Body Dysmorphia And Me

While getting ready to go to dinner last week I looked in mirror and felt great, I loved my dress, my make up and my hair. It’s crazy to me that there was a time where I could barely face looking in the mirror and when I did, I hated everything that glanced back. Changing an outfit 75 times wouldn’t be uncommon.

Why was it that all I could see was my “flaws”, all the bits that I didn’t like? In those moments, I had a lightbulb moment -if I was skinner my life will be perfect! Genius right? This led me to obsess about everything I ate and as I lost weight did my life magically transform? No, if anything it made me worse, I was full of hate towards myself for not being “perfect”.

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Speaking Up

I felt so guilty all the time. I had a great upbringing, full of love and support so I hated that I felt the way I did about myself. I knew there were people with much bigger problems. My parents separated 3 years previously (when I was 14) so I guess that affected me more than I believed. There’s a lot of uncertainty that surrounds you when a family breaks down. As a teenager you’re dealing with so many changes as it is, throw a separation into the mix and you are bound to retaliate in some way . I don’t dwell on those times though, I’m a stronger person because of it today, and I’m grateful to still have my family close to me.

I’ve read stories of Body Dysmorphia sufferers, that they can become very introverted and uncomfortable leaving the house. I was singing in bands at the time, so I believe this played a great part in building my confidence up (though it took me years to realise this) and I had a great circle of friends who supported me. I remember one of my friends telling me to write a daily journal of my emotions (way before its time, right?) I’d let him read it and we would talk about it! I would advise anyone feeling this way to be vocal, there is no shame in these things!

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I know age is a big factor in this. I turned 30 this year, so I naturally felt more confident than 18 year old Aimee. I have the most supportive “partner in crime” who stands by every decision I make and constantly pushes me to give my all, whether that be in my day job or training/fitness.

I’ve said it many times but immersing myself into the world of health and fitness played a big part. Lifting weights was a huge breakthrough for me. It allowed me to celebrate the great things my body can do! It helped me see myself in a different light. I no longer focused on shape or size, I just wanted the numbers on the barbell to rise. Crossfit and Weightlifting gave me the confidence I spent years searching for.

My best advice; find something you love, something that makes you feel alive and repeat it. That dance class you loved as a kid or surprise yourself with something you never had the confidence to try. Just do things that make YOU happy!

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Moving Forward

People comment on my positivity a lot, and I feel when you’ve had dark days in your life, it’s not a negative, they don’t define you, they’re just life lessons. It’s important to look back and appreciate the journey you’ve had. The steps that have taken you to the present.

There are days when self doubt may try to worm its way in and that’s OK, it doesn’t mean you’re back to square one. When it happens treat yourself to something nice, show yourself some self-appreciation.

Every step forward starts with self-belief. In this digital age we can easily compare ourselves to others and feel less worthy, but that needs to stop. Have you ever looked back and reminded yourself of all the great experiences you’ve had, great times with family and friends? All that can be forgotten about when you constantly compare yourself to others.

When you grow to accept yourself (warts and all) there is a beautiful sense of peace that comes with it. It takes time, love and nourishment. It’s important not to chase the finish line, take baby steps daily and remember to breathe.

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One of my most honest musings I hope you enjoyed, if you ever want to talk to me on this subject I’m always available on any of my pages or pop me an email: primalpiggy@gmail.com.

Seeking Perfection….

What advice would I give my 16 year old self? Hold your head up high and know that you are beautiful inside and out! As a teenager I was obsessed with being skinny, I hated all my clothes because I thought they made me look fat! Getting dressed in the morning was a massive ordeal and 700 outfits later I would be “somewhat” happy with my choice! My final choice would usually consist of something oversized and baggy-being 5 ft 4 I figured if I can’t be sexy I may as well be cute!

Yep-that's me at 16!

Yep-that’s me at 16!

I’m sure I am not the only woman who has experienced these emotions – Why do we feel this way? Why should we? Do all curvy women equate being skinny with success? Do all petite ladies think that curves are what their future husband/wife seeks? Of course not! The most amazing thing in the world is that no-one else can be you, you’re completely unique and we shouldn’t hurt ourselves by trying to be anything other than that!

Everyday of my life I have heard women say things like “I’m so fat”, “I hate my legs”, “I hate my nose”, “I wish I was like so and so…”, and it honestly makes me sad.  As I get older and (somewhat) wiser, I remember these feelings, and how much time I wasted on negative thoughts. I look back at old photos now and I wonder why I ever cared- There was nothing wrong with me (Well aside from the blue eyeshadow and plaits) but in my head the mirror seemed to lie!

This world would be very boring if we all looked the same wouldn’t it? Social media makes it easy for people to compare their lives to others as we see more of people than ever before. It can have long-lasting, damaging effects. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to love what you have!

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Here’s a challenge for you: Before your morning routine, stand in front of the mirror and pick out your favourite asset. Be thankful for being you – a beautiful, unique individual. Pick a new positive thing about yourself every morning.

Over the last 12 years I have had many up and downs; going from a teenager to an adult was not an easy transition, and learning to love and accept myself was definitely a journey. I remember being called “thunder thighs” when I was 14. This haunted me for all these years – but now I believe I have strong legs that help me to lift exceptionally heavy weights. I now believe with every negative experience there is a positive, although it maybe hard to see that at the time! I never for a second would have thought that I would do something like Olympic weightlifting (let alone compete!) I did however believe at this point in life- I would be selling out the Point Depot (now known as the O2 in Dublin)  – but you know, singing in the shower is fine with me!

As I close off this post I ask this – what is perfection? My thought is that there is perfection in everyone, but the media gives us a false impression of what people are supposed to look like. Don’t forget that these magazines use pictures and images that have been airbrushed a zillion times, not to mention the articles that tell us who is too fat or too skinny this week. It’s no wonder people put so much pressure on themselves, this stuff is toxic to the mind!

We all still have off days but when I have mine I know my “fabulous” 1950s dress always makes me feel like a million dollars. I put this on along with red lipstick and some sky scraper heels and I’m happy out. Your mood lifter could be getting your hair done, your nails painted, or just being silly, dancing around your room and singing into your hairbrush! Do what makes you happy and know that you are perfect, just the way you are.

My favourite 50s dress!

My favourite 50s dress!