Accepting That My Body Is For Me & Not For Anyone Else

Photo – Alexandra Cameron

Growing up as a teenager in the 2000’s meant flicking through fashion magazines and comparing myself to the tall, slender models that I would be green with envy over. We finally got Sky TV in my teens and America’s Next Top Model would be one of my go-to series to watch. There wasn’t a lot of size diversity in the early cycles of the show so I was comparing myself to more and more women with unattainable bodies for my composition. I wasn’t educated about the fact designers wanted the smallest frames possible to showcase their garments, or how images in magazines were being altered and edited.

My hips got wider as I got older and stopped growing at 5ft 2ins tall. My friends had introduced me to the Victoria’s Secret catwalks and some even had phone wallpapers of the models as ‘inspiration.’ As these physiques were inspirational to my friends and what they wanted to look like, I started to question if I should also want to look like that. I started to long for slimmer hips and to be taller, but of course that was never going to happen.

At 15 I went on the pill and that made changes even more evident, both with my mood and my body. I put weight on, my skin flared up and I became hideously irritable. I feel like this is the point in my life where my body image became something I started to obsess over and I would pick holes at everything I saw looking back at me in the mirror. Magazines covers were plastered with comments on other women’s bodies and the thigh gap was the ‘next big thing.’ My frustration continued to grow as I felt like my body was so far from the ‘ideal body,’ and that meant I was ugly and unattractive.

In the following years social media moved on from MSN Messenger and I joined Myspace, Bebo and eventually Facebook. I would see comments other girls were getting and when I wasn’t getting the same validation I felt bad about myself. Comments about my body from boyfriends ingrained in my mind and I started to look into plastic surgery. Of course I couldn’t actually afford to go ahead with anything, or have the balls to do it, but I felt desperate to change how I looked.

The thing is, I wanted to change my body to fit into the constraints of what the media considered as ‘ideal’ and what I saw in magazines and on TV. Society and the opinions of others clouded my self-confidence and self-love.

Fast forward to now, I am 28, and my feelings towards my body have definitely changed. I have gone through food restriction and over-exercising myself into illness, episodes of depression and hating my so-called flaws. I have despised my body and wanted to change every little thing. I have lost weight and put it on. I have compared myself to others and wished I was different. I have listened to the nasty comments from ex-boyfriends and toxic friends which made me hate myself. But you know what…

My body is incredible whatever it looks like. It has kept me alive for 28 years, carried me through the darkest times in my life and achieved amazing things. My body is for me and not for anyone else to decide if it is attractive enough, strong enough or just enough at all. Once you learn to love yourself, you learn that only one person’s opinion matters, and that is yours.

H x

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