…is the infamous line that Mark Darcy utters to Bridget Jones.
How better this world would be if we loved the ones we cared about just as they were. If we loved ourselves just as we are. Feeling a little sad to hear that Shawn Johnson (one of my favourite gymnasts) has been forced to retire due to her knee injury I stumbled across an article she had written on ESPN where she talked about how much she disliked her body while searching to see if the news was true. As an avid gymnastics fan I’m part of a community that watches clips of routines and competitions on YouTube, I also update gymnast profiles on wikipedia, and follow a number of gymnastic blogs/websites. It has disgusted me in the past how they’ve called gymnasts ‘fat’ when quite frankly they just look healthy and you can tell it’s all muscle. It’s been great to see gymnasts coming up through the ranks that aren’t all skinny waifs! Of course there’ll be some that are very slender – I was skinny as anything until I was about 22 – but that’s not everyone.
However, I can definitely relate to what Shawn said.
Growing up going to dance school your body and looks were everything. I never had the nice clothes, I wasn’t pretty, my hair was untamable and I struggled to get it into the perfect hairstyles that were apparently expected. When I was 11 preparing for my first dance exam my teacher kept looking at me as I did a basic arm movement exercise saying ‘I don’t know what it is but you look really strange doing that’ and we realised it’s because I had sway back elbows. I was unsupple. My knees were squint and by the time anyone noticed (again – through dance classes) it was too late to do anything about it. My eyesight was shocking from the age of 10 onwards (in space of one year my eyesight went to being perfect to me being unable to walk around without my glasses on) and the memory of my glasses falling off not once but 3 times during my first dance exam is still a little painful!
As I’ve got older I’ve thankfully learned tricks to be able to make the best of what I’ve got. If you’d asked any of my friends or family when I was 19 that there would be a day where I’d walk out the house with wavy curled hair and not be crying about ‘Why won’t it stay straight?!‘ they’d have likely laughed in your face. I’ve learned about hair mousse and the wonders of salt spray. Not only that but I’ve worn my glasses to all the weddings I’ve attended in the last 4 years. I’ve learned the beauty of jeans or skirts that cover my knees so I don’t feel so self-conscious. I happily wear flip flops despite my ugly toes because I love painting my nails different colours and pretty flip flops are comfier and cheaper than pretty shoes. And sometimes it’s fun to compare quirky limbs with others. Double jointed thumbs and arms that bend slightly in the wrong direction in abundance.
Of course I could be one of those people who spends hours getting ready every morning, but I can’t see that ever being me. Mainly because I would lose valuable sleeping time and it’s been long established that going to bed earlier is not an option for me! I could spend hundreds of pounds a year so I could wear contact lenses all the time. Maybe I could get plastic surgery to fix things like my nose which has the ‘MacKay-bump’ or suck the fat out of my stomach.
Quite frankly, I think there are better things with my time and money. So while I do try to look after my body as much as I can by getting exercise and eating healthy (if we ignore the cake & chocolate temptations…oh dear!) because it is the only body I’ve got…I am not likely to plasticise it. Or cake it with make up. Or have a wardrobe full of fancy clothes to cover it with. And any hairstyle that takes longer than 10 mins is only going occur on my head for very special occasions.