Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and hated and despised what you see. Have you ever been physically sick at the sight of your body reflecting back at you.
Well I have.
Despite even getting down to frighteningly low weight and BMI I have always been convinced that I am over weight. I have far too much fat, stretch marks, bumpy bits, hair…. you name a body part and I can point out why I hate it.
It started very early on – early teens is when I first remember really looking to change my image. I would be restricting food, over plucking eyebrows, dying hair, shaving, waxing, wearing too much make up, I just wanted to look different and not like me. I have always been very tall (I am 5 foot 11) and skinny or slim so I am not entirely sure where this self hatred came from. I was nicknamed the ‘Lamp post’ and ‘stick insect’ at school, I was bullied for being tall, for wearing braces, having hairy legs, pretty much everything, so I do believe this had something to do with it.
Being told over and over again for years on end that you are not good enough, a disgrace, fat and disgusting takes its toll. Even if you begin by not believing it, it will eventually wear you down and you feel like you have no choice but to believe every single word. This is what anorexia does to me. She, Ana, as I have called her, is always there hiding in the background but sometimes she is so loud I cannot ignore her. It’s not a case of thinking positive and ignoring it or her and it’ll go away. I wish it was that easy.
I do also feel that the media has an awful lot to answer for when it comes to negative body image. I can’t blame the media and say it’s the reason I hate myself but it 100% makes it worse a lot of the time. I am not stupid, I know most images online and in magazines are filtered and airbrushed within an inch of their life but I still look and desperately want to look that ‘good’. Smooth skin, hair free, thick bouncy hair, tiny waist and a thigh gap! I get obsessed to the point where I start researching surgery or procedures I can have or buy to make me have what these beautiful perfect people have. Luckily I don;t have an awful lot of money so am not able – most of the time – to arrange these things. I does worry me sometimes that if I do come into some money I know for a fact I will be looking into these things a lot more and going ahead with them.
I am desperate to do therapy to improve my mental health and body image but unfortunately I keep coming up against so many barriers in the NHS which is so awful for me and my family. I do want to get better and I desperately want to look in the mirror and like or even one day love what I see! I can’t imagine at the moment that it will ever happen but I really want it too. I absolutely love Stacey Soloman. She is such a positive role model and I would love to have the confidence she has. I do try and put some of her tips from her latest book into practice which helps on my good days and I am thankful for that.
I think my my mental health and body image will always be a work in progress as it will unfortunately be for many people. Especially in the filtered and airbrushed world we live in but listening to those inspiring people who are going against all that or even seeing a therapist – if you can – will definitely help bring back a love for you and who you are. Inside and out.
I am a great believer in complimenting people. Whether you like their hair or the new shoes, tell them. It will honestly make them feel so good. I know it does with me.
Remember to always be kind to others, you never know what battles people might be facing.
Love Amy x