Dear Body Image of 15year Old Me

Dear Body Image of 15 Year Old Me,

When you were 15 you decided to go to London for the day to meet up with friends. You and another friend decided to get caricatures done.  Your friend’s was brilliant- she was depicted in a champagne glass having lots of fun, she looked amazing.  When it came to having yours done you nearly cried at the result.  Did you really look like that!?

Admittedly you have a big nose (thankfully grown into my face now doesn’t look as huge as it used too), big boobs (which you since had reduced), Gappy teeth (since closed due to having them capped when 19 as braces wouldn’t have worked), A wonky forehead- (I re-discovered fringes aged 22- why did I not have one between 12-22!?), a mahoosive smile which makes my eyes disappear. Yes I was out in stockings and suspenders (I was a goth, all my friends wore them too it was um “fashion”!) but these were combined with massive boots, a mini skirt and a nirvana top no cleavage or arms to be seen.  But basically he drew an ugly “slut“! Thanks.

A friend of my mum’s suggested I throw away the picture as why would I want to keep something that made me feel so bad about myself.  Turns out it was probably one of the wisest pieces of advice I have ever received.  I didn’t throw it away (I had spent a £7.50 on it- that was a lot of money to me back then!) but I did put it away only to rediscover it today.  I can look at the picture and laugh- it doesn’t really look like me. Well it does in a way but not really and not anymore, and I can see how far my own body image has come. Back then that day I felt like the ugliest person in the world. Nowadays I actually feel pretty allright looking most of the time so long as I don’t stand next to pretty people.

It made me realise a message I want to pass onto my daughters- why keep things that make you feel bad about yourself (including friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, pictures etc) ultimately what is the point of that!  Had I kept that caricature on my bedroom wall looking at me literally as a  mocking reflection of everything I hated about myself- how would I have developed the fairly good body image I have today? Admittedly I have made adjustments to how I look, surgerywise, dentristry, hairwise which have all helped with my self esteem too, so I can’t be an evangelical “just be happy in your own skin” type of person because I know as much as anyone it doesn’t work like that, but I feel the adjustments I made were reasonable ones (it’s not like I have been on a Bride of Wildenstein quest for beauty at all) and now I am happy in my own skin without wearing any make up and with my “Proportionate Build“.  It will be interesting if my girls do want to make cosmetic changes to their appearance and how we will navigate that because ultimately although I want them to love themselves just how they are and not feel the need to make those changes but then how can I judge as I have made those changes myself in order to get here, and how is that any different to  the lovely @Glosswitch wearing makeup everyday.

So yeah, today I will throw away that caricature of me and post it on the intenet instead to mock me for perpetuity and ponder some more about how to keep a positive body image and good self esteem in my darling girls.

Any advice please?

Lot’s of love



5 responses to “Dear Body Image of 15year Old Me

  1. Back in the mists of time, I too ventured to That London and made the mistake of having a caricature of myself drawn, with similar results (apart from the boobs, I didn’t get those until I spent three years of university eating pizza and drinking beer).

    I threw the picture away a long time ago, and I am generally pretty happy with my appearance most of the time these days.

    Caricaturists, purveyors of misery, and have the cheek to charge you for the privilege!

    • As it happens a close male family member has had two breast reductions. Big boobs- family trait! Harder for blokes than women to have boobs I reckon!

      Yeah what a cheek, bet it is more than £7.50 now! In fact almost tempted to go for a then and now one- but um no!

  2. I clearly remember reading, I don’t know, let’s call it Mizz. There was an article about legs and what the perfect legs should look like. About how if you stood with your legs together where the gaps should be (calves shouldn’t touch apparently!) and even how many inches around they should measure. I remember taking out the measuring tape and my results falling sadly short (or long!) It felt like a real problem. Would they get away with that today? I don’t know. I’m now much more body friendly, but my calves still touch – I effectionately call them ‘hams’. I tend to think also that there might not be much we can do when the time comes. I think it might be a right of passage kind of thing for young girls to feel insecure. All I do know is that the media and advertising that our kids will be susceptible to will need a lot of explaining. I’m going to be like an annoying parrot in the background of any telly watching goings on saying things like ‘You know her breath smells’; ‘I bet she’s got ugly feet’, not to be catty but just to try and redress the balance. I might even get a few cgi images of myself made up to drive home the point! Yes that would be the only reason…! #minefield

  3. Great post. And like you, I had a caricature done, though being from London, I chose somewhere else to be victimised!!

    I just posted about my concerns for teenage girls and the easy access to cosmetic surgery combined with the intense pressure from certain areas of the media for young girls to look a certain way. I would never say that everyone should avoid cosmetic surgery, clearly there are times when it is a good thing – but it is worrying how simple it is for a teen to walk in and request a boob-job – when her breasts are perfectly fine as they are – and not even realise she’s signing up to not just one, but possibly four or five major operations in her life.

    It looks to me like you are in a great position to be able to speak honestly to your daughters, reassure them and help them make the choices that are right for them, rather than them being peer-pressured or media-pressured into doing something they might later regret.

  4. Pingback: Dear Body Image of 5 Year Old Me. | Letters From LadyCurd

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