Remember you are beautiful you are valued and you are important

25 June 2019

We’ve all been there. We race through the New Year, life seems to pass by, and suddenly you’re looking at the calendar, sunny evenings, and the new stock of bikinis and floral fabrics in Topshop..................writes young Its Kushti to Rokker ambassador Lois Brookes-Jones. 

My G-d, it’s almost summer. No matter who you are, how you look, we’ve all had that moment of looking in the mirror with the same panic and critical eye we see Gordon Ramsey eyeing a poorly made grilled steak. You wonder how you managed to exist without screaming up to this point and begin to frantically type into the void of Google ‘How Do I Fix my Body for Summer’.  I’m here to close the laptop lid (albeit not too aggressively because those things are expensive) and tell you “We need to talk.”.

I want you to imagine that your relationship with your body is a real couple. What would this relationship look like, would it be a healthy one, or one that is rather toxic and should be blocked on all social media immediately. We act like the word ‘health’ is something to shy away from, representing nothing but the punishment of a gruelling workout and a limp salad that you tried to recreate from Pinterest. But this is because we haven’t had the ultimate break-up of our society’s relationship with food and physical well-being.

We’re taught to focus on calorie content, calories lost, and not to simply be mindful of what our bodies want or need to be nourished or enjoy. Have you ever eaten something and then instantly regretted it in the sense of realising that you didn’t really want it, or knowing that it just didn’t make your body feel good? This could be anything from a smoothie bowl to a Chinese buffet. This is something that needs to be listened to. We are not at war with our bodies, they are our home.

I propose that we switch our thinking to self-love and respecting our bodies, and its needs. This process or journey doesn’t require progress pictures or jumping on scales, in fact I wouldn’t recommend either of these. This is the best kind of break up makeover that simply requires you to invest into yourself, and take steps into doing exercise that you enjoy, when you feel like you want to. You can’t ‘give up’ on this, because it’s simply paying attention to yours truly. Tuning in to your needs, wants, without necessarily putting an unrealistic goal on top of that encompasses health.

I am a person who has experienced eating disorders and a poor sense of body image, being diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia in my early teens, and then completely going the opposite way with a compulsive overeating disorder in my later teen years. Part of the reason that this cycle continued is because I ultimately did not heal my toxic relationship with food as either something to avoid or over-consume. I didn’t respect my body or myself and shifted simply from viewing exercise as a necessary evil to stay below seven stone, to a punishment that I didn’t enjoy and didn’t want to engage with as a plus-size person.

Part of recovering from this was realising that food and exercise is to be enjoyed in watering the garden that is my body and my own life experience. Although I am currently undergoing my own weight loss journey, I no longer feel obligated to look down on myself on how my body looks because I know that ultimately, I am simply transforming my life to one of self-care that is long-term and sustainable in loving myself. Every step of this journey is to be appreciated. There’s no specific weight goal of what my body should look like, no restrictions, no frequent regulation. It’s enjoying my existence in respecting my home, which allows for a much better relationship with food, exercise, and loving yourself at a time where many companies profit off our feelings of inadequacy.

You might be wondering how this links with being GRT (Gypsy, Roma Traveller). As a community we need to ensure we check in with ourselves regarding self-perception, emotional well-being, and issues relating to eating disorders. Whether you are a man, woman, or non-binary individual, we all have the capacity to suffer from mental health issues that can impact our physical and emotional well-being. I want this article to break down the barriers of being able to talk about these feelings and know that is it shared. You are valued, beautiful, and important. In a society where we are marginalised it can be easy to forget to look at how this can further impact our relationships with ourselves and others in their physical appearance and perceptions.

To get the latest from Lois follow her YouTube channel: LoisTheRomni