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  • Writer's pictureAdam Goodman-Smith

I’m Coming Out (Again) a Self-Disclosing Article about Body Image

Pride month has now ended and in true ‘door handle moment’ fashion, I’ve waited until the very last opportunity to share the thing I’ve been wanting to share all June. Here’s the thing…I’ve had an unhappy relationship with my body for as long as I can remember (more on that to follow). However, through the process of writing my book this year, I’ve discovered an acceptance of myself that for decades before has evaded me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still deeply uncomfortable about the way I look right now, but I’m done hiding – hence the title of this article.


This hit home for me a few nights ago when I was in London for a film screening of Love? By Samantha Beckinsale. Usually, I dread going to events because inevitably someone will whip out their phone and try to usher me in for a selfie, immediately sending me into a full-on fight or flight stress response. In a split second, I have to choose between tackling them to the floor and wrestling the phone from their hand, or bolting toward the exit. The latter, being the more socially acceptable of the two, tends to be my go-to; I may be carrying some excess baggage but when I need to, I can move!


This time, despite every bit of me wanting to run for the hills, I stayed put. Not only that but when I was sent the photo, I posted it on my social media! I haven’t posted a photo of myself online for years. Despite knowing that it might be seen by people whom I haven’t seen since I was ‘lighter’, I did it anyway. I can’t put into words what a big deal this was for me. Here is said photo...



To be clear, I’m not writing this article to garner sympathy. I’m writing it because no doubt there are some of you reading this who can relate to what I’m sharing. The passage that follows is taken from my book ‘The Way of The Diva’. It was the final piece I wrote, having waited right up until the deadline to include it (another door handle moment). If any of what I’ve shared so far is resonating, I’d love for you to read on.


LOVE THE SKIN YOU'RE IN


Your body is gifted to you upon entering this world. Its role is to sustain your human form for as long as you are lucky enough to be around. You only get one – body, that is. For the last however many years you’ve been here, your body has carried you through every minute of every day. It’s seen you through every challenge and difficulty, through every win and achievement, through the good times and the less good times. It’s propped you up at every low point and it’s danced with you at every high point. For those of you with small people, it’s brought new life into this world. And yet, despite the important role it plays, all it asks for in return is that you give it fuel and whack on a bit of SPF every now and then.


You’d think that as we are one with our body, the relationship between us would be a delightfully happy one – one in which we skip gleefully together from one place to the next, grass between our toes and wind in our hair. But as I’ve experienced myself, that’s not always the case. Despite being our closest friend, neighbour and loyal servant, the relationship between us can be fraught to say the least. We can, at times, treat it in a way in which we’d never dream of treating somebody else, let alone someone who’d been by our side since day dot. For example, we might say all sorts of awful things to it. We might punish it by overdoing exercise or limiting its fuel intake. We might push and squeeze it into clothes that just aren’t meant for it. We might rob it of the opportunity to bask in the sun or cool off in the breeze by covering it in layers and layers of dark clothing; you get where I’m going with this. Despite knowing that our body is part of us – we can treat it, and therefore ourselves, like dirt.

Treat yourself like somebody you are responsible for taking care of.

Self-disclosure time. I’ve had an unhappy relationship with my body, specifically my weight, since the age of 13. I’ve been just about every size and shape it’s possible for one body to be. I’ve mistreated my body, I’ve hurt it, I’ve starved it, I’ve overfed it, I’ve over exercised, over indulged and over everything’d. I’ve made myself miserable. I’ve missed out on opportunities because of my perceived size (some potentially big ones too) and I’ve been miserable at times when I should have been at my happiest. Something changed for me as a direct result of writing this book. I found an acceptance in myself that I haven’t experienced before. After decades of body-bashing bullsh*t, here’s where I’ve arrived:


It is possible to be heavier than I’d like and still…

If you recognise any of this in yourself then I need you to hear this next bit loud and clear…

YOUR VALUE IS NOT MEASURED IN POUNDS OR KILOGRAMS. Read that again.

I’ve spent way too long writing off experiences, places visited and things I’d achieved on account of being heavier. I told myself all sorts of nonsense like ‘I’ll have to come here again when I’m lighter so that I can take selfies’ or ‘What’s the point in going if I can’t put a picture on social media?’. I dreaded going to events where I knew I’d see people who last saw me when I was lighter. I made life miserable for myself and for what gain? No gain. In fact, the opposite; I robbed myself of new experiences, of happiness, of opportunities and of meeting new people.

It’s important to say that body image issues aren’t just experienced by people who consider themselves heavier. I know lots of people who have been told by their GP that they are underweight and who experience the exact same issues I’ve described but for the opposite reason. For every one of us who is unhappy being heavier, there’s somebody out there who is both lighter and utterly miserable. And of course, people experience body issues for all sorts of reasons, not just size or shape.

Since I don’t look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But different is good – Serena Williams

So, what can you do if, for whatever reason, you aren’t feeling great about your appearance right now? Here are some things that I’ve found helpful.

  • Recognise that ‘healthy’ isn’t a size

  • Understand that your self-worth is not determined by your weight or shape

  • Know that you can have an amazing day even if you aren’t comfortable with how you look

  • Understand that we aren’t all supposed to look the same

  • Recognise that we are all unique and valuable in our own way

  • Notice and challenge any negative self-talk – Is it true? Is it helpful?

  • Focus on the things you like about your body

  • Realise that your appearance tells the story of everybody who came before you

  • Stop comparing yourself to others – comparison is the thief of joy

  • Focus on what your body can do for you, rather than how you think it looks

  • Know that criticising your body won’t change it – you’re only hurting yourself

  • Surround yourself with body-positive influences

  • Unfollow social accounts that lead you to feel crap about yourself

  • Practice complimenting others on more than just their looks

  • Practice saying nice things to yourself about your body

  • Take small steps to accept yourself as you are and celebrate the wins

For example:

  1. Go out in public without covering up e.g. lose the sweater, cardigan, coat etc

  2. Experiment with new or different outfits

  3. Wear something a bit more fitted

  4. Wear your birthmarks, scars, tattoos and other markings with pride – they are all part of what makes you, you

  5. Wear your hair au naturel!

  6. If one day you don’t feel like putting on makeup, don’t!

  7. Ditch the dark colours for a day and wear something light or bright. People will see you regardless so it’s pointless trying to hide – you might as well have fun!

  8. Say yes to an event or opportunity, even when every bit of you is saying no

  9. Whichever bit of your appearance you feel you need to hide – show it off and be proud of it. If you catch people looking, know that it’s because you are inspiring them to do the same

Here’s my advice to you (and to myself). If any of what you’ve read is ringing true, then know this – life is too damn short to be getting in your own way like this. Don’t waste a second longer telling yourself stories about what your appearance means you can or can’t do. Go out there; chin up and celebrate every single bit of what makes you, you. Your body is the way in which you navigate this crazy world. Without it, there is no you – there is no diva. Wear your body like the most fabulous, priceless, one-of-a-kind outfit that it is. One day you will look back at pictures of yourself and wish that you had.

I end with a technique gifted to me by Kim Morgan. It’s a simple yet powerful way of seeing yourself through different eyes.


Step 1:

Imagine that your 90-year-old self is standing at the opposite end of the room…

  • What do you look like at 90?

  • What’s different about your appearance?

Step 2:

Walk towards this 90-year-old you, step into their shoes and look back at the younger ‘you’ standing where you’d been…

  • What did you think about how you looked back then?

  • How much did you appreciate your beauty at the time?

  • What words of advice or wisdom would you give to your younger self about your appearance?

Step 3:

When you’ve had enough, return to your present-day self…and this next bit is really important…

Cut yourself some goddam slack (my addition!)

Thank you for reading.


Adam x

The Way of The Diva

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