Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Building an Adult: Body Image

I'm twelve years old and I'm staring in the mirror, tracing my hands over my new, quite flabby frame. I have different sized breasts, hips that stop me fitting in my favourite purple jeans and it's all mildly distressing. I'm convinced that I am fat, and I am compared to my stick thin prepubescent friends, so I walk over to the toilet and make myself sick. 

It's grim. Everything about it feels wrong but I am so focused and determined to get my 11-12 (years) sized frame back that I cause myself to gag again. Tears sting my eyes, my throat feels raw and my fingers are sticky but at least that salt and vinegar packet of crisps is out of my system. I stand up and look in the mirror but just feel worse about myself, so I flush the toilet, spray Febreze and go and eat a banana because I deserve those calories. 

This was just the start of hours spent calorie counting, hour long gym sessions fuelled by almost nothing and binge eating before coming face to face with that toilet bowl. Although you may be convinced that I have some sort of eating disorder I don't. I was just struggling to come to terms with my new body and the only ways that I knew how to lose weight were diet pills or the methods listed above.


Everything began, as it must do for many girls, after I started my period and piled on the pounds. This happened at quite an early age - I was around 11 - and no one else in my year was in the same situation. Crop tops (those weird bras that 10 year olds wear) would no longer support my breasts and the school trousers would fit weirdly around my body. I thought this was because I was fat, not because I was going through puberty and no one bothered to tell me otherwise. 

My earliest method of 'weight control' happened when I was 11 when I began to document everything I ate with the equivalent calories next to it before summing my daily amount at the end of the page. Each day I would try and get that intake lower. Thankfully I don't tend to obsess over things like this because otherwise it may have turned into an eating disorder (as it does for so many girls and boys). This kind of behaviour needs to be a flag - anyone counting calories at a young age is at risk of developing an eating disorder.   

After a while I grew out of this body size hating phase and just decided to accept my weight. But it wasn't easy. At one point (around three years ago) I decided to weigh myself and found out that I weighed over 13 stone at the age of 14. This caused me to have a bit of a break down and led to me staring at the contents of my stomach a few times so I ruled out weighing myself again and so far I have stuck to that rule. If I eliminate numbers then I don't obsess and it can't become unhealthy. I would advise every young person to do the same - ignore those digits and focus on how you feel. Do you feel healthy? No? Go for a run and eat bananas and kiwis and dragon fruit and spinach just don't, please don't, jab your fingers down your throat until it's cut and raw. You will only feel worse.


I have grown up in a household where there is a blanket ban on tacky magazines with unskilled writers writing articles about how a size 8 celebrity is 'fat and frumpy' and for that I am thankful. I never felt the pressure that the press put on young women to look thin and always perfect. Today though it takes me about 2 seconds to go to gossip websites and be flooded with pictures of size 2 celebrities with double d breasts. They all are labeled 'naturally flawless' despite the fact that every photo is posed with fantastic artificial lighting and a team of photoshopping experts on hand. All these women are stunning already, but not quite enough for the every day standards of the press.

But who are they doing this editing for - it's certainly not for you as it will only make you feel flawed and ugly. Not for the model who has to live with the fact that they aren't beautiful enough, not for the men who rush home from work every day to go and meet their perfectly flawed wife. It's not realistic but realism isn't often accepted by society despite the fact that it is the norm. The majority of women do not have naturally equally sized, plump DD breasts but heaven forbid a company use someone with their imperfect, completely natural breasts. It would cause outcry as people are living in denial and do not want to be faced with the fact that people do not look perfect in their underwear, do not have perfect six packs nor perfect skin. 

The majority of people want to live in this digitally edited fake world and I don't know why. Maybe they've grow up around images of 'perfect' women and men or maybe they are just too insecure about their own body to accept themselves.

I encourage everyone to take a look around at the real world next time they feel low about their body image (it will happen). Look at Kim Kardashian and remember that she actually has a team of people to take her selfies and yes her bum is fantastically large but it isn't natural and would be damn-near impossible for you to achieve. When boys are looking at those rather annoying Calvin Klein adverts remember that they altered David Beckham so his muscles looked more defined and they made Justin Bieber's penis look bigger. 

If our generation continues this movement of self love and acceptance for all body types there will be fewer '12 year old Emily's' on their knees in tears because their body isn't what they want. There will be a reduction in boys buying dodgy steroids in a backstreet as they know that those celebrities six pack probably aren't so defined and perfect in real life. Why are we okay living in a world where things like these are a regular occurrence due to the medias desire to make ourselves feel bad so we buy their products? 

 The moment that people stop focusing on the airbrushed adverts, the diet pills, the shaving products and muscle powders they will become much happier. I promise. Focusing on making oneself happy should be everyones priority and if that means facing reality then so be it. Accepting your flaws and knowing that someone will love you despite them (even for them) is much more fulfilling than any drop on the scale. 


I'm 17 years old and I'm staring in the mirror tracing my hands over my quite flabby frame. I have large but different sized breasts, hips that won't quit and I'm happy. I'm convinced that I am slightly fat, yet I know that I'm beautiful but most of all I'm happy and that's all that matters.

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