I have always had an absurd love-hate relationship with myself. There are a lot of internal and external factors that influence my opinion of myself and over the years I have become quite obsessed with my body image. I have a fluctuating confidence that too often leans towards the negative end of the spectrum. In a way, I embody the modern insecure young woman. Despite this self-loathing I still take a ridiculous number of selfies but I’ll only like 1 out of 25 of the pictures I take and, of course, only with the right filter. It turns out you can hate yourself and be a narcissist at the same time. I overcompensate for my insecurities by being what is often described as ‘well-groomed’. I style my hair, wear make-up, regularly get my nails done and wear ‘nice’ clothes. These little things help me to feel a little more confident in myself. I find it easier to talk to people when I know I have put effort into my appearance.
As much as I defend the importance of self-love, my insecurities about my body are primarily based on what other people see in me. I am a proud feminist but sometimes I can’t help but wonder what other guys see in me when there are far more attractive, skinnier girls from them to be looking at. I think to myself, “how did I get you?” And if they try to tell me I’m beautiful, I shrivel up into myself. For me, it sounds like nails being dragged across a chalkboard.
I never liked being lied to.
Apart from having relatively plump lips – but let’s face it, who doesn’t these days with lip liner and a decent YouTube tutorial – I don’t have many physically redeeming qualities. I’m embarrassed of my body and I’m definitely ashamed about my level of fitness (walking downstairs to the fridge is not exercise no matter how much energy it requires at 1am). This shame and embarrassment is second nature to me at this stage. I don’t know myself without it. I never even realised the extent of my insecurities until a guy asked me to stop apologising for my body and its imperfections literally every time we were together. I wasn’t even aware of how many times I was saying “sorry” – it had just become a reflex. Even now, when I’m spooning with someone and I’m thinking that there is no place on earth I’d rather be at that moment there is always that nagging thought; oh god, please don’t touch my stomach.
I have tried everything and no matter what I do, how fit I am or what weight I am, I can never get comfortable in my own skin. If I change one thing my insecurity simply shifts to something else and I remain stuck in a love-hate relationship.
This is a toxic mentality that is embedded deeply inside of me and so many other young men and women. We live in an airbrushed world characterised by our number of Instagram followers and how many likes we get on our Facebook profile pictures. And with filters we can all look flawless. We can all look exactly the same.
I wonder if we will ever be happy.