Last night I ate a whole tub of Häagen-Dazs Belgian Chocolate Ice-Cream. I’m talking about a 500ml tub, not the teeny tiny portion you get at the Cinema. I went the whole ice-cream hog. I have no special reason for being so utterly gluttonous, except that I really fancied some ice-cream and the Häagen-Dazs was on offer at Asda for £2. Bargain. I managed to scoff the whole tub in the half an hour it took to watch the episode of Dickensian I’d taped the night before. I didn’t mean to eat the whole lot in one go… it just sort of happened, unexpectedly. There was a time, not so long ago, when I would have felt sick with guilt over such an over-indulgence. I would have beaten myself up and not eaten for three days afterwards as a punishment. I would have convinced myself that my body had doubled in size in that half an hour of pigging out. These days I just think ‘oh well, that happened’ and that’s it. No three day fast. No self-loathing. Nothing. Just an ‘oops, that wasn’t a particularly healthy tea, but tomorrow is another day and a chance to make better food choices’.
I wasn’t always body confident. Not at all in fact. I mean, I still have insecure days where I feel wobbly-jiggly and lumpy-bumpy… but those days don’t define me or slay me like they once used to. I don’t cry anymore because my tummy isn’t flat. I don’t die a little bit inside when I see my big round Moomin-face in a photo. I don’t shy away from the swimming pool, like I used to, because my thighs are thunderous and I am covered in stretch marks and have hairy arms… I still have all of those things, but I no longer see them as hideously bad, or for reasons to avoid mirrors. Golly, listen to me… I no longer look at myself with disgust, which is the most important thing! Self-acceptance. It was a long time coming, but boy am I glad it did.
How did I get to this cosy, self-loving place I hear you ask? Well, dear friends, it was YOU who helped me. Yes, YOU.
I started reading your blog posts about your own struggles with food and body positivity. I didn’t feel so alone and I realised that a lot of us felt negatively about our bodies. I followed the #bodypositive hashtags and the deliciously curvy women on Instagram, who post such stunning pictures of themselves that I felt inspired. I even bought myself a rather fetching, Brigitte Bardot-esque bikini, you know, the big knickers and upholstered bra kind. I got it in a red and white polkadot print, just to be extra daring. I started writing my own blog posts about how I felt about myself and my own body and I slowly began to feel less anxious about not being ‘perfect’ and ‘flawless’. I realised that life isn’t about being fat or thin. It’s about having a healthy self-image and being the best version of yourself you can be.
I don’t have a list of body-loving tips for you, or some self-help style exercises for you to do each morning to set you up for the day. I can’t magically make you love your body or make your hang ups disappear. But I can reassure you that you are not alone and tell you that the majority of us are going through the same thing, wobbly feelings of self-acceptance and all. Every single one of us wakes up with pillow creases on our cheeks and crow’s feet around our eyes and scruffy bed hair and the occasional spot on our chins. Even Beyoncé. I promise you. Just think of that. Even Beyoncé.
We all have to give ourselves a good talking to each morning, telling ourselves that we are ok, we are enough, we are normal. If I could give you a little pep talk every day this is what I’d say to you, which is exactly what I say to myself:
Accept yourself the way that you are. Embrace the beautiful body that you are blessed with.
You feel fat? Paint your toenails in your favourite colour.
You feel ugly? You’re not. You are a unique work of art. Just put some extra pink blush on your Moomin-cheeks and smile.
You ate too much last night? Have some yummy porridge with berries and grated pear for breakfast. Now, put on your best dress/ jeans/ sparkliest hair clips and go be happy, be fearless, be you.
Because you are perfect, just as you are.