As most of us are getting ready for the holidays, I’ve been thinking about what I want for Christmas this year. I quickly realised that I only have one wish, and I would like to share it with you. Because the thing is, in order to make it come true, I need your help.
You deserve to prioritise your own mental health.
The holidays are a time of cosiness, happiness and being together with the people you love. But I also know that for many of us, this can be an especially vulnerable time. On social media it looks like everyone is having the time of their lives. It’s tough when you feel like that’s not the case for you.
My Christmas wish is that you remember that this is not reality. People don’t post about the less-than-ideal family dynamics and upsetting discussions around the dinner table. Some of us might even spend the holidays alone, as was the case for me the past three years. I had a great time with my cats and my favourite movie (Pride), but that doesn’t look as fancy on Instagram as unwrapping gifts surrounded by smiling people.
The truth is that family gatherings, specifically the ones during the holidays, used to cause me a lot of stress. I was constantly overthinking everything, from my clothes to my make-up to how much I was eating to the way I was sitting. I did everything I could to not draw attention to my body and avoid being on the receiving end of hurtful comments. I got them anyway.
My Christmas wish is that you surround yourself with kindness and that you make sure you feel comfortable. You deserve to prioritise your own mental health.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
These past couple of weeks I’ve been seeing a nauseating increase in weight loss adverts. This is a time where many people, specifically women, feel insecure about their bodies. The diet industry relies on that, because can you imagine how many companies would go out of business if we started accepting our bodies? The more we hate ourselves, the more money this industry makes by selling us things that at best don’t work in the long run and at worst can cause serious and permanent damage to our bodies. But because this stuff is everywhere, it’s incredibly difficult to not feel like we need to change our bodies or be careful with how much we eat.
My Christmas wish is that you remember there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying food. You’re not ‘being bad’ for eating what you want and you don’t need to pay for it afterwards. There’s no ‘cheat day’ because you’re not doing anything wrong. And if aunt Edith comments on your getting a second (or third) serving, that has nothing to do with you.
Let’s share a positive message!
It’s so much more normalised to feel bad about your body than it is to be happy and confident, so it’s almost expected of people to speak negatively about themselves, especially during or after a festive meal (but again, you’ll notice how it’s almost exclusively women who do this). I think there are much more interesting things to talk about. Wouldn’t you agree?
My Christmas wish is that you’re mindful that comments that may seem innocent to you have an impact on others. From a very young age children notice how their parents and other family members talk about themselves. For years, my thin mother and grandmother saying that they had to make up for ‘letting themselves go’ during the holidays was a reminder to me that there must be something wrong with my own body because it was significantly bigger than theirs. So don’t say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say to your younger sibling, cousin or child. Let’s use this opportunity to share a positive message!
So my wish for the holidays and for the new year is that you are kind. To yourself and to your loved ones. Enjoy food without guilt. Listen to your body instead of magazines or television. Be unapologetically yourself. Let’s make 2023 about being grateful to our bodies rather than trying to change them.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you want. As you’ve probably noticed already, I can talk your ear off about this topic (or any topic, really). I can also recommend some books or podcasts of people who talk about these things way more eloquently than I could. If you would like some more body positivity in your social media feed, here are some of my favourite instagram accounts:
Jameelajamil, danaemercer, adrianthorpe, chloeincurve, fatangryblackgirl, virgietovar, curvynyome, stephanieyeboah, meganjaynecrabbe, thebirdspapaya, kenziebrenna, alexlight and, of course, THE QUEEN lizzobeeating
I wish you all wonderful holidays with great food and full hearts,
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