Helloooo everyone!! I hope you are all having a fantastic week thus far and wherever you are in the world, you’re keeping safe and healthy. I, for one, am holed up in my room hiding from the ‘wintery weather’ and getting incredibly stressed about university.
Honestly, the things I’m stressing about could be a post all on its own … huh. What an idea … But the main thing I’m stressed about right now is a form that I’m waiting for from my university because I can only apply for a visa, arrange my flights etc. once I have that form so EEEKK!!!
(At the time of writing this post my form hadn’t arrived but as luck would have it I actually received this morning so my stress levels have significantly decreased.)
So I’ve wanted to talk about this topic for a while because I feel like it’s so important and it’s something that hits quite close to home for me. Our response to these things that are perfectly normal and part of our bodies/us can have such a detrimental effect on our mental health and our general attitude towards ourselves. Not to mention the damaging impact the opinions of others can have … That’s why today I want to really talk about what’s under the filter – the pimples, skin problems, stretch marks, scars, that little bit of extra insulation, and all the other things we don’t like about our bodies but are pretty normal to have. Today’s about taking away that filter and embracing everything underneath that may not be so instagrammable.
Feeling ashamed of what’s normal
There are so many reasons why people are ashamed of their bodies. Just speaking from personal experience, I’ve been ashamed of my face because of skin problems (sometimes even the dull colour of my eyes and dark circles from stress/not getting enough sleep). I’ve been ashamed of my hands and arms because of scars and marks that won’t go away. I’ve been ashamed of my body as a whole – from being a little more plump and the stretch marks that come with growing up and losing/gaining weight. In short, there’s a lot I’ve felt ashamed of when it comes to my body, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So – what are all the things that we have to feel ashamed of that are normal and why?
We feel ashamed of our skin when we have breakouts, at those pesky pimples that always seem to turn up at the most awkward times or a patch of blackheads that just won’t seem to go away no matter how many times you exfoliate and steam and exfoliate again.
Stretch marks are not visually appealing either. They are horrible marks that often stick with us for a long time. Scars are even worse – they are the mark of an injury. A place where we got hurt and the skin healed but decided to leave us a little reminder from that painful experience.
We feel so ashamed of these parts of us as if we are porcelain dolls, and these things are cracks that are detracting from our value. Now I’m with you, they may not be the most amazing things in the world. I mean, no one likes going out when they’re having a bad skin day, or getting ready for a date when you have a pimple the size of a planet on your chin or cheek, or sitting on the beach in a bikini if you have scars or stretch marks or simply aren’t happy about your weight. I know that these parts of us aren’t the most visually appealing aspects of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we need to cower away and feel ashamed because of them. All these things are perfectly normal to have, and they show that we are living our lives – so why is it that we want to hide them more than anything else?
Social media and the world’s expectations
The answer is clear – we feel ashamed about these imperfections because the world is orientated around perfection.
As sad as it is to admit, it is the undeniable truth. Social media and the world’s expectations revolve around perfection, and that has made for a lot of poor opinions when it comes to our thoughts about our own bodies.
Let’s just look at social media. We only ever post pictures that we feel we look great in, otherwise, what’s the point in posting them? We make sure we have the right angle, nothing is looking unflattering, all the ‘icky’ parts of us are either out of view, or we can use a filter to hide them and then we post this perfect picture. When we’re scrolling through our feeds, deciding what’s heart-worthy, we click on the ones that are aesthetically pleasing, and sadly we have been trained to think that aesthetically/visually attractive translates to model-like looks.
This is not our fault, though. We are constantly shown across all mediums that we should all strive for perfection, and that includes being fit and thin, having clear skin, no abnormalities and a happy, cheery disposition. Just look at movies, or adverts, or even the descriptions in books! The heroes and heroines are perfectly in proportion, they don’t have skin problems or body issues (unless it’s a significant scar linked to a tragic backstory that ends up making them more attractive) and all the subsidiary characters are the ones that the rest of the world would perceive as normal. The subsidiary characters are not model thin, they have pimples and scars and normal parts of their bodies that they aren’t happy with, but sadly these aren’t the characters we are pushed to aspire to. Only recently have these expectations changed, and now the world is trying to fix this skewed perception by making leading characters of all sorts so that it promotes a healthier body image. It’s a good start, but sadly, the damage has already been done, and we all know the cyclical nature of life … with social media and the added pressure to always be perfect … These aspirations for perfection are still making people feel ashamed of their bodies and different aspects of them.
Let’s be real
You see, the only problem with feeling ashamed about these things is that they are perfectly normal. Pimples, blackheads and having oily, dry or blotchy skin are all part of life. Heck, it’s even a prerequisite to getting through puberty most of the time (save for the lucky ones who go through their entire life with skin clearer than tropical ocean water). Everyone is susceptible to getting things like this on our skin because of hormones, stress, our lifestyles and sometimes even something as simple as weather change.
Is it fair?? NOOOOO
But it’s part of life, and there’s no point in shaming ourselves for getting a pimple (unless it’s right before a date because that’s just life being cruel and I’m so sorry if that happens to you). Instead, we need to learn to accept the fact that our skin has its ups and downs just like us and instead of fighting it, we just need to learn how to deal with and manage it.
What about scars or stretch marks? Are those also okay? YES!
For a long time, I hated scars and stretch marks because I’m fair-skinned and my marks don’t go away like they do for most others, so I’m stuck with those reminders. It wasn’t until I changed my attitude towards them that I realised they were okay. Stretch marks are a sign of your body changing – mine may not look so pretty, but they are more than marks. They are a reminder of my weight loss journey and all the hard work I put into my health. Scars are the same – they may be the sign of something traumatic that happened, but they are also a symbol that you survived that experience and got past it. They aren’t ugly marks deforming your body – they are battle scars that you should wear with pride because they indicate your strength and all the challenges you’ve managed to get through.
We are not porcelain dolls. These issues do not equate to cracks that shun us to a dusty shelf where we become the rejects in life. So please …
LET’S STOP ALL THIS NONSENSE!!
CAN WE PLEASE ACCEPT HOW OUR BODIES ARE, LOVE OURSELVES AND SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER??
INSTEAD OF TEARING EACH OTHER APART AND MAKING US FEEL ASHAMED ABOUT OUR BODIES??!!!
Okay, my apologies for that little outburst over there but I think it was necessary. I’m calm now (mostly – well as calm as a person can be talking about something this serious).
I know that it’s hard to trust people who say they know how you feel, but I really do. I’ve been shamed by others and myself for so many parts of my body. My weight, my skin, my scars and more. I know that it’s hard, but you really need to know that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of yourself for having these things. They are normal. Almost every teenager has skin problems, we all experience some form of weight change or body change that can cause stretch marks, and unless we spent our lives wrapped in cotton wool, we’ve all done at least one thing that left a scar. They are not signs of deformities, or that you are tarnished or imperfect. They are signs that you are a human being going through life, and life is hard.
So please, let’s be kind to ourselves and to others. The next time you’re thinking something negative about an aspect of your body, stop and ask yourself if it’s reasonable and if there’s something you can do about it. If you notice that your skin is particularly bad, or you’re unhappy with that extra padding, maybe look at changing your diet and exercise routine? You’d be surprised how something as small as shifting your lifestyle to be a little healthier can have such a significant impact on your body. If there is something you can do about it – like exercising more, eating healthier, following a more stringent skincare routine – then go ahead and do it.
For most of these things though, they are either cyclical (like with skin – it’s affected by our hormones and we have good days and bad days), or permanent and if you can’t easily change something to help then stop shaming yourself about it. All that’s going to do is make you miserable and give you a negative body image and bad mental health. Let’s instead focus on being positive and accepting ourselves and others instead.
If you struggle with feeling positive about your body, put sticky notes of compliments on your mirror so every time you look at your reflection, you read something positive about your body. Instead of thinking of why you don’t like something, think about why it’s there and how it represents something (like a scar). Let’s start accepting and loving our bodies – not just for our own mental health and positivity but for everyone else who isn’t there yet. It’s time to stop being ashamed of what’s under the filter and to own and love our bodies exactly the way they are.
And, just in case anyone hasn’t told you today, you are beautiful, amazing and perfect exactly the way you are!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
P.S. Thank you for reading Tall Blonde Tales! For more posts you can look here
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