Flipping through a weekly woman’s magazine you would be forgiven for thinking that we are in the midst of a global crisis of ugliness. Page after page, we are being encouraged to diet, count calories, have plastic surgery and perfectly natural things such as cellulite and stretch marks are shamed.
This collage was made from ONE weekly magazine. I stopped reading magazines a few years ago, I didn’t choose this magazine for any particular reason and I’ve decided not to name and shame them.
When was the last time you read something positive in a magazine? Or something that celebrated the natural beauty of someone, with pictures which haven’t been photoshopped and edited? When did we stop celebrating our achievements? In an effort to get people to recognise the good things about themselves, I posted the following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and sent out one of those annoying group texts:
1) what do you love about your body?
2) what are you proud of?
Some people replied instantly, other people were a bit more reluctant- struggling to think of anything they liked about their body or saying they would reply after work in case they cried. Eventually, I had many answers (some after a little coaxing and reminding about inner beauty). The answers came from men, women and people who don’t identify to a binary gender. They came from young adults, children and middle aged people. They came from people living in Europe, Asia and the USA. They came from real people, the people you would bump into when you’re doing a Saturday morning shop with your hair in a pineapple. They came from there people you drink numerous bottles of wine with to drown your sorrows. They aren’t the photoshopped people you see on the front cover of the latest magazine. But every single person deserves to love their body and feel proud. Reading everyone’s answers made me feel proud, I cried and realised how wonderful the people I know really are.
So, this is what we love about our own bodies and what makes us proud:
I love that my body is entirely grown by me – it’s a living piece of art that no-one else can replicate.
I am so proud of my hairy legs, cannot put into words the confidence and self-esteem boosts they have given me since stopping shaving.
It is muscular and strong.
I love that my body created my beautiful little girl
I like that I have feet so I can one day be the best at ballet
I love my curvy shape and my hair.
I like my hair.
I am proud that I lost weight.
I like that I have lots of friends.
I love my penis. Girls love their boobs, why can’t I love my penis?!
I love that over the last few years my body has become more womanly. I have always been naturally thin, so before I properly developed I felt like a bit of a stick. I always hated being described as ‘skinny’, it sounds so unflattering, and some girls would go as far as to call me anorexic as though it was a ‘body type’… So even though I’m still slim, I’m proud that I have curves now. I’m pleased I can no longer see my ribs, and I’m glad I have a bum, boobs and thighs! #fuckthethighgap
I’m proud that I grew an actual human being. And quite a large one at that.
I have expressive eyebrows, even though that gets me into trouble sometimes. My body seems to heal well too.
I love my body’s complexity and the way it allows me to interact with the world. I am proud that it can run far.
Hands, boobs and eyes!
I am proud of how my self confidence has grown over the past few years and that I have overcome episodes of depression and anxiety and finished my degree. I care less about what people think of me and make my own decisions based on my own judgement which I never used to be able to do.
I’m proud that I am at a healthy enough weight to have periods again.
I love my hair. I am proud that my body produced my identical twins and that although the pregnancy and birth was very difficult they are now healthy for that I am forever grateful.
For the most part my body functions well.
I like to think I do a pretty good dinosaur impression.
I am financially self-sufficient currently.
Overcoming my fears and constantly proving to myself that you learn more in the long run by deciding to take the bumpier, longer road covered with potholes than you do taking the shortcut route.
I like that I have princess hair like Elsa.
I have learnt I’m not going to be one of those guys with big muscles and that’s ok.
I am most proud of being a mother.
I love that I am different from others. I am a mixture of my parents and I think that’s cool.
I’m proud of how in the last 3 years or so I’ve been able to see my true beauty. I use to think I was ugly, now I don’t.
My eyes and boobs.
I’m proud of work achievements.
I like the extra bit of weight and curviness I have. I’m proud that I’ve come to terms with it and do have that bit of squishiness.
I am in remission from cancer. I’m proud that my body managed to fight so hard.
I love my hands, they look pretty.
I’m proud of the fact that I’m in love.
I love that I am starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.
I am proud of my job…it challenges me physically and emotionally.
My legs. They are faithful and never gain weight. I am proud of my stretch marks around my hips. I was told I would never walk and the stretch marks shows growth not only physical but also emotional. I am blessed and proud.
I love how curvy I am. I love how cute my wee feet are. I love my hair and lips.
I am proud of my volunteering work. My loyalty. That I live by my principles.
The colour of my hair because no matter what people have said about it, I’ve not dyed the colour of it. My hair will always be its natural colour.
How well I’ve done in my life so far because I’ve managed to deal with certain obstacles and I’m really proud of how well I’ve done.
I’ve had major surgery numerous times and have chronic illnesses but I’m still standing!
I love my legs and boobs.
I am most proud of my children.
I love my lips.
I’m proud of surviving.
My fast metabolism.
My waist. It’s small, even though I’m a size 16.
Never giving up – I’ve had a lot to put up with.
I’m not proud of my scars but I’m not ashamed of them anymore. They tell a story, they are my story.
I love my brain.
I love that my body is flexible.
I’m proud that I can do flips and handstands on the trampoline.
I’m proud of myself.
I love my brain and my proud of having a big accepting heart.
I’m proud of my family, you can never be too proud of your kids!
I love how my body makes me feel beautiful.
I extend all my thanks to every single person who gave me answers for this blog post. Some of them are incredibly personal and whilst they have appeared anonymously on here, I’m grateful that I was trusted enough to be told. Thank you for letting me in and being honest, thank you for letting me use your words to reach other people.