This girl used to think that this was fat. She used to stand in front of the mirror, pinching all of the fat on her belly and thighs, whilst scrunching her face up to make it look smaller. She used to weigh herself every day and worry about one tiny extra pound, and just take oranges to school for lunch as God forbid she got any fatter. Now I look back on it, this was around the time my depression started.
Why is society so obsessed with weight and the size of bodies? Every person is completely different - and not everyone will be able to get the 'perfect' model's body, no matter how hard they work out. It's sometimes comforting in magazines to read an article about how you should love your body and not care what people think, but then you turn the page and are affronted with celebrities in tiny bikinis, pointing out all of their non-existent flaws. Every day we are assaulted with new photos of the newest celebrity showing off their amazing bodies, whether that's on Instagram, the media or on the internet, or Kim Kardashian pouring her curves into a tiny bodycon dress.
But these people all have help to look the way they do. It's not normal. They have make-up artists, airbrushing, personal trainers and stylists. Nobody can expect to look the same without all of these things, let alone being wealthy enough to afford them all.
In fact, recent research by My Voucher Codes, who surveyed 500 men and 500 women in the UK, found that both genders prefer a more full-figured healthy look. 42% of men and 36% of women chose size 14 as the ideal size for them, showing that the media doesn't affect everyone as much as you may think.
Body image will have affected everyone at some point in their lives, whether it is due to being too big or too small - my insecurities started when I was about 10 and my hips started to grow larger than other girls' in my class. Research has shown that up to 80% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies and would change something about it. Don't you think that's really sad? Women should be celebrating their bodies; just look at when someone gives birth for example, it's an incredible event that only happens due to our functioning bodies.
Everyone will have had one of those unexpected photos taken when they scrutinise it for hours and go "oh my God! Look at all of my chins/belly rolls/amount of fat on my thighs". But that's all it is - one photo. Everyone has good and bad photos, depending on the angle and where the shot is taken. Plus the camera always adds pounds, right?
Women are always so critical of each other and themselves. The amount of times I've heard someone say, "Are my boobs bigger than hers?" or "Look at her cellulite" - it's saddening. We should be celebrating each other and be more accepting of everyone's sizes. Who cares if her belly is flatter than yours? Who cares if your thigh gap is bigger? Nobody but you.
The number on the scales means nothing. The number in your clothes labels means nothing. It is who you are and your personality that means everything.
I think that everyone should be more loving of their bodies and accept themselves for who they are. Whether you're a size 6 or a size 16, as long as you are healthy that's all that matters, and you have so much more going for you than your body shape. You may not particularly like your thighs or your arms, but there will be parts of you that you love. Focus on those and come to accept those things you don't particularly enjoy about yourself. You're an individual with an individual body that will constantly change as you get older, and that's a good and perfectly normal thing.
Stop beating yourself up about your body shape. Stop hating yourself and peering at yourself in the mirror for hours on end. Maintain some perspective and learn how to love yourself for who you are.
Yes I may not be the 'perfect' size (whether you believe that's a model's size 6 or a size 14), yes there may be some things I want to change, but my body is average and strong and healthy, and can do incredible things for me. It can run, jump, skip, climb, dance and hop. And that's all that really matters at the end of the day. I haven't weighed myself in months, I eat what I like, and I'm finally starting to accept myself for who I am. I don't want to be remembered as 'the girl with the amazing body' - I want to be known as a thoughtful person that made lots of people happy and did something useful with her life*.
Be somebody who makes everyone feel like a somebody.
* Although that's not condemning athletes or models with incredible bodies, they do an amazing job too!