- by Connie
If you haven’t heard of the ‘I Weigh’ movement, in a very brief nutshell it’s a body-positive social-media movement launched by Jameela Jamil. It’s a campaign which highlights the importance of our non-physical attributes, critically challenging “how women are taught to value themselves. In Kg”. Jamil makes sure to make it clear that taking time to shift our focus from our looks to our accomplishments, our support systems or any other feats that we hold dear to our hearts needn’t necessarily mean a complete rejection of some of the more physical aspects of beauty, nor should we feel ashamed about wanting to be healthier and fitter . “By all means take pride in your appearance”, she says. “Enjoy your looks, and your clothes and your sex appeal, but don’t make it your number-one concern and selling point… We aren’t supposed to all look the same.”
One of the key parts of her campaign is striving to make editing and photo-shopping peoples bodies a thing of the past. Jamil expressly calls for all images taken of her to remain unedited, and as part of the #IWeigh story she calls other people to share unedited images of themselves.
“How wonderful!” “So brave!” “Let’s all embrace our true beauty!” you hear the masses cry, and while I agree I have not yet joined this campaign. And the reason for that is because, honestly, I’m absolutely terrified of it.
Not many people know this about me, but I used to be quite seriously bulimic while I was at university. I rarely ate healthily, and I always immediately felt guilty about eating and would force myself to throw up whatever I had eaten. I was loosing weight rapidly, but still felt huge. Whenever anyone commented on my weight loss, or how my legs or my body was looking slimmer, I felt encouraged to loose even more weight. I look at photos of myself now and I realise just how sick I looked. I wasn’t healthy, but I was desperate to be skinnier. I hated how big I felt.
Honestly, I’ve had issues with my body since I was a young teenager. I was very tall, and started developing very early. I was aware just how much ‘bigger’ I was compared to my friends. On top of this, boys seemed to only like my skinnier, smaller friends. So, I began to wish I looked like them. I hated the size of my hips, the fact that my arms weren’t toned, that my stomach wasn’t flat and that I didn’t have a gap between my thighs… Everything I wanted to be, everything I wanted to look like, wasn’t me.
Now I’m 24, I look back at how I looked in my teens and I’m so aware of how warped my self image was. I was slim, strong, and I definitely wasn’t fat. I was healthy. In fact, I was still healthy in sixth form. But I still saw myself as big.
After I got seriously thin, I worked hard to break out of the habit of making myself sick, but I still ate unhealthily. This meant I rapidly gained weight, which led to my self esteem, my confidence and my self image dropping rapidly. Now I hated the way I looked because I actually was big, or at least I was bigger than I wanted to be, and I was bigger than was considered to be healthy. Truthfully, I am still bigger than I want to be, and in order to be healthier I need to live a healthier lifestyle. And I am loosing my excess weight, slowly, and I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, but I am so afraid of looking at myself in the mirror or in photos because of how I feel about the way I look. It doesn’t matter to me that I have a BA in Drama and will soon hopefully have an MSc in Public relations, it doesn’t matter that I have skills and friends and family and talents and other positive non-physical attributes. Because all I can think about is how fat I look.
How sad is that.
And I mean that literally. The fact I can’t enjoy being in a photo with my family, or that I hate having my photo taken at memorable or important events like friends weddings or parties makes me so sad. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. But honestly, I just don’t. And it’s hard to remember a time when I ever did.
How I see myself is a work in progress. I’m very good at building others up, and I hope I remind my friends and family how beautiful and brilliant they are on a regular basis, but I find it so hard to build myself up. While not everyone experiences eating disorders, I think to an extent everyone finds it difficult to be fully body positive. I wanted to be completely honest in this post, about how I see myself and how challenging it is to be positive about yourself. But I want to commit to being more positive about myself, and being more honest and confident with how I really look… but also how I feel about how I look. I hope that this commitment to positive change comes through in my posts on here and on my other social media profiles, especially my Instagram. And I want to encourage anyone reading this who feels similarly about how they look, please don’t think about yourself as all the things you want to change, and try not to only value yourself by how you look. Because you are so much more than your image. You have value regardless of your weight. Lets all work together to be both happy and healthy.
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