Oh my god. Photos of me in a swimsuit are now on the internet.
Completely untouched photos.
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.
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.
Photos by Joseph Burrows