I love my body. There, I've said it. I'm 38, married mum of two children. I'm 5ft8, a size 18 with size 8 feet.
I read a quote the other day that said 'In a world fueled by self hatred, loving yourself is a rebellious act.' It struck a cord with me. See the way I feel now is not how I have always felt.
When I say I love my body, I actually mean it. I don't just accept this is the 'card I've been dealt', a phrase I have heard a lot through my life. I'm not making the most of a 'bad job' or simply tolerating what I cannot be bothered to change.
This body I have is what I have. I love cooking, eating and drinking, I love walking and being and playing with my children. I don't gorge on food, I don't sit secretly eating, shameful of my actions. I love good food, I hate processed food, I never touch a chicken nugget. As a family we eat full fat. Deprivation is off the menu, eating till we are full is on. Not stuffed (although we all know how that feels and we all do it - occasionally).
For the first 20 years of my adult life (I tend to think back from when I was 15, although it started well before that) I pretended to love what I had, lurching from diet to diet, exercise to self loathing and back again.
My hatred - and that's what it was - for myself led to super destructive behavior. Mainly when it involved boys. You see a Big Girl like me should just be grateful for what she was offered. If the fit guy in a bar showed interested in me it wasn't because I was smiley and open it was because I had big boobs, that was all I had right?
Self loathing led to some horrific decisions, lots involving very drunk nights where eventually I loved me because me was drunk and I could cope with the distorted vision of what was going on.
Why am I writing this? Lots of reasons, in an age where trolling is a real thing I want my daughter to know and appreciate just how amazing both physically and emotionally she is and I want my son to understand that as a guy at times you have a power that you don't even know you have. Be kind. Always.
I remember fancying a boy like mad at school. Now, I wasn't in the cool gang, I was decidedly geeky and awkward. NO ONE ever asked me out and I never had a single teenage romance. My parents were amazing and I always had what I wanted to wear, but I just wasn't your Kate Moss shape in those days (which come to think of it I'm still not). Now, this boy. I told a really good male friend of mine how much I fancied this bloke, he took it upon himself to tell the crush. As I write this I'm wondering what was worse. What 'The Crush' said or the fact my friend who I trusted and cared about told me.
The sentence that was delivered to me was 'Becca? Yeah she's cool and everything but she is fucking ugly'. Boom. There it was.
As, teenagers we all say some pretty shit things, but this became a theme, I'd meet people (mainly boys) and I'd get to know them, I'd develop some kind of crush and either my mates would cop off with them or the person doing the digging would deliver some diabolical line like the one above.
The 10 years from 18-28 were like a bloody merry go round, 'they' ain't wrong when they say 'do what you always do and you get what you always get'. This came down to friendships and my relationships. The underlying beat? I never felt good enough.
Common theme I hear you say, not unusual. And yes you're right. Except for one thing. My mum hated herself, and I thought she was beautiful, I still do. I used to look at her hating herself and critising her body. Telling herself and me that 'big girls' should wear dark clothes, cover up, disappear. 'People Like Us' should accept what we were given and get on with it.
This wasn't because Mum wanted me to feel bad, for her it was protecting me. I totally get that, and it was genuinely a case of nature v. nurture. Something in me knew I was 'ok' but all I had heard was that I wasn't.
The light bulb moment was when my first (and very controlling) marriage ended. I dated someone who was not my type, he was sort of funny and sort of ok and so I thought it would kind of be ok. 'Till he dumped me. And do you know what he said 'You're a lovely person and probably one of the best women I have met but you are just not fanciable'.
THE BEST GIFT I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN.
Inside something stirred, the 'People like Us' element rattled around my head, and then I looked at Esme, by then a 3.5 year old who was (and still is) the spitting image of me and something inside snapped. There was no bend, it was explosive.
Weeks and weeks of Person Focused Therapy ensued, other than motherhood, the toughest project I had ever embarked on. It wasn't just a case of feeling ugly, what I realized was that every decision I had ever made had been based on making the best of bad job! The relief was huge. I was responsible for my own decisions and the way I felt about me.
My body was mine, and if I wanted to change it I could. If I wanted a six pack I could have it, but I would need to sacrifice the things I loved - cooking and entertaining and feeding.
I met my husband around this big transition and he will tell you about the hideous mornings of six or seven outfits, tears, shouting and sweaty piles of clothes on the bedroom floor. God he must have loved me!
When it came to Chris, he'd been my friend and neighbour and a few times I'd thought what an amazing partner he would have made to 'someone', but never me. Never ever me. He was established, had a job and career he loved and loved sport. All sport, watching it and playing it. What on earth would he see in me?
We courted. Properly like they do in films. I was in love with his head a long time before I was in love with him. And yet again the feelings of being a 'lovely girl but not fanciable' crept up a lot, but then to realise and understand that he didn't just love me he fancied me, he loved the way I looked, the way I dressed. EVERYTHING. I couldn't believe it!!!!
Well, I do now, I believe myself, no more bravado, I am Becca, I am 38 and I am a size 18.