Behind the photo.
So recently I’ve seen myself in photos.
It’s so interesting. We all have an image or idea of how we look in our minds, and it can be shocking and confronting to see an image that conflicts with that idea. Seeing yourself in a photo is enough to send most people spiralling into a mindset of needing to go on a diet and lose weight. We feel ashamed that what we see before us is so different to the way we thought we looked, and inner panic ensues.
I have undergone a huge amount of personal growth over the past few years. I was someone whose mood was determined by the number on the scales, and someone who had given the mirror the power to make or break my day, regardless of how good I’d been feeling prior to seeing my reflection.
I’m not lying when I say that I was consumed by the importance I placed on my appearance.
As well as personal growth, I’ve also experienced physical growth. Going from a chronic dieter with an eating disorder, to someone opposed and now fighting against the insidious messages of diet culture, my body size changed.
One of the hardest things for anyone starting out on their diet free journey, is coming to terms with inevitable weight gain. I had to arrive at a place where my mental health, my physical health, and finding actual self-acceptance, was way more important than the eternal quest for a thin, perfect body.
I faced the mirror with cheek bones less defined, with collar bones no longer protruding and I gave in to the recovery from a dieting culture that made me believe I had to be less to be more. I sat, somewhat uncomfortably, as I grew out of my skinny clothes, my body making way for a larger version, with which eventually brought with it, an inner freedom that made every extra kilogram on my body worthwhile.
I had to learn to step back.
Where I once leaned in to the mirror as I scrutinised the parts I was unhappy with, I began to step back. I had to start seeing myself as greater than the size of my body parts; I had to start seeing myself as an incredible functioning whole. I began to make peace with body. After years and years of underfeeding it, of purging, of overeating, of loathing every inch of it, I finally wanted to make peace and show it I was sorry.
Most of us grab our fat angrily, as we poke and prod it. I began to gently touch my body, noticing its softness. I closed my eyes and felt the curves where I once felt bone, and I thanked my flesh for protecting my organs and I thanked my body for never once giving up on me.
Recently I saw a photo of myself.
I didn’t look the way I thought I looked, I was larger and I was rounder, but that’s ok. I didn’t freak out, I didn’t panic, rather I took my mind back to that time when the photo was being taken, and I recalled the warmth that was penetrating the skin on my arms as I sat with my children in awe at the beauty before us.
It’s our default to become critical when we see images of ourselves, however I challenge you to start stepping back and questioning yourself. If your image was actually an image of your friend, would your focus be on her body parts or would your focus be on the joy in her face, or the radiance of her smile?
It’s time we started being driven more by how we feel and less by how we look.
It’s time to start seeing ourselves as friends, don’t you think?
Are you interested in learning about Mirror Movement Courses? You can find out more here.
Read Amanda’s ‘Words of Wisdom for our Children’.