As a follow up to the post I wrote about my eating disorder and lack of body confidence as a teenager, I thought it only polite to share with you how I manage to love and accept my body as it is today.  So here is the first in a series of posts about ‘My Happy Body’.

In basic terms, it all comes down to the voices in our head.  It has taken me a long time to shut down the negative and build up the positive when it comes to how I view my body and overall appearance.  I’m strangely thankful for the shitty time I had as a young woman, because I was able to experience first hand what self loathing and body hate can drive a person to do, and understand that it doesn’t discriminate, no matter what you look like.  I did not want those feelings and actions repeated at any time in my life, so I worked really hard, and continue to do so, to keep the voices in check.

The voices (thoughts, feelings, opinions, judgements) control the way we see ourselves and others.  As much as they like to have complete control and power, there are ways that we can trick them and get our own way, providing we understand them.  For me, a lot of my self loathing came from my inner Comparison Monster – the horrible, judgmental bastard that lives inside our heads, serving no other purpose than to make us feel less than and shithouse about ourselves.  The Comparison Monster is ruining lives and stealing joy, but it can be stopped.  I know, because I’ve defeated it – over and over and over again.  It claims a victory here and there, but in our long running competition, I am dominating that f*cker like a goddam champion (insert ‘Eye of the Tiger’ here).  The key is knowing its game and shutting it down before it has the chance to step foot in the ring.

The Comparison Monster works in two main ways (in my opinion).  It makes us compare ourselves to others (der) by seeing ourselves as less valuable than someone who we perceive to have greater value.  For example, “That girl has big boobs.  I don’t have big boobs.  Society likes big boobs, therefore she is better than me and I suck.”  This is easily identified as a self worth issue, because it puts the emphasis and negative talk back on us and it becomes our problem to own and wallow in.  We know we have an issue because it makes us feel sad and depressed.  Our friends and family try to make us feel better by showering us with love and compliments and champagne, and we load ourselves up with positive affirmations until we’re shitting rainbows.  Drowning the Monster with good vibes and self love is the best way to attack this side of the beast, but there is another, more sinister side to this devil, that is not so easy to tame.

The other sneaky way the Monster works is by negatively judging others.  So instead of beating ourselves up, we beat up someone else, which makes us feel better by comparison. This can be so poisonous and can disguise a whole world of other issues.  Because as much as we are looking at ourselves in the mirror each day with a smile on our face and positive thoughts about our body, if we’re bringing other people down (even if it’s a celebrity in a magazine) we still have demons that need exorcising.  The emotions we feel when we’re in this situation aren’t so easily recognisable as ‘sad’ or ‘depressed’ (I use that term to describe the emotion, not the condition, as that is definitely not ‘easily recognisable’).  In this scenario the focus isn’t put back onto us, so our friends aren’t dishing out the positive vibes and love, instead they are spitting out venom too, and joining in on the scavenging feast of bitchiness, like the vultures they are.  The poison is getting more potent and the hateful fire is being fueled by nastiness and negativity.  Nobody is winning this fight, because all that negativity is going straight back into our subconscious and diminishing our self worth.  We just don’t know it at the time.

To give you an example, I quote one of the great writers of our time, “Oh my god Becky, look at her butt…She looks like a total prostitute.” – Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Unfortunately I’m not completely free of my demons, but I recognise when they are around and know that there is a direct correlation between the way I judge others and the feelings I have about myself.  Living on the Gold Coast can be particularly difficult when you have issues with body image.  There is so much flesh on display here.  Every second bus has a young, bikini clad woman sprawled across it, advertising medical holidays.  We boast the largest number of boob jobs per capita in Australia and I dare say we’re up there in the world stakes.  There is an infinite supply of enviable physiques to compare and judge and it can be quite overwhelming.

I don’t want to get a boob job.  I don’t need a boob job.  My boobs are fine.  I’m OK with my boobs.  I like my boobs and so does my husband.  I also know that he wouldn’t complain if they suddenly got huge.  Rather than just concentrating on the “I like my boobs” thought though, I have, over the past 11 years that I’ve lived on the coast, allowed my Comparison Monster to say some really judgmental things about women with great racks (especially the fake ones) in order to make myself feel better.  Such as, “They make her look fat”, “Clothes aren’t cut for big boobs”, “She couldn’t possibly sleep on her stomach”, “She’s getting all the wrong attention”, “She just needs to do a few more shifts on the pole to pay them off”, “No one’s looking at her face, which is just as well” and “She looks like she’s going to topple over”.  Nasty.

Even though there are some absolutely ridiculous, and borderline comical, displays of flesh here on the Gold Coast, it doesn’t discount the fact that all these responses are just poison.  I never said any of those things to these women, and some I didn’t even say out loud, so all that venomous speak just got absorbed by me and only caused more damage in my moments of body loathing weakness.  The other women got to continue on their merry way feeling confident and happy in their endowment, while I just sat there in my shitty puddle of self hate, feeding the Monster.  Being a bitch didn’t make me feel like a good person and the negativity I was projecting onto others was affecting the way I saw myself.  So I had to kill the Monster.   How?  By showing the same love, positivity, kindness and the appreciation of beauty in others that I was trying to show myself.  And no, I wasn’t running up to every woman with great boobs or fabulous skin, showering them with praise and gushing over their brilliance (unless of course, I was fueled by tequila).  I was just taking control of the voices that were trying their hardest to spew forth nastiness.  Instead of letting envy and jealousy rule my thoughts, I consciously turned those negatives into positives or tried to ignore the stimulus completely.  Fortunately, I can be completely oblivious to people and things around me at times, that I often miss an enviable hottie all together.  Sometimes all I can muster is a “Good for her”, but it’s still better than opening a can of completely pointless anger and hate over something that is only damaging to me.

I know the topic of body image, and it’s associated bullshit, can be a bit of a repetitive bore, but from the feedback I received about my eating disorder post, it sounds like many of you want to read a different perspective.  I hope I’m not spewing out repetitive crap that you’ve heard a million times, and although I don’t have all the answers and solutions, I have found a contentment and happiness with myself that I would never have thought possible 20 years ago.  I’m just hoping that my words might strike a cord with some of you who are struggling to love certain aspects of yourself, so that you too may find peace with the incredible women that you are.  Because you are all bloody amazing.

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