Well ladies, and maybe even some of you gentlemen too for that matter, and boys and girls of varying ages everywhere….if you are anything like I use to be, and maybe still am a little bit or actually a lot at times, then the words that come immediately to mind are fat, ugly, overweight and simply not good enough for one reason or another! Imperfect, flawed, not as good as all those other beautiful people out there in the big wide world or even in our more immediate much smaller and familiar world. At some stage in my life I have felt each of these things, sometimes separately and sometimes all at the same time.
In fact through most stages of my life I have felt fat but not necessarily because I was actually fat or overweight at the time. I got married on my 22nd birthday, which was almost a couple of years after the birth of my first child, but not quite. My wedding day was a wonderful occasion where I pretty much walked on air all day. I ate little, danced a lot, talked a lot, smoked a lot, and mingled well with the guests as any good bride should do. I was told I looked like a Princess that day, and in truth I felt like one on that special day! I was a small size 10 weighing in at a svelte 7 and a half stone. My collar bones were well defined, some would say maybe a bit too boney for their liking perhaps but I knew on that day I was slim. I had dropped a few pounds for my wedding. I am certain I felt beautiful on that day but then it was my wedding day, and I was marrying the love of my life. An earlier occasion of feeling aware of feeling fat was at age 14 when I had to have a size 12 school skirt. My oh my did I feel fat on that day! This was just one of many times over the years where I felt this way! I was told that maybe I was big boned. Big boned, I mean really? I was a size 12 for goodness sake, which I think is about a size 8 in the United States, so not actually that big at all really. The things we are told, and the things we go on to believe pave the way.
Later at age 26 I felt like fat when I was 8 and a half stone. Really? Yes, really! By this age I was mother to two young sons. I have never felt what it is like to be the perfect weight because whatever weight I was/am I have considered myself fat and just not thin enough. I have been on every diet known to womankind in the quest for perfection and the perfect weight but it has always evaded me, at least in my mind. The mind is a mighty powerful thing! Our minds can work for us or against us. Perfection has never been part of my repertoire though I seem to strive for perfection in many things, and then when I fall short of what I think is perfect I berate myself, and feel disappointed with myself on a deep level. It has just been something that I chased on and off because I thought it was worth chasing! Is anything ever really perfect? My name is Liola and I am a self confessed yoyo dieter. There, I have said it, no more denial. I have poor body image and have always had poor body image, though at the time I never knew it had a label nor that I had it. I just did not like my body, it was too fat, my face because my jawline was too square, my hair, because it was dark and curly, in fact I just did not like much of myself at all as I never felt I measured up to what I thought I should look like or thought was beautiful. Recent years has seen the subject of body image raised in the media because of it’s links with mental health or rather it’s links to a deterioration in mental health in all manner of individuals. I never realised I had an issue per se as did n’t all girls/women dislike the way they looked, and wanted to look like someone other than themselves? Was ’t that normal? It seems not! It did not matter if anyone told me I was pretty or beautiful because I never really believed it. They were just saying it. I look back through photographs and find that I have cut myself out of my husband’s 22nd birthday photos. I had arranged a surprise party for him that year. It was a great party as I recall. Plenty of friends, and lots of laughter but for some reason, I cut myself out of all the photographs because I thought at the time I looked ugly. I look back at this behaviour, and feel saddened that my younger me, my 21 year old self should have felt the need to do such a thing! Over the years there have been many occasions where I declined an invitation here and there simply because I felt fat and ugly at the time. There have been other times when I have cut myself out of pictures or refused to be in them.
I think the media has a lot to answer for! They send out messages that say we should look a certain way, be thin, have straight hair, be blond if you want to have fun, have a little botox if we want to delay the signs of ageing. Ageing is natural! And yet, we are told to fight the signs of ageing as if it is some deadly disease! It is no wonder young girls of today (and boys too) feel so insecure in themselves and how they look. Society, advertising and tv have made us afraid to be our authentic selves implying that we are to be found weighed and measured, and found wanting.
Fast forward to now, I am overweight, I am not ugly, I am by no means perfect but I am me. I am learning to love myself now. I have a few wrinkles here and there, which are actually my storylines, and that is just fine! My once darkest brown/near black hair is silver/white and steel grey, and that is fine too! I am learning to love myself and be who I am, and not who someone else expects me to be. I was good enough, even though I never felt I was. I am good enough! I am me! I am enough as I am! These days its about being healthy and just feeling good about myself.
I hope that things will change and that we will teach young people to be true to themselves and not be what others say they should be. Young beautiful girls and boys do not need botox, fillers, fake boobs. collagen, filters or any of these things they are beautiful as they are. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
© Liola Lee 2019
This post only really touches the surface. I know there are many people who have far more severe body images issues than I have ever had. Again it’s all relative. The image shown is of me aged just 17. I was very insecure even then on how I looked. sometimes people can seem confident and happy but sometimes it is a mask. It’s been Mental Health Awareness week here in the UK. It’s great that people are now beginning to talk about these things. There was a time when there was a real stigma attached to discussing mental health.