Updated: Aug 26
For as long as I can remember, I have spoken unkind words to my body even when she was pretty much perfect. If I weren’t talking about the dimples on my legs or lack of definition to my abs, I was complaining about the lack of elasticity in my skin or different sizes of my boobs. When I think back, I was never unhappy with my body but somewhere I had learned that body shaming yourself and others was a normal part of being a woman.
At the age of 19, I was a curvy size 8/10, the type of figure that today is considered on trend. Small waist, curvy hips, and a peachy behind. My womanly curves were being noticed and I recall my boyfriend’s friend stating that my body was picture perfect, as long as I didn’t put on any more weight. At the time, I deemed this a compliment and sashayed over to the BBQ knowing they were all watching, my boyfriend, looking like the cat that got the cream. Like I said I was never unhappy with the way I looked but deep within my subconscious the women’s body was always to be critiqued.
I am not even going to lie, there has been plenty of times I made a joke or laughed at a meme critiquing women’s bodies. Did I ever get any enjoyment out of it? No, but according to what was stored in my subconscious, this was normal.
My relationship with my body was pretty good and we treated each other with love and respect, I loved her, and she loved me. Then I made a choice to put my all my trust into her to help me carry my first baby, to which she faithfully obliged.
After giving birth at the age of 24, I was left with an extra 21lbs of unwanted junk in my trunk. Well, I say unwanted, but it didn’t really bother me. I still looked nice in my clothes and underwear except for my new found stomach which looked like a deflated balloon, I was also aware that I had no desire to focus on it as I had a beautiful baby to tend to. A year later after the 7/7 bombings, my fear of travelling via the underground and buses were heightened, and I refused to use them to get to work in central London, so I unknowingly began a walking routine from Victoria to Regent Street, 3 days a week. In six weeks, those 21lbs fell off and I was back to my pre-pregnancy body minus the perkiness of my boobs. My personal life began to change, I was a new mum, I found a new job and I had signed up to complete a degree at home. I was tired most of the time and no longer took part in exercise of any sort and was filling myself up with pasta most evenings. This continued and the unkind words came back. I began the prodding, the poking and the shouting at myself for looking the way I did. How could I allow myself to become this way, I was constantly lethargic, didn’t want to go anywhere and pretty much sheltered myself from the outside world. I decided to focus on what I was good at. Motherhood, my body carried my most prized possession and, so I should just be thankful and revel in my daughter.
As I think back to those days, I was a fluctuating between a size 12/14 and had a great figure but it wasn’t until society’s image of beauty changed that allowed me to see it. I remember putting on a pencil dress and feeling fabulous, only for my confidence to be shattered by my partner asking if I wanted to join the gym. I didn’t, gym and I are not good friends, I don’t enjoy his company and I doubt I ever will. It seemed that everywhere I went, friends and family would comment on the weight I had put on, some said it suited me, others warned me that after 30 weight sticks. I am pretty sure my body hated me, fad diets, excessive exercising and every ‘natural’ weight loss pill was consumed. The fact that my body became a topic of conversation was annoying me, I was lost between how great I looked and the constant comments so when my husband and daughter begged for a baby, I jumped at the chance.
After pregnancy, I was at my biggest, I wasn’t happy, and I could see that my husband was unhappy also but he had put walls and I was unable to break them down so I turned my attention to myself. I looked inside myself and focus on developing a strong relationship with my inner being, I studied myself profusely, my strengths, my weaknesses, my goals, my loves, my fears, I studied every aspect of who I was and every day I became more and more empowered. My energy picked up, my relationship with my friends and family improved, I practiced gratitude and chose to put it at the forefront of everything I did. My body responded to the work I put into her, I learned not to bash her but to love her, after all, she helped me to carry two beautiful babies with no tears, very little stretch marks and my sex drive intact.
During the demise of my marriage the weight started falling off again and although I felt and looked great, my heart was in a vulnerable place and I had to protect her so I up the ante and dug deep into my soul. I learned how to refer to my conscious mind when my sub-conscious told me an untrue social construct. This process led me to identify myself as not only as a confident queen but also a messenger of growth, power, beauty, and love. I fell in love with every aspect of my being and refused for anything negative to define me. I am who I say I am and not the labels that others put on me.
Today, I am still sometimes influenced by what others believe to be considered fit and healthy but I can easily shake it off. My perception of health, fitness, beauty, and love have changed. My goal today is not to prod, poke, complain and hide my body but to ensure that I give her the best chance to go the distance. My physical form allows me to have my experience on Earth so rather than focusing on weight, I focus on listening to my body. She tells me what I need and I respect her judgment.
What has she told me?
She has said that I am beautiful, I am powerful and I am a woman. She also told me to make friends with Gym because my heart can always benefit from being stronger and the extra blanket around my middle will not be needed in spring.
I agree with her.
Love from Charm