When I offered to write this article, I’ll admit, I immediately regretted the decision. Although that may have been because my dissertation was due on the same day… I knew I had other reasons for feeling anxious about writing this. Because, quite simply, who am I to write about body positivity?
I have struggled with my body, and the way I look since childhood, and writing this article has not only made me feel incredibly vulnerable, but also quite embarrassed. For those who know me, I’m a confident gal. I’m chatty, passionate, and I love being involved. I’m on my JCR exec, I co-host a breakfast show on Purple Radio, I write for various papers (including HerCampus!), and I love being in Durham. I’m aware I don’t come across as someone who’s incredibly insecure about how they look.
Sometimes I’m a size 14. Occasionally I’m a 12. I’ve got a couple of size 16 jeans. Hell, I’ve got a bodysuit that’s a 10. Quite frankly, I haven’t got a clue, and as I get older, I’m starting to care less and less. This equation of clothing size with self-worth is something that’s been particularly tricky to overcome, but I’m getting there. I recently bought a pair of ‘mom jeans’. As soon as I tried them on, I hated how they looked, and wanted to return them immediately. I’ve worn tight, black jeans for most of my life, as I had read (as I’m sure we all have), that they make your legs look ‘skinnier’. The constant desire to change our body shape is so unhealthy, and labels like ‘skinny’ don’t help. Neither does curvy, plus-size, slim… they’re all so manufactured. Bodies are totally distinctive, as they should be. Hence, I propose a new word for describing people’s bodies (seeing as there is such a need for one): unique.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, I’ve not been feeling myself recently. It’s been hard, and although I cannot say exactly what has brought this on (primarily because I do not know myself), it has been a really challenging few weeks. Writing this has helped.
A wonderful friend of mine sent me this quote the other day, after we’d chatted about how I was feeling, and it’s just perfect: ‘To wish you were someone else, is to waste the person you are.’
I do not know anyone who is completely secure in the way they look. I do not know anyone who is physically flawless. (Because, quite frankly, what is physical flawlessness? It’s subjective, and that’s what’s so ridiculous about this whole situation – we are striving for something that doesn’t exist.) But I do know one thing for certain. Everyone is beautiful.
I’m learning to love myself, and I’ve recognised that my body is an incredible thing. It’s a vehicle, and it’s done a fabulous job at getting me to all of the places I have been, and I love it for that. I need to start appreciating it, rather than hating it. It’ll take a little time, but if I’ve learnt anything… it is that body positivity is a journey, not a goal.
P.S. To all the guys out there also struggling with body image, I promise you I’ve not forgotten you. Obviously I can’t speak for you, but this is an issue that affects so many guys, and there is not the same amount of recognition nor support for men who struggle with body confidence. We need to start talking about this: it is so important. Body positivity is such a huge part of our mental health, let’s start recognising it as such.
P.P.S. I kept the jeans. I’m glad I did.