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