Back in September I wrote about going back to the gym and my first experience of a yoga class alone (I am yet to return, I have accepted that I will just go through life on the edge of a meltdown). In all honesty, the reason I started going to the gym was because I had just moved home from university and my brother no longer lives here so I ran out of things to occupy my time pretty quickly. All of my friends already had proper jobs and there is only so many times you can tidy your room and avoid looking at your inbox in case there’s a rejection lay in wait there. I wasn’t in a good place.
I started to go to the gym because it was an hour and a half of my day where I had to be somewhere, doing something that didn’t involve starring at a screen. Whilst it was hard at first it soon became the bit of ‘me time’ that I craved. Since starting work it has kept me afloat. It is the one hour that I can turn a podcast on and ignore emails and the nagging feeling that I should be sending more pitches out.
I also wasn’t happy with how I looked. I know what you’re thinking- ‘is anyone?’ but a Masters year of drinking far too much and living off convenience food had left me a slightly podgier version of myself. I wasn’t working out- at all (unless you count walking back from nights out with a detour to the chicken shop). Over the last 7 months I have noticed a bit of a difference. I had my January graduation as a goal to comfortably fit into a size 12 dress and feel good about it. And I did. I look back at my undergraduate graduation- I’m wearing a lace purple dress that is a little too tight and completely the wrong cut and in every single picture I have my hand in front of my stomach. I don’t look happy and I hate looking back on the pictures because I remember how uncomfortable I felt all day.
This time around I bought a new dress and heels that fit properly, I knew I had lost a little bit of weight and I stood taller. Instead of trying to make myself as small as possible I actually look happy to be there in all of the pictures.
I have had a few comments from people since saying how slim I look or how skinny my legs are etc etc and I am almost disappointed in myself that I feel a twinge of pride. As women we grow up learning that if you are thin and pretty you will be successful and any girl who falls by the wayside will either have to be the funny best friend or the clever one that better hope she glows up eventually. It’s almost impossible to get rid of the voice in your head that says pasta is a ‘naughty’ meal or if you don’t do 10 minutes more of the cross trainer you’ll never get rid of your stomach.
I grew up on a diet of Rachel Green and Samantha Jones- both undeniably funny, beautiful women who didn’t look like me. I couldn’t see anyone who had the same body type to me and whilst I am so happy that this isn’t necessarily the case now I wonder if we will ever get past the idea that skinny is better. I have definitely seen the positive benefits of the gym- both physical and mental but I think it will take a little bit longer to unlearn 23 years’ worth of bullshit beauty standards.