After years of trying to fix my body with clothes, food and exercise, I'm starting to realise it isn't actually broken. But what the hell is wrong with my head?
"It's all just a business, darling. A booming business, investing in self-doubt"
Do Own Goals Count?
For me, my body has always been a source of angst. I've never hated it, never loved it - but never really liked it either. Over the years, I've often tried to change it; thinner, taller, lighter skinned, darker skinned, less hair, more hair, less weight, more tone - you get the picture. As someone who's spent the best part of 14 years working in brand and marketing, you'd think I'd be a little more Woke by now, that I'd get the real picture. That it's all just a business, darling. A booming business, investing in self-doubt and the desire to be one's very best self, when the goalposts for the very best you, seem to be constantly changing. Never satisfied.
"And there it is, right there. The big fat problem. And it isn't related to my thighs."
The Problem, Is Not My Thighs
Recently, this concept of being the 'best me', has started to rankle. It seems like everytime I cross a hurdle on the road to enlightenment, I'm simply faced with another one. Got the flat stomach you always craved? Time to obsess about your thighs. I don't know if its just me, but I'm starting to feel like I'm never going to get to the promised land. And there it is, right there. The big fat problem. And it isn't related to my thighs.
Speak The Truth, Sister
The truth is, we are all designing a version of ourselves, that is impossible to achieve. Because that version, is someone who will constantly satisfy us, who will always be enough; when being 'enough' and what that means, on an almost second by second basis to any one of us, is constantly evolving. The version of ourselves we need to be designing, is not the one we see mirrored in glossy monthly magazines or at glamorous Hollywood parties, but a real version of who we are, a Dove advert version with minimal air brushing and the acceptance that being different is a good thing. So when we strive for perfection, we truly strive to perfect ourselves, as we are; not simply place ourselves against an outside standard of perfection, an impossible measurement, an instant fail.
The Big Fat Problem Part II
And that, I know, is the big fat problem. That I will never be happy with myself, because I will never be Kate Moss. Which is pathetic, because my thighs may not not be the right size, length or colour to be Kate's, but they have carried me through 37 years of life, through 2 beautifully imperfect and chaotic pregnancies, a wedding, sickness, family woes, bouts of depression and utter elation; these thighs have seen some things, and for that they deserve to be worshipped. So when I say I will never love myself, that cannot be my story. It has to change, I have to learn. That to be me, is possible, acceptable. That the problem is not my thighs, but my head, and the rules and beliefs I have spent years stuffing into it, which need to be deprogrammed, discarded.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
What got me thinking about all of this was two things. Firstly, it was a friends double mastectomy as treatment for her breast cancer. She spoke to me of have her desire to live, and the beauty of her body in fighting for her life, made me realise how little I appreciate my own, how much I judge it, deride it. The shame I felt in knowing, with all I have been through, that it has not given up on me, when at times, I feel I have given up on it; made me want to live, really live. And secondly, two new and controversial television shows, created by streaming giants Netflix and Amazon. Insatiable and Dietland both deal with the idea of body confidence not as a gateway to happiness, but a cage in which we are permissably trapped, believing it will make us eternally happy. The fact that they have both been attacked for so called 'fat-shaming' is entirely missing the point, they are simply a reflection of our times, of the world we live in. What they do so powerfully and directly, is tell us that the piece of the puzzle we keep ignoring, is the biggest one of all. Why do we feel like this? Why do we allow ourselves to feel like this?
"We all need to aspire. Its human nature, to want to better ourselves, but it's taking the step towards understanding that bettering, is still about being you, flaws and all."
A Little Airbrushing, Please
So thats why I'm working on my head. And it doesn't mean I've stopped working on all of the rest of it, because frankly, going to the gym has given me a sense of empowerment in my own physicality, that I haven't felt in years, if in fact, ever. But I'm trying not to work towards emulating someone else, just the Dove advert version of me, a little airbrushed but still recognisable. We all need to aspire. Its human nature, to want to better ourselves, but it's taking the step towards understanding that bettering, is still about being you, flaws and all.
Have you ever felt that whatever you do to your body, there will always be one final thing to fix, one final flaw to erase before you are satisfied, before you can arrive at your destination and rest? But what if there is no rest, no final destination- just a treadmill that promises to get you somewhere, that doesn't even exist. Thats the ah-ha moment. Hold on to it. And do not, let, go.
You're ok, you know?