On Being Thankful For Your Flaws
America, I am officially gatecrashing your holiday. Because I love turkey, stuffing, and frankly, I think it’s unfair that you guys get two goes at a Christmas-style break – so I’m getting involved. Consider me having pushed my way in there.
Because I think Thanksgiving is a great holiday, or at least a great concept for one. Taking some time out to think about what you really appreciate in your life is a brilliant idea, to my mind – a kind of chicken soup for the soul sorta thing. I think that’s great. And it’s something that doesn’t come naturally when you aren’t happy with your body. Being really thankful – and giving yourself the credit you deserve – is something you have to learn.
The trouble with the diet industry – which, as you know, is something both Matt and I have worked hard to distance ourselves from – is that it’s based firmly in the negative. Logic dictates that if you’re “fat,” you don’t deserve to be happy, and you should feel guilty when you eat. You should deprive yourself, and work out until it hurts, and if you so much as think about eating a bar of chocolate, you’ve failed the test and should be thrown into a fiery pit of sharpened celery sticks and poked for all eternity. Or something like that.
This thinking is wrong. Just so there’s no confusion here, you are not a failure, and you do deserve to be happy, irrespective of what you weigh, or what you look like. And I’m willing to challenge anyone who thinks otherwise to a fight. A proper one. We used boxing gloves in circuits last week, so I’m pretty sure I’m Rocky now – and I’m not afraid to take the haters down.
The trouble is, as much as it seems obvious, it’s absolutely amazing to me that people find it so, so hard to appreciate and enjoy their own bodies. If anything, body confidence seems to be a ‘bad’ thing – something like vanity, I guess – and people who are happy with the way they look seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. I’m not saying that I’d want to be the kind of person that proclaims their excellence to the world in an annoying self-righteous manner, because that can get irritating after a while – but being quietly confident that you’re good enough is a very, very positive thing.
I’ve managed to catch a few snippets of the Body Beautiful season on BBC3, including a show called I Want To Change My Body. I made a special effort to watch this, because my good friend and fellow blogger Hazel was one of the people featured on the show, having had a gastric sleeve fitted earlier in the year. You already know I think surgery should always be a last resort – but I also strongly believe that what you choose to do with your body is entirely up to you, and I’m not OK with judgemental people saying otherwise. Especially given that following her gastric sleeve, she’s become an advocate of eating well, and exercising right. That’s A-OK by me.
There was also a lovely, bubbly girl called Chloe, who went on a crash diet which couldn’t be named, but I suspect was the Cambridge Diet – which is basically 400 calories a day in milkshake form. And again, I’ve talked about this before. Massively calorie restricted diets just aren’t sustainable in the long-term – they’re a piece o’crap quick fixeroo. The diet industry would go out of business SO fast if one of these diets actually worked. Remember that. But what was most depressing about it was that Chloe wanted to be an actress, and didn’t think she’d succeed in her career if she wasn’t skinny.
She’s absolutely bloody gorgeous. So is Hazel. So, in fact, were all of the people in the show. Nobody on there was ugly – although you wouldn’t know that, from the downright nasty snarking that went on on Twitter during and after the show. The fact that these teenagers have gone on TV admitting their body confidence issues, only to have random strangers laugh at their ‘flaws’ and hurl abuse at them afterwards just makes me despair for civilization. Or at least, people who write stuff on the internet. If it weren’t for the fact that you guys consistently amaze me with your awesomeness, I’d just shut this down right now and take a vow of silence for the rest of my life.
What really struck me about the show itself, though, was the fact that after the surgery, once they’d gotten used to their new features, a couple of them had already found something else they weren’t happy with… And were considering surgery to change it. This is where the problem lies, for me. The pursuit of perfection is a waste of time, because perfection is a myth. It’s impossible to achieve. And this sort of thinking is something we need to get ourselves out of.
It’s going to take a long time to change a world in which real, and happy, aren’t good enough. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. But I genuinely do believe that if we start being more kind to each other, we’ll find it easier to be more understanding towards ourselves. If we appreciate – rather than envy – the gorgeousness of the people around us, chances are, we’ll start to be able to appreciate our own good points too. It’s not easy – but it is entirely possible.
I’m thankful, every morning, that I’m able to walk to work without being in pain. And I enjoy everything I eat – from the cupcake that I just unashamedly devoured at my desk whilst singing Je Ne Regrette Rien at the top of my lungs (I’m celebrating, remember?) to the juicy goodness of the Empire apple I’ve got waiting for me this afternoon.
I’m also thankful that I’ve got a big butt, and that I’ve got big hair, and quite nice nails. Win.
But most of all, I’m thankful that I’m not perfect. When I smile, one of my eyes squints a little more than the other. I’m not exactly in love with my teeth. And my pinky toes are utterly ridiculous. But I’m glad I’ve got faults and flaws, stretch marks and cellulite – it’s all part of me. And I’m proud of that. These things are what make me a real person – someone worth being.
So today, I would suggest you take a moment to appreciate your own body in and for itself, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not. Happiness begins at home – so enjoy your turkey, guys – and happy holidays to you!