Some of us – most of us, in fact – are still hypersensitive to judgment and comment about how we look. Photo: Getty
When I was young and single I was constantly seeking approval about my looks – and mostly from boys rather than my mum, of course. (Sorry, Mum, I know you had my best interests at heart, but it’s a jungle out there and a girl needs to get ahead). These days I’m still conscious about my looks, so I train hard and eat well, mostly for my health but also with my appearance in mind.
But there’s a profound difference between how I feel about the way others see me now compared to when I was a teenager growing up in Newcastle. And that difference is that these days I don’t really care too much about what others think or say. I dress to suit myself, and to have fun with fashion. And I train to give myself (as much as possible at my age) the kind of healthy, athletic physique I want to get around in. What others think is their business.
One of the reasons I’m pleased to have left all that negative crap behind was driven home to me like a headbutt on a house brick when I was chatting to a gorgeous 23-year-old personal trainer who works out of my local gym. She’s naturally slim, trains hard, eats well and looks svelte and beautiful. She was all bent out of shape because some bloke had told her that she was too thin and had “the body of a 14-year-old boy”. I would have loved to have given this clown an earful and sent him home to his mummy to learn some manners, but for our young personal trainer his words hurt and spun her into an uncharacterstic headspace of self-doubt and uncertainty.
I just wanted to give her a hug, somehow transmit some love and support, and hopefully send with it a bit of wisdom and understanding from a mature-aged woman who has to get her kit off in front of a camera more often than she’d like.
Some of us – most of us, in fact – are still hypersensitive to judgment and comment about how we look. But if we are ready to receive compliments then we should be equally ready to receive less welcome observations. It’s when we let comments – positive or negative – define and influence us that we let other people take control of how we feel about ourselves. Worse, negative comments most often come from people whose opinions we don’t value, anyway!
Let’s not get all PC about expressing what we think. We should be able to say what we want, but we should always say it with love.