(Author of the quote is unknown)
We’re in a new year and that’s a time, for many, to make resolutions; they want to be slimmer, or fitter, or kinder, or richer, or…, or…, or…
And there’s pressure. Pressure on themselves, pressure from others, pressure from society and the media. It’s hard.
I get messages; “Vie, I want to be more confident.” “Vie, I’m not happy being who I am.” “Vie, I want to change how I feel about myself.”
I respond and say, “I can help.” Then the assumptions come.
People often make assumptions about me and about my work. We’re all prone to doing it, especially about things we don’t quite understand. And, sometimes, it’s easier to fill in the gaps with our own biases, than ask the questions of the person who actually knows.
I thought, then, that it would be easier to address those assumptions (these are the ones I hear most about; there are possibly others), and, hopefully, that will make people feel more reassured about working with me.
But Vie, I want to dye my hair and you disagree with it.
No, I really don’t. I started going grey when I was 12 years old (the joys of Mediterranean heritage) and I started dying it soon after. I tried dying my hair so many colours but, sadly, my hair would only dye black and dark brown. After many, many years (and I am talking decades!) I decided to stop. I didn’t like dying my hair, as I found the process tedious and messy. I couldn’t dye it the colours I wanted. So I chose to stop dying it and learn to embrace the grey.
What’s the important word in all of that paragraph? Chose! I chose to stop dying my hair. Tomorrow, I may decide to start dying it again. Or I might not. Because I can choose what I do and I am confident in the decisions I make.
And whatever colour you choose to dye your hair, or not, I will fully support you, as long as it’s your choice. Maybe you want to drastically change your hair colour, or you want to embrace your natural colour, but you don’t feel you can, I can help. You deserve to feel happy in yourself; you deserve to feel happy in the choices you make.
But Vie, I don’t want to be fat*.
There has never been a time in my life when I thought, “I want to be fat”. There have been many times, however, when I really wished I wasn’t, even when I was very far from being so; I used to think I was huge when I was just a size 12. I can honestly say that I have hated how my body was, how my body looked, for most of my life.
Then I reached a point where I knew I couldn’t live unhappily anymore and I decided that I would learn to accept my body as it is. The thought of actually liking the body I was in seemed too much to ask, but I decided to work towards accepting it for the way it was.
Once I had learned to accept my body, I began to love it. I loved it for surviving everything it had lived through; I loved it for still doing everything it could to keep me alive even though I frequently didn’t look after it for many, many years.
And the reasons I love it are not anything to do with the size of it. I love my body for all it does.
Now, if we were to work together, we would work towards you beginning to accept who you are, all of who you are, inside and out, and that has nothing to do with my size or yours. I want you to know that your body is incredible, as are you. And your body does not need to be anything like mine, or anyone else’s.
I made the choice to learn to accept, then love, my body. There’s that word again: choice. I made the choice to do the best that I could for me; I want you to do the same for you; I want you to choose to do the best for you, whatever that means for you; and I can show you how to get to that.
And, goodness! I am so, so heartbroken at the amount of women who, because it is so ingrained in them, talk so readily about how much they need to diet, how much they need to change, how they are not good enough as they are, when I just want them to see that they are wonderful, just as they are. Just like you.
I know some of you reading this will be struggling with all of this. But what about health, Vie?! But what about strength, Vie?! I can give you reams and reams of statistics and studies as to why diets don’t work for over 90% of people; I can recommend books; I can show you the studies that prove size is no indicator of health and wellness; but, instead, I will just ask you, how far has hating yourself got you?
Maybe, if you learned to like your body, yourself, you wouldn’t beat yourself up so much? And when you like yourself, you will be more willing to try new things, including new exercise, and new adventures; doesn’t that sound far more fun than berating yourself for not being good enough, or slim enough, or anything enough?
*Fat is just a word; it’s us that put the negative connotations on it. It’s a descriptor word, just like purple or tall.
But Vie, I don’t want to wear lots of colour and flowers in my hair!
And I wouldn’t expect you to! Being confident is about choosing what you want to wear and loving it. I have chosen (there it is again 😉) to wear the colours and clothes I love, to wear big flowers in my hair, because it’s a look I love; but my look isn’t your look. You can choose your look, whether that’s 1960s monochrome, vintage Balenciaga, high street fashion, or a burlap sack accessorised with string; the important thing is, are you ready for it?, that you have chosen it.
When you work with me, I don’t tell you what you should wear, because what you wear has nothing to do with me; but I will work with you so that you feel confident to choose the clothes you want to wear and that you’ll feel good in.
The confidence skills I teach you aren’t this is how I do it, and this is how it must be done, so you must do it too; the skills I teach you show you how to live confidently in your body, in your decisions, in your life, in this moment and the next. And they are skills to give you the confidence to make changes if you want to.
I am confident enough to be happy with who I am, wearing the clothes I wear, in the larger body I have, with the grey hair, and that also means that, if I wake up tomorrow and decide I want to live in jeans for the rest of my life and dye my hair mustard, I can, because I have self-belief.
You may have noticed that I didn’t say anything about changing my body; I am disabled and, for me, that means I am in pain all of the time, so I am not going to force myself to do anything that puts strain on it, like an exercise I don’t enjoy (ask me to go dancing, though, and that’s another story!). I am also restricted on what I can eat; I can’t eat anything spicy, peppery, acidic, hard or sharp, as those foods cause my mouth and throat to blister and tear; most salad is too peppery, then, add a dressing, and it usually becomes too acidic; I can’t eat most fruit due to the acidity levels; I am not going to beat myself up because I can’t live off salad, and I am not going to feel guilty if Montezuma’s milk chocolate buttons are all I can eat one day (they always stay cool and they are the perfect size to slot into a blistered cheek to soothe) because everything else is too painful. So my body is likely to stay the size it is, unless it’s affected by ill health, stress, menopause, or genetics, and I refuse to beat myself up about that, because my body is incredible for everything it does to keep me alive and moving.
My body is incredible for all it allows me to do.
And so is yours.
The question now is, do you want me to show you how to find your fabulous?
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