So a while ago one of my friends posted this picture on their facebook feed.
And it annoyed me. In fact it led to me ranting in the comments section of the picture (sorry Sarah!). It got me thinking about how much pressure we put on ourselves to look a certain way. To have an ‘ideal’ body type that changes depending on what is in fashion at the time. I remember when the Amazonian supermodels of the Cindy/Linda/Christy era gave way to the heroin chic waif look popularised by Kate Moss in the 90s. Almost overnight women were expected to go from curvaceous and healthy to skinny and pale. This has been happening for centuries, from the flappers in the 20s strapping down their breasts to fit in with the new fashion, to the corsetry and undergarments creating the hourglass shape of the Golden Age of Hollywood, it seems that through history body shapes have been cyclical. Well, for women anyway.
But back to this picture – I’ve seen it posted on a few newsfeeds in various different permutations. This upsets me, in fact it annoys me hugely. Because it perpetuates the hatred that women have for their bodies. Plus it’s all lies. Take the women in the top row – Heidi Montag – who probably has body dysmorphia given what she has put herself through. Keira Knightly – her body type is tall, slender and lean, she’s never going to be an hourglass shape. Then in the row below – the ‘old Hollywood’ actresses – who were all part of the Hollywood studio system which prescribed drugs to them to keep them compliant and their weight down. They were on speed to stay thin, and sleeping tablets to bring them down and all sorts of other stuff in between. I went to see Joan Collins live and she talked about how she was forever being told to lose weight and given all sorts of drugs daily. Marilyn and Elizabeth were known drug users and had their own self image issues.
When as women are we going to realise that there is not one perfect body type, there is only perfect for you? Everyone has a different genetic make up. Short of surgery there’s no way in hell I will ever be capable of the figures in the bottom row. I don’t have boobs, I barely have a waist and what ass I do have has been the result of lots of work in the gym. Should I be made to feel inferior because I’m genetically incapable of that ‘ideal’? Heidi in the top row has spent thousands on surgeries to try and make herself look like the bodies in the bottom row. Is it healthy that she should be made to feel her own body isn’t enough?
We need to start to accept ourselves as we are and see the beauty in everyone. Because everyone does have beauty within them. If you aren’t happy with where you are now and want to make changes to yourself then fine, do so, and recognise that if you are unhappy you are the person who holds the key to changing that. The responsibility lies with you. The blame lies with you. The ability to change lies with you. You are entirely capable of becoming the most amazing version of yourself and you absolutely deserve to. But you shouldn’t be made to feel you have to conform to some ‘ideal’ which changes on a whim. You should strive for your own personal vision of the best that you can be. Equally if you are relatively happy with where you are now, how much better could you be? How much healthier could you feel? How much stronger?
Which I guess in a roundabout way takes me to why I live the way I do – why I eat a certain way, why I make time for exercise. I do it because I want to challenge myself, to be a better version of me. To be stronger, and healthier and focused. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that in school PE lessons and I were not friends. I hated it, I forged notes and faked injuries to get out of it. I didn’t see the point, I hated team games and the competition of them. But then when I left school I found the gym, and I finally found an activity that I could enjoy, that I didn’t have to be part of a team to take part in. (I’m aware my lack of enjoyment of team games probably says something about my personality!) Then late last year I found a trainer who changed the way I trained and ate, and a training group who were supportive and fun and I really started to get results. And now I think everyone should have this, that everyone deserves the opportunity to put themselves first, and be the best version of themselves that they can be. A place where they can train, get nutrition advice, have support and crucially have fun doing it. So that when you feel tired and don’t want to train but go along and do it anyway because afterwards you feel great. Taking a moment in the day to treat yourself with love, which is something we are all guilty of neglecting to do, a lot of the time (but hey, that’s a whole other post).
So I’ve rambled on for longer than I intended. But I guess the takeaway from my musings is that you should aim for the stars, because you deserve to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Whatever that means to you.