I recently shared a tweet where I explained I struggle with body image and when one of these “moments” arose, I put on my favourite jeans and sports bra and danced, took selfies and let myself believe I was worth something.
I think people must look at me and think “her??? She has body image problems? Fuck off have you seen her Instagram?”
And y’know, I get it. I post a lot of selfies, outfits of the day and tend to wear things that show off my figure – skinny jeans, crop tops, short skirts etc. It’s because it’s my style, it’s what I love but also because I feel like I need to fit in. I need to dress my age and look the part. I need the reassurance that I’m not an ugly whale who’s got nothing going for her. I wear the clothes (and the make up) for me but also because I think it’s what I should do. It’s what a twenty year old girl should wear. It’s how I should be seen.
It’s hard. It’s hard having had to deal with this for the last 7 years. It’s hard to see myself in the mirror, I need the right angle and a lot of filters. I need to binge eat and vomit and skip meals. I need to cry into packets of crisps and then hate myself even more for being so stupid – I mean no wonder I’m fat when I comfort eat – and it goes on.
I use different ways to hide my fat, in fact not even my fat, I try different options to hide my shame that comes with having fat – whether it’s buying the right jeans or always having a hoodie/jacket with me, or I go through phases of trying to cut out the carbs and too much calorie counting, I start pulling my stomach in and then get chest pains because I won’t let myself breathe properly. Oh and hold-me-in tights???? Absolute godsend.
Don’t get me wrong, I have good and bad days. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, you know what? I don’t look half as bad I thought! And other days I see an overweight girl who has no shimmer of beauty in her. The days that are positive, I love them. I put on my favourite outfits and I walk through town with whoever, and I almost feel confident, like I could take on the world; with a little bit of help of course. I don’t have bad relationships with food on them days – or maybe I just don’t feel so guilty about it. But it’s never long before it all comes crashing back down. And it always does.
And when it drops, it scares me. It’s a fear in itself to see how much you can loathe yourself, both inside and out. A world of turmoil, a stab of anxiety, a rock of depression falls on me. I can’t let others in when I feel like this, I can’t bare to be seen when I feel so dislodged from my own soul and so instead I shut out the people I love until the thunder passes.
My love for life shoots and slumps and it probably always will. The mind can only take so much negativity before it cracks, then like a shattered vase you glue yourself back together – although never quite the same as you were before.
Body image struggles/body distortion is something that anyone can face – no matter your age, size or shape. Going by my clothing size I am far from obese and yet all I see is fat when I look in the mirror. A person lighter than me can feel like a whale and someone else who’s 12 sizes bigger than me can feel like a Victoria Secrets supermodel. It’s never about your actual size, it’s about how your mind perceives yourself and the world around you.
Never let someone struggle with any mental health issue alone, don’t leave a person because they’re scared to let you in, don’t assume they have no problems because they posted a photo of them laughing or looking “perfect”.
Never forget that mental health is just as important as physical.