Being away for the majority of the past month has been the perfect time to reflect on my values, who I am and what I stand for. I have been bouncing around between Sydney, Kiama the south coast and living very much in the moment, going with the flow and embracing my natural self. Spending time catching up with friends and being with my little family has been absolute bliss.
The older I get the more I am learning to embrace who I am and the importance of fighting this fight - we are constantly told to go against ourselves, to cover things up, to enhance, to change, alter, manipulate. I don't want to be swept up in this lie. I want to stand strong, as hard as it can be, to accept myself as I am.
Here are a few things I am learning to accept about myself...
I will never be one of those beach babes who gets out of the ocean with glowing skin, tussled hair and long, toned limbs
Me at the beach looks more freckle face, frizzy hair, short, round limbs (yes that is so a thing) than anything above. I am suddenly so completely ok with that. For years I wished to be taller, more tanned, frizz-less, airbrushed, skinny. I will never be anything other than me and it takes being at the beach to remind me of that. There is nothing more sobering than looking in a car mirror after a swim in the ocean - every wrinkle, every hair, every freckle, it jumps out and shocks your ridiculous Victoria Secret daydreams into submission.
The ocean is in my blood - being a Pisces and raised by a Scuba Diving dad and adventurous mum, I spent large chunks of my childhood on a boat or on the beach. I have lived beside the sea for the majority of my adult life and the ocean is so important to my sense of happiness, calm and inspiration. The fact I don't resemble a typical "beach babe" used to bother me as an insecure teenager and young woman. Now, I feel completely at ease with it. I love my sons little freckles which come up after a day at the beach and they make me appreciate mine more. I accept my wild, ridiculous hair after a swim in the ocean and now I put my hair up in a bun and embrace it as it naturally is, without washing or straightening it the minute I get home. I had salty beach hair every day I was away and it felt fucking unbelievable to be bordering on dread locks and not giving a damn. I work out every day because it clears my head and calms my anxious tendencies but I have relaxed on the food front. I feel strong and, for the most part, really happy with my body just as it is which is such a relief after years battling against my natural form and punishing myself with ridiculous diets.
I am an over protective parent
My son went missing in the sun dunes for 2 minutes at the beach and I have never panicked so much in my life. He was pretending to sulk because I wouldn't jump off the sand dunes with him so he ran off and hid from me under a bush, only 10 meters away but boy did I freak out. For a worried parent, tens seconds can feel like a lifetime but kids are kids and we cannot hold them close every minute of the day. My son has never been a runner, he is more of a "mummy can I hold your hand at all times, even in the car just in case" kind of kid and I think some independence is a good thing. The older he gets the more I am trying to let go of my over protectiveness. I might be battling this until he moves out of home!
.Our bodies are not projects in need of change or manipulation
We are encompassed by skin, we are made up of bones, organs and thoughts and feelings. It is ludicrous to punish ourselves for our physicality, for the casing which holds us all together. The mindset of "I will start tomorrow" is wrong. There is no starting or stopping, the body is a continuous, living thing. It is not a sculpture, it is just as a life is - up and down, healthy, sick, strong and vulnerable. I worry about fit-spo, about the increasing culture and obsession with fitness; the careful crafting of our physicality. I say this as someone who regularly lifts weights, who is at the gym almost everyday and who is passionate about being active and eating well. I also say this as someone who sees the broken link, who is aware of the punitive mentality behind it all. I can't sit here and say I am immune to this, I have battled these demons, from bulimia throughout my late teens and early twenties, to Orthorexia after giving birth to my son when my clean eating was so extreme I dropped down to 47 kilos, through to being stuck somewhere between not giving a damn and giving so much of a damn I feel like I have body bi-polar.
It takes every ounce of strength as a woman to fight this culture, to be healthy for the sake of feeling good and to be less focused on the physical form and more focused on the overall picture. I want to continue to fight this fight, we all should. Lena Dunham nails this - read her post here which I have promised to myself I will re-visit whenever I come close to buying into the body bullshit which is fed to us daily.
Some people will never support you no matter the lengths you go to supporting them
I have often felt the sting of this realisation. I have felt like a fish out of water in certain scenes, I have felt locked out of my industry, misunderstood, completely sidelined by people I look up to or people I have been kind and generous towards or even friends or acquaintances. The older I get, the more this realisation hurts me, that some people give and others take, that some people try and others sit back. I grapple with this regularly; I ask myself why some people are not generous, supportive or worse yet, why the they are sometimes so damn cruel? Discovering I need firmer boundaries has been something I have learned over the last little while but I have also committed to the acceptance that I am inherently supportive, ridiculously optimistic and often too forgiving but that can be a beautiful thing if handled wisely
I am a mix of wild contradictions & probably most people are
I find it difficult to reconcile some of my contradicting traits and interests. I love fashion but I am a tom boy at heart. I love getting dressed up, going to events and drinking champagne but I also like going to the pub, drinking beer and playing golf. I write passionately and seriously but I am a comic in my day to day life. Being in the city lights me up me but I live for nature and the outdoors. I am a super sociable people person 95% of the time but the other 5% I have crippling social anxiety and don't want to leave the house. I am a neat freak but I couldn't care less that my car hasn't been washed in over a year. I want to stay in the Fashion Industry forever and I love it with every piece of my soul but I also want to go live in a tent, raise a hippy child, wear no shoes and get a million miles away from the bullshit world we live in. These contradictions drive me crazy. I have often felt alone in this identity trap but I am starting to believe that this is the case for most people. We tend to think of people as only one clear thing, they like this or they like that, we class people in black and white. Identities are so complex, a person cannot be simplified this way and I would love to know others have these same paradoxes. I believe almost everyone must.
Here is to accepting ourselves as we are. Here is to being proud and unashamed of our natural, unaltered selves.