I just came back from a lovely trip to Barcelona, Budapest, and Vienna, and I couldn't help but think about how much my life has changed. This year, in particular, has been a whirlwind; just before I went away, one of my biggest dreams came true which sent me into a really nostalgic state. This got me reminiscing about how truly different a holiday is when you are body positive versus when you’re not, so here's a list of body positive accomplishments from two weeks abroad.
1. I forgot my razor.
This was by no means on purpose, but before body positivity, this would have bothered me. I would have either raced to a store as soon as we landed to buy one (probably dragging the family along with me out of urgency!) or I’d have banished all summery dresses and beautiful short shorts to the depths of my suitcase and they wouldn’t have been worn. Instead, I wore what I liked and my ripped short shorts became my favourite item of clothing on holiday. Since getting back around ten days ago, I’ve gone to get my eyebrows threaded and even had my first bikini wax in months yet still haven't bothered to shave my legs. At the end of the day, I’m the only one who chooses which hair to remove.
2. I packed make up, but didn't use it.
This isn't a huge step for me because I’ve got to a point in my life - thanks to body positivity - where I am makeup free 90% of my life. The difference being right now I have the biggest breakout I’ve ever had. It is so big; I actually have thought that it could be cystic acne, but I didn't care. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I’m well aware that heat and make up has never bode too well with me; this knowledge alone makes me ten times less likely to use it. And with that, I didn’t, and haven't since I returned to London.
3. I sat poolside in a bikini. Alone.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have started to think that bikinis were my everyday attire. Whilst I’m extremely comfortable in them, I have never actually been in public in a bikini without another person. In fact, I this wasn’t something that I’d even realised until I was sitting there alone and noticed that I was getting stares. Some were from kids - which made me happy to think that they were seeing scars for the first time - and some were from fat men with bellies. They kept giving me disapproving looks which made me wonder if they’d forgotten that my belly was just the same as their’s.
4. I ate what I liked.
There was no guilt, there was no shame and as you may have seen from my Instagram, I finally had the dessert that I’d been craving for over a decade.
5. I didn't exercise once (with the exception of a few paddles in the pool).
Since I can remember, every time I went on holiday, the first things I’d pack were my exercise clothes and my trainers. As you've seen in my previous column, I love the gym, so not packing gym stuff was well out of my comfort zone. But that’s exactly why I did it. Every time I take gym things on holiday, I create extra - and totally unnecessary - stress trying to figure out when to work out and/or how to schedule it around organised family sightseeing. I remember one holiday where I had a proper meltdown because there was no gym in the hotel. Yes, spoilt privileged brat, but don't judge; I was 15. Besides, we've all been addicted to diet culture at one time or another in our lives.
6) I had more fun than ever before.
Enjoying the food meant being able to experience more of the culture. Stopping exercise for two weeks meant I didn't exhaust myself. Liberating myself from society's beauty standards really were that: liberating. Whether it was make up, bikini bodies, or shaving, I ignored it all, meaning that my head was strictly reserved for holiday-related thoughts only. And trust me, I’d choose those over thoughts stemmed from diet culture any day.
One thing I love about my personal journey: every time I think I can't get any more body positive, I discover something new! I invite you to join me in a world of body positivity, welcome to the never-ending journey of joy.