The theme for this years Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image – something that I’ve struggled with all my life.
I’ve been bullied for the way I look throughout school: I’m fat, my boobs are too tiny, I have “thunder thighs”, my skin is too oily so I look sweaty, I look like a pig…
It’s been 10 years since I left school, but these are all things I can still here people saying whenever I look in a mirror.
I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever actually liked my body or wanted to show it off. Even in the height of summer when it’s 30+ degrees I’ll still wear trousers and a baggy T-shirt, rather than risk wearing shorts!
But I’m working on it.
Positive Self Talking
Every day when I get ready and start to hear those thoughts, I try to challenge them.
I look in the mirror and make myself find something I like about myself that day, that I then say out loud to my reflection.
My skin looks really clear. My hair is actually doing what I want it do for once. The new pair of jeans I picked up really suit me.
It doesn’t have to be something major, but highlighting at least one thing you like about yourself can help challenge the negative voices and is a great way to practice self love.
If the thoughts come back during the day, I’ll repeat that compliment to myself over and over again.
Just not usually out loud!
I’m not going to lie, there are some days I can’t find a single positive thing about myself.
Those are the days I have to just accept it’s going to be a bad mental health day and have a slow, self care based day.
Having A Social Media Shake Up
I don’t necessarily mean unfollowing people here, although that is something that can be really positive for your mental health.
I’m trying to be more mindful about the kind of content I see on my feeds, so I’m slowly switching out anything negative and following more positive and inspiring content; both around body image and in general.
Stop With The Self Deprecating Humours
This one is probably the hardest change I’m trying to make.
Self deprecating humour is how I survived all the years of bullying, and it’s a hard habit to break after nearly 20 years.
If I call myself fat/ugly/whatever before someone else can, they loose the chance to use it against me.
As Tyrion Lannister (who is basically my spirit animal) says; wear it like armour, and no one can hurt you with it.
But the thing is, saying those kinds of things about myself just adds to the negative self talk and feeds the voices in my head; which is why I’m trying to cut it out.
Being body positive in today’s world is tough!
The media is constantly telling us we need to look a certain way to be considered desirable, and let’s not forget the good old “is your body beach ready” slogan.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see society slowly changing to focus more on body positivity, self love and acceptance/representation of all body types!
But there is still such a long way to go.
Accepting and loving my body is something I think I’ll be working on for a long time, but I can’t wait to get to the point of confidently walking out of my door with a pair of shorts and a cropped T-shirt on!
Do you struggle with your body image? What advice would you give to other people?