If I could grab a coffee with my past self, I would. I’d grab a cappuccino and a chocolate muffin – although I’ve no doubt that my past self would have the same, she’d hesitate over the muffin, but indefinitely (guiltily) settle for it in the end. I’d watch her, fiddling with her clothes and making them looser over her body, flattening her hair, eyes roving to see who was looking or judging. If I could sit and have a chat with her about the richness that her life would encounter, I would. If I could sit and tell her that the poisonous words of the bullies wouldn’t matter in a few years time, I would. If I could encourage her to forget society’s ‘ideals’ and to grow to love her body, I would. If I could tell her to drop the self-deprecating comments and see how much she had to offer, I would. If I could tell her to listen to the compliments, and forget the vicious words, I would. If I could tell her that she looked damn fine in whatever clothes she wanted to wear, I would. If I could tell her that she would find love in the future, I would. If I could tell her that she would have a full, loving, wholesome life, I would.
But you see, a 15 year old me wouldn’t have listened to the 23 year old me – not in the slightest. Not out of ignorance or insubordination, but because the words of the bullies, and the reinforcement of beauty ideals had become so engrained in my consciousness that I wouldn’t have considered that I could love my body. A 15 year old me would have brushed off such comments and spiralled further into body negativity, scorning myself for eating a goddamn muffin and repeating the bullies words to myself – Fatty, Hagrid, Fatso, Fat Fran, Unloveable etc.
I wish I could sit down and have a coffee (and a muffin) with any young woman – or man – who is doubting the love they feel for their bodies. Time is precious, and we spend so much of it concerned with our appearance and the way others will perceive us – God knows I wasted so many of my teenage years showering myself in spiteful comments and hiding behind my size instead of embracing it. I urge all of the young self-doubters to give loving themselves a try. It’s hard, it’s bloody hard, especially when society is going against everything that you are – your tummy isn’t flat enough, your legs are too chunky, arms too fatty, bum too cellulitey – but it can be done, please trust me.
When you discover body love, the negative comments pale into insignificance. You realise that there is more to life than what a stranger might think about you. There is more to life than worrying about your weight. There is more to life than fixating on numbers to define your self worth. There is more to life than comparing yourself to another person, who in turn is comparing themselves to someone else. There is so much more to discover in this world, our time is short and we are given one body to live in – tall, short, fat, thin, dark, light, muscular, flabby or anything in between is worth loving.