Why it’s time to Embrace your body

Why it's time to embrace your body

A note from me:

I wrote this post in February 2017 after watching the documentary Embrace  by Taryn Brumfitt, founder of the Body Image Movement. I was deeply moved by it and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after. I felt compelled to write about it and to share my own complex relationship with my body.

At the time I wasn’t quite sure how it would sit on my blog and to be honest I was scared of putting my vulnerabilities out there for my closest friends and family to see so I chickened out and published it fairly anonymously on the Selfish Mother blog. It’s not a great post, I was too emotional and had too many thoughts racing through my mind at the time.

So with some trepidation and a lot of inspiration from Alison Perry whom I admire enormously, Emma Paton from Finlay Fox, Natalie Style Me Sunday and Clemmie Hooper I’m sharing my body image story with you. Settle down, it’s a long read.

 


 

I watched Embrace at a private screening with my best friend and another 100 or so women. It is a documentary that explores women’s (negative) relationships with their bodies. It follows Taryn Brumfitt’s battle with her own body image during a 9 week trip around the globe to discuss why women spend so much of their lives hating their bodies. On the surface it sounds fairly unremarkable but Embrace struck a chord with every single woman in that auditorium, many painful tears were shed that night.

I have been at war with my body my entire life and I believe the battle will rage on forever but I don’t want that for my daughters. I needed to write this post because I want us to change things for ourselves and for future generations of women. I cried a lot in that cinema. I cried for the child I was, for the woman I am. I cried for my friends and for my children and it’s about time we did something about it.

The documentary explores negative body image and our obsessive quest to achieve the ‘perfect’ body – a body that doesn’t exist, a body created with Photoshop and airbrushed techniques. We know this yet the avalanche of images that perpetuate the myth keep coming. We know the ‘ideal’ we see in the media is completely fake but we insist on measuring ourselves against it at the expense of our happiness and self-esteem.

My relationship with my body didn’t start out too well. I was labelled ‘fat’ by a couple of boys at age four – I wasn’t – and that label has been glowing brightly like a neon light above my head ever since. I can remember feeling sad and worthless and that was it, I became the fat girl in my class, a lesser human being somehow. A few years later puberty hit me like a steam train, I put on weight and my label became a truth. At age 12 I was sent to a consultant who put me on a diet, to my surprise and utter delight the diet worked! That summer I bought a bikini, I was ecstatic but then I had appendicitis and the surgeon kindly pointed out that the scar was bigger than it should have been because I had some extra fat on my abdomen. I mean WTAF??

 


Why are we wasting precious time scrutinising and loathing our own bodies?


 

The euphoric feeling of achieving my goals was quickly replaced by feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem because I still wasn’t slim enough despite my best efforts. It was a ridiculous throwaway comment by a stupid man who should have known better but those words cut me deep.

Years of anxiety around food, weight and negative body image followed. I stepped on and off the fad diet rollercoaster and I flirted with an eating disorder for many years. Somewhere along the line I got married to a wonderful man who loves me whatever and I had three kids which ironically made me like my body a hell of a lot more. I started running and liked it, the fat girl even ran a handful of half marathons but the nagging thought that I could bet better and look better will never go away.

Today I’m generally ok with my weight and the way I look but I waste time every day wishing I was thinner. I’m self-conscious about my teeth and about my skin which isn’t as smooth as I would like. I worry about the food I eat, I have very little restraint and I give myself a hard time every time I drink a glass of wine or eat chocolate which just so happens to be most days!

 


I’m so used to the voices in my head telling me what a shit human being I am because I ate too much or didn’t exercise enough that I almost don’t notice them anymore.


 

This isn’t ok, is it? We bumble along through life accepting this nonsense but it really isn’t ok, is it? I believe that we should aim to be healthy but the self-loathing and body shaming has to stop, it’s holding us back while we waste precious time on this ridiculous quest for perfection.

Please, please promise that you will watch Embrace and that you will keep the conversation going. That you will fight those awful voices in your head and that you will keep pushing to bring about change for future generations of women.

Antonia x

 


I have been working with my best friend and partner in crime Abbi to host a screening of Embrace. You can get your tickets here. We would love to see as many of you there as possible.

You can find out more about the Body Image Movement here and over on Instagram Alison Perry, Natalie Style Me Sunday, Emma Finlay Fox and Clemmie Hooper are doing great things to promote a positive body image.

15 Comments

  1. Ann 28/05/2017 / 10:41 am

    Hi Antonia x. This is an inspiring post and I as a much older woman battle daily with body image and am currently undergoing a 12 week course called Life Changing Fitness. I found out about it through a blogger Michelle (fiftyandfab) which involves psychotherapy, nutrition and exercise and it is a total game changer for me. No diet, just a realisation of how the foods I normally eat aren’t fuelling me enough to help me function properly and lose weight if I want to. I am on the fifth week and it’s blown me away. I am very interested to watch the Embrace film and I remember your passionate talk on it on your stories. I am now going to look at your other links. Thank you for sharing this – it’s a wonderful article. Ann xxx

    • tinkertailoronline 30/05/2017 / 11:05 am

      I am fascinated to head more about this Ann, it sounds so interesting. I’d love to have my brain rewired some days, you must tell me more. I am so glad you are finding the course so helpful. Thank you once again for taking the time to read my posts, I really appreciate it xxx

  2. Bethan 29/05/2017 / 10:26 am

    There’s a lot of really interesting research into how mothers impact the way their daughters feel about themselves, so it’s really terrific that you’re adopting a new way of looking at your (very gorgeous) self as it’ll pay off endlessly for your lovely girls. Well done, Antonia – another honest and important blog; and one we could all take a leaf out of. Xxx

    • tinkertailoronline 30/05/2017 / 11:02 am

      Thanks so much Bethan, sharing my personal experience has kept me awake at night but I hope that some good will come of it. We need to keep this conversation going and I have also read some research about mothers and the impact they can have on their daughters’ self-esteem and body image and it scares the life out of me but like all aspects of parenting, you can only do your best.

  3. Lins @ Boo & Maddie 29/05/2017 / 3:15 pm

    This is such a great post and something that needs to be on the forefront of everyone’s minds. What’s SO very interesting for me though, is that I have been slim-shamed way more than I was ever ‘fat-shamed’. I have to say that as a size 16, I wasn’t happy. I don’t really think it was to do with culture/society, it was to do with me and not feeling fit enough to even walk down my road.
    Changing my lifestyle (dieting should be a banned word) was absolutely the best thing I ever did, but at certain points I had people telling me I don’t eat enough, that I shouldn’t flaunt what I’d achieved because it’s hurtful to others and on and on and on it went. I try not to talk about it too much on the blog because even now the backlash can be bitter. I’ve been the size I am now for the best part of a decade and still people comment.
    But you know and have met me, I’m not at all malnourished or underweight, just happy and healthy, for me.
    I really hope one day we can get to a place where everyone is happy, where no-one judges or criticises and we all acknowledge that our bodies are amazing and go through so much and people should feel strong, confident and healthy to show as much or as little as they want to Xxx

    • tinkertailoronline 30/05/2017 / 10:59 am

      What you say is so true Lins, I find that people think nothing of body shaming slim people, I have even been on the receiving end on some occasions with people saying things like ‘you mustn’t loose anymore weight now, you are too thin’ – comments about appearance are never helpful. We have such a lot of work to do! Thank you for taking the time to read this post, it was a tough one for me xx

  4. Yvonne Telford 29/05/2017 / 9:20 pm

    Deep. very deep. thank you for sharing this. I hope one day we can all make peace with our bodies

    • tinkertailoronline 30/05/2017 / 10:55 am

      Hi Yvonne, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. It was a hard one to share and I hope I can find a way to set a good example for my girls. It’s crazy that we feel the way we do about our amazing bodies x

  5. Lydia 04/06/2017 / 4:44 pm

    This is So touching Antonia, I too was overweight and bullied as a kid a had a rough journey also until I had my first daughter. Then Something flicked a switch and like you I learned to love myself a bit more. Children change your perspective on what’s important, but you’re left with the scars from before and it’s hard to shake off the mentality of not being the body you want to be. I have come far and am allot fitter now then before- but I’ve had the slim shaming too! You can’t win! I still worry about my really hideous teeth and lips and am on an endless mission of wanting skin perfection- silly as I’m getting older!! And I worry if I don’t get in my three to four classes a week to keep ontop of my fitness goals. I Also a terrible at pigging out and feel really crap when I do- I don’t have a moderation check! But I try to limit eating terribly to weekends so I can get back on track during the week to balance it out. Needless to say it’s an awful thing that we feel so much pressure and struggle with these self damning internal dialogues with ourselves. We do need to embrace the wonderful beings that we actually are not chase a myth that doesn’t exist and only leads to illness and disappointment. Our bodies are amazing and do amazing things and we should cherish them and look after them lovingly! And you my beautiful IG friend are a gorgeous women who I’m proud to know on here and who’s achieving great things! So just know you have loads of followers because of who you are and what you do and also cos of how darn pretty you really are! Huge love ❤️

  6. Lydia 04/06/2017 / 4:59 pm

    Ps also my sister is a long term sufferer of very serious anorexia nervous. It has ruined her life and almost ended it on many occasions. She lives very close to dying currently and it is a hideous illness. So I’m petrified about my girls come teenage years and how they will be affected by body image. I pray they don’t fall into an eating disorder and that they grow up knowing how beautiful they are and that there is so much more in life to focus on xxx

    • tinkertailoronline 06/06/2017 / 10:37 am

      Lydia, I don’t even know where to start, your story breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time. It’s amazing how we can be taken in by the images we see. I look at you and think how strong and amazing your body looks and could never have imagined that you have those internal dialogues too. Overall, I just think that we are holding ourselves back by putting so much energy into worrying about how our bodies look. How is a woman going to find a cure for cancer for example if all her time is taken up by her quest to have an Instagram worthy thigh gap? It’s crazy but I hope that we can begin to change attitudes towards women and their bodies so our daughters stand a chance of having body confidence.

      I am also so sorry to hear about your sister, I’m lost for words but I hope that she finds her path to recovery. Sending you all my love and gratitude for being so kind and sharing your experiences. Antonia xxx

      • Lydia 06/06/2017 / 8:41 pm

        Thank you for your reply lovely. Xx
        I think in part we are finely tuned into giving our best performance as a women presenting the best side of us possible – whether that’s looking our best to attract boyfriends / friends /jobs/ a drink at the bar! Or just so we feel our best! Men don’t seem to have the same issue as intensely (in general) We are more susceptible to FOMO (fear of missing out) and hence the obsession with clothes and therefore how we look in them- we are competitive by nature and would prefer to look better in an outfit than the next girl! Also girls (and boys) can be so cruel growing up- bullying us for being bigger/smaller/glasses wearer/braces on teeth/ spot on nose/flat chest/big chest/ wrong trainers etc It’s an endless mine field when you’re a teen finding your ‘you’ so it’s easy to believe the hateful things and see others as more attractive – like the most popular girl in class/ the super model/ the best girl at gymnastics etc and compare yourself to them without knowing your own true worth! Or knowing that what you’re comparing yourself to doesn’t actually exist as you think it does because we are all human – non better than the next. We all have good and bad sides, we all have bits we like/don’t like about ourselves and everyone has their struggles, …some greater than others. But we are all finding our way and so I think if like you say we make sure our kids grow up knowing these things, that loving yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself then as you point out they can go on to change the world , to make their stamp on it and not throw their time away by fixating on the loss or gain of 1lb! So Sorry I’m rattling on (!) cos I’m so passionate about it and would love to come see the screening with my two older girls, but unfortunately it’s too far out for us. We are to the south of London. But I dearly wish you luck with this and hope it goes well and you start to change people’s perspectives! Huge ❤️ Xx L

        • tinkertailoronline 07/06/2017 / 11:52 pm

          You speak so passionately and eloquently, you should do something with that and channel it in some way as you have an awful lot of valuable first hand experience to bring to the table. Your daughters are fortunate to have you as a role model and how right you are, we are never satisfied with what we have. I honestly think that everyone has hangups, even the seemingly beautiful and prefect people. We’ve just got to keep talking about this until we become a more rational society and learn to put things in perspective. Lots of love xx

          • Lydia 17/06/2017 / 11:55 am

            Thank you so much for what you have said , i am longing to start doing something and really want to work in an arena involving motivating people! So its really encouraging for me to read your response, thank you!
            Im waiting for my littlest to start nursery next year so that i will then have some time to properly dedicate to, and focus on, building my own brand to use as a vehicle to get back into work of some kind!
            So right now im looking at all the blogging guides etc and how to build a brand which will set me in good stead to create a company of my own!! Fingers Crossed and Lord willing as ive never been my own boss before in that way! And as of yet havent honed into a specific idea!Im just getting the hang of using my MacBook Pro versus a windows set up!

            You are right in all you say regarding our bodies and im so thrilled youre able to show the Embrace film. Good luck and i look forward to it starting a motion in the UK to get people dropping the self hate and getting into self love! We are amazing lets treat ourselves with respect and not distain! Much Love & Hugs xx

          • tinkertailoronline 19/06/2017 / 10:42 am

            That is all so exciting! I think we are living in interesting times for women and opportunities, I think we want more from our work and we are making changes that mean we can set our own agenda and working hours. Go for t!

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