Boss your body issues!
Bingo wings? Mum tum? Saggy knockers? Thunder thighs?
If you could wave a magic wand and transform any part of your body, what would you wish for - Longer legs? Slender waistline? Smaller, neater nose? Bigger boobs? Slimmer hips? More curves? Less hair on the old top lip?
I’m certain at some point every single woman has wished for at least one part of her body to be different, feeling anything from mild dissatisfaction to intolerable repugnance for and an inherent loathing of the body they were born in.
I first experienced feelings of wishing I had a different body at secondary school - although looking back the issues I had were pretty trivial, and fairly standard for a teenage girl. As a young child I was naturally thin, and I got used to the endless skinny remarks and the name calling - string bean, stick insect, skinny-min, twiggy, skindiana bones. “I’ve seen more meat on a butchers pencil” they’d say or “more fat on a chip”... bla bla. My teenage years were the same - I was still a little stick, and whilst I should have appreciated the fact I could eat what the heck I wanted with no consequence, I longed for the curves and the boobs that my high school friends had.
As my friends were ‘turning into young ladies’ and buying bras from Tammy Girl, I still looked like a 7 year old boy in the boob department. I even wore 6 pairs of thick tights to school in a pathetic attempt to make my legs look more shapely.
In an effort to look like my superstar 80’s idol Kylie Minogue (she rocked that perm in Neighbours right?) I managed to persuade my mum to let me have a perm. How-evs, fortune wasn’t on my side, and instead of taking me to the stylish, fashionable salon in town, I was swiftly taken to Vera’s Hair Salon up some backstreet where the average age was 87, and I came out looking less like Kylie and more like Deirdre Barlow. Seriously - no long, loose, toss-worthy curls, they had literally set me in granny rollers. It bore no resemblance to Charlene’s iconic perm and I cried all the way home. The following week I was fitted with dental braces. How cruel can life get?
Fast forward a few years and I was the annoying cow at University (and throughout my twenties) who could eat Mcdonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and not put any weight on, whilst my friends nibbled on dust and complained incessantly about ever expanding thighs. Yet I still longed for curves and boobs so I could wear the tops and dresses I so desired, without looking like an ironing board.
It sounds crazy to me now. I think back to my youthful, naturally slim body and perky norks and wish I had that now (funny how with age comes wisdom, and an appreciation for what once was).
3 kids later and it’s a different story...
My body underwent a pretty enormous transformation during my pregnancies with all three of my boys - whilst I was super proud of my colossal bump at the time, carrying and birthing 3 BIG babies really took its toll on my core. I experienced diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and my pelvic floor muscles pretty much packed up and fucked off.
I know, I should’ve done my pelvic floor exercises post birth, but when you feel like the entire world has fallen out of your fanny, who the hell actually thinks of pelvic floor exercises?
Not me! And I lived to regret it.
Not long after the birth of my third child I was crossing a fairly wide road when I needed to sneeze. I saw a car coming and in literally a split second I knew I had two options - keep walking and piss myself, or stop to cross my legs and sneeze, but get run over. Piss myself or get run over. What a delightful decision to have to make. It was then I realised I had to see a physio. (I’m happy to report that it worked wonders and I’m pretty much back to pre-baby fitness in that department).
For us mum's, the early days of nurturing a newborn baby often means our physical issues get overlooked. I was getting NO. FUCKING. SLEEP. and all I could think of was a) when am I next going to get the opportunity for a nap and b) what am I going to shove in my gob next (and it didn’t have anything to do with my husbands anatomy - purely food related).
I’ll leave the stretch marks, spider veins, varicose veins, wrinkles and empty saggy boobs for another time...
Social media doesn’t always help us when it comes to our body issues - when you spend a good portion of your day looking at pictures of women in skimpy dresses with perfectly coiffured hair, tanned and toned bodies, wrinkle-free faces and perfect pearly white teeth… it’s enough to make you feel like a massive bag of spuds.
But in all honesty, I’m 38 years old and despite my flaws (I have plenty!) I now truly love and accept my body, and the following helped me to achieve this:
CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN, IF YOU CAN
If there’s something that’s really getting you down that you can change or improve, then do so. For example if you really hate your dinner lady arms (aka bingo wings) then pick up a pair of dumbbells and google Tricep exercises. If a bit of excess weight is truly making you unhappy, think about what you need to do to remedy it - make a plan and put it into action. If you piss your pants every time you laugh, cough, sneeze, walk, fart, jump, breathe - get some help sista (this can definitely be changed)! For any other body niggles you can’t change, you’ve got two options - continue life in a state of perpetual suffering or learn to accept it.
Some things we just can’t change - a C-section scar, pointy chin, stubby legs, pear shaped hips, knobbly knees… If you avoid mirrors, it’s time to confront one and stop avoiding the issue - strip off and have a good old look at yourself. Get to know your body, up close and personal. Get in the bath and look at yourself, and I mean really look at yourself. For every part of your body that you analyse, instead of thinking what you don’t like about it, think about what it does for you. Which brings us onto gratitude.
Think of all the things that work! Even if you’re at your biggest or your most unfit - your body is still working (you are breathing right now aren't you?) You’re reading this so you have the gift of sight. Your body is a holy temple, gifted to you to live your life in whilst you’re on this earth. It’s most likely put up with a lot of shit - downing Jagermeisters and Flaming Sambucas in your partying days, living on takeaways, fad diets, too much exercise, no exercise, going from eating nothing but salad leaves during the week to eating an entire week’s worth of calories on a Friday night. Yet your body’s always there, endlessly and dutifully serving, carrying you, supporting you, fighting infections, silently pumping oxygen around your body and nourishing every cell, without thanks. Think of the things your body does for you, and what it’s enabled you to do. From seeing, hearing and speaking, to walking, dancing, running a race, and birthing and nurturing your baby. Your body is fucking awesome and it loves you! Love it back!
DON’T LISTEN TO OTHERS
“Your nose is too long - it needs shaving down a bit”. My middle son actually said this to me as I bent down to kiss him goodnight. That’s just one of many charming comments I’ve received from my delightful offspring. A favourite pastime of my youngest son, as we snuggle on the sofa, is grabbing my belly with both hands as if kneading bread, and merrily singing ‘wibble wobble’ (I’m pretty fit and healthy at the moment but I will always have a mum tum, and I’m cool with that). Kids can be brutally honest, and we can excuse them, but there’s no excuse for adults who are into body shaming. I still fend off skinny comments sometimes, and as far as I’m concerned telling someone they’re too skinny is as rude as telling someone they’re too fat - which most people would never dream of! Asking if someone has lost weight in a derogatory tone, while eyeing them up and down with a face of concern or pity, is not permissible. Telling someone they need to go and eat a bag of chips, is absolutely, categorically out of order.
So if someone is brazen enough to pass comment on your body - whether you’re starting to look a lil’ chunky, or if they prefer you with a bit more meat, if they prefer your hair this way or that way, or they think you could do with a bit of botox to soften up your resting bitch face, then please know that it’s ok to tell them to go fuck themselves.
My body, my life, my rules, and if no-one else approves they can kiss my piley bum!
CHANGE YOUR THINKING (THINK POSITIVELY)
Befriend your body, get to know her, love her, and respect her. Think about the parts you love, or the parts that people comment positively on - go on do it now! Do people admire your beautiful eyes, does your husband love your voluptuous butt, do you have dainty feet, killer cheekbones, lovely white teeth? There has to be something you love about your body! Adopt affirmations such as “I love and accept myself just as I am” or “I’m thankful for my body for everything it does for me” or “I am beautiful, I am worthy”.
Whatever you do, don’t hate your body - it’s not your body’s fault if you’ve got a spare tyre or jowly bits, it’s an innocent bystander just trying to do its best for you. By thinking positively you will attract more positive ‘like energy’ back to you - it’s a virtuous circle.
CHANGE YOUR VOCAB
How you speak to yourself matters. Catch yourself saying negative stuff such as “I’m such a fat cow” or “My arse looks massive in this” or “My belly is disgusting” and cut it out! It’s time to kill your inner critic. Instead of looking in the mirror and cursing your stretch marks, instead think how amazing your body is for producing your child. Instead of condemning your boobalata’s for being too big, too small, too saggy, too ‘one nipple points East and the other one points West’ stop - give thanks and take pride in how they fed and nourished your baby. Don’t indulge in self deprecating jokes or put yourself down, and if someone pays you a compliment, accept it graciously. You are healthy, you are beautiful, you are alive!
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
I’ve said it before, social media can be a nightmare, same with magazines, television, and the annoying cow at the school gates who spends more on cosmetic surgery and her wardrobe than most people spend on their house. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others. When you find yourself feeling like a bag of shit from looking at yet another #bikinibody on Insta, ask yourself is it realistic? I caught myself comparing my tummy to someone who is ten years younger than me, hasn’t had children AND has a personal trainer and chef! How ridic is that? And for every beautiful* selfie you see, remember there was probably 72 pictures that didn’t make the cut (and who’s got time for that shit?) not to mention the filters. What you see isn’t always the full picture either - the face may look beautiful but maybe they’ve got a spotty bottom or massive hemorrhoids!
YOUR SOUL IS BEAUTIFUL & WHAT’S ON THE INSIDE MATTERS MOST
It’s a cliche but it’s true. What you’re like as a person, how you treat others, and how happy you are with your life, is truly what matters. I’ve met plenty of miserable ‘gorgeous’ people who have turned out to actually not be that nice, and then to me they are no longer beautiful.
Beauty and confidence really does shine from within - if you feel it on the inside you’ll see it on the outside. I would definitely rather have a face like a bag o’ chips and be a nice person that does good things, than be aesthetically beautiful but a complete wanker.
Roald Dahl sums it up perfectly:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
So ladies, whatever your shape or size, please remember you are a true masterpiece of mother nature - you are beautiful, you are loved, you are worthy, and you deserve to live your very best, most happiest life.
Much love, Fran xxx
If you liked this you may also like “Telling someone they’re too skinny is as bad as telling someone they’re too fat” http://frangrant.com/2018/07/04/telling-someone-theyre-skinny/
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Wife to a very lucky husband. Mum to 3 beautiful little boys. Gym, yoga and self care enthusiast. Lover of food, coffee, wine and gin. Self confessed bookworm and book hoarder. Advocate for keeping the magic of reading alive for today’s children. And last but not least - Writer (currently trying my hand at kids fiction and rhyming stories). Thanks for visiting my site - expect to see posts mainly related to reading and writing, with occasional musings about family, parenting and life in general. Oh, and plenty of book reviews! Hope you enjoy! Much love, Fran x