The start of this post is going to make me sound like a bit of a <insert your swear word of choice here> so just hang in there and read to the end, won’t ya?
I am a bitch.
Or correction, I was a bitch.
Not so much the snaking around your best friend’s back and being a two-faced piece of dirt bitch, more the EURGH LOOK HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT WHAT’S HER FACE IS WEARING IN THIS PHOTO, DOESN’T SHE LOOK FAT? kinda bitch.
A lot of my teenage and early adult years were spent critiquing other girls from the safety of my own home, my own car, my best friends’ houses, over the phone, y’know, pretty much anywhere I could discuss in great detail without being found out.
We’d devour entire holiday albums complete with 57456 bikini snaps on Facebook over a cup of tea and Galaxy Cookie Crumble.
We’d whisper about the girls who walked past us in tiny crop tops whilst out shopping in Brighton.
We’d text each other to go online and look at blah blah blah’s new profile pic.
We’d snigger about whose stretch marks we’d seen in the PE changing rooms.
We were, quite honestly, horrible.
And I guess, looking back, it was a kind of coping mechanism. A way to point out everyone else’s ‘flaws’ and the things that stopped them looking like an air-brushed model in a magazine, so that it didn’t matter so much if we didn’t look that way either.
We’d never say those things to people’s faces, but there was some sort of hideous thrill in tearing apart other people without them knowing. Like we had one up on them.
Now, I’d like to say that as I grew up and became y’know, an actual functioning adult in society, I saw the error of my ways and packed it in. Became nice, friendly, less obsessed with appearance. More open to the idea of body shapes and sizes that differed to the media’s perception of beauty, but nope.
It wasn’t until the sort of comments that I was used to sharing with my gal pals in secret started appearing in my blog comments that I really realised how hurtful, how unfair, how wrong, my behaviour had been.
‘You have such a nice, small, skinny face, you’d never guess how fat you actually were.’
‘You look like a fat sausage in that skirt.’
‘It must suck to be the fattest girl in that group of bloggers’.
It hurt, it really effing hurt.
There were days when I questioned whether I was really strong enough for this whole documenting my life online thing, whether I had a thick enough skin or would I’d end up driving myself into a self-hating ball of sadness with no return.
The shock of seeing those comments laid out in black and white on my WordPress admin page made me question why people felt like they were entitled to an opinion, why strangers were obsessed with critiquing my appearance.
And then it hit me.
Although I wasn’t actively going out of my way to tell people I didn’t like the way they looked, I still had those same thoughts. I still gossiped and whispered to my friends. I still had the exact same mentality as the strangers who were trolling me.
I wasn’t any better, I was part of the problem.
Y’see us girls have had a bit of a tough ride in this whole accepting our own body thing. Instead of growing up into a society that welcomes and encourages women of all shapes, sizes and colours, we’re told that unless you’re a size 8 white woman with an ample chest, you’re not pretty or beautiful or worthy.
And if that wasn’t enough, we’re openly encouraged to have an opinion on the way other women look. To put one woman up against another and discuss which one we like more.
How many hot or not pages did you see splashed across your fave magazines growing up?
How many worst dressed lists?
How many ‘these stars have gained weight’ front page features?
We’re programmed to feel entitled to a say on the way complete strangers look. And y’know what? That absolutely sucks. It really, really sucks.
There’s more to all of us than the number in the label of our jeans. Fuck, there’s more to all of us than the way our legs look in those stupid bloomin’ jeans. They’re designed to keep us warm, keep our legs protected from the elements, not to be a defining part of who we are.
And since I’ve realised that, like really, really realised that, the more I’ve started to like myself too.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken quite a long time to change the way I think. I have to chase the bitchy, negative thoughts out of my head with positive, ‘hey, that girl can where whatever the flip she wants, she looks sassy and confident af, who are you to think any different?’
Every time I think something mean about someone else, I have the better Hannah, the cooler Hannah, the Hannah I like most answer back with ‘shuttup bitch, she’s looks absolutely slammin and you’re just jealous that you’re not confident enough with the way YOU look to see it.’
The less I feel the need to find flaws in other people, the less I feel the need to find flaws in myself.
It’s a pretty happy circle I’ve managed to get myself stuck into and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Because if we’re just a little bit kinder to ourselves and to each other, the world might just seem like a slightly sweeter place to be.
Oh and here’s some photos of me in shorts because the way my thighs look in them literally makes no difference to who I am as a person, and the sooner I see that, the sooner the rest of the world will too.
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Photos by Bang On Style