This year for Mental health Awareness Month I’m going to be talking a lot more openly about my own mental health, sharing in more depth and detail the battle that goes on behind the closed door.
For Mental Health Awareness Week I’m going to be joining in with Mental Health Foundation cause in spreading more awareness for mental health and this years Mental Health Awareness Week topic is: Body Image.
I thought I would use this to take the opportunity to explain very briefly what body image is before sharing my ongoing journey with my body image.
What is Body image?
So a brief explaining of what body image is: A way an individual views their own body, whether that be they have a positive or negative view on their body. It’s down to how you see YOUR body. It isn’t just what we see in the mirror, thanks to social media it’s so much more than that. It’s about what we think and about what we feel when looking at our own bodies, I’m very accustomed in knowing that the worst critic can be ourselves.
My Body Image – Ongoing Journey
So let just get into it. I was very aware of my body at a rather young age, suffering with really bad skin problems I was the girl that was always cover head to toe so no one could see how bad my skin was. I think I must have been 8 at the time when I truly felt self conscious about having incredibly bad eczema.
It became so bad that I’d risk getting heatstroke, covering myself up as much as possibly (and typically I’d only wear black as it was simple and made me blend in) whenever I left the house.
Then high school start, along with puberty and girly problems. I never wish puberty upon anyone and really, really feel sorry for those coming and soon to be coming to puberty. It really wasn’t an easy ride for me. As I believe it wasn’t for most people.
I quickly looked to using my hair as my shield against my new anxiety and bad body image as soon as my mum allowed me to dye my hair at the age of 14. I was so, so happy that she had finally allowed me to dye my hair, ever since I was little I’d see my mum dying her hair a pretty purple or deep red (usually purple as that’s her Favourite colour) and I really wanted to dye my hair purple like hers.
I walked into school the following week with the most confidence I had ever had up until that point. I was so happy and even more so when I got compliments from my friends, teachers, other students…and my high school crush at the time (this was like 3 year before I met my second major but first major and forever crush).
Of course like every good thing, the good feelings never lasted. My small hold of confidence was quickly sniffed out by my own insecurities and self doubt in my own skin.
Colouring my hair a different colour helped distract me for a while from my body, I become infatuated with dying my hair crazy colours. My hair became my security blanket .
I hated everything about my body, the way it looked, the way I moved in it and the way I felt in my own skin,. I still have these feelings often to this day. I have always had a small framed body, I suppose back then I had a body that had the potential of looking like a athletes body, I was very active, you’d either see me riding my bike or climbing a tree with my friends.
I’d never bring in my P.E (Physical education) nor would I ever bring in my swimming kit when we had swimming. I wasn’t comfortable showing so much of my body off to people. I’ve also found it so wrong that school makes us change around each other or try forcing us to swim. I understand the workout side of thing, I don’t understand why they choose things or ways that makes us the most uncomfortable.
I’d do everything and anything I possible could that would avoid me showing skin or clothing that showed off my body. For years I walked around in dark bagging clothing in the hopes to blend in and not draw notice or attention to myself. Partly because of my anxiety and partly because of my issue with my own body image.
When I got with my boyfriend, my body image changed in my eyes. He’s made me feel as though I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. He’s loved every inch of me, every imperfection that I own and he made me feel as though they weren’t there or as though my imperfection weren’t imperfections. He taught me to love my body for what it was, flaws and all.
With him I feel free and comfortable to wear what I what, when I’m around him I can wear skirts, dresses, short sleeved tops and crop tops. But every other time if its just me, I’ll throw on baggy clothes, tights or leggings and go back to trying to blend in with the background of the world.
Without him, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress never mind a dress as pretty as this one was! (These photo were taken at his sister’s wedding two years ago in June).
Of course that doesn’t mean I still don’t have a bad body image. Due to my eating disorder my body changes all the time, I’m always up and down (more often down) about my body. Last year and the year before that I lived in nothing but shorts, tights, leggings and my boyfriends hoodies as none of my clothes fit me any more. I’d lost too much weight.
To this day I’m still shopping in the children section – early teen section for clothes as my body is still so small and unhealthy from years of unintentional abuse. To this day I hate the way my body looks, but I do get moments where I’m happy with it. The moments are few and far but when I do get them I grab hold of it for as long as I can, never knowing when I’ll feel good about the way I looked again.
This year I have taken steps to changing my unhealthy ways and in changing the way I view my body. I’ve started a new diet that has been helping me gain weight for the first time since I was a teenager, I started yoga last year (You can CLICK HERE to be directed to my yoga post) to build muscle I never had due to being so sick in my body. And little, light workouts to build more. I’m starting to go on more of my adventures again and still looking at new ways I can help myself.
It isn’t easy and with social media and all these filters and ways to modify how you look using apps it can have a big helping hand in bringing me down about my body image. And with my body changing all the time, its so hard to like never mind love my body image. I hope one day I can see myself the way my boyfriend sees me.
This, like most personal/mental health related posts wasn’t easy for me to write and it’s even harder for me to post but one of my reasons for starting this blog was to open up more about what I’m going through, to jot things down and share them, to help others going through something similar and little bit to know I’m not the only one with these thoughts and feelings.
So I hope this has given you a little insight on how I view myself which isn’t in a very good light, however my mission to stay positive and push through until I achieve my body goal is ever growing and with the support of all my friends, family and fellow bloggers I’m hoping to share in more depth how body image affects me and those around me.
I also hope that this has shown you, that you aren’t the only one who has bad thoughts of themselves, who hate the way their look. I’ve lost count of the amount of people what have told me I am too skinny, or that I shouldn’t be depressed, self conscious or sad because I’m skinny. I can tell you right now that skinny is NOT everything. It can get very life threatening and I’ll be sharing a post on that later tonight.
I want this post to help other’s open up more about their own body image but also want this post to help you understand that body image is just that, its an image that you can change at will. It’s hard, and it’s not always something that can be achieve but a day of bad body image doesn’t mean that you HAVE a bad body image. It just means that that day was a bad day, tomorrow may be better.
I’d love to hear/read about your body image journey and I really hope this post have inspired you to share your own body image journey, as I stated above that my next post today will be about my weight and the way others see me, rather than how I see myself.
We are all beautiful, no matter the size, the colour, the markings on our skin. It’s all beautiful and it all makes us who we are. It all makes us different and uniquely us.