Quit the tabloids. Halt the glossies. Here’s another look into the really real realities of being a woman with a body and all of the issues that come with it. Told from the point of view of today’s twenty-somethings.
KATHERINE. VINTAGE VENDOR AND WORD QUEEN. 23.
How confident would you say you were?
It can totally change from day to day, if not minute to minute. It also depends on the situation. When I am with the right combination of people, I am happy in my own skin. I don’t like to be in a large group of people, especially if I don’t know anyone, or they all know each other better – that makes me very anxious and awkward.
When you look in the mirror what do you see?
I see someone who is changing every day.
What do you say to yourself?
When I’m struggling, I have to give myself a pep talk and say, ‘Come on, Katherine, you’ve got this’. When I’m feeling confident, I generally sing or do a little dance.
What is your favourite part of your body and why?
I have great cheekbones that I inherited from my paternal grandma. It’s all pretty exceptional though.
What is your least favourite part of your body? Can you say anything nice about it?
My legs – they are very scarred from eczema and playing hockey. They are pretty shapely though.
How is your body different to what conventional beauty standards expect from you?
I probably have more belly than the mythical perfect woman. I definitely don’t have the perfect smooth skin either and I never will have.
How do you feel about these differences? Is there a story behind them?
There’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining this figure – constant dedication to cinnamon swirls, pick and mix and chocolate. My belly’s story is simply that I love to eat. My skin is dry and sensitive. I can’t use most products because they make my skin worse, but it’s already scarred and a bit destroyed from years of abuse!
When you’re getting ready to go out, what is your goal?
To turn a few heads. To spend time with my friends and dance until I am a sweaty mess.
When do you feel good about yourself?
I feel at my sexiest when I’ve just washed my hair, or in matching underwear and a slick of red lipstick. But I also feel good when I make other people feel good. I like to be connected to people and to put lots of effort into my relationships.
Do you feel happy with yourself?
I am happy that I am not complacent in myself – I think if you don’t find yourself really annoying sometimes, you’re a bit weird.
Describe your relationship with your body…
I’m quite attached to it. Most of the time, I love my body and I like to see the scars and bits I’ve added. When I have felt suicidal, I hate the thought of losing my body and being disconnected from it. I think it’s important to look after your body in little ways; enjoy the feeling of brushing your hair, stretch when you wake up. It helps me feel more alive.
Would you change anything about yourself?
The only thing I would change about my body is my skin because I was born with eczema and it is really draining. My skin is very high-maintenance. It can be painful – sometimes I scratch so hard I bruise myself. I like my body shape, but I’d love skin that wanted to stay attached to me! Personality-wise, I’d be kinder to myself and more spontaneous. I can be quite fearful and rigid.
Do you think how we look is important?
For better or for worse, first impressions often stick and I think appearance is a big part of that. I think you can tell quite a lot about people from what they wear, for example. I like to use clothes to make a statement about who I am, projecting how I feel comfortable.
How do you think young people feel about their bodies? Do you believe that the media has messed us up and distorted our vision?
It’s scary how young people and even children look at their own bodies. I’ve worked with kids that have been dieting since they were 10, that self-harm because they think they are fat and ugly, that get bullied for being small. It’s awful to see the hurt and hatred that the media has bred into our culture. It’s disgusting that it affects adults, but it infiltrates early on and is ingrained so deeply that our attitude to bodies, especially female bodies, is totally warped. Everything is focussed on the negative, never on positive attributes of the person, or the beauty in difference.
What is your dream for the future of yourself or the world in general?
Tolerance and people being driven by love rather than by fear.