"We teach women to shrink themselves, make themselves smaller" Why the f would do we do this? You're too small, eat something, you're too fat stop eating?
This starts from such a young age it's disturbing! It's simply social programming. From the Barbie dolls we are given that are plastic, with fake boobs, fake highlighted and coloured hair, fake unflawed light skin, unnatural body shapes, wearing a tonne of makeup and botoxed lips giving us an unachievable, unnatural state of "ideals" within beauty to conform too - but that's for another blog post.
I remember looking at myself in the bath, this is at a very young age like 6 or 7, I had a petite frame and ab definition. I was a tiny young girl - wishing that I could magically remove the "fat" from my thighs and my tummy rolls when I sat, even though the bodies all around me had these normal things, the ones in the media didn't.
I remember seeing the ads on TV when I was little, you know those false hope stand-on-this-for-one-minute-and-get-abs type things, and hoping the universe would provide one for me so I could shrink like the women on the TV.
I remember after eating, I would run to the bathroom and do squats and sit ups to counteract the food I had just had.
I remember lying that I wasn't hungry to myself and others to try to make myself smaller.
I remember measuring how many fingers wide my tummy would roll over when I sat down and how many hands to my belly button so, that I'd keep that size with such a fear of getting any bigger which as I grew into adulthood, of course, would happen. I was so fearful of putting on weight.
I remember reading Total Girl magazines and seeing all the women and girls in them and making comparisons and drawing ideas of how I could get from my untouched, natural self, "ugly" to their standard of beauty which consists of hours of makeup, hair, surgeries, nutritionists, personal trainers, chefs, money, lighting, photoshop, stylists etc. It's unrealistic what we are presented with to look up to and it's ridiculous.
Celebrities shouldn't be idolised. We should be taught how to love ourselves and aspire to be the best us we can be...not anyone else. If there was only you in the world you'd have no one else to look to so you wouldn't need to change yourself in any way based on any extrinsic force.
I remember them saying...
I remember my Grandad saying cheekily if you keep eating like that you'll get fat like me.
I remember going to the Philippines where their body type has mostly no curves; they are straight up and down and getting nicknamed "fatty" from a family member whom I was staying with (because she thought I didn't understand the language).
I remember my first proper-ish boyfriend looking at a photograph of me when I was younger and saying "you look so pretty then," with him then coming to the conclusion that it was because I was "skinny". Skinny cause I was sick; drinking a lot, smoking a lot, lack of sleep, hardly any food and on hormones...but I looked "pretty".
I remember him saying if I was to be with him (like he was this god figure himself?) I should start running?! It's not like I wasn't active either I would be in dance for hours and played rugby. So, to fit it in I ran laps in a park early morning before I saw him. Which, I'm so happy that I finally came to the self-realisation that this was a toxic relationship and dumped him. Then further down the track, I saw him running the same track as he had now put on weight.
Real women don't have flawless skin and have even on a small scale cellulite,
Real women have stretch marks even if small and faint as their amazing bodies grow through the process of womanhood.
Real women have rolls when sitting; it is a layer that protects our womb space and leaves room for the possibility of life.
Real women have body hair naturally to keep them safe and clean,
Real women have scars to show they've lived life,
Real women have hips to bare life no matter how big or small,
Real women have a little bit of thighs to draw from as energy stores if they ever are to fall pregnant,
And some real women don't,
We are all real,
But this idolization of an unachievable body supremacy is not healthy and needs to stop.
What our bodies do is a beautiful thing
I'm finally at a phase where I feel content in my skin and don't feel the need to edit my body or form in any way as I know I am fit and healthy - this is my natural maintainable self in my level of activity which is already high and I don't plan on changing it.
To Love yourself is a Journey but here are a few tips I picked up along the way:
1. Affirmation: "I love and accept myself" repeat this to yourself in your mind or out loud, maybe in front of a mirror. Say it like you mean it, feel the words as being true and eventually it will become a truth for you.
2. Get rid of people who make you think negatively of your figure and make more room to embrace positive body image. This may mean culling people who you constantly compare yourself with in an unhealthy way, letting go of people like my crappy ex and replacing them with uplifting, inspiring, self-love advocates whomever that may be to you.
3. Wear things that may you feel good or if nothing you have does treat yourself to a pretty outfit that shows off your assets and makes you feel amazing!
4. Also, ditch the mags and TV it's all brainwashing and lies, not worth your investment in time or money!
5. Massage your body with coconut oil while saying thank you and giving gratitude for all the things each body part does for you and any other nice things that pop up.
6. Possibly the MOST important tip you'll read here today and if the only thing you take away; let it be this. If your inner voice who spoke of your body image was a human would you keep them around as a friend? Is your inner voice nice or nasty? If nasty, tell it you don't want it to stick around and be nice to yourself. Tell yourself nice things! Maybe put on a self-love meditation even get really serious about being in the space of acceptance and love.
In the past, I remember straining working out for hours a day to maintain this ideal figure that as I worked out more I needed to do more to keep.
I had personal trainers ✅
I had programmes✅
I worked out 6 days a week twice a day for hours which then turned to years✅
I did interval training✅
I did cardio✅
I hiked after work every day up mountains✅
I did HIIT✅
I did classes✅
I did crossfit✅
I meal prepped✅
I weighed my food✅
I avoided carbs✅
I measured my macros✅
I obsessed over calories✅
I restricted my calories✅
(If I was over by 1 calorie I'd beat myself up)
I only allowed for 1 "cheat" meal a week ✅
If I ate more I'd compensate with going harder and longer in my training
I was a fitness grammer✅
I was seen as being inspirational, healthy, motivational✅
I was unhealthy✅
I had orthorexia✅
This was my life which everything else had to revolve around. This was my top priority and my obsession.
What you see isn't always what you get. Most of the times it's far from it. A lot of fitness bloggers, vlogger, Instagrammers, and YouTubers will agree. They only show you what they want you to see. But behind the lense is an inner battle most times.
Do Yoga 1-4+hrs a day/week which is a lot but is due to the fact that I teach and also do my self-practise which I love ❤
Attend Zen Stretch Class at the Wellness Hub❤
Adventure every weekend wether hiking, water activities etc. ❤
I go to Tai Chi with Wayne and Emma of ITaiChi ❤
I go for walks in nature often❤
I meditate daily❤
I give gratitude often and think of things each day I'm thankful for❤
I eat foods that make my body smile which at the moment consist of mostly plant-based, macrobiotic wholefoods but I am not strict and listen to my body❤
I eat when hungry and stop when full❤
I don't see food as a digital number on a scale or energy value but base it on the energy it gives me, eating high or prana foods that sustain my lifestyle❤
If I feel like a treat I'll have one usually. Truthfully, I buy two per week and then maybe a meal also, if I don't feel like it I'll buy myself flowers❤
Now I am balanced and happy within. Loving yourself is the first step to loving others after all. I live a lifestyle that I love. It keeps me fit, keeps my mind well, my body well and my spirits high!
The thing is as young people we are always growing and our bodies naturally will change, it's an amazing thing that should be celebrated not shunned. Let's change our mindsets and spread the good vibes to all those around us by being the change! What new way of being will you incorporate into your life from now that celebrates your body as a temple? Let me know below.
Lots of love,
Check Charlotte out here: