Just thought I’d share a personal story, a bit of peak into my brain (help!)…a small experiment I took on that made quite a big difference.
You see, if I’m totally honest, I’ve struggled with body image stuff since I was fairly young. It started with the usual early teen bodily changes, reading celeb magazines and comparing to my friends, but grew into something more as some of my friends lost large amounts of weight and the ‘healthy eating’ challenges between us became more of a permanent ‘diet’ mentality. I never really hated my body, it was more of a dull, background dissatisfaction that was always there, like the dripping tap effect on my confidence and holding me back from really being ok with being Sarah. I tried to change it in numerous ways, like banning the magazines (which I highly recommend and still do!), working on appreciating the way I’ve been made and the things that make me different (again, highly recommended) and talking openly with close friends about the things that were bothering me so I could change my thoughts (DO IT!).
Fast forward a decade (or nearly two!), these things really had made a big impact on my life and I was definitely more OK to look like me and not someone else, but that dull, background dissatisfaction was still there. Maybe not so obviously but there all the same. I’d find myself looking in the mirror for five minutes too long, checking the bits I didn’t like and working out how or if I could change them. Until one day, about a year ago, I had an idea. I was going to ‘fast’ my mirror for a little while and see if it made a difference. I mean, I only knew what bits of my body really looked like because I was seeing my reflection so often, constant visual feedback if you will, so why not block it out? Not in a denial sort of way, but in a changing-my-focus sort of way. So I did. I covered my mirror in paper and masking tape and just left enough room so I could see to tie my hair up in the morning!
The first few days were a bit weird and I’d have to keep nipping into the guest room to check I didn’t clash or have a tag hanging out before leaving the house! But as time went on I noticed myself leaving ‘body’ thoughts quite well alone and not setting my day up feeling negative about myself. At this point I’d like to point out that it really doesn’t matter how big or small you are, if you don’t feel good about yourself, you just don’t. I’m well aware some people would look at me and think ‘why the heck do you think there’s an issue’ but it’s all relative and totally tied into how you feel about yourself…whatever size you are. I’m also aware that this technique doesn’t fix deep issues of the heart, but what it had the potential to do was stop it being a priority in my mind.
Actually, it ended up making quite a noticeable difference, enough that I’ve still got those scrappy bits of paper taped to my mirror! I find myself thinking about more important things at the beginning of the day, like what I’m going to cook for dinner later, what I need to do when I get into work and who I want to catch up with afterwards. Not deep thoughts by any means, just less about things that really don’t matter. In the name of honesty, sometimes I catch myself sneaking a look in the guest room mirror (or any mirror in fact) and then remembering why I don’t do it any more because the negativity rears it’s head again. Or I’ll have ‘one of those days’ where I just don’t feel great and WOULD quite like to look like someone else. And I definitely don’t spend my day walking around feeling like mega-hot-stuff BUT I do just find myself not thinking about it. You know, just sort of neutral, like in it’s right place where it belongs mostly, not worrying about it so much. And I’ll take that. We are so much more than the shell that we live in, but it’s easy to forget if (like me) you’ve been lured at times into the media-perfect-body-shaming-culture that we can feel we’re supposed to fit. There are far more important and interesting things to be thinking about instead (like my next baking creation…).
If you find this helpful at all, please feel free to share it! Or comment below (friendly please!) if you want to share thoughts or ask a question…