Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @ellessechar
The starting line is always so hard. I’m always torn between the angle I’m about to take.
Should I give you all the facts?
Should I be as vulnerable as possible and share my experiences and hope it’s helpful for those who relate?
Or do I give an impartial and more general opinion based on my research?
I must admit, I’m not really fond of the latter and honestly, it’s not my forte. Because most importantly, the journey I hope to take you on, with the words you’re about to read is to truly shift your mindset, add something to your perspective and most of all inspire you. Inspire you to consider something you haven’t, inspire you to ask yourself some hard questions, inspire you to change, and work on something that will enhance your life, your relationship with yourself and others. So yeah, this one was no exception and I definitely spent a lot of time dwelling on the best piece of information that I can offer you.
Maybe this one was particularly difficult because of the topic: body image.
What a silent little monster this is, so intrinsically singular to our own experiences and the beliefs we develop around how we look and the stories we tell ourselves about it. Maybe it was harder because the way we think and feel about our bodies can and have such a huge impact in our lives, on how we feel about ourselves, our mental health and wellbeing. Or maybe it was harder, because personally, it’s been a journey with more ups and downs for me than steady ones.
If you’re wondering, well then, what’s the angle?
So am I, I don’t think I’ve decided on one. As I sit here writing this, I figure you can google all the stats and numbers, and decide which resonate or interest you more. I’m speaking very broadly on the concept of body image, rather than diving into its various elements such as: eating disorders, body and muscle dysmorphia, fear of gaining weight, body avoidance, body checking and others. But the bottom line is, the numbers are there, and combined they’re not so little. The stats are also not exclusive to women. Men, teenagers and children are also included in the conversation. Social media as had a huge impact in how we see, think and feel about ourselves and the body positivity movement has resurfaced and it’s more relevant and important than ever.
Personally, I’ll tell you that I’m actively working on the limiting beliefs and stories I told myself about how I looked that eventually became the truth of how I identify with my body (or better put, my truth). Unlearning those narratives, building new ones, practising healthier habits and reframing my relationship with my body has been a lifelong journey so far and I’m sure it will continue. It’s been at times challenging because so much of those stories formed the identity I shaped and how I presented myself to the outside world, and I dare say, as many of us. And have you noticed that even people that wouldn’t say they have any body image struggles will still critique and make little notes on their body.
“I love x, BUT.”
And granted, human beings have become addicted to critique, self or otherwise, so in part it’s only natural, but since we’re diving into the topic, isn’t it strange, that even people that according to them, think they look good and like how they look, still have notes to make? Not to get deep, but does that mean they truly do?
Like everything in this life, I’m learning, it’s not that black and white, I’m sure. Maybe they simultaneously do and don’t, maybe we all have days. And maybe, we can all get to a point where there are no notes to make, no critiques to be held, just gratitude. Gratitude for this vessel, this body that carries us all through so much. Maybe, we can all get to a point of sheer appreciation for the one of one being that we all are. Maybe, if we’re more aware of where we stand, more vulnerable and courageous in what we want to do about it, we can dismantle the ‘beauty’ norms formed for us, the limiting beliefs that hold us back, the insecurities that bring us anxieties and the crippling fear of not
If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be this: check how you speak with yourself. But truly, even the little comments matter, so check in and see if you’re speaking to yourself as you would to the person you love most. It makes a difference. Wherever you stand right now with how you think and feel about your body, I’d like to end on this:
Healing is like art
And I’ll take no credit for that one. Shout out to Natasha who shared her experience and her point of view on this with me, for which I’m so grateful for. Lastly, I want to remind you that you get to choose, you get to take inventory and change or build whatever you want for your life and for yourself. You get to decide that you choose yourself, by being aware, being honest, vulnerable, brave, by choosing healthier and better. And when the will fails you, because we all have days, to choose it all over again and know, that somewhere someone is doing it too. You’re never alone.