I am currently sit here writing this wearing the most unflattering shiny Adventure Time leggings that do absolutely nothing for my figure along with my eye bags that are so big I’m going to have to start charging my face 5p every time I look in the mirror and do you know what? For the first time in a long time I’m not that bothered! I am totally aware I look like dog shit but that’s okay, I have a nocturnal baby and I haven’t slept in 7 years so of course I’m not looking my best.
What is best anyway? Is it being dolled up to the nines with more make up than Superdrug with a stomach you can use as chopping board or is it embracing yourself and you body (whether that be a chopping board stomach, a jiggly one) for what it is and sticking 2 fingers up at society’s definition of “best”? I don’t know about you but I think I like the latter more. When I first had Lily I used to look in the mirror and think holy fuck I looked tired but eventually, I just realised that’s just what my actual face now. I’m not going to lie and say I love how my body looks.
I’ve suffered from an array of eating disorders since the age of 8, along with BDD and while the voice is still very much there, it is quieter now and most days the chatter of everyday life is enough to overshadow it to whisper. There are obviously days where that whisper momentarily turns into a deafening shout and while I can hear, I do not act.
After I had my first I went up to about 4 stone (I didn’t weigh myself near the end). After I had her I didn’t fit into anything and so I bought new jeans and vowed not to give a fuck. Fake it ’til you make it right? For the most part I didn’t care, until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror which wasn’t very often as back then I was a single, teenage Mum and I thought I was coping pretty well. Looking back I really wasn’t, I would forget to eat, restrict and abused the fact my body loses weight if I eat a lot of sugar.
By the time Eloise was 12 months old I had dropped down to a unhealthy weight and felt like shit to be honest. I don’t feel I cared too much about my weight back then but in hindsight I was probably in denial. I had a serious problem with my relationship with food still. I still couldn’t eat in front of people and haven’t done so since I was about 8 when I started refusing to eat at school. Ben is actually the first person I’ve eaten comfortably around and even now, 18 years later, I sometimes have wobbly days. He is also certainly the only person who has ever seen my mum tum in the flesh and not had me feeling super self conscious.
I think body positivity after eating disorders is more about continuing to fight the disordered thinking and being able to recognise what is and isn’t a disordered thought and starting to appreciate and love your body including it’s “flaws” rather than truly being 100% happy with how you look. Eating disorders have very little to do with the body, but everything to do with the mind; physically recovering from an eating disorder is like a walk in the park compared to the amount of mental healing it requires.
As for my post baby body, I may have a mum tum, stretch marks everywhere and a belly button that resembles something between a vagina and an arsehole post anal I’m the most body confident I’ve ever been. Pregnancy gave me so much confidence when it came to my body and I adored having a bump despite the SPD and other shitty symptoms in general. It helped me eat better and really begin to fight the disordered thoughts I had surrounding food because my love and instinct to protect my unborn baby was stronger than the voices could ever be. Yeh I had my wobbly days still but I finally felt allowed to care about my body. Whilst I will admit that being nearly 2 stone heavier than I was before getting pregnant with Lily still feels strange to me but I’m not in any rush to lose weight or tone up any time soon.
People seem to be under this strange impression that to be able to be body positive you have to be a certain size or a certain weight and basically those people are wrong as wrong gets. Body confidence and body positivity is not restricted by health; health has nothing to do with it and saying that only healthy people can love their bodies is ableist and wrong as hell. We all care about health but whether someone is overweight and body positive or naturally slender and body positive we should celebrate with them because EVERYONE deserves to be able to love and embrace their body shape without being criticised for it. Size 24 or size 4? It doesn’t matter. We all deserve to feel allowed to love ourselves.
I don’t think my stretch marks or the fact my belly button now resembles a wrinkly old arsehole is beautiful, I don’t think my eye bags, my sticky up hair regrowth or the fact even my vagina has a stretch mark on it is beautiful either. I don’t need my body to be stereotypically beautiful to feel like I am worthy of loving myself. For me, outer beauty doesn’t come into it.
You can look like a literal dog shit and still be a beautiful person because beauty isn’t limited to the eyes.
I think being body positive is looking at yourself and not necessarily loving everything you see but embracing that and appreciating your body for what it is, mum tums and all.