Are You Beautiful?

Are You Beautiful?
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Are you beautiful? This is a question I'm often asked during question time with my students. What they are really inquiring about is if I think I'm beautiful. Their level of English teamed with their age means they struggle to construct such a sentence.

"No, not at all!" - the first thought that enters my head, luckily over the years I've learned to engage my brain before opening my mouth. The society in which we live in would believe me to be conceited and egotistical if I were to answer this simple question affirmatively, but however much I dislike giving myself compliments and speaking about my appearance I desperately want to nurture self confidence and self love within my students. I hope the next generation is kinder to themselves, I hope they respect and love themselves enough to properly take care of their bodies and love every single part of themselves.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and every single one of us is beautiful in one way or another. During my teens and early twenties I really struggled with the way I viewed myself, I loathed my legs, my temperamental skin and wobbly tummy. My body has been put through an awful lot over the years, whilst being seriously ill my weight yoyoed and my wardrobe overflowed with clothing from a UK size 4 to a size 16. At twenty three I had a tumor removed from my neck, beforehand I was warned that I could possibly wake up paralysed after surgery and this scared me to my core. When I came round the first thing I did was wiggle my toes.
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 {Photo taken 1 week after surgery}
I appreciated and loved my body more than I ever. I was so proud of it's strength, how it healed itself and kept going even during the toughest times. I had honestly felt like my body was slowly giving up, and although I was still very poorly after surgery I looked after my body as best I could. I researched Ehlers Danlos Sydrome (the condition that I have) and whilst devouring every slither of information I found online I stumbled upon Deliciously Ella. Armed with plenty of reading material I set about creating a plant based eating plan to follow as well as a fitness plan. Fitness wise I timidly dipped my toes into the world of exercise again, something I had loved before getting so ill. I started with the Yoga With Adriene videos which were wonderful and little by little added in other workouts increasing my workouts from twice a week to four times a week, and then five and now it's usually six days a week. So whilst I set about my fitness in a sensible, steady wins the race way, I dove headfirst into the world of plant based eating. I quickly saw the effects that following this diet had on my body with the tumors decreasing in size and the other symptoms edging away day by day.
At some point during this journey I began to poke and prod at the parts of me I wasn't too keen on again, I started to glare at my body in the mirror whilst getting dressed in the morning,  pulling and tugging at my clothes self consciously. I quickly lost the feelings of appreciation, love, gratefulness, and proudness I'd once had for my body. Instead I became ashamed of and anxious about the wobbly parts along with the not so perfect edges.
In just over two years I had completely managed to forget what my body had been through, how I needed help to get up in the mornings and at times couldn't move. I forgot to appreciate it and be grateful for every part of me. I can walk and dance, I can jump around and easily get through a tough gym class. I can go on hikes and lift really heavy things. Our bodies are precious, incredible and down right miraculous things and we should be proud of them no matter what shape or size we are.
Of course I'll still have days where I moan about that spot or not having the super flat tummy I once had but on those days I'll remind myself of just how far I have come and how lucky I am.
Take care and love your body and yourself. After all, if you can't love yourself how does anyone else stand a chance? We only have one body...be kind to it. <3