As I think I have mentioned just a few times I am off on my holidays soon, huzzah! I know for so many people the thought of going on a Summer holiday can really make them self conscious and send them into a panic about needing to look their best. And yes looking your best whilst on holiday can make you feel fantastic. However being too hung up about revealing your body on the beach can really eat away at people. For months now my feeds have been full of statuses about 'getting a bikini body' and it's the same every year. As well as plenty of statuses about how much they need to deprive themselves. And a lot of the time it's from the most gorgeous looking of girls.
To be honest it makes me feel a little bit sad. I look at them and think "look at you, you're stunning." But that's kind of the point; we will always judge ourselves more than anyone else will. It's just something we all do. Which I think is very naughty of our brains really. And so every year we see these statuses, or we hear our friends talking about what they're cutting out (sometimes literally) in order to look 'acceptable' on the beach.
What's worrying is that people will turn to fads and unhealthy solutions long before they will even consider eating healthier or excercising (M.E folk you know I don't mean you when I say the e word.) I swear if I get one more friend request from people selling juice plus! Gah! Juice Plus will not change my life. Changing our thinking habits just might though.
I know some people might say "oh well that's easy for you to say, you're slim," but again that's projecting this image of what we think a beach body is. In my early teens when I stopped running and horse riding from cysts on my ovaries and problems with my bowels I put on quite a lot of weight. I look back now and think "jeez, I had no idea I was that big." But in a way that's a good thought, because it means that at the time I wasn't constantly bullying myself that I no longer had a six pack. The only time I remember being affected by it was ringing up to say I couldn't do a youth theatre thing and them saying "oh is that big Sian." Ouch! And that was me completely done with them. But I lost the weight as a bi-product of being able to do more as my illness improved and over a few years; not because of that comment.
A few years ago the round table came round our neighbourhood with Father Christmas on his sleigh and when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I replied that I wanted a new body. He said "but why when you're beautiful". Well thank you but what I would like is a body that worked much better. Because when you are chronically ill and disabled you start to appreciate your body on a whole new level. Your focus is more on how your body works and how much I guess you took for granted just what a good job it was doing. As I have said, health is wealth. A healthy body allows you to have everyday adventures and things we consider basic like walking around the shops, driving, playing with our children. You start to think "who cares what my body looks like when I'd rather it still could do those things." And other than the fact it doesn't work properly I'm pretty happy with my body. In fact I'm just happy, even with all the rubbish I face every moment of every day.
Often people work so hard to lose weight or tone up but the last thing they do is change their thinking. Someone who has lost weight might still look in the mirror and still see their old shape. Often we don't fully appreciate it until someone else comments on it. Which in a way is sad as this is the body you've been telling yourself you wanted. Our thinking though is still so used to looking in the mirror and being negative or focusing in on what we think are our problem areas, that we can't switch off from that. So if you do want to lose weight, tone up or even if you feel you need to gain weight look at ways to monitor that change and adapt your thinking.
I also want to share this link to an article in Cosmopolitan UK about a woman having the confidence to wear a bikini after an emergency surgery to remove her spleen. It's motivational stuff, so do give it a look dont-apologise-wear-bikini. And recently I have seen a few similar stories floating around on social media. I read one last night about a group of young people insulting a woman who was sunbathing and had stretch marks on her belly. She of course got upset that people would so blatantly insult her. However the post was about how in fact she was proud of her body. Those stretch marks were as a result of pregnancy and reminded her of the wonder of having children and how much joy that bought her. Then there are the stories about Instagram deleting bikini photos for not being deemed attractive; read more here. The rise of people showing off their feeding tubes and bags and sharing them on social media, which personally I think is great for awareness of stomach and inflammatory bowel conditions, you go ladies and gents! Then of course there was the stories about photos being removed of women that had had mastectomies, around the time of breast cancer awareness month. Where it seemed a no make up selfie was deemed a sufficient way to promote breast cancer care and awareness but not cancer patients showing that they are still beautiful despite all the horrors they faced. Celebrate your bodies ladies!
So my message is simple. Love your bodies. Look after them, treat them well. And if you do want to make a change then do so out of love not hate and do so healthily. I'm going to leave you with some positive quotes to help motivate you and hopefully I will do more posts on body confidence soon. Cue lots of shameless holiday snaps!
Be good to yourselves