For as long as I remember I’ve had this plan to get my ‘dream body’ before turning 30. I wanted to be slim, with no tummy or the little love handle bits that stuck out whenever I tried on body con dresses and made me hate my hips.
Why 30 you ask? 30 seems like a life turning point, everyone talks about turning 30. 30 Seems so far away right? until you rapidly approach it…. 30 also seemed like the kind of age I imagined myself having children too.
I basically held myself to this contract to have my shit together by 30.
It never even crossed my mind that this was a ridiculous ideal I was holding myself to, just another thing on the long list of things society expects you’ll have together by the time you’re a ‘real’ adult.
I’d made myself promises that I’d finally earn enough money to hire a personal trainer once or twice a week to get into shape. Or I’d finally figured out a workout routine that was for me and I didn’t absolutely hate. Or force myself to eventually love celery….
I had plans to have liposuction and get rid of those stubborn areas I was self conscious about. Or the boob job I’ve been planning for since I was old enough to buy my own bra’s. I’d even gone as far as to research things like ‘can I still breast feed after having a boob job?’ or thought about whether to ‘ruin my boobs’ first by having children before eventually having a boob job to correct them because having breasts that are different shapes as sizes was completely unacceptable. Besides breast feeding makes them saggy right? so might as well get that out of the way before I make them perky again.
All of those things we’re conditioned to hate since day one. The pressure to be perfect in a completely imperfect world used to be swimming around in the back of my mind.
But here’s the plot twist. I actually had that dream body all along!
Who woulda thunk it?
Over the last couple of years I’ve been really working on self love, self worth and looking after myself. It’s been a very long, educational and at times, difficult path, as you can imagine. However I feel like i’m edging ever closer to feeling happy within my self at whatever size and shape I am. That dream body wasn’t realistic, it was some idealised version of what I thought people wanted me to look like. I celebrated diversity in body shapes, colours, sizes and yet I was judging myself from an outdated standard that should just get in the bin to be frank.
Of course, no-one is perfect and I still very much have my wobbles and down days but it’s safe to say I no longer want liposuction and I’ve learned to love those wonky boobs of mine (even if I do occasionally wish they would be the same size so I could buy nice pretty underwear that didn’t look a little odd). Tarnya of 5 years ago can get the hell outta here with her stupid needs for plastic surgery and Tarnya of today can get the hell in here with living her life, enjoying the exercises she wants and stop thinking her self worth is determined by her size.
The longings of tanned smooth skin, slimmer hips and a flatter tummy is replaced with the desire for fun, colourful, better fitting clothes and adventures to explore new places with, in the body that is healthy and able.
One of the big deals for me is I’ve also learned to love my long legs. So this is going to sound completely backwards and odd, so bare with me. But my legs are always something I’ve received compliments on. I’m above average in height (5ft7) and I’m quite literally, all leg. But weirdly because I’ve always been complimented on them, I’ve become oddly self conscious of them because I wasn’t as happy about them as all my partners/friends/strangers have been. Isn’t the mind a weird thing?
I wrote awhile back about 5 Ways I’m practicing Body positivity and honestly they’ve helped. It seems silly to say things like ‘take more photo’s of yourself’ when you aren’t happy with the way you look, I get it. But it’s helpful to discover yourself, the way you look from different angles, noticing how your body looks and moves. Finding new things you love about yourself, how happy you look when you’re surrounded by people you love and care about or eating your favourite meal! There is so much more to your interactions than what you see in the mirror. The beautiful bits of you that other people see.
I’ve also pretty much stopped weighing myself. I joined Slimming World again at the start of 2020 to support a friend. I felt pretty good about myself without weighing myself for some time and as soon as I went to my first session and seeing a number on a scale, I felt horrendous. I started spiralling again, comparing myself, worrying about a number. I stopped going. It was doing more harm than good to my body loving journey. Why do we feel good about ourselves, then see a number and suddenly feel poop? I honestly couldn’t get my head around it. I avoid weighing myself as much as possible now and try to listen to what my body is telling me. Are my clothes tighter than usual? Is my skin showing more blemishes? Have I been putting off cooking and ordering more take out food? It’s about checking in with yourself and seeing what behaviours change when your moods change or you’re getting triggered by work stress etc.
I have noticed that changing up my hair colour and experimenting with fun colours in my hair has made me more confident. I think it’s just learning to have fun with yourself and not take yourself too seriously. I wish I’d done my hair in jazzy colours a lot sooner because although it’s a ball-ache up keeping it, it’s fun to change up my colour and style to match it, whenever I feel like it.
If I already had the body that was perfect for me but it just took 30 years to realise that, I’d hope by the time I was 40 I’d found the love, security and confidence for my body that I know is inside me, fighting to get out. I’d hate to spend the next 30 years battling with something that shouldn’t have to be a problem and I’m hoping society will still be pushing and changing those ideals so that it isn’t such a constant pressure.
How is your body confidence journey going?
Do you struggle or have struggled with the same things? Did you have a ‘dream body’ ideal?
Have you got any tips and tricks or ways you tackle the negative relationship we all have from time to time with our bodies?
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Did you have some ridiculous ‘dream body’ ideal you’d set yourself by this date or that age to achieve to make you ‘happy’ with the way you look?