This week’s Guest Post comes from one of the most beautiful writers I know. I’m not a fan solely for the stunning prose and vivid imagery conjured up by her words, I’m also a bit of a fan girl for the frank way in which Lydia speaks. She’s also incredibly inspiring when it comes to her inner strength and I hope she knows it.
Lydia and I met ‘doing nails’ at a short-lived salon in Brighton and although that never took off, I’m very grateful for the talented and interesting folk I met there, which of course includes this lady here. If you like what you read here, which you definitely will, go check her out on her own blog, Belle of the Bluegrass.
It is often said that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. I don’t believe that’s particularly true, but what I do believe is that you can start to love yourself and become more relaxed in your body when someone else loves you. Learning to love yourself through someone else’s love of you.
We all have our insecurities and body hang ups, no one is fully content but being a plus size woman my body image comes under the scrutiny of strangers every time I step out of the house. I hear sniggers and whispers, catcalls and some incredibly confronting comments upon my appearance from people I have never met before. For some unknown reason society has deemed it almost acceptable for this behaviour to occur.
Over the past few years I have tried to take ownership and be happy in the body I have, finding inspiration and courage in the body positive communities of plus size women on social media. I have finally found women with bodies that represent me; looking amazing and doing incredible things. I’ll admit there is still a long way for us to go in changing people’s perception of us, whether that’s within the clothing industry or having TV and film recognising us as something other than just the ‘funny women’ and realising our potential as the sex symbol.
Throughout my life I have rarely sought the approval of others in anything I have done. Yet, when you label someone for long enough, even the strongest of us can start to believe it eventually. The mean words that get screamed at me in the street start to penetrate the force field I have tried to build around myself. And sometimes, if the blow is hard enough and hits just the right spot, a crack can appear. A chink in my armour. These words that I have had thrown at me over and over since the age of ten have taken their toll on my self-worth. Slipping in to my anxieties and seeping into the way I conduct myself daily, these aggressive mean-spirited narrations have altered me as a person.
It took me five months to gather the courage to meet my boyfriend, terrified that he would run away screaming on sight because I am not a conventional size. Of course he knew this before we met in person and my anxiety wasn’t allowing him the benefit of being a decent human and accepting me as me.
Until my early twenties the men I often encountered were still being governed by what their friends might think, regardless of how they actually felt. That coupled with my underlying force field traumas always left me in the role of the good friend. I stopped trying around men, I wasn’t interested in playing this weird game of snakes and ladders. I didn’t want to keep seeing them slide down snakes every time they realised my appearance, even if they liked it and liked me, wouldn’t be accepted by their peers. Living in that weird limbo just cracks the force field further and I didn’t have time for that.
But then this man entered my life unexpectedly. I wasn’t looking to be rejected by someone elses insecurities so I never even tried things like Tinder. This was just a photo sharing app I downloaded as a way to distract myself after my mother passed away. I posted a selfie, always knowing my best angles, you wouldn’t even know I was plus size, but he was still sweet and interested even after I told him.
Having my fleshy curves admired and my wobbly stomach kissed can work wonders for a girls confidence. The parts of me that I was only just coming to acknowledge are entirely accepted and honoured by this man. He is not embarrassed of me as I was myself, standing by my side and telling me that I am beautiful. I think stretch marks are bewitching; mermaid scales and secret silver streaked maps written across my body. I didn’t always feel that way, embarrassed by them when getting changed for P.E. and having other girls ask what they were. Whilst I desperately wanted to be like these confident plus size women I admired, it took seeing myself through his eyes to make me believe that it is possible. I feel less need to try and make myself smaller and apologise for my appearance. He tells me I am beautiful, unprompted, even when I am convinced I am looking my absolute worst. Feeling more at peace and less aware of the looks and whispers going on around me. I have seen my friend, who had her own body confidence issues, become more accepting of herself because of the way her boyfriend loves her.
I am not saying that my self-worth is reliant upon a man, because I don’t think anyone should be reliant upon someone else to feel worthy in this life. Sometimes though, it takes standing back and viewing something from a different angle to really allow you to appreciate the beauty. And with every kiss and sleep laced declaration of love, the insecurities I have had over the years become smaller, beginning to fade away. My nonconformist body is loved by this man and now, in turn, by me.