A while ago I saw a cute cropped top in a clothing store that I wanted to get. It wasn’t something I would usually feel drawn to, but I felt differently this time. This top is very simple, cut in from the shoulders and sitting slightly above my belly button. Usually I would think these tops looked too cute, too young, and I would just walk away. But to be more honest, I would not wear these tops because I felt they exposed too much of what I judged to be my weakness – my boniness.
I decided to get the top.
The first time I wore it, I was self-conscious. The top was loose on my body, and it was an extra small size! So I wore a cardigan on top of it. I went through in my head everything I could think of to fix the top so I could better accept myself. It was crazy.
The second time I wore the top, I decided to just go for it. I wore it just on its own – no cardigan, and unaltered. The bagginess which I had felt the first time I wore it somehow seemed to have lessened. The top was the same, unchanged, but I was different when I wore it, and there was a big difference felt. I wore it with a pair of high-waisted leggings to keep my belly button and waist warm, and a pair of supportive high heels. I decided to see how different it would be, if I just chose to walk with the whole of me. I started to love this top!
When I wore this top disconnected to myself, what I heard and felt were the judgments from myself as well as from the world on self-image. I was afraid of wearing this top, because I knew just by putting it on and walking out on the street with it, I would be bombarded by continuous comments from everywhere, such as “Look how skinny she is, I wish I was more like her”, “How disgusting that boniness, she must be sick!”. Which made me wonder… do the thoughts of how we see ourselves actually come from us? Or are they fed into us?
Are we being told by the world, in the images we see and the magazines we read, that our body image has to be a certain way? Do we feel that if we are not this way, then there is something wrong with us? Isn’t it true then that there is something wrong with every single person on this planet, as there can never be any perfection? But does that stop us from seeking perfection?
Working in the image, expressive arts and fashion industry, everyday I see the striving for the perfection of our body image. Our body has to be perfect, our skin has to be perfect, the way we express has to be perfect. When we are not perfect, there is no acceptance. We obsess about appearing to be perfect with the alteration of our clothes, our body parts digitally and/or physically, as well as by hiding our flaws in any way possible. There is also no acceptance of others, as gossip and cruel comments on each other’s body shape is also rampant.
Wanting to be perfect is a guarantee that we remain empty, as we hover on the surface and do not venture deeper. This emptiness is seen in the eyes of many beautiful women and men, as well as in the lack of connection we have as human beings. So what are we telling the world when in this industry we display images of “perfection”? Are we not also telling the world that emptiness is the way to live and to be?
From not liking the top that I bought, to loving it, has been a process of deepening an acceptance of myself, and my body image. Accepting myself with tender loving understanding unlocked a power of not needing to hide or change myself. It was acceptance, not a need to be perfect, that deepened the appreciation and joy I felt for myself. If we lived this way every day, how could we not be irresistible, to ourselves, and others?
We are amazing human beings, and emptiness is never our natural way. It is our natural birthright to express how irresistible we are, and by accepting ourselves, and our bodies, we can support each other to return to the deep power and beauty that can be expressed through us.
By Adele Leung, Image Director and Fashion Stylist, Hong Kong
You may also enjoy:
* Caring for our body from love, and building a true relationship with it:
Read about Body Image at UniMed Living.
* What if who you really are is glorious? Consider Self Esteem in a new light.
* How we live affects how we feel about our bodies: Jessica Williams talks about Body Image: Vintage pictures vs Modern ideals