Taking inspiration and life lessons from Drag Queen reality stars…
If you want to talk confidence, take a look at the contestants of RuPaul’s drag race. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out, hunty. This reality show takes a group of established drag queens who need to show off their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent in order to compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. Through artistic challenges, the audience is introduced to the traditions, history (herstory), unique language and incredible talents of Drag as a performance art-form. These queens are people who have been through transformations like no other. They are judged by the original Queen of queens, RuPaul, the first drag queen supermodel and all-around legend.
The camp humour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (as Ginge often reminds me), but RuPaul’s consistant message of self-love is clear. Even taken in or out of context, just quotes from these incredible artists can make a huge difference to your day if you truly listen to them. There is heart, self-love and self-belief in every single queen on that show, and even when they are mixed with a little shade (comic bitchiness), the love is always there. I’m gonna use these quotes to support my message of self-love throughout this post, to add a little sparkle to a serious subject.
Also, I’m sorry this is a long read, I just got so passionate I couldn’t stop! Get comfy and enjoy:
My favourite thing to do is people-watching. I’ll daydream my lunch-breaks away watching people walk, talk and live. When I gained weight through undiagnosed hypothyroidism, I found myself people-watching ladies of a larger dress size. At first I would internally guess what dress size they were, and if it was higher or lower than mine. Then I would begin torturing myself, wondering how my body compared to theirs, which bits of them I preferred to my own and vice versa. I would take a step back and try and see from a more shallow character’s perspective if I would judge these women for their size. This lead to me becoming paranoid that I was one of those being judged, that I was the fat girl walking down the street that others compared themselves to. Finally, I would feel shame, thinking that I had been ‘sizeist’ for picking these women out of the crowd in the first place, if only for my own curiosity.
I raise these concerns with the people I am close to regularly, to which they always try to reassure me that if someone were looking at me, it’s because I have unusual hair or I was wearing a full petticoat swing skirt in the middle of the local shopping centre. He has a point.
I’m not spiritual, but when I say you only have one life, I mean it literally. Every second that is wasted on wishing for something else is a second that could have been used on yourself. My continuous cycle of judgement, comparison, suspicion and realisation actually lead me to a revelation: I’m never going to look like anyone else but me. Woah.
Before I explain, please understand that when I mention exercise in this post, I’m not talking about the healthy fitness side of exercise. I’m referring to the obsession that society has with being able to edit individual things about one’s self through a gym-orientated regime. We are faced with diagrams of desirable body parts and how they should look, proportions that are not achievable for 80% of body shapes and measurement ratios that could cause damage to certain people’s frames if they were to try too hard to achieve their ‘goal body’. Simply, you can’t always change the body shape you were born with, regardless of the excess fat that surrounds it.
Lets look at Nikee in the mirror (hello messy spare room!):
I like my boobs. I wish my butt and hips were bigger. A simple wish?
Here’s a scenario: I look at another woman’s butt and think ‘why is mine not that shape!?’ Facing facts, my butt is never going to be that shape. Could it be a similar shape though? I now have 2 choices:
CHOICE 1: I try and change my own butt. I settle on the idea that my body shape isn’t good enough and I begin a regime, hoping that it will resemble what I admired on that other woman’s body.
If you forced me 4 years ago to make a choice, it would have been this first option. I was willing to try anything to make my self ‘happier’ with what I saw in the mirror, if I had the energy. Some mornings I couldn’t move my body, other days I couldn’t get through a shift at work without a lunch nap. The doctors blamed my weight for the crippling depression and lethargy I was suffering from. When I protested I didn’t know what was causing my weight gain, I was faced with a BMI chart calling me obese. I was informed I could speak to a dietitian, but knowing at the time that wouldn’t help, I settled on rarely eating at all and crying myself to sleep every night (also not a healthy way to live). No matter what I told the doctors, they assumed my weight was down to overeating and not enough exercise. It wasn’t until I had a blood test for Glandular Fever that a nurse had the common sense to tick the box applied to thyroid testing. Two days later I get a phone call from the doctor saying I urgently needed to come back, I was weeks away from collapse and my heart was in danger. I’m then told that I basically don’t have a working thyroid gland, which in turn affects metabolism, energy levels, hormones, emotional stability, hair, skin, nails and libido. Hello hypothyroidism!
Here’s how choice 1 would have panned out: I look in the mirror and I’m disgusted, ashamed that I don’t have a ‘correctly proportioned’ figure and feeling bitter when I watch actresses on TV that do. I put all my energy (emotional and physical) into picturing my ‘new butt’. I envisage that other woman’s butt, and my jealousy when I first clapped eyes on the peachy derriere. I develop a complex about my shape, prodding and poking and squishing and molding. I change my diet and cut out foods that make me happy (from a foodie point of view, not a chemical one, don’t get me started on why bread is ‘designed’ to make us addicted to the rush of serotonin).
It takes months of sacrificing my spare time to work on exercises that I’ve been fed by google researching. I may very well reach my goal hip measurement, then I look in the mirror. There’s that butt I wanted.
Now what? Do magazines now tell me that it’s all about the small chest and big butt? I will never have a small chest, I started as a C cup at the age of 11 and kept growing. Have my thighs/boobs changed due to my different lifestyle? Or am I starting to look at my broad back and getting the familiar feelings of disdain?
Too many questions and not enough happiness. I have put all my energy into changing this one thing about myself, yet at the end of this ‘journey’ I’m left still having to learn to love a new body. This should have been step 1 the whole time!
This may seem ridiculous to society, but what if I want to remain plus size? What if I really don’t want to change anything else about myself, just created a more defined hourglass silhouette?
CHOICE 2: I learn to take ownership of my current butt, using my style and clever dressing to create a wholly more appealing shape for myself.
It may well turn out that the woman I’ve been envying was in turn actually picturing my boobs on herself the entire time. Even if I was a smaller dress size, I can’t change my waist/hip ratio without controlled corset wearing (which incidentally is called training, but has very little to do with exercise). This could help create my personal ‘ideal’ figure, an hourglass with a defined waist, and is something I will begin to blog about in the not to distant future!
I’m not saying that if you want to change your body through exercise, you should instead love your body as it is.
I’m saying that you need to love it before you change it, otherwise you will feel unsatisfied at the end of your journey.
So how on earth do you love yourself unconditionally? There is no answer. However, this is how I’ve become happier:
You have to look in the mirror. I don’t mean while you are brushing your hair, I mean take the time to sit and give that person staring back the attention they deserve. It’s a simple step but one so many women avoid. Do it naked, no makeup and no pretense.Your naked body deserves the most love, and you need to let yourself feel sexy like this!
This isn’t vanity. Don’t judge yourself! Why should you feel awkward in your own presence?! You have no one to justify yourself to, so take a moment to indulge. Take a mirror selfie at least once a week, smile at yourself and give yourself a mental compliment! You can’t rely on anyone else to do this, so do it for you. You look hot today!
I used to look at myself and think I wasn’t worth looking after, that I had passed my ‘prime’ and my body had let me down. I guess in some sense it was laziness, that I thought it would take too much effort to bring that person back. I covered what I was ashamed of, losing my image and everything that made me Nikee.
I want you to think of the person/people you love most in the world. Imagine them putting themselves down, picking apart their personality and appearance. They tell you they wish they looked like someone else. They tell you they find themselves repulsive, that they don’t deserve nice things or people’s attention. Don’t you want to tell them that you love them? That you wish everyone knew how awesome and beautiful they were and there’s a reason why they are a huge part of your life?
My best friend hates her arms. She points them out in pictures and is conscious of them in almost every outfit she wears. When she first showed me her wedding dress, I cried. She looked so beautiful, and the dress fitted every single part of her shape that I love. She instantly pointed out that she wanted to loose more weight off her arms before the wedding. When I look at her, what do I notice? She has the most awesome exaggerated pear shape. An itty bitty waist that’s so feminine and defined, then a perfectly round butt with big thighs and a lovely curvy shape. What’s the difference here? She has picked on a specific body part, yet I have looked at her overall shape. I love that girl!
This is what you need to do for yourself. Stop looking at small things you don’t like, and view the whole package that you have created so far. You need to apply those feelings of love and care to yourself. That person in the mirror is the center of your universe! Isn’t that crazy?! You only have one life, let yourself be happy.
I have mentioned previously in my blog that I was bullied for my height in school. Since learning to love myself, I can accept that if I wasn’t so tall, the weight that I gained when ill wouldn’t be so well distributed. I’m lucky that a lot of people agree I ‘carry’ my weight well, as it is all stretched out over my massive frame! My legs are mostly what contribute to my height, and thought once they seemed a burden, they are now one of my favourite personal features.
You are not living your life for anyone else, so why should you live wanting to look like someone else? Your body is incredible, it has grown with you and adapted to what you do every day. Yes you can change things purposefully, but your body is still going to change whether you like it or not. Things that you used to hate about yourself, things you may have been bullied for, can become your greatest asset.
What I’m trying to say is be aware that it’s still going to be your body at the end of the day. If you want to lose weight, good on you! Just please make sure you don’t sacrifice your happiness in order to change, understand that your body shape has it’s limitations. Learn to love your shape, because it may be the same even when some excess weight has gone. This is something society fails to understand time and time again; that body fat and body shape do not have to directly link.
I can honestly say I love myself. I don’t get sidetracked by the media telling me otherwise. I admire other people’s beautiful bodies and envy their natural shape, but I know that I have something no-body else has. Being individual is worth more to me than any ‘goal body’ that I may come across.
We will all have days when we are mean to ourselves, me included. I try to practice what I preach, yet I’ve often been given a verbal slap around the face by my friends when they catch me slagging myself off. It’s natural to want to better ourselves. But sometimes we need to take a step back and figure out why. Is it because someone else has made us feel that way, or if we have decided to give our body a new challenge? If it’s the latter, then I’m proud of you and I wish you every success. If it’s the former, than you need a Nikee/RuPaul pep talk and I’m here for you!