I’ve always been pretty skinny and as a young girl in a country where people tend to admire those of a larger persuasion, this did not do much for much self esteem. For a long time I wished that I could be fuller and more voluptuous. Where were my huge breasts and hips!! Add to that my short hair, imperfect skin and HUGE glasses. I was often reminded of my imperfections in ways that were less than kosher. I never wanted any attention drawn to me and was often quite happy to fade peacefully and quietly into the background. It took me years to accept my body and to love who I saw reflected in the mirror. This journey began in my early 20’s but it really only fully culminated in my early 30’s (I’m still in my early 30’s).
I fully appreciate and love my body. I don’t aim to be more voluptuous (in fact I don’t want to; I love more of a svelte shape) and I even wear my hair short. What’s interesting is that I did start to put on a little weight at one point and then early this year I wrote myself a plan to ditch those extra pounds. Imagine trying to become the thing that you were teased for! The world is interesting eh? One of my colleagues told me I really needed to put on some weight as I had become too skinny. I am still the same size. Because this is where I want to be. And someone’s opinion of me won’t alter the view I have of myself. That’s a position of mental strength.
Well I guess the question on your mind is how does one go from a place of weak self image to one of strength. The country still likes those of a larger, more voluptuous persuasion so the dynamics of the environment have not changed significantly. The environment didn’t change; I changed. I changed my mindset and self view. I embraced me and all that was unique about me that I loved. I recognised that we are all different people with a combination of various attributes that define who we are. These are not limited to looks but extend to personality and the sheer energy we exude.
That may all sound very airy fairy like you don’t have something tangible to take away. So let me give you something a little more tangible. A positive self image isn’t only based on looks; it’s everything about you that makes you who you are. I began to appreciate myself more each time I conquered a situation where I initially felt uncomfortable. I realised I didn’t die and each step of the way I became stronger. I hated doing presentations in front of a room of people where all attention was on me so I did more of that. I wasn’t great at first, you could probably see my nervousness but I pressed on. I didn’t die! I hated asking questions in a room full of people – again attention and what if I said something stupid. So I did more of that. I didn’t die! Yes, I’ve had people laugh at me but guess what again, I didn’t die. Each step of doing something a little out of the norm for me helped me to embrace a little more of me.
On the looks front I realised I like the simple elegance my frame allowed. I like a modelesque look that’s toned and athletic. And as someone drawn to a Claire Underwood style it worked for me. I just had to ensure that my clothes were all well tailored to my body. Because I know what I like when people suggest changes that are not aligned I can easily dismiss them. I don’t want bigger breasts and I’m quite comfortable with my hips. I know who I am, I know what I like and I don’t try to be something different to please the masses. Reaching this point is the single, biggest step to being truly confident and having a healthy self-image. When you don’t know who you are or what you like you sway with the wind and the wind can crush you.
What I like may not be what you like and that’s fine; we are all unique individuals. On your fitness journey just remember to know who you are, know what you like, know where you are going and to embrace and love you at every stage.