When I was 12 and in the midst of blossoming into puberty, I went ice skating with my best friend one weekend. I wore a pale blue zip up tracksuit sweater with matching pants and don’t remember being too self conscious of my body at this age but it was certainly starting to brew.
When we arrived at the ice rink , there were a group of girls from my year in school – the ‘popular’ ones. I was super intimidated by them but still had a great time with my bestie and thought nothing of it.
That Monday, I arrived to hear that they had told everyone anyone that would listen that I was wearing a G-string. I. Was. Mortified.
I hadn’t been wearing one but the thought of my panty lines being on display to them and the rest of the ice rink filled me with so much shame.
I remember crying in the toilets. I remember crying to my mum that night and begged her not to make me go to school the next day. As always, she was amazing and supported me with love and called my teacher to discuss the situation.
I’m lucky. That was one of the only bad cases of bullying I had in school. Of course there were snide remarks, bitching and gossip in the years to come but I can’t imagine how that small case could have escalated if it was now, with camera phones and the world web.
15 years on, I’m writing about this because some grown women who I called friends, decided that their lives needed a place to bitch about the likes of me and my girlfriends. So they created a Facebook group, and we found it. I’m not going to go into any details but I will say, it was malicious, mean and downright disgusting what they said.
At first I was hurt that they’d day those things while still being nice to my face. Then I was sad for them that their self worth was so low that they needed to tear others down to validate themselves. Then I was angry. And now I’m just… Indifferent.
They are gone from my life, I don’t have to have anything to do with them anymore.
But, it got me thinking about how much toxic words can eat away at you. What I learnt along my self-love journey was that in order to love and accept yourself, you have to curb those judgy and bitchy thoughts because sniggering that some girl has wobbly thighs just to make you feel better about yours is no way to live.
You know what made me come to this realization? The trashy, gossip mags. We had them in the salon I used to work at and I began to hate them. I’d have someone sitting in my chair, and my job was to make them feel good about themselves. And yes, part of that is the physical but it’s all the time-out, the treat of getting your hair done, the excitement of reinventing your look and then they’d be reading these magazine whose fundamental theme is to pit women against each other, set unrealistic body standards or encourage body wars.
So, one Saturday night when we were all having some drinks after work, I told my boss how I felt and that I didn’t think we should have them in the salon anymore. And with that, we went and dramatically ripped them to shreds.
It was glorious.
When someone asks me what little things can help with your journey towards self love and body confidence, one tip I tell them is to ensure that the people they follow on social media etc are all positive and have the same goal as you. There’s no point following a account that promotes the flat tummy tea if you are trying to learn to love and accept your less-than-flat tummy.
Similarly, check the language you use internally. Do you automatically think judgmental thoughts? Catch yourself and stop it! Look at that person you just felt so much negativity towards and compliment them – either internally or even better, to their face! Toxic negativity brewing inside of you is a terrible thing. And ask yourself why this negativity towards others makes you feel better?
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a moan every now and then! God knows I do! When someone leaves me a ridiculous or mean comment on Instagram, I’ll message one of my friends to complain and have a laugh.
But if you are compelled to be so nasty to others in a bid to make yourself feel better, then I encourage you to reflect on why that is, seek help if needed or talk to a friend. Attempt to end the cycle and have courage and be kind.
I’m going to finish with one of my favourite quotes from the Queen, Dita Von Teese. I’ve said this to myself multiples times in the last few days since it’s so relevant to me right now.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is still going to be someone who hates peaches”
And remember, your words have power so use them for good.
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