Friday, June 7, 2013

The REAL Fairy Tale Story

As a young girl I grew up, as many of us did, with the classic Disney fairy tales; Aladdin, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, I fell ever so in love with the idea of being a Princess rescued by her handsome Prince, white horse and all! Despite my mother telling me there would be no Prince and that I had to be my own saviour in life, I always kept the dream happily in the back of my mind, in a pretty little box.
Fast forward to 2013 and I have certainly grown up and my mother was indeed right about one thing, I see no Prince and I certainly don't see a white pony, but that's not to say that the fairy tale is dead in today's modern society, just that the face of the fairy tale has changed quite dramatically from what I envisioned as a child.
The fairy tale has changed it's game. Today's damsels don't need to be rescued from a tower or awoken with a kiss, there are no witches casting spells, or hunters tracking us down attempting to cut our hearts out (as directed by an evil Queen). Instead today's damsels are dealing with something much worse than a cranky witch with a bad attitude and a poison apple, today's Princesses are at war with themselves.  
Thanks to the dark magic known as social networking, these Princesses are becoming consumed in a fog of body hatred and self doubt. A spell so powerful, a kiss from a Prince just isn't enough to lift it.
With the rise of social networking and mass advertising attacking us on every level of our conscience and sub-conscience mind it's hard not to be sucked into the vortex of advertising and competitive living. Our generation seems to be quickly becoming a group of self obsessed humans, driving ourselves into the ground to achieve the most likes on our Facebook status', tweets and Instagram photos.
It seems now the only way we can justify our self worth these days, is if we achieve a certain number of "likes" or "follows" on our social networking platforms. 
No one liked my photo on Instagram, I clearly must be ugly, I'm taking it down and going to the gym.
No witch I ever knew of was powerful enough to drive a perfectly beautiful young girl to hate themselves as much as social media does.
It's like being in constant competition with everyone you know, friends, family, frienamies, co-workers, it's become a life competition.
"How many followers do you have on Twitter?"
"Yer I have waaay more than you".
As if this is what defines someone as a good human being.
"I don't even need to hashtag my photos, people just like them anyway".
That's great and all, and I couldn't be happier for you and your followers, but how is this contributing to society?
Well clearly it isn't, but that's the issue, we are so consumed by this need to appear to those around us that our lives are perfect, and that we look perfect, and our bodies are perfect, and we go for a run every day and eat noting but kale and sunflower seeds, but in actual fact it's all completely rubbish!
This need to conform to being an example of perfection is actually destroying our youth. From what I have established according to social media, you are either a "fit chick" in which you consume tons of broccoli and chicken and have better abs than those seen in the movie 300, or you're obese and should be striving to become a fit chick.
Currently I have two girlfriends so far down the weight loss well I can't even see their light anymore. Our conversations revolve around nothing but gym, clean eating and dress sizes, and at the end of the night I go home and cry because I feel like I am clearly not good enough. If my skinny mini girlfriends feel they need to loose weight, I must need to too, as I'm even bigger than they are! My beautiful girls can't even see how incredibly talented, kind hearted and gorgeous they actually are because all they are concerned with is the number on the tag of their clothing. It's not just a "hey I'm eating healthy this week" or "yer I went for a run last night because I was feeling really stressed out" it is a 24/7 obsession! This spell of body hate is all consuming, it takes over peoples minds and it becomes the only thing one can think about and I know, because I've been there.
I've never been considered to be obese, nor have I ever been considered underweight, but I've certainly felt the pressure over the years to conform to a particular size and weight. It started in High School and has a nasty habit of sneaking up on me when I'm feeling a little out of sorts. At the end of Grade 8 I was chubby, smart and about to get braces, I'd started hanging out with a new group at school but the other girls were all so pretty I knew I had to do something drastic to ensure I got to stay in this new group, and I didn't want to be the ugly duckling of the group!
That's when it started.
By the time the beginning of Grade 9 I had started to loose weight through diet and exercise, started getting my hair coloured blonde by a hair dresser and my teeth had started to straighten out. By Grade 10 my appearance was all I cared about. I traded my brains for beauty and come formal time in Grade 12 I had worked out exactly how to make my body do what I wanted it to, formal was after all, a competition amongst all the girls and I wanted to look my best! After school I went through a rough brake up and the emotional stress of being dumped for another woman took its toll on me. Food became irrelevant and red bull and gym became my life, I had to prove to him, to myself and to everyone else that I was good enough, and the only way I thought to do that was through my body. I eventually met a boy and settled down on my crazy gym and diet routine, but it didn't last long. Of course when you get in a relationship you become comfortable, you spend less time at the gym so you can spend more time with your partner, but the problem is, not every "Prince" (read frog) wants a fat happy Princess.
A moment I'll never forget was when my boyfriend of the time sat me down about a year into our relationship and told me I needed to loose weight or he would be forced to dump me, he'd talked it over with his mum, and they both agreed my weight was becoming a problem. When he'd met me I was in an awful emotional place, I didn't eat, I smoked, I went to the gym a lot and I partied extremely hard. When he'd met me I was a size 8-10, when he gave me my ultimatum I was a proper size 10, hardly a huge expansion, but it was enough for him. So once again, I went into body hate mode, I tried shakes and diet pills, I smoked (in secret because he hated it) and I trained every day of the week. Eventually the weight came off, but the emotional scars had already set in, and I ended up secretly loathing him for the way he made me feel. It eventually led to the demise of our relationship as I met someone who loved me for the person I was, and not my dress size, and left that shallow Frog Prince in the pond where he belonged.
A relationship can most definitely help or hinder the way you see yourself and I'm lucky enough to say my last relationship was a positive one when it came to my body image. Throughout our time together, my partner was super supportive of me and never made me feel crap about my body. When my girlfriends would complain about their bodies I'd shrug off any negative vibes as I knew I had a man at home that thought my body was off the chain and that's all that mattered to me. Their competitiveness with one another never weighed on my mind for long, as I knew their opinions didn't factor into the relationship I was in. He was a big complimenter and would go to the gym with me when I asked, but also didn't mind if we sat around watching docos and eating ice cream on the odd occasion too. Sadly, we didn't end up working out for other reasons and without his support I've definitely felt the pressure of negative body image starting to sink in.
I've been spending more and more time with my girlfriends now that I'm single and it's been an interesting journey. I have no desire to go out and find myself a new man as I'm just in need of some me time right now, but I have to say, I understand why people get depressed being single. Going out is actually the most depressing thing you can do! Especially if you have the vibe I have "please don't talk to me" it's a guarantee that you will only have creeps and weirdos approach you and this makes you feel worse, because you feel the guys approaching you are a direct reflection on how you must look to the outside world. This might sound really shallow, but if Brad Pitt gave you a compliment on how you looked it would probably be met with a better response, than if an unemployed guy in stubbies and a singlet told you he thought you were nice to look at.
The next part of being single that sucks is feeling like you're completely alone and if you're giving off the not interested vibe, good chance, no one is going to ask you out, irrespective of how you look. However, when your gorgeous, single, open and available girlfriend gets asked on a date, this is going to hit you hard, because all you can think is why not me?
Of course your brain won't remind you that you don't actually want a date, your brain just goes
"Well, probably because you're fat".
Cheers brain, despite that being complete rubbish, but it's not really your brains fault, it's just the way you've been groomed. We've all heard the add on the radio from Linda from Ideal Introductions, no one wants to be single, so if you're single, clearly there's something wrong with you!
If you're going to places to meet someone, and you still haven't met someone, it MUST be the way you look! No ones even approaching you to find out if they do or don't like your personality! While we're on this bandwagon, your friend over there is being chatted up, and you're not, must be because she's thinner than you, couldn't possibly be any other reason for it.
Well really, this is a load of crap, but these are the little spells that get cast over your self esteem, slowly pushing it down, slowly sending you deeper into a spiral of self doubt and squeezing any last bit of confidence out of you through every beautiful pore of your body. It isn't until someone tells you that you're perfect just the way you are, that you can actually listen to those words and try to believe them, and it can't just be anyone either, they have to matter to you, their opinion needs to be vital to you, otherwise you'll just twist it around in your head and it'll go from being a lovely compliment, to some bizarre negative comment that just fuels your self loathing even more.
If only you could just tell yourself this.
So you see, it really is just like a fairy tale. You get yourself in a terrible self loathing rut (this is where we usually meet our Princess) until you meet someone who makes you realise that actually, you are worth your weight in gold. (Enter Prince). They help you through all your self doubt and body hate and help to build your confidence back up so you can go back to being a Princess (the "kiss" or "dragon slaying" moment) and you live your life with your merry Prince and enjoy frolicking around on your white horse together, and live happily ever after! (The End?) Just make sure that Prince doesn't turn out to be a frog in disguise, or you'll find yourself at the bottom of the self loathing well again in no time, or to save time, just follow this simple trick!
That's all it takes, if someone is making you feel like you're not good enough, you have two choices, take it on board, get yourself in a hole and wait for someone to fish you out, OR ignore it, tell yourself you are perfect just the way you are, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise!
So you see boys and girls, the moral of this tale, is just to not give in to the spells, tell Instagram to shove it's "likes" in the lake, tell Facebook your friend count doesn't define you, and tell Twitter your too busy living a fabulous life to care who "follows" you. You don't have to be a fitspo chick to be a good person, you don't have to drink kale smoothies to show you have a true heart and you don't need to get a certain amount of likes on your Instagram selfie to prove you are beautiful, because if you work on what's on the inside more than the outside, you won't even need a Prince to save you! xx

Who needs a Prince when you can save yourself?