How I learnt to hate, and then love, my body

I have always had a tumultuous relationship with my body. I don’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t ashamed of how I look. It is important to remember that this is a learnt behaviour – I don’t hate my body because it deserves to be hated, I hate it because that’s the only way I know how to treat it.

I, and almost everyone else I know, have internalised an arbitrary standard of how my body should look and function. I am trying to teach myself to love my body in all its glory, for its inherent, unending value and beauty.

At 8, my uncle remarked on my protruding stomach with a harsh “What’s all this? No cake for you”.

At 9 I had my appendix urgently removed. It was incredibly frightening, but the doctor reassured me that I could still be a swimsuit model when I was older.

At 16 a boy wanted to fool around with me but didn’t want to be seen together in public.

At 17 I shaved my hair for charity. Someone on the street yelled “big legs no hair” a few days later.

Later that year I started going to the gym every single day before school and starved myself most days. With a ‘healthy’ lifestyle I punished my body for not being right. I equated being physically desirable with being valuable.

At 18 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The medication I had take made me gain a tonne of weight. I ate to cope with my emotions and homesickness.

My hatred of my body came from some of the people closest to me, people I thought cared about my wellbeing. It is completely unacceptable to teach young people to hold themselves to some irrational standard.

Now, I try my best to remind myself everyday that I have an amazing body that can do some pretty amazing things. I try to choose a new thing to celebrate about my body everyday.

It’s really hard to un-teach yourself all the irrelevant standards you have always been compared to. Still, my body doesn’t work how I sometimes think it should. I don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s okay not to love yourself everyday, but it is so important to try.

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.