Welcome to the lovely month of May. Wow… I still find it hard to believe that It has been close to three months since I made a personal blog post. I decided to use this period to focus more on posting inspiring quotes to give myself a bit of time to get my more creative juices flowing. During this time, ideas for a number of posts have crossed my mind but I have decided to focus on a recent idea which touches on our self image and perception of beauty.
For those who know and have interacted with me either personally or through social media you may have been aware that I recently (well…within the past 7 months) embarked on a weight loss journey. I personally call it conscious living and in this time I have lost about 20kg (44 pounds) which represents about 20% of my previous weight.
Prior to my taking this journey, I never felt I was overweight as I have always had a healthy level of self esteem and was very proud of my curves. I guess I had an idea of how I looked and whenever anyone told me otherwise, I looked at them as slightly mental as I couldn’t understand where they were coming from/going to.
The bubble burst for me when one morning I was dressing up to go to work and had the sudden realisation that I needed a new dress size (size 16) and like I tell people, something in my head just snapped. First of all, needing a new size meant I had to spend more money changing basically everything I had in my wardrobe. I didn’t have the spare funds for this so I decided that it would be cheaper to just pay for a gym membership and work off the extra fat so I could fit back into my dresses.
What I found out was that the more I worked out and ate consciously, the stronger and healthier I felt. I realised that I was actually having fun getting comments from people and seeing the space between my waist and the waist band of my dresses get wider and wider.
Within 3 months, I realised that I was faced with the same problem of needing new outfits. However, this time they were in a smaller size but I did not mind. I have since dropped 3 dress sizes and I am having a great time experimenting with new outfits. My bank account seems to be the only one complaining. (Hahaha)
Even though I have found this journey to be positive with a lot of highlights – one of which is the opportunity to meet new and positive people -, I have noticed an interesting new behaviour I seem to have acquired. I noticed that when people paid me a compliment on how I was still losing weight, instead of accepting the compliment gracefully, I was quick to point out that I still had some work to do. My typical response to a comment such as, “Chika you look lovely in that dress and you have lost more weight, well done!” would be, “Oh I still need to lose about 3 more pounds so I can be a perfect 10”.
The first day I noticed this behaviour, I tried to understand my reason for responding this way and found out that it was one of two things; I didn’t believe them or I didn’t believe that I had worked hard enough to deserve the compliment (crazy but very true). This was not limited to just comments about my looks, I also realised that when someone such as my boss or colleague complimented a piece of work I had done, I would be quick to point out some not so perfect elements of the work.
On careful observation, I realised that I was not the only one who had this habit. A lot of other people around me responded to compliments in a manner that seemed critical about themselves. What I also realised is that responding to compliments in a critical manner was mistaken as a sign of modesty, in some cases the recipient of this compliment often felt it was flattery and like me, didn’t believe it. In reality, all it did was to project a low self esteem and sometimes even alienate the giver of the compliment.
The sad truth is that there are a lot of people walking around with an overly critical view of themselves, a number of people when looking into the mirror tend to see only the bits of their bodies that they feel are not perfect in their eyes and base their entire self image on this.
The beautiful irony of this way of thinking is that people most often, do not notice the imperfections you see in yourself. These “imperfections” are just a part of the whole package and if only you could one day see yourself through the eyes of others you would see that we are not half as bad as you think you are. In reality, most times that feature which you don’t like about yourself is the very thing that someone else admires about you. Isn’t this just amazing?
Having a positive self image is perhaps the most important key to living a fulfilling life. It determines our choice of work and opportunities we go for, the kind of relationships and friendships we keep, the way we dress, how we relate with our families, etc.
I will leave you with a link to a recent Dove advertising campaign which I felt was spot on. click here
In the three minute advert, an FBI trained forensic artist sits behind a curtain and draws a portrait from the subject’s self-description, which remarkably results in skewed caricature-esque sketches. One woman’s perception of herself resulted in a picture that resembled a sprouting and perturbed potato.
However, the artist then draws a second portrait of the same women using only the descriptions of strangers, which of course results in a much softer and realistic picture of the person. I believe that you would find this clip as inspiring and beautiful as I have and it would reinforce my message which is this;
“You are not half as bad as you think you are. Actually, you have got it going pretty good”.
Till you read from me again, have a blissful new month.
Image credit: waggeneredstrom.com