Saturday, 1 February 2014

Happy Valentine's me

I recently watched a video created by SoulPancake and Darling Magazine, which tackled body image and beauty culture - something that many women (and men) struggle with. It astounds me how the women in this video are attractive, intelligent and articulate yet they still experienced poor body image and self-esteem. It never ceases to amaze me how just one comment can have such a long-lasting and negative impact, how self-perception can be so different from reality, and how we are all our own worst and harshest critic.

While we're all aware that looks aren't everything, we do spend a lot of time worrying about how we look. It's superficial. It's silly. It's only human. Especially in a society that places such a high value on it and bombards us with images of 'perfection'. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I still have my hang-ups. I've stood in front of mirrors and grimaced at my reflection. I've got parts of my body that I would change in a heartbeat. I've uttered the dreaded "does my butt look big in this?" (MOH, My Other Half, slowly backed away and hoped I didn't notice he was there). I've walked around despondently in my 'fat' clothes feeling dumpy and lumpy. I've said "if only I was...", "I wish I had..." and "I look okay, but...". I remember being told as a child that I didn't inherit my Dad's lean thighs and legs. So that means mine are just fat, right? When I was a teenager I was asked if I wanted a nose job. I never actually thought there was anything wrong with my nose...until that moment. Today I am a grown woman who knows a whole lot better, but I still catch myself looking critically at my nose or my thighs from time to time and wondering if only...

It doesn't make sense that I know I am the healthiest, fittest and strongest I have ever been in my life, yet old insecurities still lurk at the back of my mind and come back to haunt me with a vengeance. It's funny...and sad. The most telling was when MOH said to me "I wish you could see what I see."

Like the women on the video, I started to think about when I feel the most beautiful and here are some of those moments. I feel the most beautiful when:

  • I have those 'MOH moments' - the way he looks at me, he brushes the hair away from my face, he kisses me and holds me close,
  • I am laughing out loud, 
  • I am making others laugh, 
  • I give something to or do something for someone that brings them comfort and/or joy, 
  • My nephew smiles at me, 
  • The children of our friends and family call out an excited "Auntie M", 
  • I've finished a strenuous exercise session or completed a run (no kidding) - hot, sweaty, sore, tired but amazed at what my body can actually do
  • I am singing at the top of my lungs and dancing around like I just don't care, 
  • I've achieved or done something I never thought I could,
  • I am happy. 
Isn't it interesting that to me, feeling truly beautiful has nothing to do with how I actually look much less my 'thunder thighs' or 'pug nose'?

So in the spirit of learning to love myself just the way I am with all my heart, happy valentine's day to me! May I remember to cherish me and value me. May I be able to one day say with absolute confidence and pride, without any "if only's", " I wish's" and "but's", that I am me - imperfect, but perfectly so.
"Comparison is the thief of joy"

That's What She Said - Beauty and Body Image:
Watch the video till the very end to hear an inspirational, heart wrenching poem that every woman who ever thought "I'm not that..." should hear.

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