Body image and learning to love the body I have

Body image and learning to love the body I have | rhianna olivia

Oh my god. Photos of me in a swimsuit are now on the internet.

Completely untouched photos.

Jesus.

Okay, so I’ve talked a lot about body image on this little old blog of mine. From accepting I needed to make a change, to talking about it’s effect on the clothes I bought and more recently, how it doesn’t define me. It’s something I’ve battled with for the last half of my teen years and into my 20s, as I’m sure have many of you.

It took a lot of nerve for me to post these photos, but I’m actually sort of growing to love them.

When it comes to my body, my belly is a little rounder than I’d like and my thighs a little wider than if I had a choice. My arms are a little flabbier than I’d prefer them to be and my boobs are honestly an inconvenience. The skin on my arms is bumpy, the skin on my legs is blotchy and the skin on my face is oily.

The thing about bodies, though, is they aren’t there to be nitpicked. They aren’t there to be torn apart, to be hated, to be dwelled on. Your body isn’t something you should pick apart in the mirror, and it isn’t something that exists with the sole purpose to be changed.

Your body is so much more than that.

I started to finally be happy with my body when I accepted it for what it was. It’s just a thing that enables me to live my life.

Sure, I’d like to have a flatter tummy, thinner thighs and boobs that fit in shirts without making the buttons gape. I’d love to have smooth, tanned legs and flawless skin.

I’d love it if my brain didn’t think the worst in every situation, or stop me from getting out of bed some mornings. I’d prefer it if my knee was fully working, if I had a spine that wasn’t curved, if my midriff wasn’t littered with scarring and my thighs weren’t scattered with stretch marks.

But all these things are true and I can’t change most of them. My body may not always work the way it’s supposed to, or look the way I’d like it to, but it’s just that – my body. It has taken me on a journey, and it continues to take me on a journey every day. I’d rather not have been to some of the destinations, but that’s life I guess.

Body image and learning to love the body I have | rhianna olivia
Body image and learning to love the body I have | rhianna olivia

My rounder-than-I’d-like belly reminds me of all the fantastic food I’ve eaten. The Christmas dinners with my family, fourteen of us crammed around a six person table, elbow-to-elbow and fighting over the last pig in a blanket, Christmas cracker hats on and toasting to absent friends. The late-night cheesy chips, paired with the kind of deep conversations that only happen after midnight when you’ve had one too many jagerbombs. The I’m-too-lazy-to-cook Sunday afternoon pizza orders, cuddled up on the sofa just the two of us, watching an entire TV series in a day, feeling slightly guilty we’ve not done anything, yet simultaneously care-free.

The 20 inch scar that stretches from my belly button, around my side and up to the centre of my back is a battle scar. Completely on show in a bikini, or just peeking out from behind low backed dresses, as if to tell the world what I’ve been through. It reminds me I’m brave and it reminds me I’m unique. It reminds me not everything is easy, not everything is predictable and I’m lucky enough to have people show up when I need them most. So many, in fact, that some get asked to leave because they’re taking up too much space for other patients.

My slightly-chunkier-than-I’d-choose thighs reminds me of all the places they’ve carried me. Up above the clouds at Doi Suthep, feeling like I’m in a literal dream world. Jumping around, singing my heart out at the first gigs I went to at Leeds Met and The Cockpit (RIP). Walking around Download Festival with slightly sweaty feet from wearing wellies all weekend, a slightly rain-watered down cider in hand and sun on my face. Climbing what felt like a million steps to the Acropolis of Rhodes, looking out to sea and wondering if the people on the bay below were looking up at us.

You see, as much as my body and I have had a slightly turbulent relationship over the past however many years, it’s allowed me all these wonderful things. It may have failed me at some hurdles, but on the most parts it’s a pretty good egg. And I’m learning to love it.

Body image and learning to love the body I have | rhianna olivia
Body image and learning to love the body I have | rhianna olivia

Photos by Joseph Burrows

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  • Wow 💕 What a beautiful & inspirational post. You look fantastic! Keep being yourself 😘 xx

    Bexa
    http://www.hellobexa.com

  • You look amazing rhianna, and this post was so well written too!

    Lucy | Forever September

  • this is so well written and you look amazing in these pictures. you are beautiful! :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

  • Thank you for writing this! This is what I needed. I’ve never like my body and it doesn’t help when those close to you urge you to go on diets etc. It’s something that I will always be conscious of but it is so important for women, men, everyone really to accept their bodies and the bodies of others. As long as you’re not harming yourself in an extreme way why does it matter if your belly is a little bigger. You have 5 chins or flabby arms. Thank you for writing this post. Hopefully it will help other people learn to love themselves.

  • F**k what the haters say – I think you look sensational! x

  • YES gal, I bloody loved this! I’m definitely very guilty of giving my body a hard time over all the things I think are wrong with it, but you’re right – our bodies enable us to live, and I could definitely do with learning to love mine too. You look beautiful (that is a cracking swimsuit) and reading this put the biggest smile on my face xxx

    Sophie | Sophar So Good

  • Beautifully written, and even more beautiful photos xxx

    Rhi | http://www.rinkydinkyrhi.com

  • Dara Melanson

    You’re gorgeous! So happy to read that you have accepted yourself as the beauty you are. Society can be so cruel in programming us to believe we have to look a certain way. I have also learned this recently and it’s amazing how empowering it feels. Great post!

    Dara | lifeonrosewell.blogspot.ca

  • YAS GAL

  • Simply YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!

  • I love this post and you look ABSOLUTELY amazing! ♥ In the past, I struggled with my body too, (which ended up in binging and purging every day, self-harming as well) but lately I’m trying to love my body instead of hating it. Thank you for this positive message Rhianna ♥

    Luca | http://lucaholic.website

  • Wahh this is such a fantastic post! You look incredible photos and I love love love the positive way in which you look at your body. I think everyone has struggled with their body shape at one point or another (I know I have) so I think this will resonate with anybody who reads it!
    Jess xx
    alrightblondie.com

  • Your posts always put such a big smile on my face. You look absolutely gorgeous in the photos (I actually tried looking for a floral swimsuit like that before my holiday this year but couldn’t find one anywhere) and everything that you’ve said resonates with me so much. I spent years thinking of my body as something that needed to be altered which brought me so much misery but realising it is something that is there to carry us through life and all of its incredible memories has been life changing. Thank you so much for sharing this and spreading such an important message! x

    maria | whatismaria.com

  • Rhianna you look INCREDIBLE in these pictures!!! Your body is so beautiful as are you. Yes we definitely need to start looking at our bodies differently because wasting time on hating myself is honestly just so damn draining, I’d much rather spend that energy on actually loving it instead!! 😻😍
    I wish I could say that at this moment in time I’m happy with my body, but in all honesty, I can’t & that’s a personal thing. As soon as I’m back to where I wanna be I’ll be happier, but in the meantime, I’ll try not to waste too much time!! 😎😎😘😘😍😍
    Thank You gorgeous. You are honestly an inspiration!!!!!
    Love Sarah xxxxx

  • This post is amazing, I read it with a huge smile on my face. Poignant and honest ❤
    Cora ❤ http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

  • The Sunday Mode

    Seriously INCREDIBLE post girl, you look awesome and your acceptance of your body is infectious. I’m always working on trying to improve my own body confidence and reading this reminded me that my body is so much more than just aesthetics.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  • This is a great write-up about why we should all be nicer to our bodies. We get the message shoved down our throats pretty much constantly, especially as women, that we need to look perfect and shape our bodies to meet absurd beauty standards. I have just about had it with ads and products shaming women for daring to have a shape other than ‘runway model’ and telling us that we need to get that ‘beach body’ before showing our faces (or stomachs!) in a bathing suit. I’m so glad you’re setting a positive example by writing positive things about your body! Our bodies really do allow us to do amazing things, regardless of shape, and the sooner we all realize that the happier we will be. Thanks for moving that conversation forward.

    Danielle | solongusa.blogspot.com

  • RHIANNA!! This is wonderful and YOU are gorgeous. In my 23 years, I’ve never worn a bikini and I can’t remember the last time I wore something other than a sports swimsuit that covers up most of my body. Every time I was on holiday, I’d pick myself apart and sometimes not even venture down to the pool, because I was just far too self conscious. Reading this, and looking at my body as a tool rather than an object to improve, has made me think (for the first time ever) hey I could wear a swimming costume too. Thank you for sharing this – you’re a total babe. <3

  • Saffron Amy-Rose Watson

    Thank you for writing this post, It’s such a more positive way at looking at your body and I love it! You look stunning in your photos!

    I wish I could feel more positive about my body but I’m just not there yet. But reading this post has definitely started me thinking!

    Saffron

    http://www.saffronwatson.co.uk