The very inspirational Marie Rebelle gave us this prompt for this weeks #WW:
Self-image is how you perceive yourself. It is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time: What are your hopes and dreams? What do you think and feel? What have you done throughout your life and what did you want to do? These self-images can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.
(Source: What is self-image?)
So how about your self-image? Positive or negative? Why? How? Do you have advice for others on how to improve their self-image? What do you like or dislike about yourself? Interpret this prompt as you want and share your (sexy) posts.
I honestly did not think I had anything new to say on this topic, having discussed it ad nauseam on here and on my other blog k1kat.com. However, a Podcast from another of my blogging crushes/heroes, Molly Moore, featuring the lovely Malin James pricked my interest this afternoon. (Yeah pardon the dreadful pun!)
The topic was jealousy and was utterly fascinating to a person who has only ever had monogamous relationships. I found myself feeling, (and I stress that they in NO WAY suggested this to be the case at all, quite the contrary in fact), that I was a bit “less than” them. Their self confidence and apparent lack of insecurity about themselves and their relationships was amazing to listen to. They both admitted to experiencing and being uncomfortable with feelings of jealousy, but they had skills that they used to deal with these feelings.
Funnily enough, I never feel jealousy with regard to my OH and I wonder if this is because I know he is 100% committed to a monogamous relationship. In fact, my request to explore my bisexual side has been staunchly refused! I trust completely that he simply is not the straying type. We are both outrageous flirts and we enjoy watching each other do it. But that is where the line ends and I think it helps us feel secure in the relationship.
So I don’t feel jealousy, but… a BIG but coming… I am always, always, insecure. About how I look mostly, but also about how I interact with people, how I come across, (I am very gregarious and friendly and I fear sometimes I scare people!), my abilities, my lack of drive… uh, I could go on.
We have been together now for, gulp, 24 years and married for 17 of them. He has never failed to tell me he thinks I am beautiful, sexy, gorgeous, smart, funny, caring…
He has seen me at my lowest points physically, mentally and emotionally.
He has loved me when I was overweight, when I was skeletal and underweight, (thanks eating disorder!), and he loves me now, as I still wear my size UK 6 jeans, even though my tummy overflows and I really need to either buy new ones or lose the love handles. (I close my eyes and brace myself for the backlash now… I know size 6 is small but bear in mind I am only 5′ with some 2 shoes! Plus… it’s really not about the numbers, it it MY self perception, right? And, it’s through the floor. In the basement.)
But he loves me. Can I accept that? Yes… he has shown it well enough. But then why do I still look in the mirror or shop windows and really dislike what I see there? I struggled to not use the word hate there…
On Saturday we ate a delicious lunch out; a turkey and gaucamole sandwich, hardly the stuff of Over Eaters Anon, but walking afterwards, all I could talk about was how tight my jeans were, etc, etc. He took my hand and told me to say, out loud, 5 positive things about myself. I hesitated. He frowned and said, “Quick now girl, or it’ll be 10 things!” I panicked and blurted out the first 5 things I thought of and got a kiss in reward. He asked me if I felt any better and I realised I had a big grin on my face and that I actually DID feel better!
Is it that simple? Daily affirmations? Is that the trick?
I have wanted so many times to ask Molly and Rebel, both of whom astound me with their body confidence all the time, along with several other regular Sinful Sunday contributors… what is the secret? I read Molly today over on Twitter, resplendent and naked in the open air in public, enjoying the sunshine and an orgasm and thought… wow! I want to be her when I grow up!
I have accomplished things in my life that matter and have helped people, REALLY helped them. I was a Rape Crisis Counsellor and Educator and I believe I actually changed some people’s lives. I paid my own way through a Degree, whilst working. I struggled along with the OH through years of dreadful poverty. I watched my mother die and helped nurse my father until his death when I was 24. I have faced more than one serious, life changing illness.
I am still here. I am so much more than the lump of flesh that I inhabit. And yet…
Rebel, you asked us to give you our take on ‘self-image’ and here is mine. Inside, somewhere, I know and understand I am more than the appearance. And yet that is my focus. Which makes me a pretty shallow, vacant, vacuous person I guess.
See how ugly it is inside?
What is to blame? Media? Advertising? Magazines? Pop videos? My parents? Society in general?
Or just me? This is my ‘illness’… if you can accept self loathing as an illness, the same as depression or addiction, or eating disorders for that matter.
I need to take a good long hard look at why I have this dreadful, empty, pathetically shallow viewpoint.
Incidentally and very importantly I think, this negative way of looking at bodies is one I reserve solely for myself! The reason Sinful Sunday is one of my favourite memes is the incredible positivity and acceptance I find there. Every week, I look at the pictures of people of all shapes, sizes, colours and ages and the only thing I ever feel is admiration and joy in the way they love themselves and courageously share themselves with us.
I salute you all and will continue to push my comfort zones each week, if I can. I feel that Sinful Sunday is a truly safe place. In fact, the people of the kink community are the sweetest, most accepting and non-judgemental group I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
I did not write this piece as a pity party, even if that is how it comes across.
I sat down and just let it flow, unedited, because I fear if I over-think this I will chicken out and hit delete.
I fear you will all shake your collective heads and think, “Jesus… Drama Queen alert! There are people with real problems out there…”
But if you’ve ever stopped by the neighbourhood where depression, low self-image and eating disorders live, I think, well I hope, you won’t hate me.
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