I’ve briefly mentioned this subject a few times on my blog and social media channels, but I don’t think I’ve committed or even allowed myself to go into further detail. As someone who has always struggled with weight gain and body image, I never thought I would be sitting here writing this post. But here I am.
Let’s start with giving you a little bit of history. Up until the age of about 11, I was the scrawniest little child. I had a terrible obsession with being extremely careful of what I put in my mouth and was constantly active. From 3-hour dancing lessons to full days of ice-skating every weekend – I’m surprised I never became a professional athlete. But now here we are. Thanks to a combination of the contraceptive pill, moving away to uni with no idea what to cook, and simply caring less – I have put on weight. I started putting on weight in 2010 and have continued to accrue the pounds ever since.
As I’m sat here writing this, I’m beginning to realise that this post isn’t what I thought it was going to be. I wanted to write about being body-positive and not caring what you look like, but two paragraphs in and I realised that I still do. I still care about what I look like. I still have days full of self-loathing, wishing that I looked different and constantly comparing myself to others. This is when I decided that things needed to change.
I’m lucky enough to work in an industry where fellow colleagues have become my friends. I am constantly inspired by the work I see my friends doing and how quickly I see others progressing. Yet, I also have moments of envy. There are so many things that I want to wear, do or say but feel that the way I look and these ideas that I have just don’t correlate.
We see so many women on social media with perfect bodies and perfect lives that we idolise and constantly compare ourselves to. We also see those who embrace body-positivity no matter what their size, race or gender whom we praise and shower with love for standing up for what they believe in. But I don’t fit into either of those categories.
I wish it was as simple as saying “you know what? No more self-loathing. I am going to love my body and love who I am” because I know that deep down I would still have all these issues. I have suffered terribly from anxiety and depression for the last 3 years, including episodes of self-harm, alcohol abuse and tiresome panic attacks. It was only when I realised that I was doing more harm than good to myself, that I decided to quit my job. I realised that although I love the work that I do – I needed to take time out for myself.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to go on a social media hiatus, completely stop working or become an absolute gym junkie – but I am going to spend a few hours a day working on what makes me happy. Whether that means waking up and exercising, spending time with friends, speaking to a therapist, or working on new content, I don’t know. I’m going to take each day as it comes.
Something that I have started doing, however, is looking in the mirror every morning, standing in my underwear and saying “I love myself”. That may sound weird to some people, but I am learning that self-love is incredibly important to body image.
I am taking slow steps to help me overcome my body image issues, in a quest to become a healthier and happier version of me. Taking time to unfollow certain accounts on Instagram, or not allowing myself to be sucked in by media talk of the next fad diet or which celeb has dropped 4 dress sizes has certainly helped. It’s all well and good seeing famous Instagrammers discussing body image and preaching about self-care, but the people who are opening up about their flaws are the ones who also allow negative thoughts for a number of others. And, for many of us, maintaining a positive body image is easier said than done. Positive body image is all about readjusting our thought processes over time, and it isn’t going to happen instantly. It all comes down to practice and taking action, so this is what I plan to do.
I’m in no way a therapist, an expert or any kind of body-image guru – but if anyone else feels the same and wants to reach out to talk through their issues, then my inbox is always open.
Love, Aysh x