By Emily Lavinia
Over the years I’ve had a complex relationship with my own body. Imagine feeling uncomfortable about something, then being in awe of it, then disliking it or hating the sight of it on some days but still, having to carry it with you or rather, having it carry you everywhere you’d go each and every day.
Today I like my body. Each curve, each pale limb, soft freckled expanses and protruding bones are all lovely to me. Although, I’ll always wish I had different breasts... I’ve never been able to shake that off.
But I’ve unloaded most of the other stuff. The dysmorphic thinking, the tears, the shame and the jealousy. I grew up looking at images of milky pre-raphaelite women, permatanned porn stars and shiny Barbies, princesses with doe eyes and impossible waists and felt conflicted.
At 15 I hated my small, curveless body and saw none of my own beauty. That made me hungry for the love of others, feeling desired was everything and when that becomes the case, you can lose sight of yourself. My teens and my twenties were fairly troubled. Low self esteem, anxiety, disordered eating and self medication meant that my weight fluctuated a lot and I sought approval of my physical self from wherever I could.
I’m now 28 and I wear a bra for fun, not because I need one. Because it makes me feel good. I tell myself that my body is a gift and for the first time, I like being on my own with it, looking at it and appreciating what I have. I don’t need someone to tell me how pretty or sexy or perfect it is. It’s always nice when someone compliments you but what does someone else’s opinion really amount to? It’s mine. It’s the only thing I truly own, it carries me everywhere and I owe it to my body to care for it and love it.
I tell myself that every day and I spend time looking at it, touching it and thanking myself for how it feels, how healthy it is, how great it looks in a pair of lacy knickers or wrapped in a sheet with my hair all messed up from my pillows. I wear tiny bikinis, I eat three meals a day and I tell myself to chill the F out because in the last couple of years I’ve realised, the only thing preventing me from feeling good about my body is me. How simultaneously brutal and beautiful is that?