I’ve got a bikini bridge, a thigh gap, what looks like a fairly flat tummy with no stretch marks and a BMI of 18.6. That’s just in the healthy section for those who don’t know (I had to Google it myself); if I lost just over 1lb I’d be considered underweight. I wear a UK size 8. I’m fairly tall. So according to the popular websites and magazines I have all of the ingredients of “the perfect body.”
This is me fully clothed the way others see me:
I get told I’m lovely and slim by people I hardly know, as if it’s something I should be proud of, but I’m not. If asked to describe my body I would, like nearly every woman I know immediately reel off a list of things and it would go something like this:
- No boobs (despite them being covered in thin white stretch marks!?!)
- I have bingo wings
- My teeth are too long
- I have big feet and very skinny calves
- I have saddle bag thighs
- My nose is crooked
- One eye is higher than the other
- I currently have a huge spot brewing on the side of my face
- I have ugly hands
- Did I already mention my saggy boobs…?
In fact if asked to draw a picture of my body (I daren’t attempt a face) it would look something like (excuse my appalling drawing skills) this:
Hardly the image that the magazines would have you believe you will look and feel if you had all of the attributes that they infer that perfect women should aspire to be.
I think there are a number of reasons for this, not least being the overly photoshopped perfection that we are constantly bombarded with. But also because when we look at ourselves we don’t see what others see; we concentrate on specific areas, like me with my saddle bag thighs; in my head they are huge, but unless I point them out people don’t really notice them.
And my knees, well, where do I start, I had never really looked at them until fairly recently when I suddenly noticed that they seemed a bit saggy. I’m perfectly sure I’d never looked at them before and thought how unsaggy they were, but all of a sudden I am mildly obsessed with the fact that they might be making their way down my ultra skinny calves to get into a loving relationship with my ankles.
No one has ever told me that I have ugly hands, I have just seen lots of nicer hands in my time, I’ve also seen lots of worse hands but I don’t compare myself to the ones who’s hands are worse than mine, I compare to those who s hands are beautiful. No one has ever recoiled from the sight of them, except me.
In all reality who on earth else is looking at me in that kind of detail? Maybe a few, but I seriously doubt that even my husband, who has seen me naked more times than he can probably care to remember, would have written a list of my body faults anywhere near as l did above. My other faults maybe, but not all those specific areas of my body!
The problem with the way we look at ourselves is that we almost never see the whole picture. We focus in in tiny detail on specific areas that we don’t like, thereby ignoring all of the other stuff that counters it. Like the fact that my eyes are a nice colour and shape (or so I’m told) which is probably counterbalancing the fact that they are slightly crooked.
Personally it is very rare that I would look at someone in that sort of detail. Generally I see them as a whole, and that doesn’t just mean their body part shapes or individual facial features, but to the whole including their personality and also their mood and emotions. I’m much more likely to refer to someone as “brown hair, always smiling” than I am to say “tall, with crooked teeth and saggy elbows, you know the one”. And in my experience that is how others see things too. My eye is drawn to the good parts and my feelings a about someone, and not one small imperfect part of them that I’ve examined in detail. In all honesty, who has the time to examine others as much as we do to ourselves?
So in future, I’m planning on stopping examining myself under a microscope and instead I will try to view myself as I would anyone else, as a whole.