Body hang ups. We all have them. There’s always someone prettier than us and unfortunately in our cliquey society of secondary school and the world of US teen dramas we learn to associate “attractiveness” with popularity and the ability to be in a relationship. So those who aren’t popular or who are single are made to think that they aren’t attractive or desirable, which is a load of bullshit.Beauty is not scalar. This is definitely what I felt like when I was at secondary school. I was a little tubby tomboy with androgynous fashion sense and a lack of interest in girly things and was more inclined to have an extra twenty minutes in bed than bother with make up or interesting hair styles. I was happy being different, but in an all-girls school that is the devil word. I never fitted in there and was picked on for my appearance and lack of interest for the “in” things.From a young age I associated likeability with looks, after all the prettiest girls in the school were all popular. I had relatively no friends. Did that mean I was a freak?
Of course not. Yet despite leaving in 2012, I’m still rewriting the rules of beauty in my head. I like myself a lot more now, after finding friends who have taught me that in this make up of cells there is something to love. But it hasn’t been easy. Here’s what I’ve learnt from never feeling like the “skinny”, “pretty” one.
Food is a passion of yours and will always be a comfort to you. That’s not a bad thing. In fact you’ll find out at university that everyone has a similar relationship with food and you don’t have a scary obsession.Cooking is a hobby and something you happily pour your heart and soul into. They’ll always be certain foods that will bring you comfort like nothing else, like marmite on toast or bangers and mash. And sometimes you’ll want to over indulge and that’s 100% OK. Have that piece of cake.A few treats here and there won’t dramatically alter your waistline. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just don’t waste your indulgences on mindlessly eating crap you’re not that bothered about.
There is not one stock look that is beautiful. You may convince yourself that there is from looking at celebrities and models in magazines, but that’s only what society deems “beautiful” and that’s be honest it’s such a narrow box that only a small number will fit in it. It doesn’t mean the rest are ugly. When you’re at university you’ll realise how broad the spectrum is and when you’re twenty you’ll finally start to realise that you are pretty in your own way. You don’t have to be stick thin or blonde or have huge boobs to be deemed attractive. That’s just society’s view that is forced down ours throats. You yourself don’t don’t aspire for that look, so don’t measure yourself against it. You can only ever be your version of beautiful.
Certain clothes are not reserved for the “thin” and “pretty”. If you want to wear that dress with the cut outs, do it. Don’t think it’s not allowed, because you have curves or a belly. It’s not a case of a clothing hierarchy. You’re allowed to feel pretty and feminine too. You don’t need to wear big shirts and boys clothes if you don’t want too. Although you like those clothes and they’re like a security blanket they wont make you comfortable in your own skin.
Beauty is not affirmation from others. Of course compliments are great, but the absence does not mean you are not worthy of them. You need to believe you’re pretty and that there is something beautiful staring back at you in the mirror. Yes they’ll be days when you’re not feeling it and others where you think you look like the shit. That’s natural. But don’t stand there and tell yourself you’re ugly and horrible. Just please don’t. You wouldn’t take that shit from anyone else. Don’t take it from yourself.
It really isn’t about what’s on the outside. Spend time making the inside look good. Working on your well-being will make you feel way better than any make up product will. When you turn twenty and really start filling up the cracks you will realise what a likeable and nice person you are. And suddenly that mirror wont be offering disappointment
It will take Ashley Graham’s amazing TED talk for you to finally realise that it’s OK to like your body, regardless of whether it fit’s society’s stupid ideals or not. You’ll realise that feeling comfortable in your own skin isn’t about liking it after you lose x pounds or put x products on your face. It’s learning to appreciate how incredible your body actually is and what it does for you everyday.
You used to think that putting on make up was submitting to societal pressure, but soon you’ll use it as tool to enhance your look, not cover up. You’ll learn to appreciate how great you feel after drawing your eyebrows on and how a vintage hairstyle can finish your look. You’re not doing it for anyone else. You’re doing it because you’re worth looking good for you. Though you look just as good with it off and your hair scraped back in a top knot.
You used to dress for others, now you dress for you. And you feel hot as shit. Feeling attractive isn’t conditional. It doesn’t become valid if someone takes a interest. An apple isn’t not tasty just because no one ate it one day. It just wasn’t to their taste. You’re not ugly just because others don’t take an interest. They just may be orange people. The most attractive thing is someone how is comfortable in their own skin and you’ll only achieve that when you dictate the pace.
It will take changing your diet and lifestyle for you to appreciate how good your body can feel and the amazing things it can do. This will help you love your body and want to look after it. This prioritisation of self love and an addiction to overnight oats will help with your body image. You’ll free yourself from calorie anxiety and concentrate on making your body feel good, rather than what will cost the lowest calories.
Random strangers will feel the need to judge your appearances and shout out insults from the safety of their car. Take no notice hun. I know it hurt you for a long time and you took it as concrete evidence that you were undesirable and ugly. But it’s not true. You placed more importance on these statements than all the other lovely ones from people who genuinely care about you. That’s crazy. Don’t let some random horrible dick head dictate how you view yourself.
I hope you found reading my struggle interesting and helpful. Just remember that it’s OK to love your figure and looks regardless. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’d love to hear about your own experiences with body image. Let me know in the comments section below.
Until next week,