Updated: Feb 3
I've thought a lot lately about bodies in general and how people see themselves. I've found that the most beautiful girls in my eyes think their fat and go on these awful diets that only do more harm than good. I've heard these girls stories and its heart-breaking. Girls will just do about anything to be beautiful even if that means putting their own bodies at risk. I've also heard guys as well who in my eyes don't need to change a thing about themselves. Yet they will work themselves to death if it means they can have the perfect body, a six pack and toned muscles. I have nothing against people wanting to feel fitter at all. It's when they have a negative mindset, the type that picks out all that is wrong with you and that can be very dangerous.
The thing is, no one is ugly or imperfect.
I was a spotty child. I still am some days, but when I was nine I got my first spot and before you knew it my face was covered with blackheads. None of the other girls in my class had spots or greasy skin but I didn't care because it didn't matter. I was a tomboy, one of the boys. I was the only girl in my class who played football every break time, the girl that would fight like one of the boys and didn't care what anyone thought. It was easier to fit in with the boys and do boy things because there were no expectations. Girls in my class would be in dresses and skirts while I would be found in football kit or jogging bottoms wearing my cousins old football trainers that were two sizes too big so the toe was filled with toilet paper. I was happy.
When I went to secondary school it was clear that girls hung out with girls and boys stuck with boys. This came as a huge shock as I never really been friendly with girls, you could say that I didn't understand the language of girls. It was then I began to feel insecure about my body. In year 7 it was all about relationships, girls having boyfriends meant you were cool and more mature and who didn't want to be mature? Although I never had a boyfriend. nor have I ever, it bothered me. It really did because not only were my friends able to get into a relationship, but it also made me question: Am I ugly? Is it because I'm fat? Is it because I have spots and messy hair?
When I was 15 years old I weighed 13 stone, the heaviest I've ever been, stress of GCSE's and my insecurities led me down a path of eating and then hating myself for it afterwards. My friends I never told because I was ashamed and I didn't want them to think I was attention seeking.
Me and my best friend Holly went Prom together and I never felt so ugly and judged. I doubt anyone did judge me, nothing was said. No one ever did really say anything, I wasn't bullied but the negative thoughts in my head were spinning around constantly. Some days I would sit in my room alone thinking about why I couldn't be like them. Why couldn't I look like the other girls? There was also a boy I really liked, I know such a cliche, I knew he would never like me in return because I was fat and wasn't as pretty as the other girls. I don't think he ever saw me more than a friend and at the time that hurt. But now not so much, if anything I look back at it as a fond memory, a simple crush.
Sixth Form began and my best friends Holly and Brooklyn were both in relationships and they were the sort of girls who are naturally beautiful, the ones you could put in a bin liner and they still would be beautiful. However, my friends who I've just come to learn were also unhappy with their bodies. They also had insecurities. We were all unaware of this, the three of us, because we never talked about it.
Girls would show up to school with make-up and their hair down, while I would be bare faced and my hair would be thrown back into a bun. I was never interested in hair or makeup, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the women in my family don't wear it either. I come from a family of hard-working grafters who can think or more important things than remembering to put makeup on for work. I eventually joined Slimming World with my Aunty and I began to lose weight and by June I had lost a stone in weight and went from a size 16 to a 14. I was so proud of myself but I eventually quit the group because a life changing event happened.
It was during the last year of sixth form when I began to realise that I was never the problem. I wasn't ugly nor was I fat. I was me. This is who I am. I may not have a boyfriend or never of fallen in love but you know what? I didn't need one. I just needed to accept myself. All that time I spent doubting myself and trying to fit in, I lost myself, my real self. The one that didn't care of how I looked or how I dressed because I was happy. The one who would climb trees, run through puddles in the rain and drive her mum crazy when she came home covered in mud. The one who would laugh like nobody was watching. The one who was comfortable in her own skin.
I can remember reading one of the many books that I have read, and usually in a romcom the leading lady is an elegant beauty, but this one was different. She was a short, crazy blond haired woman who wore size 14 jeans and didn't know how to do makeup. This to me was so relatable, the lady did have a happy ending and it wasn't because she changed herself to fit into the 'unrealistic'. Instead she got her happy ending because she was true to herself and the guy saw her for her. And of course fiction isn't real but the fact that this story existed made it stand out and showed me that you don't have to change to be you. You just have to be real and honest. It was these flawed women who I read about that have inspired me and showed me that beauty isn't a number, its who you truly are.
I'm not saying that you won't get your happy ending if you wear makeup and dress in beautiful clothes because that isn't true either. All I'm saying is that the pressure to be someone else needs to stop. Girls and boys alike need to see that there is nothing wrong with being yourself. That in a matter of fact embracing yourself and being comfortable with yourself is all that should matter. As long as your happy and healthy, that's all that matters. A number shouldn't define how you feel or how you should be. Fuck the numbers and fuck feeling shitty about yourself, be bold and be you!
My friends who I have mentioned may not have known the extent of how ugly I felt sat next to them, but they have helped me in more ways than possible. Always there to cheer me up and tell me that I look fine just the way I am. My friends who I've learnt also have insecurities too, when in fact there is nothing wrong with them. To me they are perfect, you don't need to change a thing ladies.
Like I said before, we all have insecurities. We may not shout them from the roof tops nor do we speak about it openly. But that doesn't mean we don't have them. So always choose to be kind. You don't know what is going on behind the mask and when you think someone is down, ask them and be there.
It took me a while to find who I wanted to be, but I got there. I still feel insecure some days but not to the extent that I would hate myself for being ugly. I was never ugly, I may not be the ideal woman but at least I'm healthy and happy.
So who am I?
I am Phoebe May Leech, 19 years old, 5 foot 3, 11 stone, size 14, uncontrollable brown hair and bare faced every day. I am a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, bookworm who has been known to take books to her lectures for breaks and a complete weirdo at the best of times. This is me and I am happy regardless of the numbers.
The question is, who are you?
I hope this post reaches anybody who needs to hear this because there is nothing worse than feeling alone in this world. And if any of you need to talk please feel free to email, text or tweet me because I'll be there.
Till next time beautiful people,