My words, unfortunately, take a different line to the inspiring messages I have read from other women here. This blog initiated my first ever exploration of my thoughts on my body and I am uneasy about what I found.
I am an outgoing and vibrant, confident woman and the way I feel about my body matches. I have the fortune of being able to eat what I want. I enjoyed a toffee popcorn doughnut today, recommended by the way, without a moment’s thought. I am frequently (classily) scantily clad and I feel great when I’m naked with men. Deeper than that however, this exploration has lead me to realise is a web of vanity and praise-seeking. Here lies a cautionary tale…
In fact, a dangerously self critical mess of insecurities and neuroticism lurks behind this veneer. I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager and have had two breakdowns including a terrifying period of psychosis. My happiness about my body never waned during these times and it gave me no reassurance. Being tall, thin and toned gave me no solace when I was cowering in the corner of my bedroom hearing things and no drive when I couldn’t get up for sadness. My love for my body comes from laudatory friends, ogling strangers and society’s skinny fetish. I like the looks, the comments and the compliments. It gives me a high and a warm feeling inside.
This is a false and dangerous way to build confidence; like an unsteady Jenga tower. My dependence on what other people think of me is a not a desirable personality trait.
With my friends I joke about my mental instability and they know me as a bright and slightly vain social butterfly. I doubt this post will come as much of a surprise to them. But sometimes I worry that the difference in my mind and my veneer is off putting to people getting to know me.
I’m proud of my confident veneer of course – I built it from a scared and bullied little girl – but my story can be a harsh reminder to others that appearances aren’t everything. On reflecting for this blog I now wonder if I didn’t have this body to fall back on would I have learnt to build confidence from the inside?