My New Year’s resolution isn’t ‘to lose weight’, and it shouldn’t be yours either
2017 is the year to finally encourage women to love the skin they’re in
As January exam season is approaching we are spending more and more time in the library. When studying we need snacks, which lead me in the library yesterday to demolish a bar of Galaxy chocolate – the big kind. As I deposited the wrapper in the bin, I noticed something different about myself: for the first time since I was around 10, I have not made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.
My relationship with my weight started aged seven, when I, quite non-plussed, noticed I was bigger than all the other children in my class. I went home and asked my parents why my legs were so much thicker than all the other little girls. They told me I had ‘Dutch legs’ and that I wouldn’t blow over in the wind. I then asked them why my sister (also half Dutch) didn’t have ‘Dutch legs’ too. They couldn’t answer that one.
At 11 I went to boarding school. I loved boarding, but put 300 girls aged 11-18 in the same building for weeks at a time can make the atmosphere toxic. A girl I talked to used to copy the eating habits of girls with physiques she aspired to, spending hours a day in the gym just to look ‘skinny’. Watching skinny skinny girls being sent home with anorexia was the norm, and the ones left mostly ate salad. In my last year, I found myself talking to two 11-year-olds, who didn’t want to start their periods ‘because it would make them fat’.
An 11-year-old shouldn’t look at a normal-sized woman’s body and think they’re fat.
Coming to university, my body confidence and self esteem were still at an all time low. If a photo was being taken, I would suck in my stomach and make friends delete ones I considered ‘fat’. I binged in secret, for fear of others judging me, and then purged when I felt too guilty. It was a self destructive, all consuming cycle – one that so many girls and women go through.
Suddenly, everything changed – slowly but surely, women on Instagram, and in the media, started to flaunt their curves. ‘Waist training’ came into fashion. People were getting bum injections and implants to look like celebrities, and, to me, it was a relief. My legs weren’t the slimmest, but suddenly this was being celebrated – and then I checked myself. Wasn’t this the opposite of what I grew up in? What if girls naturally slim, aged seven and eight were looking at images of women online, and thinking that they weren’t beautiful or desirable if they didn’t have a 22-inch waist but a 35-inch bum?
Eventually I pulled myself out of this self-hate cycle. I still have the occasional bad day, but on the whole, I completely love my body. I love my hips – they came a bit sooner than expected, and no other girls at the time had them. I hated them for so long, but now I’m giving them the love that they deserve; lumps, wobble and all.
I now know self worth comes from within, and not whether or not a boy fancies you: where I once would have thought – ‘oh maybe if I lose 5lb’, I now know it’s entirely down to preference. I have curves, and they’re amazing. Some girls are straight up and down, and they’re just as beautiful too. Big, small, tall, short, thick, thin, dark, light – every body is beautiful and it is time to stop teaching people the opposite. Currently, 80 per cent of women aged 16 and upwards are dissatisfied with their looks, and in teens this figure is 90 per cent. This is not ok.
Women need to empower one another – ever seen a girl walking around campus and thought ‘Her legs are incredible!’? Tell her! Chances are, she’s seen someone and thought ‘Wow, I wish I had her boobs’, and so on. Everyone is much more than a figure on a scale, a measurement on a tape, or a BMI – you are unique, with your own personality, talents and body.
If you want to work out and enjoy eating healthily, go for it, but do it for you, and the body you love, not the body you loathe and want to change. So, 2017, and every year after it, should be the year of self-love and body positivity, and is the first year I won’t be making a resolution to change the way I look.