Self Love Brings Beauty

Just over six months ago our columnist was a different woman to the one writing to you today. From self-loathing to self-love

Column by Jo Gregory

I remember being sat in the campervan. My marriage was coming to an end, I was the heaviest I’d ever been, and my confidence was on the floor. I hated myself. I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d failed at marriage, at travelling and after quitting my job and house: I felt like I’d failed at life. It was a bleak time to say the least. How does one pick themselves up from such a low ebb in their life? With a whole lot of self-care, determination – and a little help from the internet.

I have always been a confident person, but over the last few years, as my marriage began to breakdown, the confidence drained out of me like wine from a broken barrel. I questioned everything, including my aesthetic. I’ve always fluctuated, I was a size six at the age of 23, now I am a curvy 14, the dramatic shift in size made me fear the beach and scales in equal measures. In a world where the Kardashians are promoting slimming lollies and TV shows such as TOWIE are normalising cosmetic surgery, it’s no wonder we’re all suffering from a lack of self-esteem. The internet is rife with quick fixes for shedding pounds and thanks to deep-rooted societal fatphobia, we, – women in particular – have a pretty unhealthy attitude towards our bodies.

I began to follow some aspirational people who’d started positive movements of their own. Felicity Hayward is a plus size model and probably one of the most confident people I know. She started the Self Love Brings Beauty movement as she believed the perfect body doesn’t exist. She told me, “There are no two humans the same on this planet, so you need to be the best version of yourself, not someone else”. It is really quite simple when you put it like that.

Then there is my hero, the beautifully talented Jameela Jamil. An actor, presenter and creator of the I Weigh campaign, which was inspired by an Instagram post which inexplicably lists the weights of each member of the Kardashian/Jenner clan. Jamil kicked back and posted what she weighs but not in KGs but in her achievements – among other things she lists, “I laugh everyday”, “I speak out for women’s rights” and her “financial independence”. Soon after, hundreds of women began to follow suit. It’s a campaign she created to get women (and men) to define themselves not by their body weight but the weight of their non-physical attributes.

Once you start opening up this world, it’s a rabbit hole of positivity. Instagram has always been slammed for creating a negative and narcissistic platform. I think we can all agree, we love a good picture of ourselves, but more and more pages are geared towards elevating us rather than promoting a false version of ourselves which has been so prevalent on these sorts of platforms in the last few years.

I knew my journey wasn’t going to be an easy one. There are no quick fixes here, it’s a continual work in progress that comes from investing in yourself on a daily basis. I began by reading and educating myself. I wouldn’t hold back on spending money on myself be it therapy, a massage, or anything else that nurtured my mind, body and spirit. It’s crazy to think that we’d spend £500 on getting our car fixed, but when it comes spending money on our wellbeing, we would question it. I decided to treat myself with respect rather than self-sabotage or slagging my body off in the mirror. With that came a huge shift in how I view myself. I began to watch what I eat, not because I didn’t want to put on weight, but because I don’t want to put crap in my body that is still, for the most part, in good working order. I take myself to the gym, not because I want the perfect shape but because it makes my brain happier. The happier my brain became, the easier it is to be kinder to myself.

Little by little taking measures to care for myself has made a huge difference. Take baths for example, sounds extremely simple but trust me when I say, this little slice of ‘me time’ has made a huge difference. I light candles, I use Epsom salts, I don’t have music, podcasts or Netflix. It’s just me, the water and the silence. When are we ever still and quiet? It’s unbelievably healing and meditative. And baths are really the only time I’ll have an occasional cry now a-days. Crying is wonderfully cathartic, it’s so good for the soul.

I truly believe beauty comes from within. If you don’t believe in yourself, you carry that with you. It’s out there for everyone to see. There is something perfect about being imperfect. There is something beautiful about what you perceive as a flaw. Every little wobble, be it physical or emotional, gets respect. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments, but I’m finally at a point in my life where I accept myself for who I am both inside and out. Thankfully, I am a world away from that broken woman in the van and I am going to do everything in my power to stay that way. riddle_stop 2

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