The other day, when trying on a series of potential outfits for a night out, I looked in the mirror and did a little twirl. I felt good. I looked good. At least for approximately a tenth of a second. My confidence in my own appearance was then abruptly bombarded with a rapid-fire series of hard 'truths'. Let me quickly run through just a few of those thoughts to give you an idea of what it's like for a woman looking at herself in a pretty dress;
- Jesus look at your hips one is higher than the other
- Your whole body is squint how is that possible?
- When did your hips get that weird shape? How do we change that?
- Your stomach is sticking out again. GREAT.
- Is that bloat or actual fat? PIG.
- This dress is hanging all wrong.
- Muffin top ALERT.
- Boobs are squint.
- Four boobs and back fat.
- Your legs are too skinny you look like you'll topple over.
- Too much cleavage you'll look loose
- Look at your daft face.
- ARE YOU INSANE TO EVEN CONSIDER GOING OUT IN PUBLIC IN THIS?
- GET THAT DRESS OFF IMMEDIATELY. BURN IT.
Fun eh?! There's just a snippet of just some of the nastiness that flew around my head in almost the same moment I considered myself vaguely attractive. I instantly felt despondent and resigned myself to wearing a bin bag with a bit of rope tied around the middle instead of ever considering a dress again. But not pulled too tight obviously; I'd only accentuate those lumpy bits. Actually sod it I'll just tie the rope round my neck and be done with it. I'm already in a bin bag so my gargantuan body would be relatively easy to dispose of.
Anyway, a few days passed and I was blessed to receive some random abuse online for "portraying an idealised view" of living with chronic illness. I was advised by this complete stranger that I'm "skinny" and needn't worry about my weight because my "disease does it" for me.
I instantly felt the confidence I'd lost in front of the mirror return with a vengeance.
I firstly felt angry though, because those comments reminded me that there are incredibly ignorant and rude people in the world who want to bring nothing but misery to strangers. STRANGERS. How utterly inane. It reverted me back to childhood and learning that when a boy is mean to you and pulls your ponytail it's because he really just wants to be your friend/girlfriend and doesn't know how to communicate those feelings yet. Online Neanderthals who bully and insult women by tapping nonsensical rubbish are nothing but idiotic little boys who have no idea who to approach a human being with anything other than bile and ingrained and incomprehensible hatred.
I don't understand it and can't (and won't) begin to try.
But I do think it's important not to ignore it. I responded to this particular prematurely ejaculated spurt of drivel, by posting a picture of my own "skinny" body and all it's imagined flaws. Not because I wanted to justify myself, but because I couldn't bear the thought of young, vulnerable women being subjected to cruelty simply because they have the courage to enjoy their lives, and love their bodies.
Have you any idea how heartbreaking it is when you are told you have an incurable illness? Imagine then, that same horror but as a child, or a blossoming young woman. It's difficult enough growing up and being told everything about your body is wrong, without that torture being compounded by an illness that will change your body beyond perhaps all recognition.
Nobody is perfect; we all say hurtful things about one another. But no BODY is perfect either: why should we strive for 'perfection' when everyone has an individual idea of what that is? How stupid!
I don't want a perfect body because I haven't got the first clue what that might entail. I just want to be happy. If that means I eat a cake or 5 then who the hell cares? I can't often eat and enjoy food as I'm generally in excruciating pain, vomiting or passing everything but my colon into the bathroom porcelain, so when I have the opportunity to get pleasure from food, I grab it like online trolls grab their penises when Pamela Anderson runs across the beach in Baywatch. (Or whatever kind of woman they consider to be 'perfect'). I don't know what that means, and neither do they because I'd wager the only breast they've encountered in life is their mothers and or a fried chicken one.
But I digress. My point remains; women, and humans in general, are individuals and we all find beauty in different things. Isn't that amazing? Imagine everyone liking the same thing? How BORING. I'm not saying I'm now 100% comfortable with my own body, but my post-mirror reflection has taught me that it doesn't matter. I don't have to destroy my own confidence; there are always people out there wiling to help out with that one!
Loving our own bodies despite what strangers/ doctors/ anyone else with a pulse may say is a vital starting place for adapting to any form of illness, and really any form of life.
We all need to learn to be our own cheerleaders.
If that's too difficult a place to start then give me a call. I've been told I have great Pom Poms.