Radical Self Love

I posted this picture to instagram at the end of May:

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

The general gist of the caption was that, while I don’t agree on everything my mum says & does, I did appreciate her “don’t give a fuck” attitude growing up and it helped me develop a similar approach to society’s pressures to look a certain way.

Of course, this wasn’t the full story (because seriously, nobody wants to read a blog post in an insta caption).

While that is mostly true, as I said on instagram, I have poked at wobbly bits with an element of self-doubt. In the depths of PMDD-fuelled anxiety I have questioned whether my own husband could truly love me with all my scars and stretch marks. I liked myself most of the time, but I’m not “perfect”, and I knew it, but I accepted who I was.

When I got sick in early May, and a week of excruciating gallbladder pain stopped me from eating, I dropped ~10lbs quite quickly. Any other time this would be cause for celebration, but I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise the person looking back at me. My skin looked pale, my stomach was shrivelled up like a weird dry prune and I felt myself shrinking: the opposite of what I want to achieve. I looked like shit, and it terrified me.

I hated it. I hated how I looked, I hated feeling weak, and I hated being less ‘me’.

As I got better, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. It hit me: when I’m not ill I can run, I can lift heavy weights, I can kick arse in the dojang, and I am strong, capable and confident. Weighing 10lbs less didn’t give me superpowers, it didn’t make me suddenly more attractive or physically fit (quite the opposite in this instance).

And so I realised that if I hated myself like that, I had no choice but to love myself when I’m 10lbs heavier, when I’ve not shaved my legs in a fortnight, when I’m bloated to all hell because I’m due on, when my brain is telling me I suck because my hormones are going haywire. Merely accepting myself wasn’t enough. I accept bills, and taxes, and having to get up at 7am to get the kids ready for school and those things all SUCK. And so that caption also said something quite radical: I think I love myself.

I gave myself permission to enjoy the comedy of the wobbly belly, to celebrate the origins of the stretch marks, to find mystery in my scars. I gave myself permission to say fuck yeah, I actually look pretty good. And I’m cool with that.

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5 comments so far

  1. Sarah said:
    On July 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Love this post. That photo is smoking hot because you’re a total babe, but also it oozes with confidence. Thanks for the IDGAF attitude, it’s catching in a positive way. ❤️

    Reply
  2. TinyMay said:
    On July 8, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Good for you, Jem! This post needs to be spread. I continue to struggle day in and day out with appreciating my body the way it is, but I’m slowly learning to tell myself that there’s beauty in scars and stretch marks. (I may not have had a kid but puberty left me with stretch marks on my ass and thighs!)

    There was a time in my life when I shrunk to 105lbs, I was at my lowest weight in 2 years and I had finally reached my weight goals, but was I happy? Totally not. I didn’t think I looked attractive in anyway, either. I was still struggling to fight the belly bulge even at 105lbs! (Screw you, PCOS) But I hated myself then, thinking when I was 120lbs that I would LOVE myself when I reached 105lbs …. Was I wrong!

    Reply
    • Jem said:
      On July 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thanks chick :) I too – like most people – have stretch marks and scars from way before pregnancy… puberty was not kind to me! But like you, I’ve definitely found that confidence and comfort in one’s skin is not related a smaller number on the scale. We need to find that in our own time, for our own reasons.

      Reply
  3. Cindy said:
    On July 16, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching you slay with your confidence and self-love. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring. <3

    Reply

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