As men and women of all ages suffer self-deprecating thoughts about their physical appearance, it’s easy to feel isolated within that self-hatred. Why? Because fat-shaming. We’ve become so used to idealising images of toned celebrities that we try to pretend such physiques don’t require a strict and active lifestyle to not only achieve but also maintain.
We feel isolated because even as some of our friends tell us “it doesn’t matter, love yourself,” a part of us still feels the pressure to be skinny and/or fit. Like we’ll be scorned for coming to terms with a non-super-fit lifestyle and looking chunky, especially when you have an ugly part of society with an internet connection shaming Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl for having a tummy that wobbles slightly. Never mind the fact that it takes a diaphragm of absolute STEEL to sing and dance at the same time.
When a family member tells us we’ve put on weight, it tells us that even those we love the most can’t help but project a “better image” onto us. It shows that, deep down, too many people are hung up with achieving Hollywood bodies.
I feel it, too. I trained all of my school life, including throughout 6th Form/college, to be a dancer. I was dancing six hours a week (as far as my class timetable was concerned), swimming an extra two hours, and walking four miles. Every week. Until fibromyalgia set in. Doctors didn’t take me seriously to investigate because I was “too young to have knee problems.” They told me to “get more exercise,” to which I laughed out loud. So they replied, “stop jumping heavily.”
After an all-day audition to Laben University I couldn’t walk the next day, and I knew I couldn’t pursue that lifestyle anymore, so I turned to my next passion: writing. As the years pass, all my joints are gradually getting worse, but what feels worse than all of that? No longer looking like an athlete.
I’ve been struggling with my self-image more and more, especially now I’ve got a comfortable job where I really don’t move that much. It’s had me collapse on my bedroom floor in despair – why can’t I fit a size 6 dress anymore? I’ve joined a ballet fit class, only to find my knees are so bad I’m in pain doing simple stretches.
But then I came across @bodyposipanda_. Megan posts a different kind of before and after pictures of herself:
She’s trying to tell us what we already know and want to value: our mental happiness and day-to-day vitality are what matter. It’s not good wishing we could edit away folds, curls, and chunky parts of ourselves. That’s not what makes us beautiful. I’ve always found that people look absolutely beautiful when they are happy, and Megan really does look overjoyed in all of her photos.
Maybe she does still have private moments when the rest of the world gets to her – it certainly tries hard to make her feel ashamed – but her confidence and photos are inspiring. So many of us can relate to those folds and wobbles. And if Megan looks beautiful sporting them, then so do we. So do I.