I am not without my (abundance of) flaws, although I’ve recently decided to embrace them and, in doing so, embrace myself; I am, in a word, flawesome. I’ve mentioned before how I have stretch marks running riot up my inner thighs; a cascading, tiger-stripe reminder of the time I spent a year at Uni overindulging in wheat-based delicacies (read: pasta) and cocoa-based treats (read: family size bags of Minstrels, Maltesers et al). I have a protruding paunch of immovable fat below my belly button – a purposeless kangaroo pouch of sorts – that won’t budge, despite me regularly engaging my ‘lower core’ as I reach for the biscuits on my bedside drawer, and then return them from whence they came, and then reach for them once more. I, too, stare in the bathroom mirror and exhale, despairingly examining the many lumps and bumps of my body, berating my total disdain for exercise (namely squatting), before loudly exclaiming ‘FUCK IT!’ and marching my lumpy backside downstairs to make a hot chocolate (with milk, cream, marshmallows and sprinkles, obvz). I really quite like my boobs, they are small and they usually spend their days unsupported (aka living the upper ventral region dream), although closer inspection of my chest area leads me to conclude that they sit absurdly low on my body. My boyfriend has seconded this astute observation, followed quickly by a boob honk. I haven’t always thought kindly of my boobs; I spent my formative years praying I’d one day be able to afford a boob job. Retrospectively, I’m so glad I never had the cash. The cellulite adorning my ass and the back of my legs could keep the treacherous Daily Mail afloat for a solid year; I can practically see the headline already: “Make-up free Daisy Keens cuts a lonely, and curvy, figure on the beach!” which loosely translates to “Ugly and lonely Daisy Keens has gained weight and yet still has the audacity to frequent a beach. A FUCKING BEACH, OF ALL PLACES! Has the fat cow gone INSANE?!”.
And I imagine the comments section would look a little something like this:
GrossPerson01: I’d still let her wrap those legs around my head. (my response: In your dreams, m8!)
GrosserPerson02: Cheese-grater thighs. Really not nice. (my response: Mmm, cheese.)
GrossestPerson03: Don’t people like her have a personal trainer? You’d think she’d put her money to good use and sort that bod out. (my response: ALL MY MONEY WENT ON THIS SWIMSUIT, YOU CLUELESS ASSHOLE.)
My point is, it sometimes takes someone openly embracing their body – exactly as it is, metaphorically, societally-imposed warts and all – for you to feel empowered to do the same. This very thing happened to me recently (very recently; yesterday, in fact) when reading this post by Gracie Francesca. Gracie is all about PMA and body positivity, and this particular post is a sort of love letter to her boobs. After spending so much of her life lamenting her boobs, Gracie’s decided to embrace them and love them. It struck a chord because, although I myself am a member of the committee of the Itty Bitty Titty variety, I have so many friends who have spent too long sorrowful over the exact same sentiment (they beat one’s breast over one’s breast, if you will), among a myriad of other body hang-ups. I’ve fallen victim to the Body Image Monster, too: self-loathing and skinny clothing in one hand, happiness and Heinz in the other.
And it’s understandable – I get it – we exist in a society driven by a media that perpetuates this absurd idea of ‘perfection’ and body image that is wildly unobtainable – not to mention, largely unrealistic – and, most notably, shouldn’t be something we’re all striving towards *anyways*. The pressure is immense and intense. ‘Thinspo’ is a thing. ‘Thigh-gap’ had its moment, before being unceremoniously knocked off the bizarre top-spot by ‘thigh-brow’ (I can’t even). Instagram is breeding ground of the tanned and gorgeous. One scroll through a bustling feed of fitspo accounts can sending me running up the hill; not due to the impulsive need to exercise, but because that’s where my local chippy is. It’s true what they say: comparison is the thief of joy. I have lady lumps, sure, but they are not on my chest nor on my ass; they are furnishing my thighs. I am toned… eaf. Oh, my bad, I meant tone deaf. I’ve broken down over the state of my body more times that I can count. I have wallowed in the scandalously brightly-lit dressing rooms of many a Topshop, woefully examining the array of new-found bodily ‘furnishings’, debating whether to ditch the bag of Millie’s cookies, leaving them for a skinnier soul to feast on (I mean, you’d think they’d make their lighting a *little more* complimentary; I’m not asking for a Hollister-stylé black-out, but c’mon!). I’ve looked down during the throes of passion and wished I hadn’t thrown calorific caution to the wind and duck pancake roll into my mouth. I’ve spent a day in a constant state of inhalation, having concluded that my jersey midi skirt looks best accessorised with a marginally flat stomach. I’ve examined the shape of my ass in every mirror in the house, making note of which one makes it look derrierelectable (see what I did there?) and ensuring all nudes are sent via the reflection in said mirror. I’ve done ALL THESE THINGS whilst being incredibly aware that I am the owner of a body shape, and colour, that is largely considered ‘ideal’ by the media. Our bodies vary, but insecurities run riot through each and every one of us. I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve cut out chocolate. I’ve cut out bread. I’ve cut out food. And now, I’ve cut out cutting-out. We are all participants in this nonsensical cycle of self-loathing. Hating yourself is about the most exhausting and pointless exercise us humans can participate in. And we do! We participate in self-hate ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. It’s senseless. It’s damaging. It’s counter-productive. A little self-love goes a long way. A lot of self-love can send you to the STARS! (Not proven, don’t quote me on that.)
Now I’m going to leave you with the incredibly wise words of Gracie herself:
You don’t have to always change the outside, sometimes you just need to change your mind.