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I don't love my body......and it really doesn't matter

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, something that I have struggled with for a while but have recently become comfortable with……….I don’t love my body. I never have and I figure that I probably never will. The simple fact is that making a decision to love my body is never going to happen for me today I don’t think it matters if I don’t.

Many of you will look at photos of me and not be able to understand why I don’t love my body; I’m not overweight and I’m not unpleasant to look at but ultimately the fact is that everything is subjective and we live in a world that is set up to make women feel that if they are anything short of perfect physically then they are not good enough. My programming on this issue is ingrained and deep and has proven difficult to shake off.


To counter this permanent quest for perfection the Body Positive movement is now becoming increasingly popular. If you are on social media or if you follow popular media in other ways you will not have been able to miss the “body positive” messages that seem to be almost everywhere. However the message gets to you, it is always the same: LOVE YOUR BODY.


The Body Positive idea is simple. Want a bikini body? Take a bikini and put it on your body. Look up body positivity on the internet and you will find literally thousands of blogs, articles, videos and images telling women that they will find joy if they just love and embrace their bodies.


I can totally understand how this movement has taken off. After years and years of magazine covers, adverts, TV programmes and films being filled with images of women with perfectly toned bodies and flawless skin I am not surprised that women are starting to fight against this media representative of women and demanding to see a more “normalised” representation of themselves. We are incredibly lucky to live in a time where people of all different shapes and sizes are happy to share how much they love all of their body. Women with cellulite, thighs with no gap and big bodies in bikinis sit happily beside the young, tiny, impossibly beautiful women who represent a more traditional view of beauty.


Like so many women feelings of self-loathing about my body have been a feature throughout my life. I have spent hours agonising over my thick thighs, my small breasts, my flabby arms, my wobbly tummy…..the list goes on and on. However, ask me if I think the body positive movement is going to help me improve my self-esteem and I’ll tell you that the answer is, frankly, no.


Please don’t misunderstand me - I absolutely don’t think that women should hate their bodies, but I have as yet to be convinced that the answer to finding “joy” lies necessarily in just loving them, either. Personally I believe that if I and women in general, want to develop a sense of self-esteem about ourselves we simply need to take our bodies completely out of the equation. I place much more value on finding “joy” in what I do, how I spend my life and who I share it with. To me these are what is important and are all things that bring me true joy.


The media will obviously keep trying to feed us the idea of physical perfection that represents less than 2 percent of women in our population. It gives us a goal that as women we strive to achieve and yet will always be just beyond our grasp simply because it mostly isn’t even real. This is what keeps us buying what we are told we need. We are fed the message that if we are thin, tanned, and have good skin we will be able to find that elusive “joy”.


The Body Positive movement is empowering and inspiring for the way that it is fighting against these beauty ideals that we feel pressured to measure ourselves against and for that it should be praised.


However, for me, the message that encourages us to love every inch of our bodies all of the time and to spend time demonstrating how much you love your body seems to be unachievable for most of us and certainly for me promotes feelings of anxiety since it seems I can’t even get body positivity “right”. On top of that, isn’t all this self-love just a little narcissistic? Sure, if I embrace self-love like the activists suggest I can don a bikini and strut my stuff on the beach with my thick thighs and post-childbirth belly on show for all to see, but other than feeling no shame about my body what would I have achieved? Perhaps I would feel good about my body because I have been told I should, and liberated from conforming to society’s “norms”, but what else would have changed? As a measure of self-worth how could this ever be really meaningful or useful?


In my view if we want to empower women, to help us to feel truly good about ourselves and enable us to succeed in the world and in our life then we need to stop measuring our worth by how we look. It doesn’t matter if we are comparing ourselves to the ad-man’s perfect body or the Body-Positives’ real-woman body, ultimately comparison is fundamentally unhelpful. I believe there are more meaningful ways to measure the worth of a woman (and a person) than looks; like kindness, generosity and contribution to society to name but a few.


In my opinion loving your body is great if you can but it really doesn’t matter if you can’t because ultimately it won’t help you to feel happy or worthy. Self-esteem doesn’t (and shouldn’t) come from how you look, it should be a measure of what you do, what you say and how you behave.


Is any of this easy? Hell no! We are continuously bombarded by images of bodies, whether those bodies have abs to die for or a little extra flab they are not afraid to show off, there will always be temptation to compare yourself to someone else. My point is let’s stop the comparisons. Don’t hate your body, don’t love your body, just accept it for what it is but take it out of any of the ways that you measure your worthiness! Look after your body, respect it for what it can do, use it for positive change but work to remember that your worth is not in what you look like.


I really hope as time goes on that women really start to fight back and completely ditch the idea that how we look can in any way affect how we feel. Let’s stand together and start a revolution by measuring our worthiness against what we do, what we say and how we treat ourselves and others!


Lots of love,

S.x

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