Body image: Are you your worst enemy?

Birthday present from James -Elbow gig

I turned 40 in March of this year and as many other men and women, I made some promises about the way I would conduct my life. One of those promises I made to myself was to take more care of myself. 

As many many other women find, when you become a parent you kind of loose your identity with it. I’d lost my sense of style, opting for comfy and easy. This came with the lack of time I had to get ready and also the fact that dragging 3 kids around a shopping mall is like the worst kind of hell! My body had changed shape, which I wasn’t comfortable with at all. I didn’t know how to dress or what clothes I liked. My makeup was thrown on with the same colour palate in the same way, day in day out. 

Like many other women (and men), I seemed to hang onto the whole concept of ‘when I’m skinnier/in better shape I’ll be happier/I’ll be able to wear nicer clothes’ etc etc. It’s then you realise that you’re actually living for a day which may never actually materialise and missing out on life whilst you do. How many of us have dodged photos of ourselves with our children because we don’t like the way we look in photos only to find that there is a distinct lack of photos of us with our children? What are we teaching our children? Do we want our children being drawn into the duck pout generation? 

James is a paediatric nurse too (we met over hospital corners when we were students but that’s another story!) and has always worked in child and adolescent mental health. Since James qualified he had a special interest in eating disorders. One of James’ roles was the Eating Disorder Specialist Nurse at Great Ormand Street Hospital for some time.  During this time James would see children (mostly girls) as young as 7 years of age in his clinics who had developed eating disorders.  James is now the Director of an Eating  Disorder service where we live and receives referrals from around the country. 

The thought of my children being burdened with such an illness is too much to think about. Eating disorders happen for a number of reasons; life changing events, media and research now is showing that there may even be a predisposition to developing a disorder (see I do listen James!). Often, it’s an amalgamation of all of these clashing at one time.

So at the age of 40 I made a conscious effort to not place so much stock in the things that really, when you think about it, have no importance in life.  My hair is getting whiter so I started dying it to cover it up. But I wasn’t really dying it because I wanted to, it was because I thought I ought to. Why? I have no idea. I actually don’t really have any beef with my hair changing colour, it’s only natural after all – so I stopped dying it. James laughed at me when I told him that I had bought dental floss as part of my ‘looking after myself at 40’ regime!  I couldn’t remember the last time I had bought new make up or took care of my skin (I always slept in my makeup – shock horror!). 
I was a slim teenager and 20 something but when I approached my 30’s I started putting on weight. I as able to eat what I wanted and not have to think about it when I was younger and all of a sudden that didn’t seem to be the case.  So I hated the way I looked, I wasn’t ‘me’ anymore I was ‘supposed’ to be a size 8 and instead I was a size 12.  I kept thinking that I’d buy the clothes I wanted when I was thinner again and then I’d be happy with the way I was. This carried on until I approached 40.  I realised that I didn’t want Mabel (or our boys) growing up feeling the same way.  I didn’t want the children to think that they would be a better and more valuable as a person when they reached a certain goal, whatever that may be.  

At home we talk about being healthy. We don’t talk about weight or size but we talk about what our body needs for fuel.  We don’t outlaw sweets and chocolate and we don’t refer to food as being ‘bad’ or ‘good’.  We talk about the fact that our body needs everything in moderation to keep us healthy.  We also try to place more value in the personality traits which make them them. We don’t place value in looks or appearance but on things like being kind, helpful and funny.  We really don’t want our children growing up in a time where more and more value is placed on looks. Mabel has her own quirky style.  She doesn’t like dresses or skirts and when it comes to parties her friends usually wear party dresses but Mabel favours a pair of trousers, a checked shirt and a hoodie.  You see Mabel doesn’t worry about what her friends will be wearing, she wants to wear what she wants.  I absolutely love that about her and I want that to continue.
It’s not easy changing the habits of thinking that thinner or younger are the things that we need to hold dear.  I still question whether I should be a different size or whether other people notice my ever aging white hair.  But heck, life is too short.  Let’s not worry about what other people think, if they don’t like it then chuff off! We all need to take note of the ‘Mabels’ in life! 

Live the life you want now, you are the best you RIGHT NOW! 

Emma 
 

#bodyimage #turning40 #selflove #ed #blogger

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35 Comments

  1. September 3, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    Interesting article, keep it up ☺

  2. September 3, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    You said it all, everyone should just live their lives right now and appreciate life. This is a great post. Thank you

  3. September 4, 2017 / 9:08 am

    I think it’s very important to know that you can be happy no matter what shape or condition you’re in. Keep up the positivity!

  4. September 4, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    I am so, my worst enemy when it comes to body image. I’ve struggled with my body image for years, it’s a tough thing to get over. I am learning to appreciate it though. Every struggle makes you stronger.

    • thekingersandi
      September 4, 2017 / 7:06 pm

      Keep on going! We’re so mean to ourselves, why do we do it?

  5. September 4, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    Thank you for such a positive post! I have just spent time in a psychiatric hospital nearby the eating disorder patients and it’s so sad to see such beautiful people suffering with these cruel illnesses. Also! I wanna know how you and your partner met! I’m all intrigued now 😉

    • thekingersandi
      September 4, 2017 / 7:10 pm

      Thank you! It’s hard when everything out there is telling us that we need to look a certain way. We should be more tanned, we should be thinner, we should not have wrinkles, our hair should anything but natural, blah blah blah. I can only hope that the more we start to say ‘no’ the more we’ll believe it. I’ll have to do another post on how James & I met 🤣

  6. September 4, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    This is so important! Our children are always watching us. I try so hard to be comfortable in my own skin and it is definitely a battle but it is such an important one.

    • thekingersandi
      September 4, 2017 / 7:11 pm

      They absolutely are! We’re their biggest heros and role models. We set the tone for them. We need to get it right for them but most importantly we deserve to feel proud of ourselves!

  7. September 4, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    A very healthy perspective on body image. I need to confess though that when I am slimmer, I look better and when I look better I feel better about my self. Nonetheless these feelings are incomparable to the feeling of joy I have when I do something for someone else.

    • thekingersandi
      September 4, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      I know & it’s struggle to not associate the way we look with the way we value ourselves. It’s so hard to break free of the habit. I would feel devastated if any of my children only saw themselves as valuable individuals if they looked a certain way.

  8. September 4, 2017 / 8:59 pm

    Very well written article 🙂 Looks aren’t that important, it’s the interiour that counts more but I think that every woman should take good care of herself, for herself in the first place 🙂

  9. September 5, 2017 / 12:48 am

    I love Mabel! At parties before, everyone would wear heels so I would, too! But then I realized I thought that way only because it’s what I see on TV, or on my friends, and I didn’t like wearing it just because of that. I love heels, though, I’d wear them only when I want to! 😀

  10. September 5, 2017 / 7:00 am

    So well said! Excellent post x

  11. September 5, 2017 / 5:15 pm

    This is such a hard thing to accept, and even harder to put into practice. My mom passed her body image issues onto me, whether she meant to or not, and I worry so much that I will do the same to my own daughters own day if I don’t correct my way of thinking now. Your Mabel sounds perfect and unique, and I think it’s wonderful that you are working hard to show her (and your boys!) that there are far more important things in life than looks alone.

  12. September 6, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    Your story is so adorable, belated happy birthday to you. I adore your experiences and your perpective about life. thank you for sharing this. lovely family stay happy and safe travel.

    • thekingersandi
      September 6, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      Thank you! I had a fantastic birthday filled with awesome family & friends!

  13. September 6, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    This is an awesome read. I can be so hard on myself sometimes, especially when it comes to my physical appearance and to be honest it’s sad. I know a lot of people have negative self talk in their heads because they think they should look a certain way. It’s a common struggle but I think it can be overcome once achieving self love wholeheartedly. I want my children to love themselves as they are too!! Thank you for sharing this honest post.

    • thekingersandi
      September 6, 2017 / 8:24 pm

      It really is so sad. I would be devastated to think that my children viewed themselves in this way. The world has gone nuts in terms of body image & I think we need to start changing this for the sake of our kids

  14. September 6, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Positivety is very important. I love to be around positive people and sharing love and laughs. My daughter’s friend was getting body shamed and told me all about it. she laughs when they hurt her feelings and hurts there feeling back. I was sad and asked her to be honest with the person. After which she said a mutual friend agreed with her and told the girl, it was hurtful.

  15. September 6, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    Positive body image is important for little girls and boys especially nowadays since you see magazine a plenty with models being super skinny for girls and body builder buff for boys. I think it has gotten a little better now with designers having fuller women being their models but they are labeling them ‘plus size’. Which doesn’t make any sense because not that long ago it was frowned upon to be skinny.

  16. September 7, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Excellent Post! We do need to live our life, for the now and feel good at where we are in life.

  17. September 8, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    I love this post. I relate to so much. I’m a few months from 40, with three kids, and it’s like my metabolism has suddenly stopped! It has been hard to find my sense of style again since having kids x

  18. September 10, 2017 / 9:05 am

    I admire the morals you’re instilling in your children. I love clean eating so we focus a lot of nourishing our body but I have gained some tips from reading this. My daughter is 11 so is at an important she. I’m mindful of what she eats but often blunt with my words.
    I’m fast approaching 40 and I often avoid family photos because I hate my body size. I need to take stock of your wise words. Great post.

  19. September 10, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    I’m always conscious of how i view my body image when around my daughter who’s 12! At the moment she’s fine, but that’s probably because she is slim and has nothing to worry about… should she put on weight, that’s when it;s a worry that she may become self obsessed. I hope not. I do encourage exercise and go to the gym myself and try to remind her that as long as she’s healthy that’s all that matters. Shes already noticing girls are school becoming obsessed with image which I hope she doesn’t get sucked into. ps I vowed to do loads more eating healthy and exercise when I turned 40 but in reality I’ve done a lot less haha x

    • thekingersandi
      September 10, 2017 / 7:28 pm

      We’re so aware about it all even for the boys as there’s so much pressure for men and women to look a certain way. It’s such a worry as a parent isn’t it? We can only hope that we give them the building blocks to make healthy choices

  20. September 10, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Body image is something that I think a lot about. I hate the way I look. I love my body because it gave life to 5 babies but I hate it because it doesn’t ‘look’ very nice.

    Coupled with the fact that I have a large hernia following my fifth baby I’ve never felt so low about myself.

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to add your post to a linky I run (#FeelGoodLinky) as I feel it is a perfect fit. 🙂

    • thekingersandi
      September 10, 2017 / 7:40 pm

      Having babies/children changes so many of us in terms of the way we look & feel about ourselves. For so long I just had no clue what to wear, I lost all sense of myself. My youngest is 4 and it’s taken almost that long to get there. I only really had that light bulb moment approaching 40. We’re far too critical of ourselves, if only we could view ourselves through the eyes of other people.

      Yes of course, that would be lovely to be part of the kinky 👍🏻

  21. September 10, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    I am so pleased you push health over weight etc. The fact you don’t outlaw sweeties is also a huge thumbs up from me!

    I love your parenting technique & you should be exceptionally proud of yourself.
    You look amazing & have clearly got yourself a perfect family over there.

  22. September 11, 2017 / 10:47 am

    An important topic and it’s so good to read something like this as opposed to yet another article on how to lose weight, look younger or have smoother skin. Keep up the good work 🙂

  23. September 11, 2017 / 12:20 pm

    It is so much better to talk about being healthy as opposed to weight – my mum has always mentioned my weight and it used to sting before I lost a significant weight load. It is all about being healthy though – being able to be active with children and not get out of breath. I enjoy my gym time – I do go as I want to lose more weight, but also tone up and be the healthiest I can be… I’m not getting any younger! A fab read! Thank you for linking up with #FeelGoodLinky and hope you can link up again! Sim xx

  24. September 12, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    Body image is so important and I love that you talk about goodness for the body rather than focus on whats ‘good’ and ‘bad’! Love this article thank you!

  25. September 17, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    It is so important not to put off the life you want to live until you’ve reached some arbitrary standard. It’s important to learn how to be comfortable in your own skin, and focus on health over appearance!

  26. October 10, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    So true! While it is important to stay in shale to be healthy and feel good it is very detrimental to obsess over your body. A Positive attitude is mire important Than a good looking body, a smile and joy are way more attractive Than a perfect body. Let’s always celebrate who we are with a heart full of gratitude! Great post.

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