This is a personal post so keep any judgement and unsolicited advice for yourself. Thanks
I have been suffering from eating disorders as far as I remember. I was a chubby kid and people used to tease me a lot because of that. I had low self-esteem and confidence in myself because all the boys were after the cute girls and not after myself. I just accepted that this was the way it was. Family and parents used to tell me “if they don’t see the good in you, they don’t deserve you!”. Fair enough, but when you are 15 that doesn’t serve you well. I lived my whole life thinking that my body was defining me, my value, my worth and what I had to offer to the world.
Then things changed.
I lost weight when I moved to the UK, a lot! And my body image changed along with the perception I had of myself. It took a long time but I did it. Up until, beyond my control, I started gaining weight again. It started last Christmas after my holiday in Italy and I kept putting on weight consistently until I got to the point where the number on the scale was the same I used to see in the past! DISASTER.
Looking at myself in the mirror didn’t do good either because that body image was associated with loads of negative feelings that came back to surface again. It was like being trapped in the past again. The pivotal moment was my holiday to Italy. I had to go back to the place where all those emotions were born, showing up my body on the beach again, crying because the clothes I loved didn’t fit anymore.
It was like being trapped in the past again.
But things were different this time. My body image was the old one but my mindset was totally different. I was different. People no longer saw the fatty girl because I was acting like an empower and confident person, owning my own body shape, my curves, my belly and big legs. People didn’t see my body, they saw me. And honestly, for the first time ever, I realised that people see what we portray. If you act like a confident person, this is what they see. If you act like someone that is hiding behind the prejudice and judgement, that is what they see.
I had a lot to learn from my recent trip to Italy. The most important bit is that MY BODY IMAGE DOES NOT DEFINE ME AT ALL. I am not my body and my worth and self-esteem do not depend on it.
The mindset change wasn’t a one day job, as I said, I have been struggling with accepting my body image forever. But there are a few things that you can do to make the first step into self-acceptance:
Talk to a counsellor. I was lucky enough to get free counselling through a charity association that operates in the East Midlands. I came across the organisation through the HealthCare facilities at the University. It was a great help to navigate through the negative thinking and anxiety related to my body image.
The mindset change wasn’t a one day job.
Follow body-positive accounts. They were a great help to me. Seeing how other women embraced their own body, sharing pictures that you don’t usually see on TV or in magazines was empowering. I respect these women beyond their body size. So, looking at their pictures did change my idea about them, in a much more positive way! Here a few names: Katherine Hurcher, Kenzie Brenna, BBC Body Positive, Rini Frey. Thanks to these boss babes who changed my perception about the idea of beauty.
Buy clothes that actually suit your body shape. Listen, guys, I am Italian and I think I know a thing or two about fashion. Personally speaking, I have a typical Mediterranean body, loads of curves and a small waistline. Vintage clothes fit me very well because they show off my figure. I don’t use jeans because they make my legs look bigger, large trousers fit me better. I have cute and tiny legs, skirts suit me too. Your body shape is different than mine, just experiment with pieces of clothing and see what suits you best. It doesn’t have to match the latest trend in fashion. Just do what makes you feel comfortable.
Along the line of the latest advice, do not define your idea of beauty based on the expectations society has about women. We no longer live in the Middle Ages where women were born to serve, please and be attractive to men. Because, frankly, this is what all this BS on beauty is about. Your role in society is not only being a suitable partner to a man, doing house chores and make kids. Women are much more than that. Your self-worth does not depend on the willingness of a man to take you as a partner. I REPEAT, YOU ARE NOT LESS OF A WOMAN IF YOUR BODY SHAPE DOES NOT MATCH THE IDEA OF BEAUTY THAT SUITS A MAN.