‘Body-shaming’ is big news these-days. It’s a long-standing issue of course, dating back to the days when we used leaves as underwear no doubt. Although if you come from my local area that was only last month. Men and women alike have always been portrayed in certain ways in papers, magazines, on TV and on film. We are supposed to look flawless 24/7. If not we are doing something/everything wrong. We are supposed to preen/starve/paint ourselves to fit the image we see all over the media.
It’s not REAL. It’s not possible.
The world is filled with vanity, where beauty and perfection are portrayed to be everything. Thankfully nowadays more and more women (and men) are speaking out on the incorrect ways they are depicted in the media. Pleasant news, as if we were to attempt to keep up with them it would be a full time (and decidedly un-fulfilling) job. One made harder still when you have a disease like Crohn's.
IBD or any chronic illness, and can change your entire body (and attitude towards it) in a mere matter of hours. When I'm in the midst of a flare-up the disease affects my hair (making it dry, thin and fall out in clumps), skin (dry and sore), makes me bloat to beach ball proportions, gives me hot flushes, makes my face chalk white and makes my body ache all over. You can imagine why it’s pretty difficult to feel confident and attractive when all of that and more, is going down.
Women in particular, have beauty shoved down their pretty little throats everywhere they turn. Sex and supposed 'perfection' sell everything; a gorgeous model in a slinky dress will be used to sell anything from a new Audi to a tube of Anusol. And we are designed to lap it up. Well of course we are; these women are far more beautiful than us, so logically if we own that product, we too can be just as beautiful. It makes perfect sense! If you choose to ignore the airbrushing, and make-up artists ad hairdressers and personal trainers who all help make this perceived perfection possible. Despite knowledge of all of this, we still continue to put so much pressure on ourselves to look, dress, and act a certain way in order to feel accepted. Usually by people we don't even like.
None of it matters. In 50 years I very much doubt how good I looked in that Instagram filter will matter to me too much. (Mainly because I’ll be dead long before then; I am Scottish after all). But also because my health, and my self-esteem are what matter. I want to be known for being confident enough to express myself, helping those who are less fortunate than me and complimenting a beautiful woman rather than berating and secretly envying her.
In living with this disease I know I will never be conventionally 'perfect'; and that’s FINE, because such a thing doesn’t exist. But I am unique; for example I have a jazzy scar down the front of my stomach; leftover as a memento from where an amazing woman (I'm sure with the help of some excellent male nurses...) saved my life and removed a really, really ugly bit of me.
That can only be a beautiful thing.