Summers here. Cute dresses, skimpy shorts and barely there bikinis. Personally, I love winter with knee length boots and chunky jumpers.
Believe me I’m no stranger to a bikini but with grafts on my leg I can no longer safely bare my legs on a sunny day.
So it’s in summer that I particularly notice the media pressure to conform, to join the army of bronzed legged ballerina pump wearing perfect size 10s. The desire to look airbrushed to within an inch of ones life even when the mercury is soaring and the humidity is creating havoc with your sleek hair, turning it into a giant fur-ball. Or is that just me?
It can be hard to understand that when someone is looking in the mirror it may not be vanity driving them to stand there but a deep inner critic. We all have our own demons, so none of us need the additional pressure piled on by the media.
Since my accident I have experienced the full range of how people respond to visible scarring (not all negative), but a client who told me “I don’t want to have to look at that” is no longer a client!
I was visiting an indoor swimming complex and in my haste to pack for my children and myself I neglected my waxing regime. 3 year olds do not care about these things and I left the changing rooms feeling embarrassed and self-conscious. Imagine my horror when I realised a young couple were staring at me and nudging their friends. I whispered to my sister-in-law through clenched teeth “Is my bikini line THAT bad?”
Cue hysterical laughter as she pointed out that they were actually pointing at my scarring. Relief, but not funny.
We all have physical imperfections; they’re what make us individual. Some of us are happy to put our imperfections on display, some of us aren’t and that’s our choice. Ideally we should all be able to embrace our imperfections and understand why for some that can be a hard journey, one made harder by feeling judged by the media and quite literally being pointed out in a public.
My first years in London were spent as a model visiting agencies. Having been on the receiving end of comments about my weight and looks it saddens me that some people still think it is ok to stare, judge and nudge friends when we see someone different, unusual or not the media’ s perception of beauty. Surely it is now time for change?
In my teaching I see a variety of shapes, builds and bodies, all miraculous machines. True beauty lies in the glint of an eye or the arcing sound of someone’s laughter. The rest is embellishment. Seeing the value of others is where true beauty lies.
When we go to the pool my children don’t care if I’m a size 6 or a size 16. They care that I am there, splashing, playing and present. So soon I’ll be packing my case and heading off to sunnier climes. Am I ‘beach body” ready? No. But am I ready for the beach?