I only learnt what ‘hip dips’ were a few months ago – the little bit of your body that may or may not ‘dip in’ just under your hips.
I, like many women, have gone through my teenage and adult years struggling with my body image. This was particularly prevailent in my teenage years – a time where ‘thinspo’ was rife, and the fashionable look was to be as skinny as possible, with visible collarbones and hip bones, tiny arms, and of course – the coveted thigh gap. This was a look I could never achieve because every time I tried to starve myself like the thinspo blogs which advocated ED”s would recommend, I’d end up so hungry a few hours later I’d stuff my face.
Whilst looking back on it is relieving I could never get to this point, this still left me in a position where I felt confused and frustrated and a lot of the time, really disgusted by my own body. I hated myself for my lack of control, I hated my body for not looking the way I wanted it to. And the saddest part of all is, the way I wanted it to look was not only super unattainable and practically impossible for my body, it was a super unhealthy look.
Flash forward a few years, and thank god I’ve left a lot of those issues in my past. However, despite the fact I can now say I feel happy and confident in my skin 85% of the time, the other 15% is still with me.
And it’s this other 15% that drove me to STILL look in the mirror to see if I had these so called hip-dips, and feel genuine relief to know that I was one of the people who did not possess them. Because deep down I knew if I did, I would once again feel invalidated and like I wasn’t living up to the beauty standards society expected of me for being a young woman today. And I would do anything recommended to get rid of them.
That’s the thing about hip dips. Some people have them, some don’t. In the same way people some have boney elbows or big feet. It’s a part of your anatomy. And yet, it’s the latest part of us that has now been ultimately decided as being unsightly.
When i was growing up, the physique that was idealised was unfortunately, the physique of someone suffering from anorexia nervosa. Stars like Mary-Kate Olsen at her sickest point were idealised. This was before social media took off and way before Instagram was a thing. And yet, the images I could quite easily access on the home computer via the dial-up internet were still enough to have a major influence on me, and is something I still look back on, wanting to despair for the 14 year old me who ate it all up.
Nowadays I can’t even begin to imagine the impact social media has on young people, both for positive and negative change. Thankfully, whilst I’m sure in darker realms of the web the above physique is still celebrated, this is not the mainstream look. In fact, the mainstream beauty standard that is being idealised is positively healthy, by the seems of it. It’s a physique that is toned by the gym, with a bigger bum and thighs, and muscles, and of course, still a flat stomach (we’ll never escape that one).
However, this comes with it’s own issues on mental wellbeing. Just because the new aesthetic is one which is all about being fit and healthy and toned and hitting the gym, at what costs will people go to to achieve this? Thinspo has become fitspo – but does it inspire as much as it controls and directs the way we decide to live our lives?
Which brings me back to the hip-dip. When it was all about the thigh gap, we had to starve ourselves to get there. For the hip-dip, instead we need to work certain muscles – apparently. If you go on youtube and look up any fitness videos, it won’t take you long to stumble upon videos telling you how to train this part of the body to get rid of the hip dips.
And I think this is why this new trend is going under the radar and not causing controversy, so to speak. Because hitting the gym is good right? It’s a sign of health, wellbeing, and bettering yourself.
The problem is, you can only lead a fit and healthy lifestyle if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Being healthy is not purely about the body – to be healthy, you need to merge the body, the mind, and the spirit. Looking after your body and working out only works when it comes from a place of love and respect for your body. This means that you’re doing it because you want what’s best for your body – to be strong and healthy. When you’re doing it to feel your body, you can truly enjoy your body and the gift it gives you – the gift of allowing you human experience.
As soon as it’s a quest to sculpt the perfect insta body, or change your body in a super dramatic and unattainable way purely because that’s what you’ve been told is desirable, it’s coming from a place of fear and self-loathing. You’re not doing it out of love, but out of hate. You’re not doing it for any mental or spiritual reason, but purely physical, which therefore tips the balance out of favour of your mental and spiritual wellbeing. You may eventually get ‘your dream body’ but you’ll be so disillusioned and depressed you won’t even be able to appreciate it.
This whole emphasis on this perfect fit body is leading us to ironically, being our unhealthiest ever. We’re so obsessed with the gym and having a perfect body, we’re forgetting what it’s all for. We’re forgetting about true health and overall wellbeing. We’re also forgetting that EVERY BODY is different. It’s important we move our body and eat right so that we feel good and can live long happy lives. And when we do this we will naturally end up looking our best, but everyone’s best is different. We all have different builds, different metabolisms, and live different lifestyles which will contribute to our overall appearance. We’ve reached a place where we are trying to train our bodies out of our natural anatomy, which is ridiculous!
This is nothing new – beauty standards have always told us we have to change our bodies in impossible ways. Whether it’s upper-class Victorian women with their cinched in waists, or girls and women wanting to surgically alter everything from their lips to their bums, there always seems to be SOMETHING. Some ridiculous beauty standard, which it would do well to remember has been created by a patriarchal, consumeristic dominated industry. An industry built on creating insecurities for us, playing on them, and making money off the back of it to try to change the bits we now feel insecure about. The question is, when will it end. Isn’t it time we change this old, patriarchal narrative? Isn’t it time we took the power back?
So how can we take the power back? When we’ve literally been brought up in a society which has taught us that our worth is based on our physical appearance, and when social media and it’s effects and addictive nature is so influential in the society we live in now, this is hard. For some of us, it may even mean really digging deep and going to the root causes of any problems with our relationships with our body. And this will look different for everyone.
The main way we can take this power back, is to learn to love ourselves. Again, for some of us this can involve going deep into past wounds that need healing and can take a lot of transformative work. For others it may be a bit easier or it may already be a work in progress. But it is not only important but essential, and definitely not impossible. When we can learn to love who we are, we can appreciate what we already have. And when we appreciate what we already have, we can respect it. When we respect it, we want to nourish it and give it the best. Then the way we treat our bodies is from love and respect, not punishment, fear, or deprivation.
A few easy ways to get the dials turning on this:
- Lessen your usage on social media – especially first thing in the morning and late at night. Delete any accounts from your feed that make you feel like shit about yourself. Start following more accounts which focus on body positivity and honest posts.
- Have a fitness goal that is NOT related to the way you look – this could be: gaining strength, being more mobile, losing weight for HEALTH and to minimise disease, training for an event, etc etc. These are quite broad goals and you can make these more specific to keep you motivated if you like, such as – be able to do 5 unassisted pull ups for example. But the thought process behind it is about exploring what your body can do, rather than forcing it to do stuff so you can hopefully look a certain way.
- Start doing workouts because they bring you joy rather than simply to keep fit – so join a dance class, start rock climbing, or running on nature trails, or whatever it is that gets you pumped and brings you joy.
- Practice self love rituals to help you learn to love yourself and heal your relationship with yourself – this could include: affirmations, tapping (EFT), dancing, journaling, gratitude lists, taking time purely for yourself, meditation, magic etc.
- Instead of eating or not eating things because they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or high or low in calories, start eating things based on how they make you feel and how nourishing they are. If you don’t already, start cooking from fresh so you know whats going in to your food. Food can become a ritual and an act of love and self-care, rather than a form of punishment or of pure sustenance.
No matter what – you are amazing. You have a human body which allows you to experience life! Sometimes we get so caught up in societal pressures, social media, and comparing ourselves, we forget to really take a step back and appreciate the bigger picture. Health and wellbeing (mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally) are so much more important than achieving the latest craze which is supposedly going to help us have the perfect body.