* This post was originally published in The Spinsters WOMENSLETTER - delivered every Friday to women who live alone. Please click here to sign up *
How do you feel about your body?
Against all the odds, I love my body right now
Apparently, due to lockdown, people are consuming an extra 333 calories a day due to being indoors more. This is no surprise, there just isn't much to do is there?
I spend much of my time wondering what to eat next, and wondering if I have the ingredients to make it.
Also, everyone's drinking more alcohol
We know this contains empty calories. I rarely drink, but I understand this powerful drug well and booze is a great way to stop boredom and/or emotional pain.
I can see online that women are panicking about gaining weight, it's being talked about continually in the press, alongside the promotion of 'Lockdown Diets' and 'Lockdown Body's'.
I have no idea what either of these is
I'm not going to waste a precious second of my life finding out. I suspect it's just another way to help make women feel awful about themselves.
I used to despise my body - even in my twenties when it was lovely and firm. I was profoundly empty inside and used drugs, alcohol and food to try to fill the bottomless pit of low self-esteem and not feeling 'enough.'
As a child my relationship with food was non-existent.
My mum rarely cooked as she was often at work, and my dad made lamb stews which turned my stomach.
At seven, I quickly decided to be vegetarian. Disappointingly, this didn't lead to more enjoyable meals, just less meat. The result: I had no real interest in food, and I was slim.
The first time I put on significant weight I was 17
I started smoking pot. I didn't even really enjoy it but my boyfriend at the time was a stoner.
Every night we'd smoke a joint, get munchies, and then go to the corner shop on the council estate in Yorkshire where he lived and buy anything containing sugar.
Frosties, Seabook crisps, Biscuit Boost's, and sour penny sweets were our usual choice, and we consumed it all silently in a kind of heaven. Over the months, I put on a stone and a half and then felt terrible about my body.
I stopped smoking pot, but a mild food addiction remained. I've never been a binge eater, but I'd eat food when I was bored, pissed off, or hungover - emotional eating.
My weight always fluctuated.
This lead to even worse thoughts about myself and even worse treatment of my precious body.
Luckily, my health is my prime focus nowadays, I've done a ton of work to fill the bottomless pit of low self-worth, and I only ever eat when I'm hungry.
But this doesn't mean that I suddenly have a healthy relationship with my body after years of dieting and self-loathing.
I've had a body image problem for most of my life and struggled with my weight, so I'm more surprised than anyone that I actually feel great about my body right now.
So why do I feel so so good about my body?
Quite simply, Instagram.
It is PURELY down to following some incredibly inspiring women who are willing to share their bodies online that has been the catalyst in changing how I feel about my body.
I've always thought that my body was different from other women.
I have multiple scars from the savagery of childbirth, I've always had cellulite, and it's riddled with stretch marks. I thought it was unusually unattractive.
When these women proudly share pictures of their bodies, I can see that my body is similar to many other women. My body is average looking - get the champagne out!
Last year while in Malaysia I bought a new outfit:
A pair of tight black mom jeans and a slightly cropped leopard print 50's tie top.
But when I got home and put on this gorgeous outfit, I realised it was more cropped than I initially thought and you could see my belly, so I've never worn it.
Recently I pulled it out again and thought: Well you can still see a bit of my flabby belly, and then thought: So what?!
Katie Sturino would rock this, and I'm going to also!
Katie's account is just one of many I've had the pleasure of discovering over the last few months:
My top five recommendations for feeling great about your body.
@katiesturino - for body positivity and fashion
@freeda_en - for normalising illness, disabilities and scarring
@and.bloom - for ageing beautifully over 40
@alexlight_ldn for normalising cellulite, lumps and bumps
@lizzobeeating for showing us how to be the QUEEN of everything
A Herstorical moment
Social media is so powerful for the feminist movement. For the first time in herstory, we're seeing real women's bodies, in all of their glorious beauty.
It's powerful AF.
We shouldn't define ourselves by our body, and I don't. Still, a lifetime of social conditioning and oppression is hard to shake off, and it's reassuring to know my body is average.
Imagine if there'd been real models and body imperfection on the pages of Elle and Vogue when we were growing up?
How differently we'd feel about ourselves.
Once again - when women share their stories - we RISE together.
This post was originally published in The Spinsters WOMENSLETTER - delivered every Friday to women who live alone. Please click here to sign up
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Hannah Anstee is a former British Wellness Journalist turned Women’s Midlife & Wellbeing Coach.
You may know her from her work as Beauty Editor at YOGA Magazine or her contributions to The Independent or Psychologies Magazine.
Hannah uses a kind and candid approach to help women rewrite their stories.