Girlguiding 'A quarter of girls in the UK exhibit symptoms of depression by the age of 14'
The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
I am Enough!
An article in The Guardian broke my heart a little this week. According to a study published by Girlguiding in the UK, a quarter of girls exhibit symptoms of depression by the age of 14. What the actual *%$# is going on? Children are being convinced that the ever more demanding paradigm of physical 'perfection' must be met with apparent effortlessness. We are being bred to be popular, but in a meek sociable sense not for a moment by displaying a strong-willed character. We must be sexy but absolutely not 'slutty', sporty in a narrow, feminine parameter and of course not too muscular. All of these are only acceptable if this tiny human is also well-balanced, feminine, intelligent and equally able to communicate their knowledge eloquently (and equally) surrounding Art, Literature, Science and Engineering.
In my opinion, so much of the mess we are in can be attributed to role-models with bazillions of Instagram followers revealing their perfect faces and scantily clad bodies on Social Media. Let's cut through the fat for a moment if you'll excuse the pun. I don't post my bikini pictures on the internet. Probably, and mostly, down to a holiday with my ex in the South of France.
Whilst I was frolicking in the sea, unbeknownst to me he was taking pictures of me.
When I returned to the sun lounger, he took out the camera and showed me the pictures, in all my splendour. Not holding my stomach in, never having noticed a particularly horrific angle of my butt slightly lower and lumpier than it would be if gravity didn’t exist (and if I were wearing M&S firm support tights) and then there was the one of my chin. I say chin, but it was more like chins. Immensely unattractive when captured in a picture and one that nobody should see. You know the one when you switch on your phone camera and, for a split second, you don't know if Jabba The Hut was the last search you did on the Internet.
I was told, whilst the zoom on the camera was at full capacity, that I really ought to do something about the way I looked as I really REALLY looked bad. From carelessly playing in the ocean on a glorious holiday, I retreated in more ways than I care to remember and internalised much of my vulnerability.
Two Ted Talks that have contributed greatly to where I am today are from the 'Researcher/Story Teller' Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. They're 20 minutes long and if they help another person like they've helped me - I will be delighted.
Not too long ago I, like Brene, wanted to remain under the radar. At all costs, I would have avoided the judgements of those who will see the Vlogs we are filming and rather than be kind, will instead be cruel about an incorrect word, the fact I say 'take a look' a lot, a second chin or my food-loving tummy they’ve spotted (and feel the need to point out like a game of Where's Wally). But it's their own insecurities they're highlighting. Not mine. It's social stereotyping that I insist on doing something about. If I can break up the naked bodies on an Instagram newsfeed with a video of me - a girl with a forehead that moves, in a size 14 dress with my own hair and the nose I was born with and just ONE teenage girl sees that and the world of 'people in the media' is diluted with a MyDubaiWeddingTV Vlog I will be making a difference and that makes me very happy.
My ability to stand tall now is down to a few people. A qualified therapist who unpacked the baggage, my husband who has patiently unravelled many of my knots and lastly myself.
Having the ability for us all to be able to admit that 'I am enough' is not an easy task but it's one that needs to be addressed by all of us side-by-side. Together. NOW.
I believe one of the reasons the Vlog will be successful is because I am fully embracing who I am. I am a normal girl. I have countless flaws which, according to those who love me, make me the loveable person I am today. I haven't had my face reconstructed and my teeth aren't coated in plate-material. I haven't paid for a thigh gap and I sleep soundly at night (albeit for 4 hours) in the knowledge that when I stop moving, my body continues moving for several seconds.
If you asked me to go on camera a few years ago, even with the Botox injections, whitened teeth, several kilos of hair extensions and the latest Louboutins, I wouldn't have been able to show you my full vulnerability because I wasn’t prepared to let myself be seen.
Now I am allowing myself to be deeply seen. I love wholeheartedly even when there is no guarantee of being loved back. I practice gratitude every day without fail, even on days where it feels excruciatingly hard to do so. And I believe (and tell myself daily) that I am enough. The day I started to believe that I am enough was the day I started to be kinder and gentler to those around me and kinder and gentler to myself.