Editor’s note: This piece comes to us from our newest contributor half a world away, Madeline, in Tasmania, Australia. Read her full bio here.
With so much importance placed on appearance and beauty, it’s no surprise that so many young women and men struggle with body image issues. I’m no stranger to being full to the brim with self-hatred relating to my bodyweight. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror at eighteen, staring down at my bulging stomach and dimpled thighs, trying to imagine myself as anyone but the person I was.
The media is continually bombarding us with unrealistic images of women and men, and it’s self-destructive to even consider comparing ourselves to models in the magazines. We’re constantly under pressure to be thin and fit the socially constructed standards of beauty. If we don’t fit then we aren’t considered ‘beautiful’. This pressure was what fuelled my determination to lose weight and become healthy to evolve into an obsessive fixation with becoming thin and beautiful. I possessed an unhealthy, negative body image and a list of insecurities far too long to count. I felt as though the number on the scale defined me, that it was a calculation of my worth as a person.
What originally began as cutting out junk food, quickly turned into me eliminating bread and cheese, and nuts and avocados. I spent days crying when I didn’t lose weight and became addicted to searching ‘thinspo’ tags on social media. I only talked about was weight loss, and I didn’t even notice it. Friends were probably rolling their eyes and my family, who were always extremely supportive, was becoming visibly annoyed with my constant weight loss talk. I didn’t realise what was happening to me.
I reached a breaking point in November 2013. I stood on the scale, crying over the fact that I had lost one pound. Really?
After talking through everything with my mother, I decided that things needed to change. I spent a week being spontaneous: I tried new things (such as fencing and square dancing), ate chocolate, went out dancing with my friends and even had my first kiss. But this was a tough transition to make. I had to reaffirm with myself what was important: be thin, obsessive and unhappy, or be healthy and free. That was an easy decision, but it was hard making that change. Yet, for the first time in a year I was actually living, and that feeling, that sense of freedom, was intoxicating. I needed to love myself for who I was, not lose myself in a quest for vanity.
This experience taught me a lot. It taught me that defining yourself based on your weight can cause a war inside your head, because what you are doing is believing that your body is a projection of who you are. Your bodyweight is no reflection of how you enjoy life, your strength or your worth. I’ve lost enough weight that it is quite noticeable, but I still have the same number of friends and I’m still doing the same things. I didn’t become smarter or have a better relationship with my family. I’m still the same person.
What is important is the need to stop equating ‘beauty’ with ‘skinny’, and ‘ugly’ with ‘fat’. We need to unlearn these socially constructed idealisations of what is beautiful and not let society define us. You need to remember that you are a person with a mind, soul, heart and a personality to die for. It takes a lot of hard work to stop comparing our bodies to the false images in the magazines, but it’s the key to being body positive.
And, if you still don’t believe that your weight doesn’t define you, watch this video:Tags: body acceptance, body image, body love, body pos, body positive, body positivity, Riots not Diets, self love, Weight, weight lose