This is a blog that I have been telling my subscribers has been coming for a while, but I've been really struggling to write it.
My concern is that I am aware I do not look at things in a way that is always healthy when it comes to my body and I don't want this to come across as negative or give out the wrong message.
However, I can only be honest because the whole point of this blog and Happy Thoughts Academy is to encourage anyone and everyone to openly discuss how they feel and to not discredit anyone's thoughts or make them feel invalid. I don't want anyone to feel like they're on their own and if I feel this way then surely others do too.
So with this is mind I am going to be as fairly balanced as I can be and try and to discuss both sides of the coin, but if you get a very confused vibe from reading this blog then you know that you are basically taking a journey through my mind on the subject!
So here we go body image. To give you a bit of background of where I'm coming from. I'm 5ft 1 (and a quarter!) which doesn't leave much room for weight gain without it showing. I have danced since the age of 2 and after completing my A-levels (fall back to keep the parents happy- great idea though) I decided to train professionally.
I was a size 8/10. I've always had a slightly larger behind but I've come to terms with that (thanks JLO!).
I wasn't big in normal life terms, but in dancer terms I was HUGE! Basically what was the point in me putting all that effort into my training because I was too big to be considered. Every day I was told you're talented but you need to loose weight. You're too fat. My personal favourite that plays over and over in my mind at night and still in dreams...you need to go on a diet of baby food and lettuce leaves.
I obviously struggled with this as did many of my colleagues and I was surrounded by various eating disorders to varying degrees. The extreme being those that had to take time off because they couldn't climb the stairs into the building without the risk of a heart attack from how small and weak they'd gotten.
I recall one day, on the week that a girl had finally returned to college, still not well but recovering. We had a mini singing showcase in the studio. Huge encouragement from our singing teacher, you could see how proud he was as he saw each group come to light with their chosen pieces. After each group had performed he offered them a fruit boiled sweet from the bowl. The principal's booming words came across "Eating's cheating" Now he meant it in a jokey (but slightly serious) manner, but the whole school just breathed in and tried not to look at this girl who had just managed to return from such a serious time away and we all just couldn't believe his attitude and ignorance at the situation.
The sad thing is, that is the industry. It's all about the look. Yes it's about the talent, but when everyone is of the same standard it comes down to the look, the aesthetics. Quite frankly in auditions it could come down to the length or your eyelashes. Even once you get a role and put yourself on the stage, you open yourself up to all kinds of abuse from those around you, which we can all experience to a degree through social media and posting pictures etc.
As human beings our appearance is called into account everyday and changes how people treat us but this was the extreme.
I still use food as a weapon, as a punishment, I have so much guilt and shame around it all. Food makes me so happy and yet so sad at the same time. I told you my mind is a confused place! Moving on from this, after personal experiences and through my own mental illness struggles, I ended up in therapy. I discovered that I have an issue with extremely low self-esteem. It's something I still struggle with. Those around me will notice on certain days my make-up is minimal and on others I have lashes and lippy on as if I'm ready to walk on the stage. It stems from just not feeling good enough as who I am.
I genuinely feel sorry for the people around me having to look at my face.
Whether it's opposite a desk or students in a class, if i notice anyone looking at me for too long I feel them checking off everything that is wrong with me.
Why am I telling you all of this? What's that got to do with anything? Because I already felt like this before and now I've put even more weight on. I've now 4 stone overweight according to my BMI on a 5ft 1 (and a quarter!) frame. I physically hate the mirror and am scared for the lockdown to be lifted and for everyone to see this new me, that is even worse than what it was before, which i already hated in the first place!
This is where the rational, compassionate part of my brain starts back with the argument.
Why does it matter? Are you healthy? Does it make you a bad person? You're going through a pandemic you need to keep yourself smiling however you can.
I watched a wonderful talk and have listened to some great podcasts about Diet Culture. I'd never heard the term before but what an incredible way of explaining it. We can become so consumed with the number on the scales, the number on our clothes, the number of weights we can lift, the number of miles we can run. It all becomes this constant competition with the world and ourselves rather than being present and be in the body that we live in with pure gratitude that this vessel is what we are having our human experience in. Without it we simply wouldn't be here.
Lets re-evaluate why we are doing it? Is it for us, is it for the world? Is it for diet culture? Is it for our health?
Let's question the voice in our head that tells us we aren't what we should be and turn it on it's head! Why are we fabulous?
Below is a Figure 1 that shows the damaged self esteem voice that is my go to voice
Now let's say goodbye negative and switch on my cheerleader voice that says
Let's switch the mindset and have a look at figure 2
Why not have a go yourself and Right click the image below to print out your own silhouette image and label all of your fabulousness.
Along with the change in mindset I'm going to start using Positive Affirmations in the morning and the evening. You can choose your own but here's a few ideas:
I choose to be happy and love myself today
I am worthy
I am talented and intelligent
I am in love with myself and my body
I am proud of myself
This may not completely overhaul how I feel straight away but it will be a step in the right direction. I think the key thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Compassion starts at home and if you wouldn't say it to your best friend don't say it to yourself.
As Ru always says...