I used to hate my body.
I have this really random and weird memory from when I was about 8 years old. I can recall it with a bizarre level of utmost clarity, like a 4k HD movie. I was sat on the bottom bed of mine and my sisters bunk bed with my leg positioned so that my knee pointed to the ceiling and my foot lay flat on the bed. I was staring at the slope of my hamstring in the mirror, grabbing my hamstring saying ‘I wish I wasn’t so fat.’
It’s kind of weird to recall because it was an isolated memory and my dislike of my body didn’t fully take off until a few years later. But is significant because it shows how I absorbed the body issues of society like a sponge and even at such a young and innocent age I had already learnt to hate my body.
I wasn’t fat as a a child. I did lots of running and was super active so was relatively muscular, but I sat there grabbing my muscle, accusing myself of being too fat because most other girls and women shown as beautiful on TV didn’t have muscular hamstrings.
When I was in year 6, I developed early. I started my period at a young age and got boobs super quick. I was a B to C cup at age 10… and I hated it!!
(I KNOW WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL CHILD CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE MY BOOBS WENT IS THIS THE PRICE I PAY FOR UNGRATEFULNESS??? FATHER FORGIVE ME)
I remember playing rugby one time with the rest of my school friends. One of the boys tackled me and my top came down a little, revealing my bra. He pointed at me and said:
“Sara’s got boobs!” And made fun of me and told EVERYONE. I was mortified. I hated having bigger boobs that the other girls.
Then, when I was in year 9 I started a new school. It was my first week, I still had no friends and it was P.E lesson time (at this point I was a top junior athlete, training regularly). As I was getting changed in the changing rooms, another girl (who was incredibly beautiful by all standards of the word) pointed at me and shouted:
“HAHAHAHA SHE’S GOT A MANS FIGURE BUT WITH BOOBS!”
Everyone looked at me as I stood there in my underwear, vulnerable as could be, and they all laughed. I was mortified and I will probably never forget that moment.
I stayed athletic for a good period of my life, ripping jeans with my thighs and constantly longing for a thigh gap. I didn’t like my arms because they were toned and ‘manly’. Then I stopped athletics training and gained a lot of weight. The legs that I hated for being muscular I now hated for their cellulite, the arms that I hated for being too toned I now hated for their bingo wings.
I could go on and on with memory after memory.
Kids in school told me my lips were sausage lips and too big (I have memories of folding my lips in to see what they would look like if they were smaller). A grown (black) woman in church asked me why my skin was so much darker than my sisters and why my nose was so much bigger. Me and Kima (my sister) looked at each other (I was around 12 years old at the time) and there was this moment when we both realised that my skin was slightly darker and my nose was slightly bigger. We had never noticed that before.
So for whatever reasons, I didn’t like my body.
And yet now I genuinely love my body. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wake up each day like DAMN SIS YOU FINE. It’s more of a chilled – I am okay with this to the point where I barely think about it because it’s chill kind of vibe. Sometimes I catch my reflection in the mirror, rolls (yes I still have those), muscles and all on show, and I think something like ‘it’s a crime that the whole world can’t see this fire right now’.
LOL like what? even?
Recently I’ve been pausing to wonder how the heck did I get from hating my body to kind of loving it? When after all – I don’t actually look that much different. I probably looked ‘better’ by worldly standards, when I was 16 years old.
I want to keep this post short (failed already) , so I’ll bullet point this, but from my reflections so far – here’s how I did it:
- I realised that I don’t have to be pretty.
Nahhh let’s pause here.
I DON’T HAVE TO BE PRETTY!!!!
Or beautiful!!! Or sexually attractive!!
Adjusting my body to fit other peoples idea of beauty is LITERALLY NOT MY PURPOSE IN LIFE.
It’s like asking an eagle why it can’t swim. Like hun – it’s an eagle and it’s about to fly off and leave you feeling as irrelevant as that question.
That is not my purpose in life. I literally owe beauty to NO ONE.
If some guy finds me unattractive – that is about as relevant as my year 9 Geography grade. My body isn’t here for his sexual pleasure, creep. It’s here to allow me to live. It’s a temple, a vessel for the expression of life. How the heck is some random guy gonna try and belittle that supernatural, Godly purpose to his own creepy little sexual preference?
In the same way that I stopped stressing about my heartbreakingly, tragically low year 9 geography grade when I realised that the glorious combination of google maps and my medical career choice had rendered my geography skills wholly irrelevant to my life, I also stopped caring about my ‘beauty grade’ when I realised it was not my problem.
2. I started looking after it
A whole process, but you really learn to love stuff when you take the time to look after it, improve it, keep it in good condition, polish it and care for it.
3. I saw what happens when peoples bodies fail.
Good health is a blessing. Don’t take your body for granted
4. I realised that I’m the one who defines beauty – not society.
I get to decide what I think is pretty. One day I looked at my thick lips, fully looked at them and realised that I like them big. I genuinely liked them. Turns out society decided to agree 10 years later.
5. I removed myself from people who said mean things to me.
Literally left friends behind (e.g that girl in the changing rooms) because the words and actions that they chose to speak over me were detrimental to me bettering myself and at odds with the purpose on my life
6. I stopped being mean to myself.
You can cut off all the bullies but if you still look in the mirror and call yourself ugly then you are still getting bullied. Stop being mean to yourself
7. I realised my looks are a gift from my parents and my gift to my future children.
I will never allow anyone to call my parents or future child ugly. Not even me
8. I faked it till I made it
Sometimes, wear that dress with confidence. Post that picture where your arms look huge, keep doing it again and again and don’t ask questions or reflect. Just move on and carry on with life
9. I focused on other things
My relationship with God, my career, my athletic goals, how much I give, my kindness, my relationships, my ability to forgive others, my room decor, my youtube videos, my meme collection – turns out that when I focused on the important things there wasn’t enough time left over to stress about the width of my calves
And that’s all I can think of for now.
It’s a journey. It’s a process. It didn’t happen over night.
But it certainly didn’t happen by accident either.
I hope you get there if you aren’t already. You’re awesome and beautiful and you should be kind about your body.
From someone who knows what it’s like to live in a body that she hates and then live in a (probably quite similar looking but smaller chested) body that she loves – please believe me when I say that life is more enjoyable and fruitful when lived in a state of love.
Make time to learn to love yourself.
Life is better when lived in love.