You are beautiful just as you are. It doesn’t matter what your dress size is, or whether you fit into your skinny jeans today. It doesn’t matter what you ate or drank yesterday, or what you think you ought to look like. Your body is a miracle, and you are beautiful.
Don’t believe me? I’m not surprised. One of the biggest personal issues women face today is their body image. So often, it is pictures of slim, perfectly formed women that feature in social media, in magazines and on billboards. Even though we know in our hearts that many of these women have staff to help them, and that photos can be digitally enhanced, it does not make us feel any better. We measure ourselves against them, and we come up short. We are too thin or too fat, too tall or too short, our breasts are too big or too small. Everything is “too” something. Nothing seems to be “just right”.
To make matters worse, we have been conditioned to believe that our appearance is disproportionately important. So if the number on the scale isn’t what we want to see, or our skinny jeans feel too tight, suddenly our day is thrown off and we feel down and discouraged. Our motivation flags and we find it difficult to accomplish things.
What if we could just get on with our day without thinking about how we perceived others see us, or trying to fit into an outdated, stereotypical mould? How much more might we accomplish? What heights might we achieve?
You Are Beautiful Just As You Are Whether You Fit Society’s Mould Or Not
It’s a huge injustice that women have been pressured to fit into the body size and shape that is of the moment for centuries. So many women have wasted time, talent and potential as they struggled to achieve the ideal body image of the day, an image that has changed almost as often as the decades.
Until the invention of corsets, being voluptuous was the image of beauty in both art and life. So anyone who was slim and fit was made to feel second best. Then someone discovered that whalebone and pure brute strength could transform the female body into the perfect hourglass shape. An eighteen-inch waist became the ideal, and women began to mutilate their bodies. In some cases internal organs were actually displaced as corsetry that became more advanced and restrictive in order to fit the fashion of the day.
Corsets were thankfully pushed aside in the 1920’s but but woe betide anyone who wasn’t slim and flat chested enough to wear the flapper style. The 1930’s and 40’s were slightly more a middle ground but in the 1950’s we were back to the voluptuous hourglass. However, it wasn’t enough to be a certain size, you had to have perfect proportions. Your bust and hips were meant to be the exact same measurement and your waist ten inches smaller than both. As that is nearly impossible to achieve naturally, women wore girdles that we nearly as restrictive as corsets.
By the mid 1960’s when I was born, it was back to the willowy proportions of the 1920’s. Twiggy was on the cover of Vogue and thin was in. And so it continues, a constantly shifting landscape. It has always been unrealistic, and a real waste of women’s own personal beauty, style and time.
A Huge Distraction
By distracting vibrant, beautiful women with a constantly changing ideal, and convincing us that our appearance is more important than our bodies and souls, marketing gurus have an audience that’s ready to buy. I often wonder just how much money has been spent on the latest miracle weight loss shake or exercise machine.
As Jameela Jamil says, “Why should we be doomed to waste our fine minds counting calories, pounds, stones and inches when we could be counting meaningful experiences…?”
My Personal Journey
From the moment my mom told me to pull my tummy in when I was three, I do not remember even one moment of my childhood when I was not worried about my weight. Many of the women I speak to say exactly the same thing. Instead of concentrating on my studies when I was in high school, whether I had a good day or a bad day was largely determined by the number on the scale. I was in good company, as most of my friends were feeling exactly the same way.
As time progressed, it became harder and harder to focus on my studies, especially as I had begun fasting regularly. One day the scale hit 96 pounds and I was ecstatic. It was a long journey from there back to normality. I graduated high school an honour student, but my dreams of university were put on ice as I just wasn’t together enough to continue with my education.
How much female talent has been wasted in a similar way over the years? Have you been distracted from achieving your goals – or is that what is happening now? Regardless of how often you are told you are beautiful just as you are, are you still listening to the society, the media and your inner mean girl?
A Healthy Resolution
It wasn’t until I moved to England in my early twenties that I began to be healthy again. I met the wonderful man who became my husband, who has loved me from a size 8 to a size 16 and back again over the course of over 30 years. The life we have built together makes my earlier dreams seem very limited, and I’m grateful for the experience that brought me to where we are today.
I can’t say I’ve always been at peace with my size and shape though. I have been incredibly lucky to be able to move on, and in recent years, with the help of an amazing personal trainer, I now wear a size 8 to 10 and have become fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been in my adult life.
Not everyone is so lucky. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder and it’s estimated that a large proportion of suffers struggle for their entire lives. My own mother suffered from both anorexia and bulimia for most of her life. So how can we find a healthy resolution? How can I convince you that you are beautiful just as you are?
Feeling You Are Beautiful Just As You Are
Whatever your size and shape right now, at this very moment, you are perfect just as you are. Trying to fit into an ideal size or shape, be it someone else’s perception of ideal or your own, is soul destroying and a complete waste of time.
It is important to be healthy, strong and fit. However fitness comes in all sizes and shapes. There are are strong, healthy, fit women out there who wear a size 8, and strong, healthy, fit women who wear a size 16 or larger.
Eating healthy food is important, not so you can fit into a particular dress size, but so that you can feel energetic and strong. Eating too much sugar can make you tired, moody and depressed. Too many carbohydrates can cause uncomfortable bloating and energy crashes. It’s not about being a certain size, it’s about feeling healthy and strong.
Making The Most of Every Day
There is no reason to judge yourself or allow yourself to be unhappy because of a number on a scale. By all means, make healthy choices, and move your body to help keep you strong. Just remember that beauty truly is a whole lot more than skin deep, and I firmly believe that every woman is beautiful in some way. We all have our flaws, we all have our good points. It is the sum of these things that make us, perfectly us.
You are beautiful just as you are. From this moment forward, please join me in striving to focus on the good things about our bodies. I have varicose veins so my legs are not good at all, but I’ve got really strong, shapely arms. Gravity is making parts of me a bit less perky than they used to be, but I’m pleased with the muscle definition I see on my abdominals. Whether it’s slim ankles, great legs, shapely shoulders, great skin, sparkling eyes or a beautiful smile, celebrate the good things and look kindly on the less than perfect. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes when you look in the mirror. And without the distraction of worrying about unrealistic standards of beauty, who knows what we can accomplish!