The reality of what our bodies should look like

One of the most beautiful women I know posted something on Instagram the other day about how she was considering getting botox.

Yes, I know a woman’s body is her own, her decisions her own, that if a woman chooses cosmetic enhancement than we should support her decision.

But here’s the thing. I just can’t. I’m not going to respond to her on social media, I’ll just write something here and hope she doesn’t actually read my column this week.

It's not what our bodies should look like but what they could look like if we chose to make changes.

It’s not what our bodies should look like but what they could look like if we chose to make changes.Credit:Shutterstock

You fool. You are beautiful, inside and out. Your face makes me smile whenever I see you. When you smile you light up a room. You are strong and graceful, your eyes are mesmerising. All that aside you are just a nice person.

Part of your life is to make other women feel better about their own bodies. Getting us all to realise that our bodies are a vessel that allows us to love, to be loved, to live. That are bodies are good. Now. Whatever shape they are in.

You exasperate me in a way. I want you to have the same confidence you instill in others. I want you to stop thinking about your body so much. Just love it in the way you make some of us love ours.

You are amazing and you don’t need to inject your beautiful face with a chemical toxin.

But if you choose to, I will support you. No, I will probably just never mention it. Because I love you just as you are now.

We all need to work, like you do, to change the discourse about body image.

I’ve been noticing more and more, how we talk about what our bodies “should” look like. Flat stomachs, firm thighs, pert bosoms. No wrinkles, luxurious hair, tanned and toned. We should all just be better.

Why don’t we start again? Let’s think about what we “could” look like. If we chose to eat healthily, exercise regularly, live a moderate life, live a happy life. It would never be a matter of should. If we lived our best lives, our bodies, all things being equal, would be at their best.

I envy, in some small inconsequential way, women with long legs and hair becoming a daytime soap opera star. When I’m feeling really bitter, I sometimes think that really, those two things are all a woman needs to succeed in the world.

But I know that is never going to be me. I’m short, my thighs are full, my hair is thin. I can’t change those things. Yes, perhaps the thighs, you nagger, but even at my fittest and firmest, there has always been movement in my thighs. Some people like that.

My biggest gripe is my stomach. It’s my biggest “could” part. I know I could work harder to flatten it out, to firm it up. I could eat better, drink less, perhaps follow one of those regimes that promise me I can do it in 10 minutes. But I have bigger things to worry about.

Would I like to look younger? What does that even mean? I see photographs of people I went to school with, some of them still look 18, I see others and I think OMG, I pray I don’t look that old. And I know I don’t. Yet we are all the same age. I want to look 51, because that’s what I am.

It's all about acceptance.

It buoyed me to see a post from author Jamila Rizvi recently, a gorgeous photo of a vibrant, energetic young woman jumping high on a majestic beach.

“Five years ago today. I remember looking at this photo just after it was taken and flinching, embarrassed. I tried to make my then boyfriend, now husband, delete it from his phone because I thought I looked fat. How absurd. He refused and I’m so glad. Now all I see is a young woman in love, genuinely carefree, with little responsibility, full of light and HAPPY, not knowing how complicated life would shortly become.”

In December 2017 Rizvi was diagnosed with a rare, but benign and operable, brain tumour. She was 31.

“This is my morning reminder,” she continued, “to cut yourself a break and embrace the skin you’re in. Your body might not feel good enough today and I 100% relate to that feeling. It’s firmly put in our heads by a world that profits out of women’s body insecurities. But your body? It’s the only one you get and it’s keeping you alive and in this world. It’s doing okay, promise.”

Let’s not leave it to some event, some medical drama, some life event, to come to terms with how fabulous our bodies are. They should never be anything more than they are.

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