I was looking at a family photo the other day. Myself and my siblings in our backyard in England. I must have been about 10. Pretty, blonde, happy; my happiness in fact was sparkling through the photo. Happy memories. What shocked me though upon looking back at this pretty, blond, slim, happy girl…was the fact that I always thought I was chubby. Crazy. And yet….over the years, I’ve ALWAYS thought I was this; could have slimmer legs, tighter tummy and oh wouldn’t it be so lovely to perhaps not have such a jiggly butt (I always used to say when doing spinning classes that I’d stop doing them when my butt didn’t hang over the edge anymore lol).

I look back at photos of me in high school where I thought I was overweight only to see this was not the case. I remember being a young mom always trying to get to “that” weight so I’d be satisfied;  I now look at the photos of me with our then 2 year old son….and there’s nothing I should have been trying to change. Not. One. Thing. It seems at every life stage I’ve looked at myself with a lens of imperfection and yet when I look back years later, I wonder how and why I was ever so hard on myself.

So.

Why do we do this to ourselves? ‘Coz I know I’m not alone. We are always striving to be “that” weight, “this” size. Fit into the dress in our closet we’ve kept for years that is 3 sizes too small, but darn it, I’ll get in it soon!  Do you put yourself down, look at yourself and see only the imperfections? Find it hard to take compliments without adding on something “funny” about yourself after saying thank you…..just to point out your flaws?

I know for me, I was taunted for being chubby as a child. A sibling thought this was hilarious and obviously after getting a reaction from me after the first time, realized they’d hit the nail on the head with what “got” to me. And so it continued. And so as I go through life, I’ve considered myself chubby; it’s almost become who I am. It just takes one small comment from the wrong person at the wrong time to resonate with a child. And this was just the case.   But I find it surprising and a shame to realize it stuck with me all these years. One thing I find interesting: I was a competitive tennis player.  I don’t remember at ANY time feeling unconfident or chubby even coming into my thought process while playing tennis. When I was in “that” world, I was confident and body image didn’t have a place.  I believe I was also around like-minded people who had their ability on their court as their focus…not how they looked.

It’s not all bad; this is what made me who I am.  It made me passionate about helping others understand their worth and love themselves. I’ve come through my struggles of both how I see myself and health challenges – and literally feel like I “shine” from the inside out. My goal is to help as many women as possible feel this way. To experience the “I love myself just the way I am” kinda feeling.  We so often share with others and try to help others in areas we ourselves find challenges. I guess we’ve “been there, done that”;  we can relate to women who feel less worthy or struggle with body image because, when we’ve struggled with the same.

It’s also about pointing out what’s amazing about others. Too often, women are judged by other women so it’s easy enough to be hard on ourselves. Let’s point our flaws out before anyone else has the opportunity, eh?  Let’s kick that behaviour to the curb! Every time you see someone – think of something positive about them. Don’t make a silent judgement of how they look; how funny the skirt is they’re wearing (I would SO not be seen in that!!) or what their hair looks like. Think something positive. It’s liberating and empowering. And the more we do this as a whole; lift each other up, the more we are creating a positive environment for each other.

One last thought: we are trying to do all we can to teach our children to love themselves. We want our girls to not fall prey to the pressures of the outside world when it comes to body image and self-confidence. We want our boys to respect girls and their bodies; to support them and to appreciate them. Yet much of the time, when our children hear us say something about ourselves it is so often something that points out our flaws.  Which message will the kids listen to? The lesson we are trying to tell them – the behaviour we “feel” they should follow?  Or how they hear us speak about ourselves?  We need to be so much more mindful about walking the walk and practicing what we preach.

The movie is coming out soon which addresses body image. I’m so happy that finally it’s being addressed on such a major scale. I guess the tipping point has been reached where enough of us feel something has to be done to address how we see, think and feel about ourselves.  There’s way too much pressure out there to be perfect and we need to push it to the side, bang the drums of self love loud enough that it drowns these pressures out.

…and all of this came about today from looking at photos 🙂

Shine on my Friends….