Bodies, not objects to be picked apart.
When I was eight, I lost my leg.
Never in a million years did I think it would lead me to becoming a model but through that process I have learnt something that’s so overlooked about bodies, they’re just bodies.
We live in a world, particularly for those of us who identify as women, that picks at our bodies and dictates how they should look. We are drip fed a constant flow of impossible to uphold beauty standards. We’re told to be skinny but not too skinny, then we’re told to have muscles but not too much muscle. We’re then told to have flawless skin but shown only one colour. But what even is a beauty standard? And why are we told what kind of “standard” of “beauty” we should have when every single one of us are born into a unique, everchanging body?
I was always curious as to why we tirelessly try to achieve this cookie cutter mould of perfection, as if there is a right way to have a body, as if we all want to fit this “mould” only to come out looking exactly the same as each other.
I fell into this trap for a while
I was about 13 years old. I'd been living with one leg for 5 years and I began to believe that my body wasn’t “normal”. By definition, I was right. My body wasn’t “normal”. Normal means usual, typical and expected. My body wasn’t any of those things but eventually I learnt that just because the body I lived in wasn’t “typical” or like the others I saw, it didn’t make it wrong, it just made it different.
I went about my life. I let go of trying to look or be a certain way and instead focused on what I could do with the body I lived in. You see, bodies are much like houses. We have this exterior which we can decorate and paint any way we like but what really matters is the what goes on within that house, the things we can physically do, what we experience, the connections we make, the memories we hold. So, I chose to focus on that because I knew too well, as someone who lost a leg, the way our bodies look is largely out of our control. I realised that I didn’t want to spend my life trying to fit in some kind of box when I could instead spend my life focusing on doing and achieving all of the things that I wanted.
So, next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone on social media, someone on a billboard or a magazine remind yourself of all of the amazing things that you are, remind yourself that the one thing we all have in common as humans is that we are different and that is something to celebrate.
There is no “standard” of beauty.
There is no right or wrong way to have a body.
There should be no importance placed on the way we look.
I look different from the majority of the population but newsflash, so do you & the person next to you.
Celebrate it, don’t let society make you think you need to look a certain way and let’s not waste our lives being focused on how we look, let’s not waste our lives trying to fit into a mould. You’re so much more than your body. You are you. Nobody else has the superpower. Use it. Celebrate it. Please, please, do not live your life thinking you need to be anyone else but you.
& with that, I’m going to leave you with my favourite quote, read it, then read it again whenever you need the reminder:
““Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written, or you didn't go swimming in those warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.” ― Anne Lamott