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Please don’t tell us to get ‘bikini body ready’

Self-hatred is drilled into us from a young age

I don’t like my body, and I never really have.

Despite being every shape and size you can imagine, there hasn’t been a point where I’ve liked my body. Now this isn’t to say that I haven’t had moments where I’ve looked in the mirror or seen myself in pictures and liked what I saw. However, a momentary lapse in self-hatred is not the same as liking your body.

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Self-love, especially in an aesthetic sense, must be consistent and continuous. To say you love your body requires a fundamental dismissal of the societal norm of self-critique.

Our whole lives we are taught to hate our bodies. To find things which we want to shrink or eliminate. Advertising campaigns depicting ‘bikini bodies’ and unrealistic thigh gaps have engineered eating disorders and self-esteem problems for decades. Society teaches men and women that they have to look a certain way but only a very small proportion of the population possess the specific genetics which allow them to have that kind of body shape.

My body

I've written about my experiences with anorexia, briefly, before but I've never touched on how body confidence issues still plague my life nearly two years on.

It's coming up to 'bikini body season' where companies make millions off manipulative marketing strategies designed to target the masses of women who hate what they see in the mirror. 'Flat stomach remedies' and 'fat-melting pills' are advertised everywhere, constantly reinforcing unrealistic body goals.

I've had the flat stomach and the thigh gap. But did it make me happy? No. In fact, the most miserable I have ever been was when I looked how society expected me to.

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Every body is predisposed to look a certain way and no amount of fat-loss supplements or restrictive weight-loss programmes will change that.

I naturally store weight around my mid-section and face. I have spent so much time hating that this is the way my body works but, ultimately, there’s nothing I can do about it. The only time I’ve had a completely flat stomach and a prominent jaw line was when I was anorexic and eating 700 calories a day while exercising until I was in pain. The only time I fitted with societal beauty standards was when I was slowly killing myself. Just writing that makes me angry. How dare society have led me to believe that the only way to be happy was to torture myself?

You are good enough

So many girls and boys grow up thinking that they’re not good enough. That they’re not worthy of love and happiness until they look a certain way. No one is born hating themselves. Self-hatred is drilled into us from the minute we can be exploited by the capitalist machine and it’s reinforced constantly until we genuinely believe that we are not good enough.

I’ve spent so many years detesting myself and now I’ve finally come to the realisation that it’s not worth it. I’m exhausted with hating my body. The first thing I think about when I wake up is whether I’ll have a flat stomach today. Throughout the day I’m weighed down with constantly overthinking my step count, whether I should go to the gym, how much I’ve eaten, if I’m eating the right foods. I fall asleep not thinking about the good things that have happened that day or my incredible friends, family, and boyfriend; instead the last thing in my mind is what I can do better tomorrow to make myself look more socially acceptable.

You're not alone

I would bet my life on the fact that I’m not the only person that thinks like this. There are millions of people who spend their lives battling with body insecurities and never get over them. Not because they don’t desperately want to, but because they don’t know how to.

If I’m honest, I have read so many advice books, listened to so many podcasts, and tried so much meditation that I really don’t know what to do either. But what makes me different to those who never change their minds on themselves is that I refuse to give up. I refuse to carry on being weighed down by self-hate and criticising myself at every opportunity.

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Changing your mindset

My goal is to love myself and help other people love themselves. It’s a life goal because I don’t think that self-love has an ending. We should spend our entire lives trying to love ourselves more and more each day because humans are incredible and capable of so much. Why are we trained to hate ourselves when we’re so extraordinary?

So fuck the diet industry. Fuck the capitalist machine which thrives of our self-hate. Fuck anyone who makes you feel like you’re not worthy of love.

Fuck them because we're all amazing and it's about time we stop listening to those who try to bring us down and instead start raising ourselves up.