Strong Not Skinny

StrongnotskinnySo this is me in my exercise clothes after getting out of bed this morning to do yoga. I just wanted to give you my picture and let you know that I too have suffered with body issues. I wanted to share with you how I’m learning to love this wonderful machine I have been given. I’ve noticed body issues are becoming more common among women young and old and I feel something desperately needs to change. We need to start being Strong Not Skinny.

My body and more importantly, my weight has always been an issue for me. I never really remember a time when a family member wouldn’t tell me it’s just ‘puppy fat’ and you will lose it when you’re an adult. Of course, that ‘puppy fat’ didn’t just magically fall off when I hit adulthood as my relatives had informed me.

Through my teens and early twenties there was always a niggling in the back of my mind that I would never be good enough. I would lose weight and put it back on almost immediately. If I could just lose a few stone then I would be able to fit in. It never happened. I tried everything and eventually without really caring I became overweight. I hated it and I made a conscious decision to change.

Now I eat a very healthy diet, exercise and try not too worry to much about how much I weigh. However, this is not easy as I live in the Western World where I am constantly surrounded by images of the way other people think I should look and behave and eat. To me it seems that women are meant to be the perfect ‘Stepford Wife’ never getting angry, frustrated or upset. Always looking their best and they must never have an eye lash or hair out of place.

Even in this time when mental health issues are increasingly on the rise we still have to be the perfect woman. No wonder more of us are getting cancer, liver disease and other deadly illnesses. I believe as we stuff our emotions deeper into our bodies we make ourselves sick. It seems to me the more we are plastered with advertising the more illness begins to spread.

At the weekend my friend told me she recently went to a lecture by Steve Biddulp, a psychologist and author of Raising Boys and recently Raising Girls. He told the audience that if large corporations can get a girl to like hair and make up by the time they are eight years old they have a consumer for life. That statistic makes me feel sick to the stomach.

It’s a crime against childhood to let these corporations influence our children in this way. They are stealing our children’s innocence and they are making huge profits too. It’s bad enough that as an adult I’m continuously told what, when, where, how and who by corporations but to then tell our children is criminal.

Nowadays I’m trying to teach myself to let go of the things I’m told to like and to think before I buy. In my late twenties I attended self help groups and therapy. In my early thirties I chose yoga and meditation and it has helped me enormously in the past couple of years with letting go. Meditating and practising yoga help me to be mindful about the amount I’m consuming. It helps me to acknowledge whether I really need it or not. I feel I have become stronger, I can breathe and say no thank you without feeling guilty.

I’m the mother of a nearly three year old boy and I have noticed how he is easily influenced by advertising. When he was about six months younger he told me that we needed to buy a very popular bleach after watching the advertisement. Advertising and marketing have very powerful tools to make us believe we need their products. They can tap into the subconscious and make us think we must have it. I can understand that they need to sell but they need to understand we need space to breathe as human beings. Otherwise one day there may not be anyone left to sell too.

We need to let our children know it’s ok to be yourself and like the things you like, just try not let it overtake your life. Don’t be fooled by large campaigns that try to convince you that you’ll be a better person with their product. Strong not skinny to me means finding a happy balance from within. It’s not an easy quest and it’s something I work on daily. I feel we need to start teaching children to find balance in their lives.

If I could go back and tell the little girl who struggled with her weight not to worry and to breathe through the difficult times I would do it. However, I don’t think I would be the person I am today. I’m much stronger for the lessons I have learned. I think we need to start educating our children, especially our girls, on being Strong Not Skinny.