This is a Guest Post by Jen Molloy
I am surprised at how afraid I am to write this, in fear I won’t do justice to the young women around the world who feel like I do; ashamed, frustrated and just generally struggling. Perhaps people will read this and call me ‘deluded’ or ‘self-obsessed’.. Nevertheless, I feel a need to write down the things I’m simply too embarrassed to say out loud. I am furious inside, Swimming in an aquarium of anger and drowning.
I am angry because over the last few years I have watched myself transform into a person I never imagined I could become. I have become somebody who looks in a mirror and feels disappointment crashing through her. A person who cries in changing rooms and a person who incessantly and remorselessly compares herself to every other women she deems more physically attractive or successful than herself.
I don’t know how it happened to me. It’s as if one day I was breathing easy, I was happy and I was self-assured and the next day my lungs were heavy. The young confident girl I knew so well was suddenly an anxiety filled, weeping young woman who is horribly ashamed of her arms, her stomach and the way her face looks in natural light.
In my mind, I blame the media. The magazines, adverts, shows and movies that NEVER give women like me, or any woman for that matter, a break. A break from having the ideal of a perfect woman pounded into our minds. A break from the horribly unrealistic standards that I amongst many others feel forced to live up too. I don’t know if we will ever get a break, which is why those of us, who like me, are tired of feeling like less than we are, must try to help one another. In my mind, I know full well that blaming the media is futile; such a pointless exercise, that gives my attention to something I find despicable and damaging.
Instead I should be using my time to focus on myself and to start the process that will allow me to see lingerie adverts, or magazine covers with scepticism, or perhaps healthy admiration as oppose to burning insecurity. It has been pointed out to me before, by those concerned for me, that I can so easily see the beauty in others, yet if I wanted to find it in myself, I would be digging for hours.
Never would I look at another woman and say ‘your shoulders are too wide’, or ‘your stomach isn’t flat enough’ or ‘your skin isn’t flawless, so you aren’t good enough’. So why, day after day, do I and thousands of other women and men say these things to ourselves? Why is it ok for me to insult a body that has given me 22 years of good health and that keeps me alive every day? In short, the answer is that it’s not ok. It is not even slightly ok and I am horrified at the amount of self-hate I feel and I am more than ready to put an end to it. I don’t want to live a life that revolves around my physical appearance or more importantly, the physical appearance of others that I feel so necessary to compare myself too.
Combating the negativity I feel towards myself is extremely arduous and I am very much at the beginning, or the birth, of my journey to self-love and acceptance and I want to share with you what I am currently doing, and what I can advise you to do, in an attempt to win the battle we have against our own bodies.
1. Speak to yourself as if you were a friend
I would never tell a friend, a sister, a mother or even a stranger the horrendous things that I tell myself. Never would I scrutinise another person’s body and cruelly pit it against the unrealistic bodies of other women. Therefore it’s important to stop doing this to ourselves. Start treating yourself how you would treat somebody you love.
2. Find inspiration in others
I found inspiration in ChooseLifeWarrior’s Instagram page; a great example of a woman who every day unknowingly helps me. I look at her and I see a woman, so confident, so beautiful and so happy in a body that society deems as less than perfect and I revel in her bravery to put her middle finger up to the awful culture of expected female flawlessness that we live in. Seek out wonderful people and let them inspire you.
So often, when somebody compliments us, we assume they must be taking pity on us, perhaps they have an agenda, or maybe they can see how awful we look and just want to make us feel better. Or possibly, they are looking at us and seeing something that we don’t see in ourselves. Stop refusing compliments; it is not egotistical or self-aggrandizing to accept the kindness of others. Using a person’s compliment, as a reason to swerve into a self-deprecating rant about how whatever they said is not true, is wrong. Begin to accept compliments graciously and it’s amazing how fast you will start to believe the thoughtful words of others.
4. Remember that outer beauty truly isn’t that important
If for long enough, you sit and contemplate the idea of outer beauty as something important in life, it begins to become ridiculous. However, in a world that seems to, unfortunately, value physical appearances so highly, we must work a little harder to remind ourselves of how truly unimportant our outer shell is, in regards to it’s aesthetics. Think of the women, or men, that you admire the most; it’s likely that you hold these people in such high regard not because of their appearance, but because of their charm, their achievements and their kindness. Begin to prioritise inner beauty over outer beauty.
5. Accept yourself
Accepting my body sometimes feels like an unmanageable task and I am certain that I am not alone in feeling this way. In a world where from birth we are constantly exposed to images that reinforce unrealistic ideas of femininity and women’s bodies, it’s very easy to feel defeated. For me, what helps is trying to limit how often I expose myself to unrealistic standards of attractiveness; I no longer read fashion magazines and I try hard to remind myself that a large majority of the images we see have been digitally altered to mould women into the sexual creatures that society have been taught us we are supposed to be. Our bodies keep us alive, they endure so much wear and tear and we must respect and love them. For example; remind yourself that your round tummy is a sign that you are lucky enough to be well fed, or that your big arms symbolise strength. Be confident enough to flaunt the things that you perceive as flaws and you’ll find that in reality, these ‘flaws’ are meaningless.
Do not allow society and the media to dictate our lives and the way we see ourselves, we are way too beautiful to allow people to tell us that we aren’t.
A little bit about the Guest Writer Jen Molloy
Hi I’m Jenny! I am passionate about photography, travel, Mexican food and body positivity! I’m currently in the process of working on my self-love and my ultimate dream is to live a happy life as a full time writer in New York City!
Find Jen Online
Instagram – @Jen_Mol