by, Ashleigh Mitchell
Today’s beauty standards mean I have considered dropping a dress size…
Ok, that’s a lie.
I obsess about dropping a dress size, but it’s not because I hate the way I look. It’s because I worry everybody else in our society doesn’t deem me acceptable at my current weight. The hard thing is, this isn’t about the health aspect, it’s all about the image. The pressure to look a certain way, to fit in with and “Keep up with the Kardashians” so to speak, is getting to me. I’ve lived in this body for almost 31 years. I’ve been smaller than I am now and I’ve been bigger. But if I’m being honest, I obsess about a smaller sized body and I know that the amount of time I spend worrying about it is not for the right reasons.
I live in one of the best countries in the world and I’m in a loving, healthy relationship. Right now is the happiest I’ve been in life, except for this one area. I keep thinking that I’m going to have to lose weight in order to avoid a confrontation or an insult. I don’t know from who; it’s not a rational fear. I do spend time at the pool or the beach wearing a bikini, without repercussions; no one recoiling in disgust and horror however, I’m still waiting for it to happen.
Overall, I embrace the person I am – my personality, quirks and what I stand for, so why not the package it comes in? I feel like just because my thighs touch and my belly is a bit wobbly, that I’m undesirable and not good enough. What’s even more f***ed up, is that the package I think I should be presenting to gain approval, is a manufactured one. It’s airbrushed and good lighting. It’s starvation and fear.
What am I hoping comes from me losing weight? A weight lifted from my mind, a freedom from anxiety? Will things seem less daunting and intimidating to me if I weigh less? Will I feel less insecure and unsure of my ability to do things that seem overwhelming to me, just because I’m smaller? When I was smaller, I was still insecure. Things didn’t come easier, in fact, I was told I was too skinny! I can’t win! Being skinny didn’t cure my misery, it didn’t fix my abusive relationship or make the toxic people in my life disappear. Yet, I keep thinking that something magical will happen if I lose weight, like all my shit would suddenly be together because I was skinny. It would all be different this time.
I imagine feeling confident enough to parade around in expensive MATCHING underwear, full of smiles, self-approval and oozing sex appeal. Why is that only a possibility to me if I lose weight? Why can’t I do those things now? It’s because of the voices in my head. The ones that tell me I am lacking, I am not good enough.
If I’m being honest, I want to achieve a big “wow” moment from my partner. You know what I’m talking about – where he’s lost for words and his eyes are popping out (have we not all dreamed of this moment?) I’m positive he loves me just the way I am, but I want him to be FLOORED by me. Is it ridiculous (and insulting to him) to think that dropping a size will achieve this moment? Yes. What if it didn’t? What if I found out he REALLY does love me just the way I am, and a smaller body did nothing to change that? Or maybe even made him like me a little less, because I was now “too skinny?” If it did give me that “high” from seeing him admire me, would my life be complete or would I be off seeking then next wow moment?
How would I achieve this perfect body to get my wow moment? Only a lot of working out, restricted diets, coupled with some airbrushing and good lighting would give me the desired end result. The truth is, I don’t WANT to spend hours upon hours in the gym, I don’t WANT to weigh out my food and I don’t WANT to obsess about how my body looks to other people.
I want to become accepting of my body. To be free from this inner turmoil. To love me just as I am. I want to be healthy and have that be the important thing. I want to enjoy life. Eat delicious food, enjoy good wine and do it all without the guilt that comes immediately after. That voice telling me again that I did it wrong. I ate TOO much, went too far off track, am bad and now will have to pay the price.
I see article after article about women accepting their bodies just as they are, big, small, flabby, whatever. I wonder why I can’t feel like that. Why I’m plagued with insecurity and spend a lot of my waking hours worrying about this? Am I a failure if I don’t lose any weight? Am I not achieving my true potential by being heavier? Is it something I should even be striving for? Can I give up this obsession to shrink my body?
Deep down I know the answers to all of these ridiculous but real questions. I shouldn’t care what people think and I don’t need approval from anybody that I’m ok as I am. I know that’s for me to decide. The energy I waste thinking about this is insane!
So, I’m writing this to show I’m working to make a change. I’ve taken steps to stop my inner battle, with some days easier than others. I’ve started to train with a PT and make lifestyle changes, which focus on my health, rather than my weight/size. I’m working to thoroughly enjoy a drink or chocolate, without the guilt. I’ve found these changes are making a huge difference; completely shifting my focus to how I’m feeling, rather than how I look. I still have off days, but I notice they directly relate to exercise and diet. The days when I over indulge or self-sabotage, I feel defeated and my body doesn’t feel good. The days I eat well and exercise, are great days, so I try to use that as motivation to continue.
The reward I get is freedom from the vile voices in my head. I have learned that even my trainer has his off days, it’s all about balance and taking it one day at a time. One day at a time, and each day is getting me closer to loving my strong body, relishing in the joys of life and being kind to me.
Because I matter.
Ashleigh Mitchell started blogging last year, to fill the time while unemployed. She lives in Australia and loves the ocean, Netflix and Pirates!