It’s a few days into January and a familiar, unwelcome feeling is looming in the back of my mind. It’s a specific type of dread, regret and panic all at the same time. I dare to glance at myself in the mirror beside my bed. This is a bad idea, but I force my eyes towards the reflection… I feel sick.
I thought I had come far this year. They say you gain confidence as you get older. That the latter part of your twenties herald a time when you no longer gasp at the sight of your own body. 2019 gave us movement and space to say no to the one-size-fits-all narrative we’d been fed since the beginning. I thought I was there. I was done with the self-criticism and had accepted my body for what it is: a body.
January 2020 has proven me wrong. Just like every January, I am in a state of disgust at my own body- and I’m not the only one.
This time of year is one of the worst for those struggling with their body image- and by ‘those’, I mean most people. We have let our guard down these past few weeks, clinging to the holiday season as an excuse to… to what? To pack on a few extra layers maybe? It’s been a cold winter to be fair. To change our relationship status with food from, ‘it’s complicated’ to ‘In love’ for five minutes? To take a break from punishing ourselves when we ‘lose control’?
Whatever way we toxically justify the winter weight gain, the question remains: why? Why do we do it?
Those of us who preach body positivity delight in the fat rolls of others but still cringe at our own. We are so proud of friends when they appear to achieve body acceptance. We would never use ‘fat’ as an insult… but we pull angrily at the rolls on our tummies and double chins when we see ourselves in the gaps between fog on the mirror.
Before I disappoint, I have not come up with an answer as to why we can’t achieve full-body acceptance. However, it would help if we all admitted to having days… or months when our membership to the body positive club was revoked temporarily. Being semi-okay with your own body is EXHAUSTING. It is so much easier to adore someone else’s being, body and mind.
Maybe simply achieving that is a steppingstone: to celebrate all bodies, but our own. This could eventually lead to a relationship with our earthly vessel that is deemed ‘not as complicated as before, but not yet perfect’.
So, this January, let us not to be so hard on ourselves if we are not yet OKAY with our outer shells. It is just as toxic to hate our thoughts as it is to hate our bodies. We cannot expect a year of Internet movement to undo a lifetime of damage done by unrealistic standards and fatphobic culture. Cut your mind some slack… even if you can’t do the same for your body, just yet.