Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what happens when your boyfriend attempts to convince you that you’ve got a banging body, even after eating your weight in greasy, deep-pan ham and pineapple pizza, mayo-doused chips, cheesy garlic bread and then slurped it all down with a diet coke? How can you ever think you look pretty when your size ten white jeans essentially accentuate the little cellulite you have plaguing the backs of your thighs? How can you believe he loves your curves when the skin on your back sucks in your spaghetti straps? He might love you for you, but it’s sometimes very difficult to see what others see. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but when I inspect myself in the mirror, I see anything but ‘banging’.
The wonderful world of food – what’s your vice? Is it the donner kebab you ‘well-deservedly’ gorge on after a night out in the skimpiest dress you could fit your hips into? Is it the calorie-injected carbonara from the swankiest Italian restaurant in town? Or, is it the steamed salmon and sweet potato mash you happily scooped up from M&S and prepared lovingly for your significant other, at home. Romantic candlelit dinner for two or just for you? What you put in your mouth is your choice and apparently moderation is key. But for some, like myself, the guidelines on what is ‘healthy’ and what is ‘excessive’ blur, making eating habits and body image one of the hardest things to get a grasp upon.
Since I can remember, I’ve struggled with food. I’ve been told not to eat meat, that I should add vegetable vitamins to my diet, that alcohol calories don’t count on a weekend and that it’s okay to be bigger than other girls, but I have to be firm. I’ve battled with a yo-yoing weight gain/loss cycle for as long as I can remember. I’ve had boys from my old high school air their views that I should be wearing “maternity clothes” to my friends and I’ve had girls question “oh, are you eating again?”. It’s my body, but everything about it has been influenced by somebody else’s views.
When I look over myself, I see so many things I want to change. If I could get a pair of scissors and neatly cut off excess skin, fat and trim down my look – I would. I have the same thoughts every time I waltz into a Topshop changing room– thinner waist, smoother hips, a prominent jawline (thanks genetics), thighs not the size of Sweden… It’s difficult, especially because anybody who has ever suffered the lighting of a Topshop changing room knows exactly what I’m talking about – it’s really rare to look good in there. With my confidence usually deflated by the end of my try-before-you-buy session, I stalk out of the shop with either nothing, or a baggy jumper which will cover my ‘bulging hips’.
The simple solution to stop hiding under oversized t-shirts and swing dresses is the golden old statement: move more, eat less… Isn’t it? As a food lover/loather, it’s not that simple.
I’m in a constant up-hill haul of whether I should have the cookie, or have the portion of sweet potato fries or have the vegetarian option instead, because it promotes ‘health’. I want the vanilla latte from Costa, but I know the soy version, or the blacker-than-my-soul Americano will benefit my body more. I want the goats cheese pizza from Beirkeller, but I know deep down inside I really should just have the Greek salad. It’s all a choice, but my choices are hindering my life and putting a stopper on my joy.
What I’m trying to say is that I struggle. I struggle a lot. All of my closest friends know how much I dislike myself, and how self-conscious I am about every outfit I wear. They’ve all been deafened with my constant moaning of how ‘fat’ I am and are frankly, probably bored. It’s hard when you dislike yourself so much. It’s even harder when you’re trying to change your body by ‘eating what is right’.
What I’m trying to say is that I can’t get the food balance right. I essentially live on cuppasoup’s and coffee while in my uni flat (so I ‘lose weight’) and feast on ‘proper food’ on date nights. I yo-yo. Eat more, eat less. Eat more, eat less. It’s a never ending cycle and I for one, am sick of it. I’m tired of counting the calories in a glass of milk, I’m bored of limiting myself to poached eggs instead of fried and I have downright had enough of being influenced by the eating habits of other people. I want to make a change, but it’s so difficult. I don’t yet know how to get off the cycle of self-hatred where food is concerned – I’m not sure if I ever will. But I know I need to improve my relationship with food, and stop beating myself up for tasting a moreish delight. Because that carrot cake? It tastes b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.