There is a mountain of research revealing unequivocally that what people want from their leaders today is changing, and changing dramatically. And the good news is, women have never been better placed to lead, as we transition from an old style of leadership based on command and control, short term…
Screw the skinny jeans, you’re a Goddess God damn it!
As we lean into a new year, many of us will be reflecting on the year that was and dream about the year that is to be. What we have done, how we feel about it, and what we will make of another year, another opportunity to ‘get it all right’.
I had one hell of a year last year. Wrote and published my first book, achieved incredible things at work, watched my son finish primary school, and did a whirlwind book launch that has seen me across TV, radio, magazines and seemingly everywhere online (or so lovely people keep telling me). It has been quite extraordinary, with more to come, and I have incredible excitement for 2013 – a second book, starting my PhD (gulp), a change in my work patterns, important trip to New York in March, Luca starting high school (another gulp), and lot’s of writing, dreaming and scheming. Very blessed to have so much to look forward to.
But there has been a shadow over the past six months, that only people who have ever had body issues will understand (I think that is most of us by the way). That shadow has been about how I am feeling inside my own skin. How I feel when I look in the mirror. How I feel when I get dressed in the morning. And how that feeling reflects on every other thing that I do.
I am a ‘normal’ sized woman – a size 12-14 – perfectly acceptable and within my healthy BMI range for my height. I look ‘normal’, I wear gorgeous clothes, not to mention the shoes, and I generally feel attractive when I leave the house in the morning. Not too bad then you might say. But when it came to the dream that was launching my book, the very last thing I wanted to do was be on TV or have my picture taken.
Having grown up acting and being on the screen, I had it drummed in to me from an early age that you needed to be thin as ‘the camera adds ten pounds’. Words to put the fear of God into anyone with the smallest body issues. And I knew that when I saw myself on screen, as when I see myself in photos, I would not like what I saw. Never mind the message I was delivering and how passionately I believed in it, or the feedback I was getting on the book and the hunger that I know exists for women everywhere to hear it – all I could think about was my appearance.
Like many women, and far too many young girls today, I have always had a lot of my personal identity and self worth based on how I look, a derailing perspective, as many of you may understand.
Now I am not an overly vain person. Sure I like to look nice, but I am not overly concerned with myself. But I have always had issues with my body. Being a dancer and then actress from a very young age, how I looked was always what was focused on in the world I was in. I was never the naturally skinny girl and always had to work hard to keep my weight down. In my teenage years I developed what could only be called an eating disorder. I would starve myself, then binge, then starve, then try and eat normally, and so the cycle would continue. I eventually became quite thin in my twenties, remarkably thin, meaning people would literally comment on it, which made me feel very proud and successful – yes I finally did it. And so on it went.
I lost all 28 kilos of baby weight within 9 months of giving birth to my son, and was ‘perfect’ again. And on it went again until a few years ago when after a particularly brutal break up, ensuing heartbreak, and spiritual hibernation, the weight came on. In all of that time, I was pretty unwell, as those who know my story have heard. I was most unwell when I was at my thinnest – completely working myself into the ground, living on a plane, drinking like a fish, and eating very little. Oh those magical twenties, hey?
Fast forward to now. I am the healthiest I have been in my adult life. I have energy to burn (most days), I drink green juice, I do yoga, I walk everyday, I sleep 8 hours a night, and I feel fit, vital and alive. The only thing ‘missing’ from my view of perfect health are the size 6 jeans I used to wear when I felt like I had all my shit together (when really, I was hot crazy mess).
So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we hold ourselves back because of the image in our head of what we think we ‘should’ look like? Oh how I hate the word ‘should’. And why do so many of us not move forward with our dreams and our lives because of it? What if Oprah had said all those years ago that she would only start her TV show when she was a size 2? Or if Adele has said she won’t release her first album because she doesn’t like how she looks performing, so will wait until she is a size 4? It sounds totally ludicrous. Of course these brilliant women need to put their gifts out into the world, no one cares what size they are, the world just wants their magic. Of course.
So why can’t we do that for ourselves? Why do we berate ourselves, limit ourselves and undermine our place in the world because we think we are not what society wants in terms of the dress size we wear?
It is time to say enough. An article in Sunday Life a few weeks ago with the cover story headline ‘the rise and rise of the slightly fatter woman’ was a revolution. Even though I think the word fat is incredibly ugly, no matter what size someone is it is a word used to hurt (think children in the playground teasing each other and the issues that can cause for a lifetime), the article was illuminating because it shone a spotlight on the growing number of women who refuse to be defined by their size. They refuse to be defined by societies definition of what they should look like. They refuse to be anorexic or bulimic as the writer herself was, thin but spending all her time making herself ill to be acceptable. These women, like Adele, are standing up saying I am healthy and happy and f**k you if you can’t deal with that, I don’t care. And more power to them.
They are paving the way for women everywhere to know that it is ok to be happy in your skin, regardless of what you look like in the mirror. It is ok to be self confident as you pull on your size 14 jeans, and know you look smokin’ hot in them as well thank you very much. That it’s ok to see your slightly fuller face in the photograph with your child and see both of your glowing faces, not the wrinkles around your eyes, as one Mum reported on Huffington Post, which went viral almost instantly. Take the photo she says, even if you don’t want to, your kids see your beauty not your lines.
It’s time to rise up beyond self-limiting beliefs. It’s time, way beyond time one might say. As my gorgeous girlfriend Taren said to me way back in March last year when I was talking about how fabulous I would look in my skinny jeans for my book launch when I was a size 8 again, “F**k the skinny jeans Megan, you are a Goddess God damn it”. She sees the light in me that shines through, no matter what size I am. She sees the wisdom and the beauty, not the dress size. May we all have friends like that, who can remind us that the power lies within us. And may we all realise it and know that as our own truth, and live from that place.
If you relate to this post, please share it by hitting the buttons below, or feel free to post it on your blog. I would also love to hear from you in the comments below about your own experiences. The more we can rise up beyond our self limiting beliefs, with support from each other, the better, happier and healthier we will all be. Blessings.
First published on The Wellness Warrior blog.