A couple of months ago I was tagged in a friend’s photo on Facebook. And I wanted to crawl into a corner with shame. Body shame.
The photo was of a group of us from a boat trip the previous day (I live in Mauritius so nothing extraordinary there) and it was THE most fun day! I spent all day on the boat in a bikini, not worrying about what I looked like, just relaxing and having the best time. The constant flow of rum punch helped a lot ;-)
Having the best time, singing and dancing, on our Christmas boat trip!
But seeing the photo my friend shared, and others, the next day I was hit with it. Total, utter body shame.
When I was chilling and enjoying my day out I didn’t stress about what I looked like in a bikini. I wasn’t thinking about my mum tum, my thunder thighs or my cellulite. I was just thinking “woohoo!” as I had a ball with good friends on a child-free day.
But when I saw those pictures I was mortified.
So I made myself sit and try to understand why.
What was wrong with those photos of me?
I was obviously having a blast and living life to the max. So what was bugging me?
And there it was.
My body wasn’t the perfect one we see on the cover of magazines and smiling back at us through online images. The one that the most of the media tells us we should have.
This was the raw, un-Photoshopped version.
I realised that I was comparing myself to those perfect pictures the media assaults us with.
The filtered, airbrushed photos of people who don’t actually exist.
I know that those models, celebrities and stars don’t look like that in real life, so why was I comparing myself to them?!
Let’s look at the facts.
I am a 41 year old mum of two.
That belly you can see there got stretched not once, but twice so I could safely carry my girls to life in this world.
Those boobs blew up like balloons to prepare for and to feed those babies.
Those thighs….well those thighs have always been on the chunky side, that’s called genetics (well partly).
And you know what? I could be slimmer, more toned. I know how to.
But I also love being sociable, and eating good food, and enjoying a cold Mojito as I watch the sun set.
I could work out every day, but I prefer to snuggle up with my husband in bed, to spend time with my kids, my friends, or to lose myself in a book.
So I do pay attention. I am a 41 year old mum and I want to stay as fit and healthy for my kids for as long as possible.
Most of the time I eat healthily but I don’t say no to ice creams or to dinners out.
I do various sporting activities, just not quite as much as I could to get a celebrity 41 year old body.
So I am embracing my curves, my wobbles, the wrinkles, the sagginess. Because they are all part of me and this great life that I love.
Jumping off the boat into the Indian Ocean with my friend - having the time of my life and blissfully ignorant of what I looked like.
And I won’t be hiding them anytime soon. Because I'm fed up of the constant body shame that society and so much of the media submits us to.
And because I’ve got daughters.
Daughters who are growing up in a scary world where girls are criticised for their looks from a very early age.
Daughters who are growing up in a world where cover models don’t exist in reality, yet girls and women aspire to look like them.
Daughters who are growing up in a world where porn is readily available no matter their age, featuring women who look nothing like they will as they grow and develop.
As a woman who has a voice and a following online, it is my duty to my daughters, and to other girls and women out there, to share images of this 41 year old mum’s body.
It is my duty to model a healthy body. A woman who is comfortable in her skin.
It is my duty to my daughters to show my body off with pride. At home, on the beach and online.
Because if the majority of the media insists on flooding our brains with “perfect” female bodies online, on the big screen, in newspapers and magazines, then it is our duty, as women with online influence to combat it with what is real.
You can take your airbrushed models away from my girls, away from all the women who feel they need to live up to that image.
Instead let’s flood the internet, Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds and Instagram squares with normal women’s bodies.
This is what a happy, healthy 41 year old mum of two looks like, and I invite you to share your normal woman’s body online too.
The photo my friend tagged me in on Facebook
Let’s re-educate our daughters - and sons - of what real women’s bodies look like. And let’s say no to body shame.
If you struggle with body shame, how you look, body image, or self-esteem in general, come and check out my Life Reboot Camp - we kick off at the end of February.
Big love to you and your beautiful body,
P.S. I stopped buying magazines a few years ago as I was sick of the fake bodies in them and what it did to my self-esteem; Psychologies is the first and only magazine I've bought since then as it talks to me as a whole, imperfect, being, and I love it and the team behind it for that :-)
This blog post first appeared on www.SophieLeBrozec.com