When you feel crap about your body, remember this
30 million copies. That’s the number of records that David Cassidy sold over his lifetime. With 24 gold and platinum recordings, sell-out tours and an official fan club bigger than the Beatles’ to his name, I’m sure you’ll agreed that he got a fair amount done in his life, but do you know what his last words were?
‘So much wasted time’.
So much wasted time! So much wasted time? This man sung Daydreamer and was nominated for Grammys! All I currently have to show for my 26 years are seven ailing houseplants and a poor credit rating.
I know you clicked on this to find out how to snap out of a bad body image day and so far you have been regaled with trivia about the lead singer of The Partridge family, but stick with me. Because as much as David Cassidy’s last utterance terrifies me, it also motivates me to stop scrolling eBay listings of things I’ll never buy, but also stops me engaging in one particularly unhelpful behaviour that used to totally plague me: bad body image thoughts.
A couple of years ago I absolutely hated my body. Thoughts about how much I loathed my thighs or begrudged my full stomach were on a loop in my head all day, every day. The only thing on my mind was how to change my body. And whilst I’ve been working hard to accept the way my body looks, occasionally the self-loathing, the temptation to run a few more miles or to cut carbs in order to change my body creep back in and I’ll have a day or two where look at myself differently in the mirror. It’s not surprising, really. Even though I’ve worked really hard to accept myself and have vowed to never diet again or punish myself with exercise, the adverts are still on TV trying to convince me to do otherwise, weight loss teas still creep into my Instagram feed, diet talk still permeates every social space I enter.
So today, when I find myself in a hole like that, I call upon the words of David Cassidy: it’s so much wasted time.
When I look back on my life, will I wish that I had spent more time picking myself apart in the mirror, or will I wish that I had just accepted my cellulite-dappled thighs and my sloping chin and just gotten on with things? Will I wish that I had forced myself to do more push-ups and eat fewer pizzas, or will I be grateful for time whiled away with friends and sharing the experience of delicious food? Will I wish I spent more time in the gym or more time discovering new places? Will you wish you spent more time comparing my body to people you don’t know on Insta or spent time with people I love?
Although I can’t speak from direct experience, a couple of years ago, my beloved grandmother had a heart attack and had to undergo major surgery. Whilst she sat, tiny and fragile and yellow from blood loss in her hospitable bed, I admitted to her that I was worried about her having such a huge operation. And, when faced with the very real prospect of her own mortality, do you know what she said to me?
‘Look Cait, if the operation works, it works, and if it doesn’t, then I’m really glad I was a size 8 at one point in my life’
No, she didn’t say that. She said ‘If it works, it works and if it doesn’t, hasn’t this all been fun?’
I’m happy to add that those were not her last words and that my grandmother has gone on to say many things, including, ‘Did you get those napkins I posted to you?’ just five minutes ago. But the point stands to reason, that when all is said and done, the last thing on your mind will be your dress size. Because it’s not important. The least remarkable thing about your life will be the way you looked whilst you lived it, so it’s probably a good idea to stop wasting your time on hating your body in a futile attempt to change it.
So whenever I fall back into wasting time thinking about how I ‘need’ to change my body, I remind myself that it’s a waste of tie and precious brain space. There’s more important things I want to think about! I want to learn new languages, and know how to make meringues and finally understand what a backstop is. I refuse to let my brain be hijacked by a patriarchal, money-grabbing industry that thrives solely on making women give up their time, money and energy on feeling bad about themselves. So when you fall into a hole of wishing you could lose ten pounds, it might be worth asking yourself what else could you be doing right now. Is looking up a new diet plan productive? Is criticising yourself conducive to living a life where you acceptance and getting on with the things you want to do? And most importantly, what would David Cassidy do?