Month: September 2013

Reflections on a ‘Bikini Body’.

For those of you currently unaware, I write bi-monthly wellness themed articles for an online magazine called The Daily Quirk. It’s a great site for a wide variety of topics and I really enjoy writing for them, I get to blab on about fitness and healthy living which I don’t really do over here because I don’t want it to be the focus of my blog. (I write under the name Sophie Juliette over there if you’re at all interested!) Earlier this summer I wrote an article about being ‘bikini body ready’ for the summer with a different slant than most similarly titled articles, and I want to reflect on the topic again.

Now in the month of September, with the chilly weather (at least in the UK) drawing in, I can reach for my woolly jumpers, jeans, cozy socks, and boots. Basically I can cover up all in the name of being warm. I love the beginning of autumn, although I am loath to say goodbye to the warmer temperatures I adore the change in seasons. I’ve already invested in some cocoa powder and mini marshmallows, and a gorgeously cozy pair of knitted slippers with pompoms so you know it’s serious. I feel more comfortable in autumn fashion, I’m less on show. As much as I love getting dressed up in little dresses and heels to go out (my newest pair make me reach the staggering height of 6’1″!) I just don’t like having my body on show to the world. And yet all through the summer we are bombarded with the words ‘bikini body’ and about how to get ready for the beach and the pressure just mounts…

The question is, why do we let this pressure get to us? For starters ‘bikini body’ is such a daft term, invented by the likes of Cosmo and Hello magazines in order to create this supposed ‘ideal’ of how all women (and men) should look and which we should all work hard towards. The issue is that often this ideal body is in fact unhealthy and unrealistic. Whilst it’s great to promote health, and in fact I’m often the first to do so, it is dangerous to push an unhealthy image. These ‘bikini bodies’ that are shoved down our throats are often women (or young girls – the models are often 16/17) with extremely low body weights, or women whose job it is to look bikini ready and therefore train several hours a day which gives us regular people unrealistic expectations. And yet for some reason, a huge proportion of intelligent, otherwise confident women allow the pressure to be ‘bikini ready’ rule their lives in the run up to the summer. Why do we let it torture us?

Of course not all women pay any attention to it all, and props to them, hopefully they are much more content during the summer with a little more confidence than those of us who do! Unfortunately, despite knowing that it is all a load of rubbish, it seems I can never just ignore the message and every year it is the same old story, out come the bikinis and with them years upon years of zero self-esteem and poor body image. It is absolutely crazy because I am confident now, I’ve definitely learnt to love myself, I have very few of my old hang ups left and self-esteem issues are more or less a thing of the past. But for some reason when it comes to my body I just struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin. Over the last year of university I have definitely put on a few pounds (probably about 5) and although being tall which means it’s not a massive deal as I am still on the lighter side of a healthy weight, I can see those 5 pounds every time I look in the mirror. In fact, mirrors are quickly reclaiming their place as my old nemesis. It’s so petty, those 5 pounds are the sum of hilarious nights out, meals eaten with friends, late-night snacks when we stumble in, drinks at the pub, they are the proof of a great year. I should be able to love them and move on but I just can’t.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We are worth so much more. 

So if you ask me we need to actively seek to love ourselves. I have wasted so many years being unhappy with my body and you know what, it hasn’t come to anything. I am not a better person. It has not improved a single thing in my life. For the first time in my adult life I am single and living independently and it is time that I let go of my anxieties. Okay so my stomach isn’t as flat as a pancake, it is hardly fat either. And my thighs are perhaps an inch bigger than I’d like, but they can do over 100 squats with (relative) ease. My hips are wider than I’d like but that means that my waist is accentuated more. I am not skinny, I am slim. I am a woman with boobs, a waist, a bum, and rather long legs, and you know what? It’s great. My body manages to deal with fibromyalgia and still get me through the day, I should love it for that!

The 5 pounds will come off again, I have a new gym membership, I have a fridge full of fruit and vegetables. I have my dumbbells, my skipping rope, and my kettlebell. And most importantly I have my body, and it can push itself really hard, it can deal with nearly everything I throw at it, it is healthy and strong.

So if you’ve spent the summer stressing about the way you look, just for one or two weeks spent on a beach then let go of your body anxieties. Our bodies are amazing things and we should treat them well and celebrate what they can do. Each and every person deserves to feel confident and be happy. Anyway it really is what is on the inside that counts, you will be remembered for what you did not how you looked, so let your inner beauty be what people see, not just what is on the surface!

Sophie x

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Currently…

Apparently I’m forming a bad habit. Whenever I’m feeling a bit low, or a bit fed up, or a bit muddled, I end up watching several episodes of Sex and the City. I’m telling you, it’s an awful habit.

I don’t want to be one of those bloggers but I am sorry for disappearing from the face of the earth (or at least the internet) a lot has happened since getting back from Nice and I’ve been busy actually living my life and completely forgetting to take my camera anywhere! To sum it up in one sentence: I moved house and am now living with one of my favourite people in my new student house, waiting excitedly for the other three to arrive so that we can start the year together. I’ve also been spending a lot of time with some of my other favourite people and I have to say that I am enjoying this summer.

A lot has changed for me over the past few months but I am regrouping and I know this year will be fantastic. My one current housemate is a tiny blonde, also called Sophie, who I love because she brought me out of my shell, helped me be a little more selfish and she makes me take a step back and learn to be more laid back. Now is not the time to go into why I’m feeling a bit muddled, it’s not a very interesting story, but with so much going on right now feelings are fleeting. I have a feeling this year will be incredibly busy what with finals, my dissertation, teacher training applications, volunteering (hopefully), working in the English department library, along with attempting to maintain some kind of social life!

To help me get back into blogging here is a ‘currently’ post:

Reading…

I got to read for fun whilst away in Nice but I have to be honest and say that I’ve been struggling with reading since I’ve been back home. I think it’s a mixture of having been quite busy, when I have some time free Soph and I just spend it lounging on our amazing tiger(!) print sofas gossiping away, it’s also because I’ve started working on my dissertation in earnest so I’m struggling to read my course books on top of that. The only thing I’ve really enjoyed reading recently is The Vagenda magazine which has me giggling away with its refreshing take on being a woman and its healthy attitude towards feminism. How can you not find pleasure in reading an article entitled ‘FYI: The Perfect Woman Wears a Beret, is Unspoilt by Feminism, and Doesn’t Have AIDS‘? (Just so you know I am clearly imperfect as I only qualify for the last statement). But other than that, I am in a reading funk. However I have a plan to get myself back into reading: get started on the reading list for my children’s literature! Because who doesn’t want to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again), The Jungle Books, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

Listening to… 

I’ve been very eclectic with my music tastes this month. I am either listening to ‘going out’ music when getting ready in the evening, in which case out come tracks like Rudimental’s Waiting All Night, Zedd’s Clarity, and Lana Del Ray’s Summertime Sadness. Sometimes a girl just needs something loud and fast passed to get her in the mood for a night on the town ;-). If I’m not listening to club music (who am I again?) then I have been listening to songs with lyrics that speak to me. My current loves include Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song, A Fine Frenzy’s Almost Lover, Birdy’s I’ll Never Forget You, and one of my favourite songs John Legend’s Ordinary People. Who knows what is going on in my head right now!

Watching…

I was really poorly this weekend and spent most of the weekend curled up in a blanket trying to sleep. Being poorly always makes me miss home so I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for my childhood… perfect timing then for The Great British Bake Off to start again! I think that anyone who knows me at all in real life or who has read my blog for a while will know to what extent I adore this programme. Last Tuesday’s episode was bread week and I enjoyed watching the technical challenge of baking Paul Hollywood’s English muffins, whilst eating my own English muffin. Ridiculously satisfying.

Eating…

The aforementioned English muffin. As well as a lot of guacamole because I am now in my student house therefore I can eat as many avocados as I please without parents rolling their eyes at my lack of variety. Spending money on food is something I find scarily easy to do so I’m trying to be careful with my budget but I am enjoying cooking for myself again. We’ll see how long that lasts when term starts up again and I actually have lectures to attend!

Dreaming of…

There is one thing I can’t stop myself daydreaming about the minute I have a pause… Nice. I promised you a recap post and that will definitely happen this weekend when I get a chance to go home to scan in the photos from the family camera. I miss the beautiful panoramas, I miss the sea air, I miss the bright midday sun, I miss the smell of suncream, I miss the beaches, I miss the balmy evenings, I miss the crowed markets, I miss the restaurants spilling out into town squares, I miss the ice creams, I even miss the buses…

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Just a little sneak peak of the beauty of Nice…

What are your currently-s? Do you ever have trouble getting into books? Do the lyrics of your favourite songs matter to you?

Sophie x