Thursday, 13 November 2014

5,6,7, Weight

Possibly one of the hardest subjects to tackle in the dance world and pretty much in everyday life, is weight. 

Weight is something that as a race, us humans as transfixed on. It's something that some individuals battle against every single day of their lives, it's something that we can  let consume our thoughts, and it's something that I have a very large problem with. 

In the dance world, and the world in general, there seems to be this strange attitude towards a persons weight. Regardless of what anybody says to you, we have all been guilty of judging someone, or quite frankly even ourselves, against the standard of "beauty" that is shoved in our faces in a day-to-day basis. 

Something that I battled with when I was of a larger build, was the constant feeling of being less worthy, less attractive, less likely to succeed, and a whole adundance of other negative things because of my size. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that the dance world and performing arts industry is an absolute breeding ground for not only these thoughts, but other thoughts that fester in the mind and can cause serious detrimental effects such as eating disorders. 

I'm not going to lie. There have been countless times where I have felt
 "too fat to be a dancer"

"too big to succeed"

"no-one will cast you because you're fat"

And each time I have thought this, more often than not I have to give my mind a metaphorical slap round the face and force myself to get out of these places. 

I began to question why it is myself, and many others around me in and out of the performing arts world, feel this way? 

The answer is the images we are forced to see. Like I mentioned earlier we are constantly exposed to images of people who seem to rarely be of a larger build. I personally think, weight means nothing when it comes to a persons beauty. 

What we need to differentiate is, firstly, these images have most probably been photoshopped so much that all natural beauty of the person photographed has more than likely gone. 

And secondly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What might seem appealing to you, may not be to someone else. Thirdly and finally, the link we seem to make with these images, is beauty = being thin. 

This is where we are wrong. 

And this is where something needs to change.

I have been on incredible journey of self-discovery through my battle with my weight. It has made me do things I never thought I was capable of, It has made me look at the world in a different way, It has made me appreciate inner beauty and it has made me realise how little a persons size actually means. 

My journey started in college, back in 2010. Most would say I went to college as a confident person, which I was, or so the facade I put on would've fooled you to think I was. In reality, I was struggling deeply with insecurities about my sexuality and about my body image. 

I began my weight loss battle by simply making a bet with someone that I could give up eating bread for lent. Im not particularly religious, I just enjoy a challenge. 40 days and 40 nights passed, and my waistline began to decrease. I want to point out here that I was also engaging in regular excercises and eating healthily too. 

From then onwards, the process of weight loss began to take a hold of me. The more I lost, the better I felt. The more people complimented me, the better I felt. It was all reinforcing that what I was doing, was working. 

However, this reinforcement was not entirely positive. I began to become somewhat obsessed by "how thin I looked". I felt a crippling responsibility to keep becoming thinner and thinner because I was terrified of what people might think of me if I were to put weight back on. I didn't want to do all this hard work and then let it slip because I wasn't determined enough. It became a real issue. 

It became something that consumed my every waking thought. 
All I could think was:
 "oh you can't eat because you'll be fat" 
which in heindsight I can say is ridiculous but at the time it all seemed perfectly logical to me. 

Something that is extremely difficult when it comes to drastic weight loss, is the ability to be able to look in the mirror and accept yourself for who you are now and not who you were. If i'm honest, I think this was the thing that I struggled with the most. My weight loss happened very suddenly and to be able to look into the mirror and see that I had literally shed my old body into this new form of myself, was difficult to comprehend.
 I used to look in the mirror and literally see my old self, a person who no longer existed. 

I think this was the root of my problem. I needed to just accept my new self. It sounds ridiculous, but it's kind of like when you dye your hair and you can't recognise yourself in the mirror. It's the most irritating and fascinating concept. My boyfriend used to say that I was looking into a circus mirror and that I was seeing an exaggerated version of myself that didn't exist. I guess he was right.

Fighting that and being able to accept this new body was as hard as openly admitting my sexuality for the first time. I still to this day sometimes don't recognise myself and see old Harry in the mirror. 
But it's all in my mind.
 Deep down, I know I have evolved into my true form and I am happy.

Since starting at urdang however, weirdly being in an environment which is stereotypically known to be one of the places where eating disorders are most common, I have felt the most comfortable.

I think what I have come to understand, is how sick I am of fighting this battle. 

I'm sick of feeling less able because of my pereception of myself. I'm sick of feeling like I can't enjoy life and food because of my warped sense of myself. I'm sick of feeling restricted by my own mind. 

I refuse to let myself be defined by my weight. I will not be classified as just "skinny" when I am a human being made up of an extensive range of other things. 

The most important bit of advice I can give to anyone who is either going through this journey, or is thinking about starting it, is to only lose weight for yourself. 

What you need to realise is beauty isn't what is on the outside, it truly is what is on the inside. You could be the most perfect looking apple, but if you're rotten on the inside, no-one will want to take a second bite. 

"You don't need to explain to anybody why your body is the way it is. Your body is your body and that is all the justification you need"

Never lose weight for anybody else, lose it for yourself and only yourself. If you want to change your body because deep down, you aren't happy, then that is okay. But don't change because of what anyone else might think of you. You are in charge of your body, nobody else is. 

I began my weight loss journey on this path, but I unfortunately made the fatal mistake of caring about what others thought about my appearance. 

Don't let anyone dictate to you how you should look. You are the captain of your own ship and no-one can tell you how to steer it to it's destination.

Embrace your body.

Embrace your size.

Make a change if you aren't comfortable, but only do it for yourself.