The voice you speak to yourself with is the voice our children after us will carry on.Antanika Holton
My daughter is 6 and for the first 32 years of my life and for the first few of hers, I hated my body.
I hated the way it wasn’t like anyone else’s.
Even though it was exactly like everyone else’s; flawed, beautiful and functional.
For a long time I worried that my girl might grow up to hate how she looks, in the same way I did, in the same way most of the women around me did and I had no idea how I was going to stop it.
I felt helpless, worried and fearful because in my head the chances were, like many women I know, she would grow up with an engrained knowledge that she and what she looked like would never be enough.
Until I realised one day where much of women’s hatred for themselves comes from; the generations of women before us who told themselves they weren’t good enough…
Listening to a narrative from women who defined themselves as disgusting, unlovable or ugly because they didn’t fit the model that was passed down generation by generation of women; something I liken to generational trauma.
I don’t know many women who will proclaim that they are in love with their bodies as much as I am.
I started by telling myself I was as great as any other person I knew.
I started telling myself the things I told my friends who are all beautiful.
I started taking photos of my “rolls” and admiring them.
I started meditating, and exercising.
And I hear you groan, “But Antanika, you would say that, you’re a size 6” but I’ve been a size 10, 12, 14 and 16…and I want to let you in on a little secret…
I am just as happy now and I was then, the difference is that the foods I put into my body fuel me, not comfort me. The foods I eat keep my mental health stable which allows me to have a kinder narrative over my self.
The foods that once comforted me, did not serve me.
Growing to love myself only came from wanting to be the best version of myself I could be; which for my husband and I was removing many of the foods we used as comfort, pastas, breads, sugars and dairy.
I didn’t lose weight intentionally because I wanted to look better, I lost weight as a happy coincidence to the healthier lifestyle I took on. And if I’m honest I had made some real progress on how I saw my body during the last few years, I was content with the weight I was, and I had no intentions of trying to make myself look any different.
I am a size 6 now and I am incredibly happy with how I look and feel, but it almost seems as if not many other people are, not that it matters that much to me now, but I can now see how detrimental the narrative is on women and girls in our society.
I’ve had many people make comments on my body over the years, and while no one ever called me out when I was curvier, when I was at my heaviest, people seem to have no hesitations with telling me how they feel about my body now.
Strangely many people and mostly women are more than happy to declare that I’m too thin, and that ‘you wouldn’t want to lose any more, you’re not trying to are you?’.
But the thing is, is that here at this weight, I feel the same way about myself as I did when I was a size 12 a year ago. I still love the body I have no matter the size.
I look down in the shower and I look the same to me, sure some clothes fit differently, I have very different boobies now and I have more energy but thats it.
I was bangin’ then, and I’m bangin’ now.
Where does the hate come from?
Well, it didn’t help that I was sexually abused for a long time, however, often I watched on as my own mother would grab at her small handfuls of skin and flesh and growl at disgust at her love handles, things at a young age I just didn’t see.
Things that the generations before her had taught her.
I have seen the women who still hate their bodies at 50, 60 and into their 70’s.
I don’t want to die wishing I hated myself less and I don’t want the women around me to be doing that either.
I don’t want my daughter to watch me hate myself.
I don’t want her to watch you all hate yourselves either.
It does not serve our children well.
I’ve sat and listened while women at Christmas get togethers call themselves fat in front of everyone, including my impressionable children.
I have seen and been the women who download the fitness trackers and food trackers, and trying fad diet after fad diet to lose this weight.
When the only thing thats going to make you content is actually loving who you are as you are, and by looking after your body and mind as well as you possibly can.
Thats what works.
If you’re not doing it for you, do it for your child.
If you don’t have kids, do it for your friends children.
Do it for your friends and family, because every time you hate on you, you’re sending hate into the world.
And I think theres enough of that going around.
The message of the hate you send yourself directly impacts those around you.
It is literally as simple as changing the things you say in your head, into the mirror, to your husband, your wife, daughter, son, friend, mother, father.
No more “I’m disgusting” or “This is too big” or “This is too what ever”
More like “I am human and I am enough”
More like “Look at what I’ve done”
More like “Look at what I can do and will do”.
No one will love you like you can.
I believe that a woman’s first true love should be herself, a woman’s true contentedness in life comes from herself, not what she looks like, or what she’s told she looks like, or even how her brain tells her she feels.
Our own perception of ourselves is never accurate. Ask those around you and I can bet in an instant your friends and family will tell you exactly who you are, not who you are not.
I don’t care who you are, size 30 or 4, if you speak to yourself in ways you’d never speak to anyone else, you will never be truely happy with yourself and it is as easy changing the narrative around you.
If not for you, do it for the girls after you.
Do it for my 6 year old girl who tells me every day, “I love you. You’re beautiful on the inside and outside”.
We can only hit the targets that we’re aiming at.
And if we think that fuelling a better image from our own self hatred is lining up a bullseye that will give us the “results” we want, we’re sorely mistaken.
I love me. I love me. I love me. Now REPEAT.