Custard on – The Body Image Thing

I wanted to get a few words down about an experience I had in the gym on Friday, which I have returned too a few times over the weekend, so it has obviously got to me.

I was in the gym working on a weights machine when I noticed a worried looking young lady chatting to one of the instructors. As I had forgotten my headphones, so I couldn’t listen to my music as I normally would, and I am very nosey I was intrigued as to to what was going on. As I continued my work out (half earwigging as I pushed out the reps!) It appeared the young lady was concerned that her legs were not perfect and was endeavouring to improve shape, tone and definition.

A little later in the workout I was doing some mat work and the same young lady sat down beside me and then asked the instructor for some help with tummy toning. The lady was no more than 18, she was a pretty, slim young woman but her self confidence was so low it was frightening. The instructor was doing her best to boost her up, she even got her tape measure out to measure her legs and the ladies to show her that her thighs were considerably larger. The lady was absolutely astounded that her thighs were smaller (by almost an inch).

I felt I had to say something to her (I have held the roll of Pseudo-Sister to many younger ladies over the years) to try and help. I said “Wear what you want and do what you want now, you are not as fat as you imagine and you only get one chance to do this”. She replied by saying “Yeah, my mum tells me that all the time, but I just can’t do it”.

It got me thinking – was I ever that down on myself? I know there are parts of our bodies that we’re not that keen on, but you know it’s what we were given, you’ve got to work with it. As you get older you have the benefit of those years of experience and I have become more comfortable in my skin than I have been before. I have been anything between a size 8 (at 17) to a size 18 (at 21) and then various sizes inbetween in the last 20 years. I have lumps, bumps and stretch marks, the old bingo wings are a bit flappy but I am fit, healthy and my muscles are toned. I (hopefully!) dress to accentuate the good bits and in clothes that suit my shape.

My take on the ‘Are you Bikini Body Ready’ – well I have a body, and a bikini, so yes I’m ready. I have a Bikini (but I have never worn it) and I have a body, but I also have the palest skin of an English women with Celtic genetics. If I get my tummy out, it is so white it shines like a beacon and that is why I have never worn a bikini, not because I am a size 14 or because top and bottom are different sizes and shapes, or because of my varicose veins or any other reason. I only worked this out a few months ago! So what I need is a bikini and a fake tan to reduce the shining white beacon and then I’ll be bikini body ready. I don’t hate my pale skin, it is part of me (and an important bit, it keeps the insides in!) so I need to look at ways of boosting my confidence in my pale skin.

I feel sad that girls (and boys) are so worried about their bodies that they spend hours in the gym, or hide under baggy clothes and lose that part of their childhood and early adulthood which in my case shaped the rest of my life. I often say I wish I could bottle self confidence and pass it out to those that need the extra boost.

Whatever shape and size you are, whether you have thigh gap or can get in a size 10 or wear a bikini, you are worth so much more than the size of your pants! And you are not as fat as you think, be healthy, be happy and enjoy life – you only get one go at it!

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