I'm Trying To Love The Shape Of You
As I was growing up I was taught that real beauty lies within. This lesson was taught to me by my mother, who also happened to be the most physically beautiful woman I've ever met. Truly beautiful inside and out. A successful model in the 70s before having children, my mum exuded confidence, warmth, and radiance, especially when a camera was on her. I grew up around such beauty. The house was filled with beautiful women with super bodies, ex-models and best friends of my parents.
I did not inherit this naturalness in front of the camera or in my skin. I was always quite awkward when having my photo taken, and I was painfully shy as a child. I can't pinpoint the exact age that I stopped seeing beauty when I looked in the mirror, but it often feels like my whole life I battled with feelings of insecurity and under confidence. Body issues reared their ugly head when I was about 9 or 10 and plagued the teenage years. I have had years of therapy to beat certain negative mindsets, and to learn to love myself more, and I absolutely do. I still find it difficult to accept a compliment, would rather talk about other people's problems than my own and can sometimes revert into myself when feeling a bit low, but I have a new found confidence from my 20s and especially my 30s, since becoming a mummy myself, and feel more self-assured in who I am and what I believe.
But one thing that has never gone away is my critical view of my body. I know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and I meet people that radiate beauty & sunshine every day, even though they may not fit the "perfect" magazine look necessarily. I totally believe that real beauty lies within and you can be the most aesthetically pleasing person but if you are not nice too you will very quickly lose your looks. I know all this and yet I cannot apply it to myself. I see dimples, and cellulite and wrinkles & love handles. Skin imperfections, hair roots and a lazy eye. My mind immediately goes to criticise myself when I look in the mirror.
Taking part in the 'Warrior Woman' campaign for real beauty has highlighted one fundamental thing for me and that is to make me realise just how uncomfortable in my skin I still am, and how much I no longer want to be. Interestingly since the campaign friends have noted I seem happier. I think despite my criticism of myself, stepping out of my comfort zone and standing in my underwear, hating the pictures but accepting that this is me, and this is who I have to learn to love, has meant I do love myself that bit more.
Because once I stop criticising all the physical, I can see in my eyes that same little girl I know so well. I can see that shy girl and feel her vulnerabilities and it makes me feel responsible for loving her. Because if I can't why on earth should anyone else?
Being a part of the 'Warrior Woman' campaign has meant so much to me on so many levels. I met and bonded with some incredible women all helping lift and support each other. I stepped out of my comfort zone and managed to smile through the fear. But a true highlight for me was meeting an ultimate warrior woman. Lesha is an inspirational, uplifting beauty and mother of two small children, and when I met her on the day I had just had my shots taken and was feeling some mixed emotions and a heap of vulnerability. And then I heard her story and her journey with breast cancer. It's a funny thing as I remember seeing her across the room as she arrived and thought she looked so cool, a gorgeous little rock star with this fabulous short, funky hairstyle. I would never have imagined she was physically so unwell on first impressions. Her shining positivity was infectious and I sat there listening to her story and berating myself.
My body has given me my two children, it has given me 35 years of life. It has walked with me, cried with me and jumped up and down with excitement with me. How can I be so hard on a body that is working so hard for me? This woman's body is testing her and being tested right back with brutal rounds of chemo and operations, which I know all too well from watching my own mum battle with her body being riddled with cancer. So now, if I find myself thinking negatively about how I look, I remind myself of this, and the courage of this fierce superwoman. Because this is the body I have been given, and yes it might not be as smooth as I'd wish, or as flawless and airbrushed as I like, but it's given me life and my children. And for that, I'm truly grateful.