If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be? I’m sure most of us have an answer to that one. I’m sure some of us even have two or three back up answers for other things we would like to change. Frankly, it wouldn’t take me five minutes to come up with a pretty comprehensive list of flaws that I wish I could tweak. But lately, just a little bit, I’ve been trying to see things differently.
I’ve always wanted bigger boobs, as is common amongst we-of-the-smaller-cup-size. As soon as I had anything to work with, I went straight for bras with padding and lots of underwire. I recall a harrowing incident in Marks and Spencer when, as I was being measured, the lady told me off for wearing underwired bras as it would “stunt my development”. Needless to say, I haven’t been measured since. I was 13, had just started high school and had no idea how I could possibly wear non-boosting bras and reveal I’d been lying about my cup size this entire time. I distinctly remember having a little cry in M&S, and my poor mother having to search every rack of the underwear department until she found the one style of bra that still had padding, but not underwire.
When I look back now, I can’t believe that I cared that much about people finding out my boobs were smaller than I’d led them to believe. But I can’t blame it on being 13; I spent years going from padded bra to even more padded bra. And in some ways we are fortunate, as women, that we can hide a lot of what we deem “flaws” if we want to. We’ve got Spanx for slimming down our wobbly bits, heels to make our legs look longer, concealer for problem skin. But the problem is that the world is telling us we have to do these things. That just to be considered a standard, human woman we need to have long legs, no tummy, a flawless complexion and a “perfect” hourglass figure. And while we’re so desperate to look like everyone else, to fit this mould of what we should look like, we don’t realise that everyone else wishes they had what we have.
The way I tried to combat negative body image in the past was to focus on the bits of myself I liked. I’m fairly slim for a person who does little-to-no exercise. I’m quite a fan of the big, brown eyes I’m rocking. I don’t hate the fact I’m short because that means I’m adorable. But while focusing on these things is good, ignoring the other things about yourself isn’t the answer. You can’t just hide those negative feelings about your thighs away; we need to shine a light on our “flaws” and see the good in them. Whenever my friend Amy puts on weight on she just calls it, “More insulation for the winter.” I like her a lot.
My thing about boobs changed when I read an article written by someone with big boobs, who was lamenting the fact that she couldn’t wear bralets. She went on to talk about how most fashion is designed for smaller-breasted females, and that it just didn’t suit her when she tried to follow trends. I’d heard friends complain before about having big boobs – about back pain and inability to wear t-shirts – but it never quite sunk in until this point: having small boobs can be a good thing?
And the more I compared my so-called flaws to people who were different to me, the more I realised there were two sides to every story. My friend Holly is one of the most phenomenally beautiful people I’ve ever met in real life, and she has this gorgeously thick, bouncy hair. I used to be really jealous of that, as my hair is naturally quite thin and straggly, but then we went to the hairdressers together and it took her over an hour longer to get her hair cut than it did mine, because my thin hair is much easier to work with. She actually refers to hers as “yeti hair,” while I’m sitting there wishing I had it.
And the more you look around, the more you realise that every woman – no matter how drop-dead gorgeous everyone else thinks she is – has things she wants to change. I have beautiful friends who want to fix the gap in their teeth, or their dodgy eyebrows, or get rid of a mole that I hadn’t even picked up on before they pointed it out. We look in the mirror and sometimes all we see is what we want to change, but, more often than not, it’s stuff that other people don’t notice – and even stuff that other people wish they had.
After I read that article, I went out and bought a bralet – and it looked fantastic. A lot of my clothes actually ended up looking better on me now I had this loose-fitting, flowy thing going on. And, more importantly, my bralet was entirely more comfortable that the padded, wired contraptions I had been stuffing my boobs into for years. I still have my padded bras tucked away for those outfits I bought while wearing them, as otherwise I’d have to throw out half my wardrobe, but I am beginning to embrace my natural figure, and I’m beginning to appreciate the body I was given.
So let me say this to you, even if you’ve heard it a million times before and not believed it: you are gorgeous. You were given this body, in this combination of good bits and maybe-not-so-good bits, for a reason. And whether it’s saddlebags or broad shoulders or chunky arms you wish you could change, no one is paying as much attention to it as you are. In fact, where you see flaws, other people see assets. And while there’s nothing wrong with dyeing your hair if you don’t like the colour, or dressing to accentuate the positives, we shouldn’t forget the fact that it’s all positive. Each body part makes up who you are, and you don’t have to be afraid to let people see the real you. You’re flawless.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti