health

"I shouldn't have to be ashamed of my wobbly bits."

I spent the early days of 2014 on holiday, on the west coast of Australia. It was perfect weather, and we spent most of our time either in the pool or at the beach.

But I was rarely thinking about how lucky we were to have such gorgeous weather. I wasn’t really focused on the cider, or the laughs, or the beach volleyball, or the inflatable pool toys we brought along. I paid little attention to how beautifully clear the water of the ocean was, or how fun it was to have such a big group of friends in one place.

I mostly thought about my thighs. More specifically – the cellulite on the back of my thighs.

It’s covered up when I wear shorts and dresses and skirts, but bikinis? No chance. Cellulite on parade for everyone to see. And I hate it. Passionately.

It’s genetic cellulite. The kind that won’t bugger off, regardless of how much you exercise or how little body fat you have. I’ve tried firming creams and diets. I’ve tried losing weight and exercising like a maniac. I tried giving up sugar (apparently that zaps your cellulite). I even legitimately looked into liposuction with a girlfriend of mine. I KNOW.

Nat

Nothing worked. So for my summer holiday, I specifically invested in floaty kaftans that went down past my bum, and wore them everywhere. I walked behind people rather than in front of them when wearing my bikini. I was first in the pool – hard to see cellulite when in the water – and last out. I put shorts on when it was time to play beach volleyball.

Pathetic, right? After all – who even would have noticed the patches of cellulite if I hadn’t been so paranoid about hiding it? Who would have cared in the slightest? Probably no one. But I’ve spent a lifetime, even as a young kid, hating and hiding my wobbly bits. The extra rolls on my tummy, the extra padding on my bum. It’s not a practise that’s about to stop now.

And I know that I’m not alone. There wouldn’t be a diet industry if every woman readily accepted the parts of her body that were naturally destined to be “wobbly”. But just about every woman – with the exception of the very few, who, after a long process, love themselves just the way they are – has at least one part of her body that she’s unhappy with. Her bum. Her stomach. Her upper arms. Her chin.

A recent article from the Daily Mail made me especially aware of this. The article is called, “Tricks we use to hide our wobbly bits, by four VERY brave women,” and features pictures of four women in their underwear, describing what they hate about their bodies and what they do to make themselves look skinnier.

Heads up: all of the women are beautiful. They range in age from 33 years old to 57 years old and each one is stunning.

But sadly, they don’t think so.

Let’s take a look. In the red corner we have Jacqui Hickey, a 46-year-old single hair stylist:

One of the Daily Mail images.

My tummy. It’s the bane of my life. Whenever I’m in a changing room or on a beach, I desperately try to hold it in because it makes me feel self-conscious… People always describe me as slim, so I’m obviously pretty skilled at hiding it. No one believes I have a pot belly unless I show it to them. Then, they’re stunned.

In the blue corner, there’s Abbie Rendell, a 33-year-old mother of two. One of her sons is only ten months old:

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But while I don’t weigh much more than when I was younger, my body is certainly wobblier, broader and more out-of-shape than ever before.

It was worth getting a mummy-tummy to have my two beautiful sons, but I am more self-conscious of my body now.

In the green corner, there’s 37-year-old Andrea Gould, a mature-age graphic design student:

Another image from the Daily Mail article.
Another image from the Daily Mail article.

When I undress and see how much my body has changed since my trim and slim 20s, I can’t help feeling depressed… I honestly never dreamt that one day I’d have all these lumps, bumps and imperfections. I worry that with my 40s fast approaching, my body is only going to deteriorate still further.

And finally, 57-year-old Jacqueline Lloyd in the yellow corner:

I feel sad when I look at my body. Yes I’m a size 12 — but it could be so much better than it is.  I’ve lost two stone over the past three years, after my GP told me I needed to take better care of my health. I was eating too many sweet treats, and enjoying a few drinks every night… Sadly, my body doesn’t reflect these changes, and if I’m honest I feel quite sad when I look at it. When I’m naked, I definitely look bigger than a size 12.

I do admire these women for taking their clothes off and showing their bodies to the world, when they evidently feel bad about the way they look. That takes some serious courage.

But what I don’t like is the way this article is hindering women, rather than helping them. It’s not showing off their bodies and reassuring them that they are beautiful. It’s not celebrating what these women’s bodies have managed to do (given birth to several children, for one). It’s putting their insecurities on show, giving them a platform to exist, and encouraging other women to believe that their own insecurities are totally well-founded, too.

I’m trying to let go of my own insecurities about my wobbly bits. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m the only one who sees the cellulite. I’m still working on coming to appreciate what’s in the mirror, rather than picking it apart to pieces and ignoring friends and lovers when they say it looks just fine.

And I don’t want to spend any more time obsessing about those wobbly bits. I don’t want to spend any more time making myself look skinnier and disguising my body. I simply want to have the confidence to take that bikini off – without obsessing over the fact that people might be staring at my thighs.

But articles like the Daily Mail one make it really, truly, exceptionally hard.

Are you paranoid of your wobbly bits? What are you doing – or what have you done – to accept your body the way it is?

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