I, for one, know all too well the struggle of coming to terms with your body image and weight.
Skinny is not a word that has ever been associated with me, not by anyone else, or by myself. I have always struggled with that, until I looked back at a photo of myself recently when I had lost a lot of weight and realised, I absolutely hated the way I looked.
If I hated the way I looked when I had lost weight, and I hate the way I look having put weight back on, what if I never found happiness with my body image?
A few years ago, I went on a health kick and I lost a huge amount of weight. I went to the gym almost every night, I ran and exercised at home when I wasn’t at the gym, I drank meal-replacement shakes instead of eating as I should. I followed ‘healthy’ accounts on Instagram and WeHeartIt, and I became obsessed with a body shape that, at the time, I didn’t realise I was never going to achieve because of the way I was built.
I realise, looking back now, that I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, at all. I kept losing weight, and cutting meals, and then I suddenly stopped.
I couldn’t afford my gym membership anymore, and that was the turning point. I stopped losing weight, stopped cutting meals, and I started to eat. I slowly began to regain the weight. I found that it yo-yo’d for a very long time, until I met my now ex-boyfriend and I began to quickly gain it all again. We loved eating out together, and it took its toll. I gained two stone in just over a year, and more than ever before, I hated the way I looked. Relationship weight is one hundred percent real, if you hadn’t realised!
I saw a full-body picture of myself after around nine months of us being together, a picture that I hadn’t taken, and I hated myself. I couldn’t stand to look at my body; I saw chubby thighs, and massive shoulders, and a stomach that made me want to be sick at the sight of it. I hated it all, and I hated myself.
My boyfriend quickly convinced me that I didn’t look the way I thought I did. I begrudgingly accepted it, but when we broke up, it hit me more than ever, that I had changed and hated the way I looked.
One day, I was scrolling back through my tagged photos and found a picture of myself during my weight loss stage, and my stomach sank – I was disgusted at the way I looked. I didn’t see chubby thighs or a huge stomach, but instead, I saw stick thin legs and a head that looked huge on top of my tiny body. I looked ridiculous, and I was mortified.
I had dreamt of being skinny again, but if I hated the way I looked back then, was I ever going to be happy with my body?
And it was in that moment that I decided that I needed to change my mindset. I began to accept the fact that I was never going to be happy skinny, and I was never going to be happy fat, but I instead needed to accept my body in all its glory, regardless of how much I weighed.
I am healthy, I function well, and I need to stop taking my body for granted. I began to surround myself with people who spread the message of a positive body image, in order to change the way I thought.
Gracie Francesca has always been such a big inspiration to me, in a number of different ways. I have followed her for as long as I can remember, and when I read her book on holiday last year, I found that I really related. She is not only an advocate for a positive body image, but she talks openly about her struggles with mental health, and I admire her in every, single, possible way..
Megan, also known as BodyPosiPanda, is also a huge advocate for a positive body image, and I adore and admire her strength in a huge way. She talks openly about her struggles and her journey, and has such a positive outlook at life generally. I find that if I am ever having a down day, I can watch one of her #DontHateTheShake videos – if you don’t know what these are, you need to watch because they will brighten your day, and I would highly recommend her most recent video with her sister – and I am instantly remotivated.
I am more aware now of the fact that my body is great, skinny or chubby – it’s been through so much and continues to go through hell most days, and each time, it comes out the other side and carries on the fight. My body is stronger now than ever before, and I am proud.
I may still learning, and I have days where I can barely look at myself in the mirror without wanting to cry, but my journey has only just begun and I am determined. I am on the right path, and I am being guided by women that are both beautiful and inspirational. Here’s to a better attitude to food, to a more positive body image, and to being happy with myself..
What tips would you give to someone struggling with their body image? Who do you find inspirational and motivational, and why?