Day 4 – A letter to your worst habit
Today, I am writing to you – more specifically, to your brain and to the thoughts that whizz around it – to discuss the habit you really need to kick. I am writing to explain why your appearance does not define you. Why living up to unrealistic standards of beauty does not shape your self-worth. This is definitely not a new topic – self-worth and self-confidence is a widely debated issue across the internet; people consistently argue whether ‘real women’ have ‘curves’ or whether slim and skinny is more desirable. This is not a new issue, but it certainly is a current one for you.
You change your mind every day about whether you like your body. Some days, you think your legs look nice. Others, you wish they weren’t stumpy and squat. Some days, you love the thick hair you were blessed with. Others, you look at it and question why you had to be cursed with that one frizzy bit that doesn’t seem to do anything. Some days, you admire your eyes. Others you hate that they get puffy over nothing and despise the way your eyelashes don’t curl like Zooey Deschanel’s.
My worst habit, as I’m sure is the case for many people, is judging my self worth based on what I look like. Am I a size 0? Far from it. Am I jealous every day of my beautiful model friend who has legs that just go up and up? Yes. Do I look at myself and change my outfit based on whether I look fat in it? Constantly. Does that define who I am? It shouldn’t, but often does.
I am intelligent, fortunate to have been brought up in a society which valued my education and where I was given equal opportunities to my male counterparts. I have a wonderful family, who I adore, and who support me in every decision I make. I have someone who loves me, because I make him laugh, because we (sometimes) like the same things and because he is my best friend. I have friends who I can trust and who I care for deeply. I was born healthy and raised happy. I am incredibly blessed, and worth so much. But do I appreciate these things as much as I should, when so much of my attention is focused on my weight and appearance? Probably not.
My body has carried me through so many things; it survived primary school, where I rolled down hills and fell over in playgrounds and grazed my knees. It lived through secondary school, where I was finding who I was going to be and making friends and breaking friends. It helped me through every job that I have ever had, carrying, pouring, dancing and laughing for me. It took me through University and never faltered, despite the fact I probably didn’t take the best care of it, getting home at 3am, or slipping around on the ice on my way to a 9am lecture, when I’d woken up late. It’s let me cuddle my Mum and Dad on their birthdays, play in the garden with my sisters, kiss my boy for the first time. My body has done so much for me, and all I can do is berate it for not being good enough. I would never dream of treating a kid at school as poorly as I treat myself. I would never dream of judging a child on the end outcome, even though I know they have done everything in their power to achieve. Yet, I treat myself so poorly for just that.
I’m definitely not going to start a revolution tomorrow and never think about my weight, or how much exercise I have done or whether I can wear an outfit like that because I’m not under a certain size. I probably will still look at fat content, and calories in a restaurant meal. I certainly hope I can begin to make a difference though.
When I was 16 and leaving school, our assembly was based around Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen), a spoken word song, taken from a Chicago Tribune column by Mary Schmich. I’m sure this is the case people the world over. It might be overused, but there is absolutely no denying that the message behind it is key.
So, body, I am sorry. I am sorry for hating you and treating you poorly. I will do everything in my power to appreciate the amazing gift you give me every day and to appreciate myself for what I am.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it – it’s the greatest instrument you will ever have.
Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)