As I continued with the affirmations I started to look at the way I viewed my body, as I had a real problem with how I thought my body looked. To me, I was flat chested, had enormous thighs and a gigantic bottom! To some degree that was actually true but as you may have experienced yourself it was very much an exaggeration. Yes, I did have small breasts. Yes I did have generous thighs (notice the change of adjective – from ‘enormous’ thighs to ‘generous’ thighs) and yes I did have a bottom. In those days the ‘Jo Lo bum’ wasn’t in vogue!
My body image had come from the magazine that I was addicted to at the time – Cosmopolitan. This magazine was my bible of how a young girl should look, feel and act in her everyday life. So I thought I should be super skinny, be beautifully dressed, with perfect make-up, and having lots of fun with a variety of boyfriends! Of course, there aren’t that many people having those lifestyles and even if there are, they will – no doubt – experience some difficulties or problems in life.
Magazines in those days certainly glamorized life but nowadays with photoshopped articles on the latest celeb it’s far worse and there’s even more pressure on young women to look and act in certain ways. So, you have to be super skinny, have no wrinkles and lead the perfect lifestyle. This – of course – is all about advertising. It’s not the real world that each and every one of us lives in. Magazines have to make money and they do this not only from their publication sales but also from advertising revenue. Always bear this in mind when buying a magazine. In fact I now rarely buy a magazine because of that.
So I read up on body shapes and sizes and I realised that I had the classic British ‘pear shape’. There was nothing wrong with that. I was never going to be a model but I had child bearing hips that (apparently) some men really got into!! That made me feel better but it was more difficult accepting this on a day to day basis.
This is where self-esteem comes into play again. Nancy Etcoff – whose research concentrates on appearance and happiness – says “Scientists researching body image have done eye-tracking studies, in which people are asked to stare in the mirror. Subjects don’t look at anything they think is good; they just stare at their so-called faults.” I now realise that’s exactly what I was trying to do in those days.
Etcoff continues, “So Stop that. Retrain yourself: ‘Why don’t I look at what I like? I like my lips—what lip shade should I wear today?’” That part was quite difficult as there wasn’t much I liked about myself, but everyone told me I had a thin waist – so I started buying clothes that accentuated my waist. I also knew that my shoulders weren’t bad so I stated buying sleeveless tops that showed them off.
At the time I also started watching those women with bags of confidence and good self esteem. Because of their bouncy personality, infectious enthusiasm for life and the way they walked – head held high and happy facial expressions – people wanted to be around them. It didn’t matter if they were thin, medium weight or fat, people liked them because of who they were – not because of their body size and shape. People didn’t want to be around me very much because I’d become quite shy because of all the faults I thought I had.
It was hard work but I forced myself to be more outgoing. I started off small, i.e., smiling at people I didn’t know and saying, “Hello!” as I passed somebody in the corridor at work. Over time my self esteem did increase and with a more general acceptance of the way I looked I started to feel much better about myself.
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