For as long as I can recall, I have based my self-worth on two things: the number on the scales and my dress size. When I was growing up, I was bullied and one moment in year 7 has always stuck with me and that was when a friend at the time pulled me aside to tell me: ‘I spoke to my mum about your size and she said she thinks you’re overweight.’
Granted, I wasn’t the slimmest of girls in primary school but this unsolicited had a lasting impact on me and it still haunts me when I look at myself. I weigh the same now as I did then yet no matter how much I weight, I am never content. I have spent years not liking my body or myself and it’s all based on how I look.
I get tunnel vision when I think of what I am worth and deserving of and I can tell you it has seldom been about who I am as person, my strengths oe weaknesses, my skills or personality. I don’t consider myself to be a vein person, in fact, I am very much a tomboy. I’m at home in a pair of jeans with a tee yet the metrics I use to measure my self-worth has never reflected this. I use my appearance and weight as my metric.
Even if I receive a compliment, I don’t often believe it. I have many days where I look in the mirror and don’t feel content with how I look. In the past 12 months, I have gained 8 or so kilograms which has pushed my weight from 47 kilograms to 55 kilograms.
For a girl who has spent over a decade counting calories, sometimes over exercising and constantly using will power to resist ‘bad’ foods, I have found myself at a loss. I feel like I have lost control and I even attempted to stick to Keto for a few weeks and well, that didn’t last. I was looking for a quick fix to get me back to my former self.
I can still fit into some size 6 clothes but I’ve gained a few inches around my waistline and over my body. As women, society constructs an image of how we should look if we want to be considered beautiful or to be desirable. It’s about external features rather than who we are as individuals. I’ve always believed that beauty is more than just skin deep, it’s the complete package yet when I look at myself and how I feel, I just focus on my appearance.
Looking at my health and well-being has been a challenging part of my self-growth journey and each day brings its own challenges. I went to a dietician recently and she gave me some brilliant advice and opened up a whole new world for me – the world where it’s okay to say no to the diet culture. For many years, I would restrict what I would eat and be depriving myself of foods even when I wanted them – all for the purpose of maintaining a figure. The dietician imparted a few things which resonated with me:
- View foods as neutral, there isn’t such a thing as bad and good – get rid of the labels.
- Don’t buy into the diet culture, the failure rate is around 95%
- Your ideal body weight is the weight you are when you are eating the foods you want and not being caught up in the restrictive (binge) eating cycle
Our one hour appointment made me realise how I have been neglecting myself and using up precious energy on constantly counting calories and flexing my will power muscle. While there are some foods I don’t enjoy eating, it has made me realise that it is important to listen to your body and love it. Why not enjoy how your body looks as you’ll never be this age again? Too often we miss the moment because we are living in the past or future. I know I have caught myself saying ‘I’ll get back into shape or looking like I used to’ but perhaps I won’t and I will need to accept that.
For now, all I can do is learn to accept myself how I am, appreciate my qualities both internal and external and try to live a life according to my values rather. When it’s all over, I doubt I’ll be using my last breath to complain about my body size.
I hope that whoever reads this realises that you are a deeply beautiful and special individual who is worthy of love both receiving and giving. Be all you can be, aim for progress rather than perfection and be brave enough to look in the mirror and smile. Love yourself and be kind.