It was a casual Wednesday evening; I was searching my wardrobe for a pair of trousers I knew I didn’t own to go with a shirt I most definitely couldn’t afford, in an attempt to seamlessly and affordably transition my wardrobe for spring and summer.
After deciding that I did not own the type of clothes I wasn’t even sure that I wanted, and had exhausted all online avenues to try and find the “key pieces” which were going to make up my ultimate capsule wardrobe; (that would save me money in the long term, but initially I’ll probs have to spend £500 getting it just how I like it to then decide that I JUST HAVE TO HAVE that super trendy PVC skirt before realising that PVC was a mistake that I made last year and what on earth had changed in the past 5 months to make me change my mind?)
Finding myself in such a situation, I decided to surrender to my own indecisiveness and let the robots do the work (as ultimately, they would be taking over soon anyway). Logging on to a high street brand’s website – I opted for the “Online Personal Shopper Experience”, and proceeded to answer the questions it gave me.
Height, hair colour, likes, dislikes – all completely capable questions; until the dreaded:
“What’s your body type?”
I gulped, what was my body type? I had no idea; my previous torments and battles with food and appearance had left me unable to objectively look at my body. My friend Sacha called me an hourglass; when I looked in the mirror I just saw a potato (an organic Maris Piper potato, but still a potato no-less).
A male acquaintance told me that I was looking good earlier this week, a kind and no doubt sincere compliment, which my brain had immediately scrutinised and translated into meaning the exact opposite; but WHY?
Why, even when we’re complimented, do we believe that they’re is an ulterior motive, a hidden meaning behind the words which dissolve any confidence we may have built up? Why can we not see ourselves as others see us? Why can we only accept that negatives we hear about ourselves but when we receive praise, believe it to have a more sinister or negative underlay?
It’s a cruel fate that as women, the majority of us will not be happy with what we’ve been given; ignoring our strengths in lieu of our subjected shortcomings.
“My legs aren’t long enough,”
“My tummy sticks out,”
“I hate my upper-arms”
We must stop defining ourselves by what we aren’t and start celebrating what we are.
Don’t have the slender calves you wish you had? I’ll bet your thicker thighs supports a bum that resembles two perfect scoops of Butter Pecan. Your washboard stomach is probably the envy of many a woman while you’re busy worrying that your bust isn’t big enough.
My sister has often said that she envies my legs, which, as an avid walker I manage to keep slim and toned with minimal effort; if you scale up however you’ll reach my arse which is all kinds of Kim Kardashian (minus the surgery and American Express Black Card), big and round and almost impossible to fit into a pair of jeans. My sister however, doesn’t see these angsts of mine; only her own. She doesn’t realise she has the most enviable waist and washboard stomach, both of which I would trade my entire stash of Mini Eggs for (if I thought giving them up would make any difference, I would, but it wouldn’t, so I won’t). My point is, we should be celebrating our individuality rather than ignoring these in favour of what we don’t have.
While self-improvement should never be discouraged, it does you well to be mindful that life would be incredibly boring if we all looked the same, and I’m not just talking about women.
Now, I can only speak on behalf of myself and my friends; but we’re big fans of the “dad bod”, none of us are arsed about rippling six packs, firm pectorals or defined quads; if you’ve got them – great! If you don’t, who the heck even cares. Love us and feed us because that’s all we really want.
To define ourselves simply by a body type is both simple and complex; ultimately, the majority of us do fall into a category to help us accentuate our best bits, but that doesn’t mean if you discover yourself to be of Athletic or Pear physique that you’re pigeonholed to that one and only punnet. You could be a pear shape…that can run 5K in less than 25 minutes; you could be athletic…that eats a trough of pasta at least twice a week; an hourglass…that can deadlift 60kg.
I often describe myself now as someone who works out, but enjoys pasta. I am by no means fat, but use my love of food as fuel to push my body to run, lift and dance (badly). So if having a thigh gap or a smaller bum means having to sacrifice eating peanut butter m&m’s in bed with my boyfriend or splitting a tub of Ben and Jerry’s (followed by a chaser of gin) with my best friend after a particularly trying week; well you can keep them…I’d only have to buy new jeans anyway.
You are more than a shape on a child’s learning chart; you have depth and you have beauty which is found not only in the curves of your body, but in the laughter lines on your face, your quick wit and ability to bring a smile to your friend’s lips.
You will have qualities that will be envied by many, if only you could see them yourself.
That’s why, if, like so many, you have been struggling with self-acceptance recently; if you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to change yourself whether it be your shape, or any exterior which goes beyond means of health; I want you to try positive affirmations.
Start by complimenting yourself; just like you would your friends. Rather than focussing on the parts of yourself you’d like to change, praise the parts you love, both on the exterior and interior.
You only get one body, so quite hating it for what it’s not, and start loving it for what it can do, because while you might not be able to change your natural shape, you can change your attitude and happiness towards it; and happiness is truly one size that fits all.