Saturday, 26 May 2012

Learning to love your body

Hello again wonderful readers, I hope this post finds you all well and warm. It is freezing cold here right now, and has been raining almost constantly for two days. I'm rugged up in my pyjama pants and a men's XL jumper as I type this as it's too cold to wear my normal blogging bikini. (I'll let you sit with that image for just a second)

The truth is I've worn a bikini once in my entire life, and even then I wore it under a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and I never let it see the light of day. I bought the bikini on a cruise ship (I can't remember why I needed a bathing suit, given that I should have packed beach suitable wear and that usually means togs), but only because none of the stores sold anything bigger than a two piece and I refuse to let that much skin show in public. This modesty was bought on more by the fact that I was a very curvy size 18 - 20 at the time than any sense of decency and I hated my body greatly at this time. I had actually gone on a diet in preparation for the cruise (my first and only attempt at dieting) which consisted of eating something like minestrone soup and very little else for several months. I lasted 3 days before the sugar withdrawals sent me crazy and my mum insisted I eat something else. I have battled for a long time with my body image, my first memories of hating my body being at about age 16. The funny thing is I look back at photos of myself at this time and there was nothing wrong with me. I was quite skinny and very pretty and could wear figure hugging clothes easily, but for some reason when I looked in the mirror all I could see was a fat person. I could kick myself knowing how much time I wasted wishing I was skinnier when the truth was I was healthy and perfectly fine exactly how I was. 

By the time I was 17 things had changed for me. I had stopped caring about myself since I thought I was so ugly so I put all kinds of nasty into my body. I used to drink 2 litres of coke a day and eat anything I felt like. I also did zero exercise and when I wasn't at school I was either sleeping or on the internet. And I felt huge. I probably wasn't more than a size 16 at the time but I might as well have been a size 22. I started wearing huge baggy clothing to hide my shape and hating myself even more. It went on and on like this for the next couple of years, I did the one minestrone diet which was a spectacular failure, but any other time I wanted to lose weight I'd walk to try and lose the flab. And it would work, until I got bored with walking or distracted by something else or winter came and then I'd stop. I joined gyms which was always a terrible waste of hundreds of dollars because I never had the motivation, and I hate exercising in public. I hated going clothes shopping because the dressing room mirrors were never gentle with my flaws and made my thighs look like chicken drumsticks. There was also the problem that I could never find any clothing in my size that I felt pretty in or that wasn't covered in huge floral prints. (Why do clothing designers think fat women want to look like walking flower beds?) I was miserable and felt powerless and hideous. None of my boyfriends could ever convince me that I was pretty or sexy or worthy of happiness, no matter how much they tried. 

I can look back at this part of my life and talk about it now as if it was such a long time ago, but I can't tell you exactly when I stopped hating my body. I think it was such a gradual thing I didn't even realise at the time what was happening. It probably started with accepting that this is the body I was given, and I really should be happy that I have a whole, fully functioning body that serves its purpose as it is meant to. Then I learned how to dress like I actually like myself and the confidence started coming back. Then I fell pregnant with Miss K and I couldn't hate the stretch marks or the lumps and bumps any more because they all served a greater purpose than all of my complaining combined. And after Miss K was born mum had her heart attack and a whole set of diet and lifestyle changes were brought on which helped us all gain healthier slightly smaller bodies. I think that really brought home the fact that I should be happy with what I have been given because there are so many more important things to think about than how I look in a bikini.

So I'm still not the perfect size, in fact I'm still classed as obese even though I don't feel it these days. But I'm truly happy with my body, as without it, I wouldn't have been able to have Miss K, and she is totally worth the stretch marks and bulgy tummy I carry around under my t-shirt these days.
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