid banana loaf to see me through because I was desperate to get into my prom dress. When I’m on my deathbed I’m sure I’ll feel worse about the fact that I spent so much time trapped in my head in a diet prison, over the fact that I wore size 16 jeans for a period of my life. Looking back as a frail, wrinkly, lifeless woman (hoping I lead a long life and die of natural causes) I bet I actually end up thinking “oh and I rocked them jeans too! What I’d do to go back to those youthful peachy ass days.”
It’s all a state of mind - I can choose to feel fat and ugly in those size 16 jeans or I can choose to feel like a beautiful womanly woman. I’m sick of choosing the first option. More than that, I’m tired of self-hating. It doesn’t change how I look, it just makes me feel utterly depressed.
I always think of my former baby self when I want to be mean to my body. I think of adolescent chubby me with the doe eyes and big dreams, and how if she asked me if she was overweight or ugly or unlovable I would shake her to the core and tell her to not ever talk about herself like that again. Think of your daughters (now or future), think of your sisters, think of your bestest friends, and think of all of our fearless female ancestors that have come before us - a multi-generational past of Amazonian women and their strong bodies, curvaceous 60s pin up girls, and your mother who kept you alive in her womb for nine months. Newsflash: she wasn’t skinny when she was carrying you. Pregnant women glow with beauty despite their body swelling because they aren’t actively fighting it for once.
When I think of the remarkable women that have come before us, I no doubt believe that they had the same struggles with their bodies...but I also think they’d go “Gah! What an awful shame that it is stopping so many people from living their lives still to this day.” When will we learn that the inability to live life to the full doesn’t come from the shape of our bodies, but it comes from our lack of acceptance and love towards ourselves.
There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to get healthier, and if that means slimming up in the process, that’s cool if it makes you happy. In the same way that life is too short to deny yourself yummy food (I’m not even being dramatic when I say my three meals and snacks are the best part of my day), life is also too short to not work on yourself so you can love yourself unconditionally.
But will you love yourself if you're smaller?
Wherever you go in life you have a choice. You can be strict and disciplined or you can be indulgent and care-free. I personally like to practice both as I don’t think you're fully-rounded unless you are balanced in every area of life.
I can tell you now, no crap, that the only way to love yourself unconditionally is to literally love your body right now.
That means filling it with greens and vitamins because your body is a temple and all that, and it also means eating a ridiculously scrumptious white chocolate biscoff cookie dough when you sit down to watch a film on a Saturday because… a joy of life, right?
Loving your body is giving it what it needs and making it feel good.
I don’t know about you, but I get a mad serotonin kick when eating Galaxy in the same way I get hella endorphins post workout and feel like a frikkin powerhouse when I go for a good mind-clearing run and push my miraculous body to its limits.
Let your body do what it wants to do, and do me a favour, rock your decisions. If you choose to have an extra slice of cheesecake, don’t beat yourself up about it, because you wanted it at the time and it tasted good! And order that bold outfit on ASOS despite only seeing a smaller model wear it, because you’re going to give it a whole new look when you put it on...
...the look of a confident woman, and there’s nothing more dangerous or utterly addicting than that.