Body image is a subjective topic. What one person thinks is an unattractive aspect of themselves, may be another person’s favourite thing. But, no matter what other people may think, it all comes down to what you think about yourself and this is the first hurdle to overcome.
A positive mindset
I can’t say I’ve ever been truly happy with my appearance, but it differs each day. Sometimes I can pass over any insecurities and other days they bother me endlessly. More recently, I’ve managed to become a lot more confident. A few months ago I decided I’d had enough of being self-conscious and I didn’t want to waste anymore time worrying about what I looked like or what people might think of me. The first step in achieving this was to accept that I look the way I look. Once I’d accepted that, it was easy to start looking at my body in a more positive way. I made a conscious effort to be happy with myself and that positive mindset changed everything.
The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself – Maya Angelou
Due to Cystic Fibrosis, there are a dozen ways my body is internally affected but some things are visible too – my height, weight and scarring just to name a few. Honestly, the height issue is so normal to me now, it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to (I’ve also made smaller friends!) My weight has evened out and I’m pretty happy with that too, but the scars aren’t as easily fixable. I’ve got a pretty impressive one on my stomach which I’ve always tried to hide, but with this new positive mindset I’ve began not to hate it as much. I’ve even got to a point where I can comfortably wear crop tops in public – progress!
On my summer holiday this year I wore a bikini around the pool and on the beach, giving everyone a clear view of my scars. And do you know what? I LOVED wearing that bikini. I couldn’t care less about the scars. I didn’t actually notice anyone staring, although I’m sure I got a few glances. Is that what it’s like when you don’t care what others think? You don’t notice the staring? I was comfortable with the fact that people would see it and think “she must have been through some stuff and it hasn’t stopped her, good for her“, because yeah, I have dealt with some tough times and I’ve got this badass scar to prove it.
Who else would you want to be?
I can put part of my positive mindset down to this question. I began asking myself, seriously, who would I be happy being if I could swap lives. My answer? No-one. I don’t think being someone else would make me happier, as I’m sure I’d find something else to be conscious of.
It’s natural to compare yourself to other people – the celebrity on the cover of that magazine, the pretty girl who lives on your street, your friends who have great bodies – and it’s easy to say you wish you looked like them. But if you did, who’s to say you’d be truly happy? These people you see will have body hang-ups too.
Life is way too short to spend another day at war with yourself
After realising I’d like to keep being me, thank you very much, I decided that it was about time to change what I thought about me. Yes, the CF sucks, but I have to give it credit for making me who I am today. I have a thicker skin, I’m braver and I’m independent – all qualities I’ve had to develop to live with CF.
Over the past few months I’ve changed, because I chose to. I decided to stop viewing my body with so much negativity and as a result I’ve become happier and more confident – some of the most important things to be.