‘Wow, I didn’t know you looked that bad!’
I’ve just come back from a shopping trip to Target. Today is the first day of Summer and so I made the decision that I would buy myself some shorts as an apology to my legs for keeping them hidden for as long as I can remember.
For those new to my story, in May of 2017, I came clean about my private 20 year battle with bulimia. Within those years, I felt my body wasn’t good enough, and in particular my legs, and so I kept them hidden on hot days, under leggings and long dresses.
Since coming out, I’ve changed the way I see my body. It has gone from being an ornament to the vehicle which carries me through life. I have had one summer already since starting this journey, but I was only a few months in to recovery, and I wasn’t quite ready to take on everything, and so I kept the areas I didn’t love covered and carried on my merry way as I transformed my relationship with food.
It’s very easy to be body positive in Winter and the cooler months. My body image has been something I’ve easily been on top of this year, as I’ve worked on changing my self-talk and the way I view my body in the mirror.
Today I went shopping for shorts in Target with my 8-year-old daughter. As I stood in the changing room, with the fluorescent lights highlighting my cellulite ridden legs from every angle, the volcanic thoughts that had been lying dormant suddenly erupted. In my head a voice said something along the lines of ‘Holy shitballs, I didn’t think you looked that bad!’. Almost simultaneously, the voice of my daughter said, “I love those on you mummy, they look really cute on you!” and I knew she meant it.
In that moment I knew that that all too familiar voice in my head needed to be shut down, that voice that if not quietened, takes over wreaking havoc and destruction. Despite not feeling it, I looked back at my reflection and replied, “yes it does look cute doesn’t it?”
My legs look like my mothers, and there is every chance my daughters will look like mine too. No matter how hard I wish for different legs, these are the ones I’ve been gifted.
On leaving the change room, I kept seeing people in shorts with lovely legs, long legs, cellulite free legs and I felt a pang of jealousy. Then I started wondering; if the diet industry had never existed, would I still feel like my legs were somehow ‘wrong’?
My beautiful, unaffected daughter sees the real me, she sees beyond the imperfections, beyond my dimply skin. She just sees her mum and she thinks I’m beautiful. I’m so grateful that the words in my head didn’t come out of my mouth, can you imagine the damage those words would have done to my daughter who thought I looked beautiful in those clothes? She would’ve been confused and started to question her perception of what was beautiful. Today she taught me a lesson.
Whilst I didn’t buy the shorts, I know that there are a pair out there somewhere that I will rock the hell out of one day, and until then I’ll wait.
The voice in my head has now been put to rest, but the longer I travel along this path of body positivity and acceptance, the more I realise there is no end point to it. Unlike diet culture, there is no destination that you will arrive at. I’ve come to understand that this is a continual journey full of self-reflection and adjustment, this path is now my life.
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