Self-confidence is a topic I’m fond of discussing, and discussed a lot on this blog prior to deleting certain posts. One element I want to discuss today, is my least favourite part of the body, bellies.
It is an understatement to say I hate my stomach. I loathe it. I hate it so much, that if someone offered me to pay every penny to my name towards having a flat stomach I’d do it. Growing up, I was told I was fat. And although those that said it said it entirely jokingly, being given clothes far too small for me or for a female a lot less broad and butch, I still cried to myself feeling disgusted in the body I was in. I must have been around 10 years old.
My self-confidence in my childhood was horrible, and remains one of the worst parts of my experience growing up. My belly was poked, and I was asked “What’s this?” and laughed at. To make things worse, I matured earlier than most girls, so when they eventually sprouted into being thin, tall, decently breasted and adored, I was the brown potato with acne, a belly and a small breast size, who would dart her eyes at the other girls in the changing rooms hoping nobody was looking at me and remaining unhappy and envious.
Strangely enough, when I now look at myself, I wonder why I worried so much. I clearly had issues with my all-cheese all-nutella diet, hence the acne too, and a little exercise wouldn’t have hurt had it not been against my interests. Then again, male attention was also something included in the mix (which shouldn’t ever be, might I add) and it seemed even the attention I did get remained unfulfilling to my confidence. Through growing up and maturing in my body, no man’s comments on my body and attitude towards it in that way have ever satisfied how I felt towards myself, be it a combination of my anxiety and the memories of growing up.
As I grew older and came to university, it wasn’t until then I was ultimately semi-satisfied. And I think it wasn’t until this year I truly had moments of feeling satisfied in myself.
Whilst being diagnosed with anxiety, I became even more embarrassed and a lot more self destructive in moments of darkness. Habits such as scratching and picking at my skin, mean that I’m now covered in strange dot scars across my body, namely cheeks, neck, chest, stomach and legs. I now have an issue with my weight, to which I’m being looked at for, but I’m slowly gaining little by little but intend to not be as big as I was. But ultimately, despite this, I still have moments where I can look at myself in the mirror and smile. And I would even say, in my anxiety improving this year, I’ve genuinely had moments where I’ve felt happy in my body. No man, nor woman, nor comment of sorts, had done that. I still have days where I can be unhappy in myself. But there are actually days where I can feel happy in myself, and that is better than never having those moments at all. My improvement in my mental health achieved that, and a lot of it is thanks to the following.
I’d say the main reason towards this is the belly dance society I’m a part of. The society itself is welcoming, to all shapes, all sizes. And despite scarily perverse remarks asking me when our next performance is, “can I see a photo of you in action?” and “maybe you should do some for me sometime ;)” (genuine quotes, shudder!) that is not what it’s all about. Belly dancing is beautiful, and culturally interesting to me and always has been. Though I never felt like I could even dream of it, given my loathing of my own stomach, it is the one place I feel comfortable with it and my body as a whole. I feel in a room with others, all of different body shapes, sizes and self-consciousnesses and confidences, I am an equal. Not only that but my body isn’t looked at as “sexually appealing” or judged based on my abilities, or judged based on how I look in a costume or the fact I belly dance at all. It’s a place I can be free from the perverse world of body shaming neanderthals and concentrate on how I feel about my own body for a change, and not think about what others would think of it or invite them to judge my body in front of me.
Ultimately, to be happy in your own body is way more worthwhile than to question the way others perceive it and if they are happy with how you look. Who are we in a position to make us feel unpretty? If there is anything my anxiousness has taught me, it’s that being happy in yourself is worth focusing on much more than social acceptance, because it’s only when you become happy in yourself, you can be a happier person all round, and life just becomes a lot easier.
But to talk about becoming happier in yourself and how to achieve that is for another time. I actually have a few body-confidence tactics which I will share another day which have kept me going along the way, but for now, go to your nearest mirror, and smile. You are beautiful. 🙂