But What if you can't love your body?
The time has come where the temperatures have gotten sooooo hot that I've found myself dragging out the short shorts, the shorts that would normally be reserved only for holidaying away from people I know.
My legs are on full show, they are deathly white, have anemic orange peel and stick together at the top when wearing a skirt. But I'm hot, and I'm passed caring. I'm overall pretty body confident. I shared a photo of my naked, scared, wobbly with a slight overhanging post baby belly on the Huffington Post, no filters, no airbrush, no strategic lighting, just raw and close up in all it's doughy glory.
I've got crooked, discoloured teeth and a bit of a hook on my nose. I'm going grey and my eye bags have bags BUT, I'm OK with all of that. It doesn't play on my mind, I don't hate it, I don't feel disconnect and resentful of my face. It's the only face I have and I'm excited to watch the transition of life play out on it.
I have learnt to accept almost all of my body, I'm not sure I could say I love it all, but I have certainly learnt to respect it and to accept it. This wasn't an overnight job, this was about starting from even the most basic start......to actually LOOK at my body, not just the muffin top caused by a waist band or crows feet caused by (what I now know to be a privilege) aging. Acceptance takes time and patience, we are all ALWAYS a work in progress, the key word is progress, no mater the speed, progress is progress, we are moving towards acceptance, not remaining stuck in our overly self-critical judgment of our human form.
But what if there was one part of your body that you feel you could NEVER connect with?
Babe, I GET it.
My boobs have never felt like my own. They felt like an add on to my body. I was totally disconnected from them, I rejected them, I was disgusted by them. They were big and saggy, and heavy and cumbersome. I was constantly aware of their pendulous mass, and so was everyone else.
My saggy, milky orbs had become my trademark and the butt of every joke. I laughed along, but I hated the fact that they had become an identity their own along side me, I hated that that was all people first saw, and I HATED the way men thought it OK to comment and make underhand pervy comments.
In short, I truly hated my boobs.
The hatred didn't come over time, it came as soon as the boobs did. A hatred so strong that thinking back I think it may have been one of the reasons that I wouldn't even consider breastfeeding. I had no connection to them, I didn't want them to become the focal point of motherhood.
Aside from the physical disgust, the practicalities of having big knockers is a daily grind. Having the choice of wearing clothes that hang off me giving the impression that I'm eternally 9 months pregnant, or wearing figure hugging clothes to prove that I have a waist but that will draw even more attention to my most hated body part. Having to pay a kings ransom for an ugly looking, heavily structured and overpriced bra felt unfair when others got the pick of the crop at half the price. Strapless bras are a no go and sports bras just don't have the support.
At 44 I decided enough was enough and I had a breast reduction. I share more about what that meant for me mentally in my previous blog post 'I Can Embrace Everything Except My Tits'.
'Why would I cut off my breasts for what is essentially vanity? What about all the women who have to go through mastectomy’s without choice? Could I be so flippant and disrespectful to my incredible (and thank God healthy) boobs, to unnecessarily leave them discarded on the surgeons table?
Why try to fix it when it ain’t broke, right?
And this is where I’m stuck. Between being able to ‘put them right’ and the total disregard for how bloody lucky I am to have them.'
Next week (31st July 2018) I'm part of a panel of women for a show on Radio 5 Live talking about the huge rise in breast surgery. I'll be talking about how while it may be sometimes be brought on by the media's representation of what boobs should look like, my situation wasn't one for social acceptance, it was for my own acceptance.
Not all body image issues are brought on by what we're made to believe our bodies should look like, some go far deeper than that, sometimes the disconnect and detachment from our bodies, or parts of our bodies can't just be fixed by having permission from others to just bare all.
I've bared A LOT. A lot of my body and a lot of my shame ridden life stories, but, I would NEVER have shared, my boobs. Over time, if I had done some work around it I may have accepted them, and I may not have resorted to a pretty big (and costly) surgery, which is why for the month of August the topic of our This Girl Is Enough Members Lounge will focus on learning to accept our body and connect with even the parts that feel totally disconnected.
We will work on LOOKING at our bodies, learn how to RESPECT our bodies (since respecting my body I've lost almost a stone while still eating cake), we will slowly start to accept our bodies.......and maybe, with work, love our bodies.
How do you feel about your body image?
Do you feel pressure from the media to look a certain way?
Are you scared of aging?
Have you had any cosmetic surgery?
Join the conversation.