Every time I don’t like how I look, I strike a pose and take a photo

The embarrassed, self-deprecating Brit in me does not want to write this post.

The woman who’s fed up with hating her own body because it doesn’t subscribe in every way to the standard model of beauty, does.

I recently wrote about how I’m making a real effort to accept my body after a lifetime of not not being happy with it (like so many people I know). Part of the process is to shut down the negative self critic in my head who makes mean gagging noises whenever I catch sight of myself at an ‘unflattering’ angle in the mirror.

This morning I was drying my hair in the mirror and I noticed how I looked about 5 months pregnant. My immediate feeling was of panic. I thought to myself: I need to go on a juice cleanse. I need to intensify my exercise routine. I need to wear baggier clothing. I need to hide in my flat forever and never let anyone see this terrible bulge of fat. I’m weak, I’m lazy, there’s something inherently wrong with me.

If some woman had just walked into my room and started shouting these things at me, like I was shouting them at myself, I would have cried. I probably also would have delivered a swift jab to her nose and called the police.

Instead of letting my critical voice get the best of me, like it always does, I got my phone, switched the timer on and (although I did feel kind of stupid) took a photo of myself as though I were a size zero bikini model on the beach.

No I don’t have a flat stomach. Yes, my boobs are squished up in a sports bra and I could be harbouring second trimester triplets in that belly cushioning. But does it make me a lesser person? No. Is it bad for me to look this way? No. Because this is a photo of someone who works out daily (and loves it), regularly walks or runs miles breathing in gorgeous country air, enjoys a healthy vegetarian diet and generally lives a good lifestyle. My only problem is that I’m mean to myself. Maybe some of you in the anonymous abyss of the Internet will also think mean things about me. Maybe you can’t help but think these things because you, like me, have been conditioned to think only low-fat women, or women with fat in certain places, can be beautiful. I thinks we’re only ever going to change our perception if we’re all more honest with ourselves. I’m sure I could rearrange my body into a much more ‘flattering’ angle than the one I’ve chosen here – but that’s not the point I’m trying to make to myself right now.

My period has just started (which for me means pain and inflammation) and I’ve been enjoying a few days of carelessly consuming various Easter egg/bunny-shaped chocolate. I’ve been out in the sun seeing my family who I haven’t seen for months because of lockdown. I’m in love with a man who appreciates me for who I am and how I look right now. This is a photo of someone who is (admittedly a little bloated) but happy.

Whether you’re slimmer than me, have a similar shape, or you’re bigger than me – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re doing things that make you happy, and not letting that mean bitchy little voice in your head make you feel any less than you are. Give her/him a swift punch to the nose and carry on on your beautiful, happy way.