Have you ever had the joy of someone telling you that they love you "just the way you are", that you are beautiful "just the way you are?"
Have you then looked at that person and wondered if they have lost the plot? Have you looked in the mirror and wished that you also loved yourself "just the way you are"?
I have had those things said to me, by family members, ex partners and well meaning friends, and although, yes, it is very nice to hear those words which at times can be appreciated, I am afraid I will never be found saying the same sentiments back to anyone that I have in my life who I love (be it family, friends or spouse). It isn't because I don't love them "just the way they are", as I sincerely hope it is obvious that I do, with all my heart and soul. No matter what shape or size my loved ones are, no matter what hairstyle, look, or tattoo they are sporting, they will always carry a piece of my heart with them, regardless of outside appearances.
The honest reason I wouldn't say those words to them is because they may not be happy with themselves "just the way they are". As a result they may have lost or reduced that sparkle that makes me love them all the more. I would rather help them get that sparkle back, in which ever way I can, than fob them off with something that isn't really going to assist them.
We have all made the mistake, especially when we have been in a committed marriage or relationship, or if we have become stuck in a rut, or if the depression has decided it wants to join us for a tango. You look in the mirror, and you think to yourself "This isn't me anymore, I'm not happy with what I see right now." And although, yes, hearing those words will initially make you feel better, lets be frank, it's only a quick fix. Give it a day or two, a crap day at work, an argument, whatever, and yet again you are looking at your reflection and feeling sad.
So, with this in mind, what would I do with that person who is in that boat, hell what did I do to myself when I was in that boat? My suggestion is writing down the things that make you happy, that make you feel better about yourself, then putting those things into action. If you were happier being a few dress sizes smaller, then work on becoming a few dress sizes smaller again. If you like wearing a certain item of clothing, but only save it for special occasions, well guess what? I am going to tell you to get it out of that wardrobe right now and put it on, right now! So what if you are wearing your vintage dress (or whatever item it is) to grab milk from the store. If it makes you feel a million dollars, then that item should be the thing you wear the most. If you like wearing make up, painting your nails, doing mad things with your hair, getting your eyebrows done, wearing false lashes, then do it, even if it is to do the housework. If you like dancing to a certain song or playlist, play it loud my friends! If something makes you smile, and makes your world a happier place, then embrace it and make it a part of your everyday life.
I made the decision to get fit and healthy again, plus I wanted to be back in my slimmer clothes for my Birthday. I dusted off my neglected gym membership and gave it some welly. Even on the days I really didn't want to go I made myself, because I had a picture in my mind of who I wanted to be, plus I had a picture of who I had become, the person I didn't want to stay being. I also did a two week stint of slim-fast to kick start matters, and I made healthier food choices, e.g no more bread, very occasional take-away treats rather every couple of week take-away treats. I am now back into my size 10's and I feel a lot happier. I still eat and enjoy food, but I've also brought my old 'gym bunny' persona back to life. And now that part of me is back, I realize how much I have missed that fitness loving part of myself. I now hand on heart enjoy going, and I am starting to make a little small talk with some of the other regulars. This has also, as a result encouraged me to look after other aspects of myself, and I feel more comfortable with the woman who looks back at me in the mirror these days.
It may seem crazy but all these little things, no matter how minor, can make us who we are. They make us stand out, they make us feel good about ourselves. They give us a certain amount of individuality. The sad thing is, with day to day life, we can lose those things along the way, the things that make us smile. We then wind up looking in the mirror and wondering who the heck that person is staring back at us. I think as individuals, men and women, we need to remember those things that make us who we are. If it's doing 15k runs, or dancing badly to that cheesy Disney song with the kids. If it's singing at karaoke at the local pub, or mixing cocktails with your friends. If its hunting in the charity shops for a one off bargain, or using your designer bag when you go to the supermarket. If its spraying yourself with perfume, or or playing silly games with your children, which then makes them, as well as you laugh. If it's pounding your backside at the gym, or shutting out the world whilst listening to music. They all matter, and they are all important. So if, right now, that little something is not an aspect of your life, the last thing I will be saying to you is "I love you just the way you are". The reason I won't be saying that is because I want to see that spark, that thing that makes you 'you'. We can all lose our way and put out that light from time to time, every single one of us. But guess what, we can always get it back too. And that, my friends is exactly what I will be encouraging you to do, go and get it, and 'you' back. Be happy again.