From such a young age I was really insecure. I was a shy kid, I was always quite chunky and bigger than my best friend. I always had that insecurity through most of my childhood and all of my adolescence.
I had a traumatic abortion two years ago. I feel uncomfortable using the word ‘traumatic’ next to the word abortion as it seems somehow un-feminist. I want to make clear I very much believe in this as a human right. It shouldn’t be a political issue, or in any way up for debate.
I’m in my late twenties now and I’ve decided that life’s too short to worry.These days, I’m mainly appreciative of what my body can do, whether that’s climbing up a wall or slamming a forehand.I’m just enjoying feeling strong and confident and to me, that’s more important than living up to a particular image of what my body “should” look like.
I won’t pretend it’s been an easy road, but now more and more I can look in the mirror and tell myself with honesty that I look damn hot and sexy, not in-spite of the skin bulging over the top of my tight thong but because of it.
"It took ages to get it back as I healed, and a significant part of that healing was in my mind, too. I learned to be gentle with my body, and not expect so much. Recovery isn’t linear - mentally or physically."
I honestly regard this body as my most loyal friend at this point, I’ve slagged her off, wished her away, ignored her, compared her and at times felt bloody annoyed that she didn’t look how I felt she ‘should’ look.
Counselling has helped me to get to grips with the relationship I have with my body. It is definitely a relationship that needs work to be sweet. I still struggle with the idea that my body isn’t as disgusting as I think it is. This issomething I am working on.
I’ve historically had a difficult relationship with my body image and have always been my own worst critic. If you had told 20 years old me she would be willingly photographed in lingerie 12 weeks after giving birth I would never have believed it.
Currently, my journey of womanhood is accepting the changes to my body that come with being a woman. I think a lot of us have this image of our ‘perfect’ selves. Being a woman is sexy! No matter our size or shape.
My relationship with my body changes, but increasingly I’m learning to thank it for all it does. I am often very much in my head as a doctoral student but my body needs just as much care and attention.
I have become more and more in love with my body as I get older because it has carried two incredibly beautiful babies and got me through pretty grotty cancer. I look at the beautiful tapestry of scars and lines on my body, my cancer scar, my caesarean scar, my laughter lines, my tattoo and I love them all. They tell my story.
Growing up in East Asia means people can be really pervasive and greatly impact on your body image, let alone gender dysmorphia. I have jokingly said that I am body positive about everybody expect myself at times, because it takes a really long time for us to unlearn the harmful things we have internalised about our bodies. Because of gender dysmorphia, sometimes I feel alien to my body, but I think we are learning to be friends.
I’m still not where I want to be - 100% comfortable with every facet of my appearance - but who is? It is so difficult not to compare yourself to others in our almost voyeuristic society. That’s why representation is so important. We should all be able to see people in the mainstream who look like us, with lumps and bumps, rolls and bones, and scars and hair.
I think since the age of 12 I have worried about my body and what other people will think of it. I have been on every diet you can imagine to try and get thinner. Over the last few years, I have started to come to terms with the fact I am just a bit bigger than the women I see in the media and that's ok and it doesn't make me any less beautiful or sexy.
The weight, the tattoos are an integral part of me - I feel like myself in any given situation now dressed or undressed. 40 was really hard, my body wasn’t the same, my mental health wasn’t good, my life had completely changed and I didn’t feel in control of things. The last three years I’ve worked really hard to get a handle on myself and what validates me.
"My relationship with my body has been a turbulent one! I struggled to come to terms with developing earlier than my school friends, and with being half Iraqi amongst predominantly white friends and family."
"From tomboy to girly girl, to ladette to tomboy again to whatever I am now! I feel like it’s been a bit of a wild ride. My womanhood has evolved from forever caring what others think or don’t think or expect of me to solely caring about what makes me feel good."