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!