One thing that quite frankly gets on my tits, as in makes me growl at my phone is…. “This is what REAL women look like…” followed by a picture of a wonderfully curvy woman, with fab norks and a booty that inspired Beyonce’s first solo album. The assumption by many being that if you’re under-weight, slim, athletic, skinny, toned or under a size 10 – you’re for some obscure reason branded unreal, or even fake! I grew up with my mum (see below) who, at 5ft4″, blonde, blue eyed and feckin’ fabulous, was somewhat physically different to me – but, as far as I was concerned, she was just as real as me. No?! So when Dove asked me to tell my story about body confidence and image, in support of the Pledge to Be Real Campaign, I nearly chewed their beautifully smelling, wonderfully moisturised arms off!
I’ve always been a “skinny mini”, yup pretty darn lucky (I don’t take this genetic lottery win for granted), but I’m still bloody real. The “struggles” of a slim-Jim are just as “real” as that of a voluptuous Vera. Fear not dear readers, this is not a thigh-gap pity party – but a wake-up call for the global media that every woman and girl (and of course, man – but I can’t speak from that personal perspective!) is real -big, small, tall, short, fat, thin, flabby, trim – insert any size related adjective you fancy.
As a skinny-moo I’ve been on a size journey too; As a kid, I was tall and skinny, and through my teenage years I used this to my advantage in beauty pageants and modelling. Most people would assume I was happy in my body, afterall, what’s not to love about being 5ft8 and a constant size 6/8 despite never going to the gym and having a rubbish diet?It wasn’t until I became a mother, when my body morphed into a baby-propagator that things started to go downhill. I loved the pregnancy part – the huge, round belly filled with my own little person. I was on cloud 9. But after growing two humans in close succession, failed breastfeeding and a heavy dose of PND what I saw looking back at me was Voldemort meets Golam with flaps of skin where my pert little boobies once sat. I was pale, unshaven, pimpled, greasy haired and knackered – this was my real. I didn’t have the energy or willpower to scrub myself up in the bath, machete that jungle, slap on the fake tan and some war paint to declare war on my PND. It was dark times and my fading size 6 body – I was ill but not willing to admit it.
In 2007, the only place to glean body image assurance were those now lambasted fashion mags. I love Gisele Bundchen as much as the next mere mortal, but I didn’t want to see her glistening, sun kissed, bag of gorgeousness on every page, 5 pages would’ve sufficed. I wanted just one page that showed: “Here’s Gi-Gi when she rocked up this morning at 5am looking rrrrrrough!” I desperately wanted and needed to know that not every successful woman on the planet looked like preened Vogue perfection.
In the pursuit of happiness, as one does when you’re rather low, I went and got myself a brand-new pair of titties – convinced this would make everything ok. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise fixing the tits ain’t gonna make your head any better, let alone like what it sees looking back at itself! Long story short, after getting to breaking point, I carted myself off to rehab to deal with the demons in my head. Body dysmorphic disorder (which I didn’t know I had, and THESE guys explain better than I ever could) is very real and when coupled with post-natal mind-fucks, can be a lethal cocktail on which a fragile mind can overdose. The anti-dote to this sorry tale of early motherhood – LOVE – lots of it. But not the kind that others can throw your way (although this is also essential), self-love. This sounds incredibly hippy-dippy, psycho babbly, but it was the only remedy that no one could give me yet I needed so desperately.
Fast forward to 2016, lots has changed in those preceding years, but the biggest change is I’m happy in myself, and have learnt, on most good days, to love me – including the wobbly bits! I have a healthy community of mums (in real life and online) who I look to on the black days to know they’re going through the same shiz too. I can laugh ’til I cry when my 8-year-old jealously asks “mummy, how do you get your bum to jiggle like that?” and get hours of entertainment with Casper when he thinks he’s lost his hand in my belly-blub searching for my belly button. This is now my REAL.
I’ve grown three humans in this body of mine and this body of mine came from that body of hers – now how’s that for magic?! This is the part I need to give a HUGE, FAT, OVERWEIGHT, CURVY shout-out to my mum – who, even when those pesky inner voices wouldn’t let me listen, always told me I was beautiful and meant it.
I created this post as a competition entry in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge.