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Notes to self: Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman on loving your body — warts and all

Our columnist reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

Tabloid on Saturday

Usually I rebel against anything that I deem too “Oprah”. You know the kind of stuff I mean; affirmations (such as telling yourself every morning, “I am a strong, independent woman”), detoxes, positive thinking (as in, The Rules of Attraction) and anything else that seems to be pseudo-science that’s aimed at women and their insecurities. Argh. I loathe it all. I’m the kind of person who hides people on my FB feed if they post up too many “inspirational” quotes. It doesn’t inspire me, it irritates me. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the “self-help” section of Kinokuniya.

But there’s one thing that I must admit I have been doing, and I have been encouraging other women to do it too. My friend sent me a message yesterday to tell me “I haven’t been to the gym in forever. I am a terrible fat human.” I felt so sad about it. She’s far from fat or terrible and I’m sad that it’s so natural for women to speak badly of themselves and a taboo to say anything good. For instance, I was so proud of myself for putting on a dress size on my top half (yes, you read that right), due to gaining muscle — and making me look less pear-shaped and more balanced — that I Tweeted about it. I only had one reply and that was from a guy telling me I was being big-headed.

When was the last time you heard a woman say “I love my body”, or anything along those lines. Imagine if you did; how would you react?

It seems much more acceptable for us to loathe ourselves and scrutinise other women. Just look at all the brutal comparisons of Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy bodies. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

I am so bored of all women being so obsessed with theirs and other people’s looks. I understand it and I battle with body issues myself (which woman doesn’t?) but, now I’ve thrown out my scales. I refuse to weigh myself because I was bored of it ruining my day when I stepped on the scales and saw 66kg instead of whatever I thought I should weigh.

Instead, I’ve started to be glad for what I’ve got. There will always be things I can’t do but there are loads of things I can, too. My big thighs and bottom make me naturally brilliant at squatting heavy weights. My small arms mean that it doesn’t take a lot of effort for them to tighten up and look toned. This body does all the things I need it to and more. I’m trying to stop saying bad things about it and start saying good things.

If someone tells me I look good, my reflex is to say “no, I look so tired!” or “no, these shorts were a mistake” or something. Now, I’ll either take the compliment or agree. Even though it doesn’t come naturally at all. Telling someone you think you’ve got great arms or awesome legs makes you feel ridiculously arrogant, though it really shouldn’t.

But no matter how positive you try to be, sometimes you’ll still look at your cellulite-covered bottom and wonder how you’ll ever leave the house ever again. I’m trying to remember that cosmetics companies have a vested interest in making us feel bad about ourselves. And that I don’t have to wait until I’ve lost 5kg or gotten rid of my adult acne or my eczema or any of the million other things that aren’t perfect about me before I let myself feel good about me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to tighten up a bit, I just don’t want to postpone my happiness until then.

So, rather than looking in the mirror and thinking “argh, I hate my butt”, I try and think of a few things I love about it. And, instead of seeking flaws in other women, I respect their own personal body battles.

Just call me Gaby Winfrey.