Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Love The Skin You're In.

We all know that the pressure on both women AND men in regards to appearance is huge. In recent years there has been some movement towards ensuring that media representations of the human body are slightly more realistic, however for the most part society portrays an image of perfection that we must all aspire to - and lord help us if we cannot - or worse, don't WANT to - conform to these stereotypes. The simple message that men, women, boys and girls are bombarded with each and every day is 'if you don't look like *insert musician/actor/model's name here*, then you are unattractive.'

And the thing is, any one of us could look like those people. I could look like Angelina Jolie if I had a bottomless bank account. If I had millions of pounds to spend on cosmetic surgery, a personal chef, a trainer, an in-house gym and Lord knows what else these celebrities have the privilege of possessing, then sure, I could look like that too. But the thing is, I don't. I am by no means the worst off or the busiest of people on the planet, but I still have neither the time nor money (nor, quite frankly, the inclination) to spend six hours a day working out. Nor do I fancy a macrobiotic diet (unless chocolate and wine is considered macrobiotic, in which case count me in). And neither do 99.999999% of the rest of the population. So why does the media and society insist on bombarding us with the message 'this is what you should look like'? Why are so many young women and young men being made to feel inadequate because they don't look a certain way? Its not right, and its not fair.

As I've lost weight (and then regained it, and then lost it again, and then regained it again), I've become more and more aware of the expectations placed upon society and the insecurities these breed. A friend of mine has a serious complex about her thighs and bum. The girl has long blonde wavy hair that would make Rapunzel sick with envy, a washboard stomach and an incredible rack - but she doesn't see any of that. And why not? Because Closer magazine tells her every week that if she doesn't have a butt like Nicole Scherzinger  then she doesn't have a butt worth having. Another friend hates her arms. Someone else doesn't like her tummy. A male friend has gone so far as to shave his chest in preparation for a beach holiday because apparently hairy chests aren't the thing now either. Says who!? All these worries and problems because a group of people want to put a circle around the 'bizarre little toe' of a celebrity on the cover of their magazine. Its exactly why I don't read them anymore.

I like to think that I, for the most part, don't buy into the whole thing. Do I have fat days? Of course I do. Do I have a little whinge every now and again about my bad skin? Sure. Do I make a vow, daily, that I'm going to make more of an effort to go to the gym, eat right, lose more weight and tone up? Absolutely. Do I watch X Factor and wish I had Nicole's body and Tulisa's hair? You can bet your bottom dollar on it. But do I have crippling complexes and worry myself sick over any aspect of my body or appearance. No. Not for a second.

I used to - and believe it or not it was about my breasts. Not my fat thighs or size 22 arse. My boobs. I hated them when I was bigger and hated them more as I lost weight. They were the first thing to go and unlike most parts of my body they haven't sprung back quite as well. I even went so far as going to see my doctor about being referred for a breast augmentation on the NHS - it was that bad. For a long time, the bra didn't come off for any reason but to shower. Thats right, any reason. But over the last year something has changed and I've come to appreciate how far I've come and that actually, the girls aren't that bad. Don't get me wrong, if someone walked up to me and offered to do them for free then chances are I wouldn't say no, but do I hate them enough to actively seek it out? No. Not any more. In the same way that I don't see a flabby belly, wobbly thighs, jiggly bum or bingo wings when I look in the mirror, I also no longer see my boobs as the huge problem they once were. Maybe if I did see all those things I'd work harder and strive for perfection, but all I see now when I look in the mirror is a body that I worked damn hard for and that I'm proud of. Imperfections and all.

This acceptance and - dare I say it - confidence in my appearance is bred of nothing more than the power of comparison. I'm the same size now - if not slightly bigger - that I was at age 17, and I hated everything about the way I looked. Yes some of the change is down to being older and wiser, but the majority is because I know just how much worse it could be than it is right now. I compare my body now to how it was three years ago and think to myself 'damn girl, you did good.' Its an empowering feeling. And it makes me glad that I was so overweight to start with, because that feeling is going to stay with me forever. For the rest of my life I will look in the mirror and instead of nitpicking the circumference of my thighs and every innocuous little stretch mark (because believe you me kids, I've got 'em - mine are worse than my mums and she carried two 8lb+ babies!), I'll instead be able to focus on the positives in a way that many other people aren't able to. Those who don't know the hell of being 20st, constantly out of breathe, uncomfortable and self-conscious and miserable, cannot truly appreciate the joy of buying a size 10 skirt, running on the treadmill, even introducing yourself to a new person without worrying about what they think of you for being so huge.

So do I want to look in the mirror and see this?


Sure I do - what woman wouldn't?

But what I actually see is this:


And thats ok, because its a hell of a lot better than this:


With all my love, as always,
Lauren
xxxxx

24 comments:

  1. As ever, you are a remarkable, brave and absolutely inspirational woman. I'm so proud of you! You're more beautiful than any magazine because I know what you've been through, how hard you've worked, and I know I'm not looking at airbrushed! xxx

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  2. I think that these societal expectations can be really damaging to people - particularly our youth. Thank you for bringing awarness to a very important issue Lauren!

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  3. You look frickin' amazing! I want that flat tum! And you have a killer waist - I'm just starting to get mine back now :) And Nicole is just doing the classic 'raise your arm above youe head to stretch yourself out and make your boobs look better' like all the Page 3 girls so she's cheating really! xo

    Rosie | A Rosie Outlook

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  4. Lauren , this is such an inspirational post that brought me to tears! You are amazing! Xxxx

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  5. You are a very brave and very smart girl.
    This was so well-written and it had me nodding "same here. same here. same here!" throughout the entire post.
    That is possibly the best post I have ever read and I've read A LOT.
    You look truly beautiful! x

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  6. very nicely put...how many of us have pictures of celebs on our walls or fridges for inspiration and how realistic is that we will ever get to that! Having those two pictures of you would be much more inspriational! What a huge difference! You look great and have achieved so much!

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  7. Wow this is so inspirational and well written. And so brave of you to post those pictures - you have done so well! I'm like you and almost glad in a way that I did gain a lot of weight because now I've lost it and more (4 stone in total) I know that even if I don't always like what I see, it's a damn sight better than it was. And I'm proud of myself for coming so far :)
    The Life of Emily-Alice

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  8. Great post! Accepting that my body won't look the same as in the magazines despite my weight loss is difficult, but I am working hard to be ok with that!

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  9. I have been following your posts for a while, but this is the first time I have actually felt compelled to leave a comment.
    That post and those photos are amazing! You have every reason to be proud of yourself.
    After losing my weight I was left with a lot of unsightly baggy skin, your new figure is gorgeous! It makes me wish I had old photos to remind me of how far I have come, particularly at the moment when I have managed to gain over a stone in the last 6 weeks and can't seem to motivate myself out of the over eating / no exercise rut!
    I don't think I will ever look in the mirror and not find fault. I don't think I will ever look in the mirror and see the me that other people seem to see. But thanks to your post, next time I do look in the mirror, I promise to remind myself that what I see is 12 stone less (and more than half)what I used to see!
    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Sarah! 12 stone is absolutely INCREDIBLE and something you should be so incredibly proud of. Fighting the temptation to be really hard on ourselves is really hard so I know what you mean, but having come so far is definitely something to celebrate and be proud of. I'd love to hear more about your story - do you have your own blog?

      Much love!
      Lauren xxxx

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  10. No, I don't have one unfortunately. I've thought about it many times, but never actually done it. I do understand the need to have somewhere to vent, write thoughts and share things with 'someone', but have always done it the old fashioned way in a diary (think I would literally want to die if anyone ever read those!!)
    That's why I loved it when I came across your blog back in June this year. I went right back to the beginning and read each post and you reminded me so much of myself in relation to your past relationship and how that contributed to the problem. Your blog has made me realise maybe the thoughts that go off in my head actually are "normal" haha

    Sarah xxx

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  11. Best blog post I have seen this year.
    Very inspirational Miss Jones.
    You have done amazing x

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  12. What a lovely post and very inspirational. You look great now and have done so well. Good for you. x

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  13. wow you have completely inspired me here. amazing. i think this is such a great thing to do. and plus you look great xxxx

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  14. Such a brave and inspirational post, you've done so well and look incredible right now! I hope I have as much success as you.

    http://www.rafflesbizarre.blogspot.com

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  15. What a brave post - and lady you look absolutely gorgeous! You have such sexy curves and you've done an amazing job to get there. Well done xxx

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  16. Couldn't agree with you more and well done for posting those pictures, you look great and have so much to be proud of! I think it's difficult not to let magazines get to you purely because of other peoples' reactions to it. For example, I carry most of my weight on my hips so wanted to see which thigh measurements related to which clothing sizes and saw people with much smaller measurements saying they had thunder thighs which made me feel shit because I instantly thought oh god what would they think if they saw me? I know it's not the case but it's immediately what your mind jumps to!
    Anyway, well done for this post you're extremely brave! :)

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  17. Inspiring! Well done chick :)

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  18. you look bloody amazing!! I'm going to bookmark this post to remind me that I can do it too. I don't think I've ever felt pressure to look like celebrities but I do know exactly what you mean about being bigger and always worrying about what other people think or say about you. I'd love to have a figure like yours, hopefully I will eventually :)

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  19. You're wonderful, Lauren. I love everything about this. Go you!

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  20. This is literally the best blog post I have read :) x

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  21. I was literally just discussing media images of women with my hubby last night :( I have lost 8st 2.5 this year and have a way to go, even then I would be no glamazon but I will be healthier and like myself a little better! Well done you showing what a REAL woman looks like hopefully one day I will be brave enough to do the same. x

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I love all your comments, so please let me know what you think!