I decided to strip down on TV to feel freer in my 47-year-old body02/08/2020
You know that body-hating voice we all have in our heads? That inner critic that tells you you’re fat or ugly or your nose is too big or you’d be happy if you could just be thinner. It’s a bully. It seeks to limit who we are and I hate it.
It’s been with me most of my life. I thought in my 40s I’d banished it. Tossed it out with my bathroom scales (best hard-rubbish day ever). But recently, that ugly voice hijacked my head space for a whole week, and it took some wrestling to be rid of it.
‘Essentially, I convinced myself to do it because we don’t see 47 on TV enough. It wasn’t easy.’Credit:iStock
I feel a little ridiculous that it affected me so, but we’re all a work in progress. I was asked to go on the telly in my undies. The TV show I’m on was doing a story about a new melanoma scanning machine which uses 94 cameras to take photos of a person’s entire body – of course, in their undies. As I was the presenter for the story, it was obvious that person should be me.
Now, I have the unequivocal belief that all bodies, including my own, are beautiful, expressive, creative, resilient, unique, even miraculous. I am grateful every day for this healthy, strong vehicle of mine, and that I can still sneeze without wetting myself.
And I’ve raised my daughter to know that beauty is made of brilliant minds and kind souls and joyous laughter. Not golden skin or blonde hair or straight teeth or skinny thighs or youth. We know our true selves, the inside part of us, are as beautiful as anything in the universe.
But they weren’t asking the inside part of me to go on national TV in knickers and bra. It was the very self-conscious outside part – with no fancy lighting, no spray tan, no performance to deflect from (waves hand over general torso area) this. I politely declined with an “ugh, no way”.
I simply didn’t think I could do it.
And I felt like a fraud because of it. Where was my “all bodies are beautiful” now? Philosophically, I know there’s nothing wrong with being pale, cellulitey and spongy – I’m a 47-year-old woman with a normal 47-year-old woman body. But, emotionally, I don’t need the world to see that. And before you get all “you’re crazy, your body is fine”, I say to you what I said to all my girlfriends – would you go on telly in your undies? No, I thought not.
But that’s because you’ve got the same mean bully voice in your head as I do, comparing our bodies with the bodies we usually see on the screen, bodies that are all blessed with genes that someone, somewhere, has decided are preferable to ours.
So I had a chat with myself about how this was an opportunity. That a healthy body image, especially for our kids, requires diversity on our screens – including people with disabilities, different cultural backgrounds, trans and non-binary people, different sizes and shapes, and people of all ages.
Essentially, I convinced myself to do it because we don’t see 47 on TV enough. It wasn’t easy. The bully voice came with me into that doctor’s surgery.
But also with me was this mantra: “Be free.” Be free from the source of that voice – years of books, movies, TV, advertising, fashion, even emojis that told me my body is wrong. Stop giving it power. Be free, be grateful, be a role model for your daughter and just bloody get your gear off.
Because I love a good mantra, it worked. I stood in that state-of-the-art machine, spread-eagled, like a middle-aged gingerbread woman, feeling like it was no big deal. And when the doctor zoomed in on my face and I saw that, in extreme close-up, I have a Freddie Mercury moustache, I didn’t actually hate myself.
So when you see me on the telly in my undies, an average woman in an average body, grateful she doesn’t have melanoma and even more grateful that this machine exists for so many people who need it, you’ll also be seeing me mentally wrestle the nasty bully in my head. And this time – I hope, I have a feeling – it’s a fight to the death.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale February 9.
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