Everywhere we look these days, we see images of beautiful women; in adverts, on social media, in music, on TV, in the papers, in our minds, all around us really. We can’t escape the ‘perfect’ woman. She stands above us, beautifulflawless and something so magical and unobtainable.
Most of us, me included, blame the fact that we don’t look like Victoria Secret models on genetics, as very few of us have legs that go up to our shoulders, perfectly symmetrical faces, glowing tans and perfect bodies, it’s sort of easier to accept that we just ‘weren’t designed like that’. As a child I was totally adorable, as a teen my looks were questionable and it was only when I entered my twenties that I began to establish myself, my figure and my confidence.
I now have what I would hope would be described as a ‘good’ body, I have a healthy BMI, am a good weight for my height and no longer roll (too much) over the waistband of my jeans. I’ve worked hard for it and have now settled at a size that I know some people would love to be.
But like most women in the country, I struggle with a mild case of body dysmorphia, in that when I look in the mirror, I see something much more unpleasant than what is actually there.
Now this hasn’t been diagnosed by anyone other than me, but I am convinced, that as a result of the crazy world that we live in now, to a certain degree, all women suffer with this affliction.
When I look in the mirror now I see a stomach that is much too big, arms that lack so much toning and a second chin even bigger than my first. But when I look at the facts, my clothes and pictures of me – it is clear to see that I am a way away from being overweight. So why do I spend so much time absolutely convinced that I’m a whale of a woman?
Well, I have a theory: In recent years the idea of being ‘fit not thin’ came about, a phenomenon that I initially loved, it was encouraging women to lose weight in a healthy and controlled way and it was something so inclusive, that we could all jump on board with.
But recently I have found myself totally overwhelmed. And here’s why:
I may well have a ‘good’ body now, with my clothes on. My cellulite and wobbly bits can be hidden away as and when I choose thanks to the genius that is clothing. Queue the echo of something my brother told me a few years ago: “Em you look so much better when you have clothes on…” He was referring to a beach holiday we’d just been on, and although this is a stinker of a sentence, he had a point.
When it was a question of being thin or fat, you could draw your conclusion fairly immediately upon meeting a person, they were either tiny in tiny clothes, or big, in bigger clothes. But now we’ve thrown ‘fit’ into the equation everything has changed, the lines have blurred and none of us know where we stand anymore.
When I have my clothes on, I could be anything. You don’t know what’s going on underneath here and that’s great, but it does open the door for a different battle entirely. Before, it was simply a question of being one or the other, but now the potential for self hate has spread beyond the scales, it’s now spread like poisoned ivy into inches, body fat measurements and visible toning, or lack thereof.
I now find myself looking at photos of my arms and being ashamed that there is not enough toning. For the first time I’m seeing women with six packs in the media and I’m jealous and angry that I don’t have one too.
Because before it really did feel like a question of genetics, I was never going to be a ‘thin’ person, I simply wasn’t built like that, but now? Anyone can get fit, anyone can tone up. So why haven’t I?
There is no excuse for me anymore. A few hours in the gym every day and in a month or so I could see a massive change. I have a beach holiday coming up in a few weeks and I’m already worried about the amount of fat there is on my body, in proportion to muscle.
And I’ve been battling with what to do about this for a while. I’ve got enough time before said holiday, ideally I’d just haul my ass to the gym and begin the journey of self improvement. But here I am, not sweaty, having not been to the gym, still not toned.
And there must be a reason for that. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, maybe I simply can’t be bothered, but maybe I’m making a subconscious decision here. Every now and then I have to say to my boyfriend: “how lucky are we?”, to serve as a reminder of the fabulous life that I live.
I have him, a wonderful house, a puppy that I adore, a job that makes me excited every day AND a beach holiday to look forward to. So maybe, for me, that is enough?
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t like carbohydrates as much as I do, I wouldn’t feel the need to drink wine with my friends, and I would have the motivation to go the gym every day. But I just don’t have the slightest inclination to do any of those things.
All I really want in this life is to be as happy as I can be, to have wonderful friends and to know that when my time comes that I have been a good, kind human being. And I’m not sure that when I get to the big pearly gates I’ll be reminding the bouncer of the fact that in my early twenties I had a cracking body.
No, I don’t look like a supermodel, and I don’t think I ever will. Because if I was going to look like one, I would by now.
I may well go to the gym tomorrow, I may well spend the next few weeks toning up as much as I can, but I probably won’t, because for me at least, my life gets in the way.
I hate that I am under so much pressure to better myself, that I feel inadequate and that everywhere I look there are beautiful and strong women shaming me by reminding me what could have been.
But I need to remind myself once again, what a wonderful life that I live and that there is so much more to me than my body. After-all, if I became too muscly, I’d worry that all the fun would be squeezed out of me to make room for my six pack, and where’s the joy in that?