Body image. Being female. Life’s challenges: wedding dress or bikini? Both bring us face to face with our bodies. They are emotionally charged experiences, all mirrors and expectations. Bikini shopping lays us bare, as close to naked as it gets. But the wedding dress final fitting puts our flaws under the microscope on a grand scale.
Can you relate to the image of the girl on that special day, hand on tummy, breathing in, eyes avoiding while desperately seeking the mirror? She’s present but has checked out. Self-acceptance is out of her comfort zone.
It should be a glorious moment. She’s accepted a proposal from someone who loves her and sees her as perfect. She is infinitely lovable. But from that moment she succumbs to the seeds of doubt and begins to cut and divide herself. Fault finding moves her through space, from loved to wanting.
Hair, brows, tan, skin, body, weight, smile, teeth, nails. She wants to be perfect on that day. Perfect. But whose yardstick is she using? Her own or her friend’s or her sister’s or her mother’s or father’s or society’s???
Suddenly cortisol is thumping through her veins. To do lists multiply overnight. Abundant advice compounds the confusion creating a logistical nightmare. It’s stressful and a bit crazy. Where did the fun go? Age old situations trigger her. Dysfunctional solutions await, eating, drinking, drugs, shopping or anxiety.
The joy becomes undermined by expectations, stress and fear. I have been this woman, distanced from my true self, I’ve searched for acceptance in the wrong places. Waifs were popular in the 70’s and I befriended and ED (eating disorder). I dimmed my light to fit in seeking in an other the things, I couldn’t give to myself.
It’s a process, learning to love yourself. Ignoring the overly active inner critic means accepting pimples, cellulite, corns … It’s hard to live an authentic life. Critics abound but the harshest one is always the one in your inner world.
I advocate for teaching girls how to be self-compassionate women. We need to change society’s views from idolising a certain type of woman and encourage the desirability of a range of body types. Girls need to learn to see their bodies with loving and accepting eyes. Stereotyping begins very young. Women need to work together to bring about these changes so girls can grow secure in their individual femininity.