I recently spent the most magical day with my best friend, her family and some friends out hiking. Being able to do something like this on any given day reminded me of what a huge privilege a healthy body is.
In all those years ever since I was a little girl in ballet and also later in my early twenties when I literally ran my body into the ground, I had my fair share of injuries. My knees and hips would hurt on and off and sometimes keep me side lined for a bunch of days. I would finally develop a pretty severe so-called “runner’s knee” in both of my knees which would force me to stop running for a whole year.
I remember that at first this was a serious struggle as I came face to face with those very real fears of gaining weight as all of a sudden I couldn’t just try to run off the already very limited amount of calories I was consuming.
Addictions to certain substances or behaviours often times stem from a desire to control and here I was all of a sudden feeling like I wasn’t able to control things anymore. I lost one of the most important outlets and coping mechanisms that I had been practicing for so long. Having to suddenly face a problem and not being able to just out-run it like you’re used to, is hard.
After a few months of not running and only being able to stick to low impact exercises like some light bodyweight stuff, yoga and the bicycle, something shifted though. My body changed but very much to my own surprise I somehow got along with it.
To a big part I attribute this to the fact that this was also the time when I first started actively seeking images of “plus size” models (I am not a fan of this label but am going to use it here for lack of a better word).
When I was deeply caught in my eating disorder I would spend hours online searching for images of women who had the body I wanted. I mostly stuck to athletes as I was mesmerized with those very firm and androgynous looks. When I found something I deemed perfect, I would obsessively compare myself to it. I think I was searching for acceptance for my own body through proximity to those ideal representations. Today I am very aware that this isn’t the way it works, but back then I didn’t know any better.
To finally discover the beauty in a softer body with a round belly, voluptuous thighs and arms was truly a game changer in my perception of what I accepted for my own body.
My own experience is also the reason why I am a firm believer in the theory of visibility. To put it very simply: we only embrace what we see often. (If you’re curious to find out more about that topic, I recommend this book.)
When you think about it, it’s really not surprising that so many girls and women develop this huge dissatisfaction with their looks when for so long all they see in the media is this extremely narrow and distorted representation of what humans look like. No wonder that we believe that being fat is one of the worst things that can happen to us when for so long we’ve been conditioned to think that only a very specific body type is beautiful. It’s like the white elephant that I tell you to NOT think about.
Visibility shapes our perception. Making men and women of all different sizes, colours and abilities visible is the only way to bring our society to accept a broader spectrum of what we define as normal.
If you haven’t done so before I really urge you to check out these hashtags that celebrate all the different kinds of bodies and not just this one cookie cuter BS we’re dominantly being fed:
Happy scrolling everyone!