I don’t like my body. And I don’t like the way that I look. I have body image issues and dealing with them is a constant struggle. But from years of really trying to understand where those issues come from, and trying to find ways to feel better about myself, I realized a few things.
There are so many generally accepted ways about how to feel better about yourself and your body. They are sold as concepts and safe paths to walk on if you want to be able to love yourself and want others to find you attractive. There is dieting and weightloss, there is exercise, plastic surgery and professional skin care treatment.
What most people don’t understand is that those are huge industries with a lot of money at stake. Part of your outside might be fixed, but your inside might not change at all. Unless you understand why you are unhappy with the way you look, and where a lot of the self-hatred comes from, you will be stuck in the same thoughts and emotions. No matter if you look like the perfect version of yourself.
It is not a secret that I have a huge issue with the self-help industry. I think most of it is solely about money and the right appearances. It is never about depth, never about actually changing anything. But good people, there are no quick fixes. There are no recipes that work for everyone.
Changing the way that you feel about yourself, the way you look, or who you are, is not going to happen overnight. And working on your meat prison and neglecting the whys and hows of your thought processes and feelings at the same time, is not going to make a difference.
You don’t need to change the way that you look. You need to work on the ways you approach yourself and question your negative thoughts. I mean, weightloss is hard, having an exercise routine is hard. But actually facing your own self-hatred, your conditioned negativity concerning your own body? That is a whole lot harder.
I don’t want to sound preachy. That would be hypocritical. I also don’t have any solutions. I’m just always the mean person who points out faulty thinking but doesn’t know how to fix it. My opinion isn’t just an opinion though, it is based on my own experiences. The way that I have approached weightloss and beauty in the past. But I have also supported enough people in my volunteer work, that I can tell you that we are all conditioned to think certain things.
These things are: a slim body is a healthy body. Only slim bodies are attractive and when I am slim, I will be more attractive. I can only be loved if I love myself. Well, all those ideas are pretty much bullshit. So only fat people die of cancer? Everyone has the same preferences when it comes to sexual attraction? You have a huge label on your forehead saying: sorry, hate myself, not available to be loved? Bullshit.
Perfection is an Illusion
See, we are all a product of our time. A few hundred years ago it was in fashion to have a large forehead so women shaved off parts of their hair. Today we all think we need to look like Pamela Anderson or Kate Moss clones to be pretty. We don’t stand much of a chance because these ideas are everywhere and they are promoted by self-proclaimed experts.
But here is what I have learnt: any kind of changes to the way that you look will only make a difference for you if they happen for healthy reasons, and are not based on wanting to fix your mind with a change to your body.
And the sad thing is: everyone has body image issues. The person that you deem “perfect” might cry themselves to sleep at night because they don’t like their teeth or the way their breasts look without a bra. We assume things. A perfect body does not bring you happiness. And the perfect body is not even something that is achievable for most, unless they have invasive plastic surgery. These are hard truths.
Body Image Issues and Weight Loss
I have written a lot about body image issues on my blog because they are something I struggle with a lot. I often can’t look at myself in the mirror and I hate to see myself in videos or pictures where the angle is not controlled by myself. And I sometimes even go so far in my disgust of my own body, that I want to cut my own boobs off. So yes, I know what it feels like to not like the way that you like.
Now. I have lost huge amounts of weight before. Through hard work and discipline. I have a few hormone illnesses that have made it harder for me to lose weight. Still, at one point, I managed to lose over 60 kg. I went from 120 kg to 59 kg. All by myself. I restricted my food, I controlled what I ate, I exercised over an hour every day. And you know what? I still thought I was ugly and disgusting. And I had developed an eating disorder.
I then gained almost all of that weight again. Psychiatric medication, mental illness and yet another hormonal illness pushed me close to 110 kg again. I was upset, but also, I wasn’t? Losing all that weight had made absolutely no difference to how I felt about my body and the way that I looked.
And let me tell you another hard truth: you will end up with skin hanging from weird places of your body. Why? Because that is not something that you can exercise away.
You will need a lot of plastic surgery to fix that. If you are very overweight and there are no health reasons for you to lose weight, then you should really think hard if you want to deal with the skin issue. I was unable to be naked around others still. Not because I was fat, but because my body looked like some alien body suit.
Being slim did not change the way I felt about my body and the way that I looked. I realized that all that self-hatred did not come from the way my body actually looked, or even primarily from the media’s portrayal of beauty. Just as much as many other things in my life, it comes from trauma. It is about the way my parents tried to make me lose weight already when I was a kid because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get a man. It is the bullies who made fun of my weight, of the way that I looked. And it definitely also comes from the physical and sexual abuse. I have just always felt that my body is disgusting.
I know where it comes from. And I think that is really important. Do you know where your need to want to change your body and lose weight comes from?
I can’t process my trauma, nor am I strong enough to question all the negative thoughts and validate the negative emotions in my head. I would need professional help for that and I don’t have that sort of access at the moment. So I am doing the next best thing: I am being reasonable and work on acceptance. I know that weightloss doesn’t change the way that I feel about my body. But I also know that losing weight is improving my health (it has improved my blood glucose levels immensely lately).
So I am doing things reasonably. I lose weight because I want my blood glucose levels to stay out of the diabetic range. I remember when I felt my most comfortable back in the day, and that weight is my goal weight.
It is tentative though. I am not basing any of this on numbers, but I am basing it on my subjective emotions. No number can tell me how I am feeling. My happy weight is about how I feel. I question the notion that anyone’s happy weight is a number.
I have recently lost a bit of weight. About 15 kg. I had changed the way I eat because of my IBS and I also turned vegan. And that made a huge difference for me. I need to be careful so I don’t go into the direction of eating disorder and disordered eating again. I can’t restrict too much. And I can’t overeat. I can’t eat unhealthy foods.
But I know that any happy weight still doesn’t do much about the way that I look at my body and how I am disgusted by it. Instead, I value the small tricks. I love wearing make up and it makes me instantly feel better about myself. I feel prettier. And I also pick out my clothes out carefully. There are beautiful clothes for all sizes and they don’t even need to cost a fortune. It is all about knowing your shape and what works on you.
And one important thing that has helped me lots is taking pictures. I realized that in certain angles, with certain filters and such, I actually can say that I look attractive. I know that many oppose filters and overediting. And I don’t always do it. But I hate the naked truth about my body. I absolutely hate my body. My self-acceptance can only go so far.
But seeing that with the foundation of that body I can still create something beautiful, has changed me a little. Because things can only look beautiful if the foundation is decent, right? I think we should stop judging others for how they take pictures and how they present themselves online.
The important thing is that it makes them feel good about themselves. It should never be about other people. It should be about yourself and your own relationship with your body.
I wrote this post because I have seen the whole “lose weight, feel pretty” mantra gain more attention again. There is so much focus on diets, on being slim. Most people never come to the realization that weight loss might not change their body image issues.
They just obsessively follow the new diets and work out routines. I think most of us need to look into ourselves instead and find out why we are not okay with our bodies. Self-acceptance comes before self-love. And even if you are still on the beginning of that journey, that is okay. You are still beautiful. And you can be loved.