The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Why do we compare ourselves?

This weekend I'm going to see a Shakespeare play with my family in Straford-Upon-Avon. Given that I haven't seen my family in a while and the fact I am obsessed with theatre, you'd think I would be ecstatic about going. Sadly, it hasn't been quite like that.

We all have insecurities. Whether it's a wonky nose, a lack of self-belief, or for most people, our bodies. I've never had a good body image and it's something that waxes and wanes in terms of how badly it affects me. 

Most families all have similar body shapes, right? That isn't the case for my family. My mum and sister are short and exceedingly thin. I, on the other hand, am 5ft8 and a size twelve. For some silly reason I will never understand, I have always been fixated on trying to look more like them. Every time we have a group photo taken, I scrutinise it and wince at the difference in body widths. Genetically we're all very similar, so why don't I look like them? I was a chubby child and then through my adolescence became thin when I got my growth spurt. I was shapeless and naturally skinny, but even then I felt big and was convinced my stomach was bulging. 

Before I came to uni I was a size ten, but due to being inactive and eating so much unhealthy food, I'm now 5 kilos heavier than I was. Since getting here, I've become simultaneously more and less body confident. I am comfortable around my boyfriend and all my uni friends. I don't feel like I stick out as the chubby one in the group or the 'fat friend'. But each time I visit my family, it gets harder and harder to feel body confident. I feel powerless and frustrated. If I am a smart woman, why can't I just lose weight and look like the rest of the family? Really, the question I should be asking is "Why do I feel the need to 'fit in'"? 

It's a constant dilemma in my head between what I know is right and fair, in contrast to how I feel emotionally about myself. The most important thing in the world is your own health. Eat well and exercise regularly and the benefits are ten fold, I know this to be true. So why is there a compulsion, an obsession to be accepted; to conform to the current body hype that is spread in the media. Why is thin better? As Kate Moss said: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels". What a morbid quote.

I can understand that many people who read this will think "What is she complaining about? A size 12 isn't fat and she should stop complaining about her perfect life". This is what I keep telling myself. It feels so selfish to complain about wobbly thighs when I should be bloody grateful just to have legs that let me run and dance and skip. But at the same time, I feel too scared to write on this blog about the parts of my body I do like, because I don't want to seem vain. Isn't that sad? Why should we chastise people that like themselves? This is not a thing that should be scoffed at and looked down upon. 

Additionally, it's so peculiar how we are so loving and accepting of our friends' bodies, and love them dearly just as they are, but when it comes to our own we despise every minute 'flaw'? When you get to know a friend or a partner, it's those flaws that make them even more attractive and adorable.

Why do you think we compare ourselves? Is it primeval, a societal indoctrination, or both?

One day I hope I can look at my body and love every part of it. Moreover, I wish that everyone in the world could do that, too. Because at the end of the day, who gives a fuck about what you look like if you've got something interesting to say.
Happy and confident with my medic friends at Ladies Dinner (me on far right)


Even happy photos of me and my sister on my 18th birthday are plagued with irrational scrutiny




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2 comments

  1. Kate, you look amazing on that photo of you going to Ladies Dinner - your figure is lovely!! You really shouldn't feel bad about yourself, you are beautiful and intelligent and most importantly seem like a lovely girl - and that's what you will be remembered for at the end of the day :)

    But I know exactly how you feel - I'm a size 12 too and some days that feels huge, when really it's a completely normal size to be. And I think it's good to be curvy :) I wish body image didn't have so much emphasis placed on it, especially in the media.

    Hannah xx

    http://www.pull-yourself-together.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you Hannah for the kind words! :) xxx

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