And suddenly we’re a whole month into 2016. Time flies when…stuff happens.
Anyway here’s the round up of body love for the second half of January:
Day 17: I love that my body can dance, and that I can see myself getting better at it.
I’ve tried to write about salsa and how it makes me feel, but it’s not the kind of thing that can be pinned down by words.If the music is right and the leader is good, for a few minutes I know what joy is.
Day 18: I looooove swinging my kettlebells around. It’s so much fun and makes me feel super strong that my arms and legs can swing 20kg of iron around. Can’t wait til I can afford some 15kg bells!
Day 19: I love my ears.
I love that I can wear earrings in them. I love that through them I can hear music and songs. I specially love the dinky little elf point on my right ear.
Day 20: I love my one double-jointed thumb. Because it’s a little bit weird.
Day 21: Today I love my tongue (I’ll spare you the photo) and my sense of taste. I love that it can adapt and change and learn to love things I thought I didn’t like. Except tomatoes. They’re just nasty.
Day 22: I love my grey hairs (which apparently don’t show up very well on camera), simply because not everyone lives long enough to GET grey hairs. If I’m lucky, I shall live until I go completely grey.
Day 23: While we’re up here, I love my Thorley hairline.
We have this wee triangle either side of our forehead, just to make sure we know which clan we are
Day 24: Today I love my shoulders. Just because.
Day 25: I love my lips. I can speak and play flute and eat and hold things when my hands are full.
Day 26: I love my super fast reading skills. There are SO many books in the world, I need to get through them asap!
Day 27: I love that I can use my body to help other people.
Plus I still find it completely amazing that I can lose a bag of blood and my body will just make more of it.
Day 28: I love that my body is so vocal, although I still need to work on listening to it. It tells me when I need sleep, food, alone time, exercise, whatever I need to function well. Right now it’s shouting “humans were not meant to run on pizza and noodles!”.
Message received, body.
Day 29: I love my confidence. It takes pretty much constant work, but it’s growing all the time.
Day 30: I love my honesty. And honestly, today I’m struggling.
But never mind. Lemsip, early night, and I’ll be right back to full tilt self-love tomorrow.
And finally Day 31: I love my lovely dark eyelashes.
Oppression in action, right here. Tell me there’s something wrong with me and then, oh how convenient, tell me you have the ‘solution’ for sale.
“The problem is never that fat people exist. The problem is always the mistreatment of fat people. Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could (or want to) become thin.”
Today I’m not talking about people’s individual reasons to attempt to manipulate their body size. People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies including trying to shrink them and it’s not my business. What I’m talking about is the worst reason that we are told to lose weight.
“For our health” is a pretty terrible reason – what with there being absolutely no evidence that would suggest that attempts at weight loss will leave us any thinner or healthier (two different things, by the way.)
“To be more beautiful” is a pretty terrible reason since it presupposes that we want to buy into the current social constructs and stereotypes of beauty and try to manipulate our bodies to meet them.
But the worst, the absolute worst, as far as I’m concerned is something I saw in marketing literature for a weight loss product (that I will not be…
We’re halfway through January already, how mad is that?!
The Body Love Conference is running a challenge this year called the Body Love Challenge 2016 (#BodyLoveChallenge2016) and, as I’m still fairly new to all this, I jumped right in!
They’re kicking off with “31 Things I Love About My Body”- one thing for every day in January. As we’re now past the halfway point, I figured I’d do a round up.
Day 1: My body ran today, up a hill in Kelvingrove Park that I have never managed to run up before
Day 2: Even when I hated every other part of me, I loved my eyes.
They’re pretty, they only need glasses on rare occasions, and they let me see everything around me. You go, eyes.
Day 3: My fingernails! I didn’t realise ‘good’ fingernails were a thing, but since I stopped biting them years ago I’ve had loads of compliments. I love that I can decorate them, they help me pick stickers off stuff and get into little cracks to open things, plus my hands would look pretty darn weird without them.
Day 4: My shape. I love curves, and I have plenty to go around! I wouldn’t change my pear-shape for anything.
Day 5: Today I love my skin.
I love the colour of it (no, we don’t have any Spanish/Italian/Greek/Indian ancestors that we know of), I love that it keeps the outside out and my insides in, that it’s not sensitive or allergic to anything I have come across so far, and that I can doodle and paint on it whenever I want.
Day 6: I love my hands, for the millionty different things they can do.
Like typing this, holding weights so I can lift them, baking, writing my blog, crocheting, card-making, washing, trying to control my hair, painting my face, wrapping gifts, handing those gifts to people I love, turning book pages. The list is endless!
I’m also a super tactile person, and I love being able to use my hands to ‘see’ how things feel.
Day 7: After years of hating, fighting, crying, and wishing it away, now I can honestly say I love my bum.
Sure it knocks things off low tables sometimes, but that’s a small price to pay for so much fabulousness! It’s mine, it’s curvy, and I love it.
Everybody now – my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…
Day 8: My hair is really rather shiny, I love the colour (although I wouldn’t say no if someone found a way to dye it blue without making it look like straw), and it will sometimes do as it’s told when I style it!
Short or long, it looks pretty good.
Day 9: I can’t even express how much I love singing. If I were only allowed to keep one hobby, I wouldn’t even have to think about it – singing always wins.
I love that my body can produce these sounds (usually in tune!) and that no matter how I feel, singing can enhance it.
Day 10: I love my muscles. It makes me feel super strong to see them popping up when I move, and working on them is so much fun.
Plus I get to be contrary when someone says women shouldn’t be muscly!
Day 11: I love the random freckles I have all over my body, even on my little finger. I specially love the one on my nose. It’s like a marker, ‘boop here’.
Day 12: Today I love my heart. My physical heart (obviously), which has so far managed to keep me alive for nearly 28 years.
But also the part of me that cries when someone is upset, that finds joy in helping and sharing, that can still be disappointed by the world when bad things happen, because I still believe in its goodness.
I have a big heart, it’s right out there on my sleeve, and I’m not ashamed of it.
Day 13: Since being given the label ‘chronic kidney disease’, I’ve had a messy, angry relationship with my kidneys. It felt like my own body was betraying me, and letting me down in the worst way.
But it’s not their fault nobody had apparently heard of reflux when I was little. If that had been treated they could have bounced right back, and even now they’re damaged, they still try their best.
I wouldn’t last very long without them, and so I choose to be grateful that they haven’t failed completely.
I love my kidneys – scars, stone, and all.
Day 14: I love my imagination. It comes up with pictures, patterns and ideas pretty much constantly. It makes for a noisy head and some weird dreams, but it’s also the root of all my creativity.
Day 15: I love my legs. Awesome shape, they can walk for miiiiiles, and squat like a boss.
And Day 16: My memory is pretty amazing.
Sure, I once made it all the way to work before remembering I needed my pass to get in, and I’m frequently greeted by people who know me when I have absolutely no idea who they are.
But I can tell you what songs we learned the first time I ever went to Voicebeat two years ago, I can even tell you what order we did them in, and I sang all 18 songs in our summer concert without any lyrics in front of me.
There’s a poem I learned in high school that I can still recite, and another from my Masters.
I remember the first time I spoke to my first boyfriend, which was at least 10 years ago, perfectly.
I may forget little things, but my memory keeps the important things, the beautiful things, the life-changing things, and holds onto them for good.
Elaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin. If you’re thinking “How the everlovingcrap did this happen?” let me assure you, you are not alone.
Here is how the everlovingcrap this happened:
A series of studies (of mice and humans) found that thin and fat subjects had differences in their gut microbes. Then in a 2013 study, microbes were taken from four sets of human twins. In each set of twins, one was thin and one was fat. Those microbes were then transplanted into mice. Those mice who received microbes from the fat twin gained weight regardless of which of three diets they were fed (my favorite part of this study may be the use of the phrase “mouse chow” but that’s obviously…
“Well it’s easy for you to be confident when you look like that.”
I’ve heard variations of this sentence from several different people recently. Mostly from friends, so it’s probably meant as a compliment. But if you look closer there are some not so good things about it.
Firstly, I want to look at what these people didn’t actually say out loud. The unspoken second sentence, which sounds a little like “But what hope have I got?”.
Of course I used to do this. I used to hand out compliments like “your hair is so much better than mine” and “I wish I had your legs” all the time. Every possible variation of ‘you are worthy and I am not’.
I was so entrenched in society’s belief that I was not good enough, so afraid of being seen as cocky or arrogant, that I could even repurpose compliments as fuel for my own self-loathing. This is what we are trained to do, from so early an age that I didn’t even realise I was doing it.
Until I did.
And then I stopped. Because there are more than enough things in the world trying to tell me how unworthy I am; they really don’t need my help. Because there is nothing arrogant about not hating your own body. But mostly because what’s the point of making one person feel good just to bring another person down?
If you’re going to compliment me, thanks! We should absolutely build each other up every chance we get! But only if it builds you up as well, or at the very least doesn’t attack you. If I had to choose between a compliment that put somebody else down and no compliment at all, I would choose no compliment. Every time. You deserve so much better.
Secondly, the suggestion that body confidence is easy for anybody, especially women, in our culture is quite frankly ridiculous.
Billions and billions of pounds are spent on telling us that those with straight hair must want it to curl and the curly-haired must want it straight. Dark skin must want to be lighter, and lighter skin darker. Fat must strive to be thin, and thin must do everything in their power to stay that way. Every woman must aspire to walk that line, as thin as a razor blade, of being both slim and curvy. No matter what we do our bodies will never, never be enough.
All so that we will buy things. Products to control our hair, plastic surgery, diet books, gym membership, pills, weird vibrating belt things, ANYTHING that could possibly help us become what we are not. It’s a lucrative, well-honed business, and it’s everywhere.
So no, it was not easy to become this confident. It’s taken years and years of fighting the unceasing negative thoughts about myself, learning to walk away from harmful body image conversations, ignoring adverts telling me how I could be ‘better’, telling myself that I’m worthy and enough even when it seemed the least believable thing in the world.
I’ve worn tight or revealing clothes that I loved, while believing it would make people explode through sheer disgust. I’ve shouted that my body is beautiful while crying because I can’t stand the sight of it. I’ve spent hours smacking down snipey comments about my appearance, trying to ignore the voice in my head that whispers “they’re right”.
How dare you tell me it was easy.
In this society, just deciding to not hate your body (especially if it’s fat) is a radical, divisive, and difficult decision. But it is so entirely worth it.
I wish everyone could experience that amazing moment when I realised I am enough. I wish everyone could know how it feels to look in the mirror and not start listing the things they would change if only they could. To actually like what they see. To feel self-love, which is a love like nothing else I’ve ever felt.
It’s a long, hard process, but you could begin right now by deciding to pay positive-only compliments.
Replace “your hair is better than mine” with “I love your hair today”. Say “your legs are so toned” instead of “I wish I had your legs”. See what a difference it makes just removing some negativity from your life.
Or you could jump straight to the master level and try to positive-only compliment people on anything other than their physical appearance. Because we are all so much more than just the way we look.
It’s not easy, but you won’t be disappointed. Give it a try : )
This limit never really bothered me before, because I don’t like stripes. Horizontal, vertival, thick, thin; doesn’t matter. I do not like them.
But then I was out shopping, and I spotted this:
It’s totally stripey. About as stripey as they come. And yet, I instantly wanted it.
After years of being told fat people shouldn’t wear stripes I was sure it would look awful. But being stubborn and contrary as I am, I picked it up and tried it on anyway.
The reaction wasn’t even “well it’s nice, but see how it makes your hips/bum/chest/arms/other random body part look. Ugh.” – I tried it on, looked myself up and down, and thought “heck, yes!”. Then I bought it.
Now I don’t really want to take it off.
I think you’ll find I can wear stripes. I’m actually finding it quite difficult to stop!
When Oprah first bought stock in Weight Watchers last year I blogged about it and said “while Oprah has every right to join Weight Watchers, be a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, buy stock in Weight Watchers, get “I Love Weight Watchers” tattooed on her ass or whatever, that doesn’t make long term weight loss any more likely, and it doesn’t make Weight Watchers any less of a scam.” I was going to leave it at that, until I heard her first commercial for WW.
It’s tricky criticizing Oprah because she has done truly amazing things, fighting racism, sexism, misogyny, and a crushing pressure to be thin to do it. There are so many things about Oprah and her work that are incredibly admirable, but this Weight Watchers thing is a problem. First of all, her choice to promote Weight Watchers seems to mean one of two things:
I hope everyone had a good night (apparently greasy food is the answer to a hangover. You’re welcome.) and you’re all ready for a brand new year.
I’m not going to do a big review of 2015, mostly because I can’t remember a lot of it. I’m just going to say it was a good year; I jumped straight into body positivity, learned a lot, and changed a lot. I’m super proud of the person I am today.
So, on to 2016.
For (I think) only the second year running I am not resolving to starve my body into eating itself smaller. A moment of silence for every younger me who believed she had to do that.
Instead my resolutions are all about adding to myself. Because no matter how amazing I am, there are always chances to be better.
Start learning again – I’ve signed up for an OU course in a completely different area to my degrees, because my curiosity is never sated.
Grow even more confidence – doing more things I thought I couldn’t, more positive self-talk, more challenges overcome. It’s gonna be so much fun!
Share more love – this could be commenting on blogs, giving compliments, buying gifts, hugs, or anything else that can brighten someone else’s day. The more love you give out the more you get back, so this one’s win-win!
They’re pretty simple, but I know even simple things can lead to huge changes.