Agony Aunt: Help, I’m Struggling to Love My Body

I tried on some clothes from years ago, but they don’t fit me anymore – I hadn’t noticed that I’d changed that much but now I feel really self-conscious and fat.

After being taught about the changes our body goes through during our teenage years, we’re left in a limbo to figure out our bodies as they undergo the transition between adolescence and adulthood.

Firstly: your reaction is completely normal. I’ve had this same realisation in the past few months and it isn’t an easy one to deal with. There is this paradoxical obsession in 2018 with the idea of having to love yourself, whilst you’re being bombarded with photos of perfectly toned Instagram influencers and celebrities. It’s easy to feel a kind of shame about disliking yourself while also constantly being reminded of why you do every time you open your phone. As a normal student who doesn’t have the time or money to go to the gym five times a week, it’s not surprising so many of us dislike our bodies. Montana Brown (Love Island season three for those of you who have a life) highlighted this in a recent Instagram caption, but this was the caption to a photo of her looking tanned and toned in a bikini, which slightly contradicted her own message. It is these people’s job to look perfect, not ours! Comparing ourselves to people who make a living from looking good becomes ridiculous when you realise you have so many more important things to focus on.

There is really no need for you to equate your self worth to your dress size.

It’s key to remember that we are adults now, living on our own, buying our own toilet roll. We’ve been given a body to match this new maturity. We weren’t fully grown at sixteen and therefore can’t expect what we wore to sneak into clubs underage to still fit us now we’re drinking classy cocktails (or outfit planning for Fruity). Our new body shape is going to take some getting used to, but a hatred towards it is unnecessary. Any weight gain is natural and is the ideal weight for your body, rather than being the result of too many takeaways.  

If your body is really something you feel like you want to change then the obvious focus should be on health rather than any ‘perfect’ body you see on Instagram, as these are often a result of lots of good lighting, angles and patience. If you’re eating healthily and being active, any dislike of your body isn’t worth it. The body you have is your body at a healthy weight for your age. I’ll stress the dangers of any extreme dieting, such as the 5:2 diet or any meal replacement drinks, both for your physical and mental health.  Food is fuel and a lack of this will make you unable to perform properly in any setting. To put it simply, think about what will make you happy and do that. Whether that is spending your money on a gym membership or a Netflix subscription. The outside world already puts enough pressure on women and their looks, there is really no need for you to equate your self worth to your dress size.

Finally, remember that you are worth so much more than your exterior. As you reach the end of your teenage years and move into your twenties you have the opportunity to create yourself as a person and decide your aspirations and goals. Is losing weight important enough to become one of these? You can use this time, especially being at university, to find new friends, hobbies and interests which might shape how you spend the rest of your life. Leave worrying about your body until your thirties, or ideally never.

Tilly Judges

Image: Montana Brown