I know that a lot of us, if not all of us, struggle with our bodies: our acceptance of them and their use or limitations. I want to apologise if I offended anyone on my discussion of surgery and I want to make it completely clear that I am not against surgery; I have had plenty of friends work on their bodies or faces, and after the birth of my very large second baby (almost 10 pounds), I dreamt of a tummy tuck that would fix everything for me. This went on for a few years. I’m one of those people that has envy over a flat or flab free stomach… but that is not my physique. Over the years I have come to accept myself (and I’ve learned to dress for my shape which is a big help) and I honestly couldn’t imagine the pain, recovery or feeling of altering my appearance with surgery, not to mention the costs.
My point of view now is that I wish that we could all accept ourselves and love ourselves to the point where we don’t need surgery. I wish everywoman (and man) the fierce self-acceptance to not have to cut themselves open. I hope that we can look away from the photoshopped pictures of Supermodels, that we can stop comparing ourselves to others, that we can understand on some intrinsic level that we are fine and fabulous, just the way we are. If we accepted ourselves we could bring down the entire ‘beauty industry’. Imagine if we could cut them all down like a noxious weed? I dare us all to try, in the least.
We are more than a pretty face, a six pack, our outer appearance. We rarely judge others as harshly as ourselves. How about we try and compliment ourselves as much as others? How about we all think of something we love about ourselves and concentrate on that? If you have a feature that everyone always points out; the colour of your eyes, your hair, your voice... whatever it is, why don’t we try and concentrate on that and all the other things about us that make us strong, smart, capable, caring… you know; humans.
One of my brother’s old girlfriends saved up thousands to have liposuction on her butt. She was so happy when she felt she’d finally gotten to her ideal look (she’d also previously had two operations on her nose). She loved her new and improved butt and she loved showing it off. It really gave her a boost in her confidence, she felt ‘perfect’ and ‘hot’. However, that was one of the areas that her body collected fat cells. Over a few years, the fat gradually replaced itself and her butt went back to its original shape. I wonder if she hated herself even more than before? I haven’t seen her in years, but I hope that she found self-love, self-worth and the self-confidence to understand that she is and was perfect just the way she was. She is more than her butt, she is more than her body. But really, was the liposuction, the pain, the money...
Was any of it worth it to end up looking and most likely feeling the same? If not worse?
It’s very helpful to have a partner that accepts and loves you for every dimple, bump and lump that you have. For your big or small boobs, for however your stomach looks; because a supportive partner sees all of you, and they relish in the way you make them ‘feel’; the connection. If you have a partner that makes you feel imperfect, not good enough, or judges you in this way? I recommend running before your entire self-worth and self-esteem are completely shattered and you don’t feel good enough to be in this world. Because I was there, and it’s a very hard place to come back from. It can take a long, long time to heal. If you ever do.
We are all worthy and deserve a place in this world.
I struggled with the concept of play from the moment that Julie and Bridget emailed me. I had to ask myself; what is play? What do I define as play? I grappled in a positive way, as I see a lot of my work as play.
With a lifetime of drama, most of my work stems from inspiring others to ‘play’. Play at ideas, play with concepts, play with performances, play with ideas, and I am carried along with that.
My dear friend disagrees:
‘Anything you are obligated to do is not play’. I’m not sure I agree with that. The lines become blurred. I have playtime at work. I have playtime at home. I could even argue that whilst I am cleaning the house; if I put on some banging tracks, or perhaps the soundtrack to Xanadu; I am singing, dancing and playing whilst I am working.
But there are days when I am teaching drama and singing, when I’m rehearsing or filming or performing that don’t feel like play. What is the distinction between enjoyment and obligation? Is play a state of mind? I find that whenever I am laughing, I am playing. I feel that if the result is laughter, I am playing; no matter what it is. For me playing equates to fun. I place laughter very high in my life priorities.
We’re dead a long time, so why not be laughing?
My partner and I laugh a lot (and if we didn’t we wouldn’t be as deliriously happy as we are). I aim to laugh with my children every day; and when I can’t, when I am tired, or I’ve lost every scrap of patience, I don’t consider my life ‘fun’ anymore and it’s not play. It’s draining and it’s hard.
I spoke on the Podcast about the times in my life when I couldn’t laugh. When smiling was so hard that I didn’t think I’d ever get my mojo back again. I was so depressed that I didn’t think I could find a way out. This was evident in the period after my mother died, my brother died and again when my marriage was a complete mess and I knew I had to leave for my own sanity. There were times when I was a single parent, studying my Masters, running my drama school and working at a factory to pay the rent, and that was not fun. It was sheer exhaustion and I nearly quit more than once, but I just had to keep saying to myself that ‘it’s not forever’ and ‘things are going to get better’. They eventually did and my smile returned, and gradually the laughter, the deep belly laughter that can make you cry returned as well. After a period of time, it came back.
When you can’t smile or laugh, I ask you to try and remember that sometimes things take time.
My grandmother died last year at 102 and a half! Her theory for a long life was to keep smiling. Mine is the same except that I say we need to keep laughing. Laughter is joy, happiness, spirit and experience.
One thing I didn’t mention that has always helped me in my life; that has gotten me through happy and sad occasions, through crippling grief and depression. Through the end of my marriage when I had lost who I was so completely, that I thought I’d never come back ever: is singing.
For me singing is the one thing in my life that I can always count on (unless I’ve lost my voice!) It’s my fun, it’s my challenge, it’s how I connect to emotion. When I’m sad I’ll sing sad songs. You’ll see me singing at the gym; it’s just something that I can’t help. It is a deep part of me and not only defines who I am, but has honestly been a part of my life that I couldn’t exist without. It gives me elation and a feeling of having wings. It’s playtime. And I’m fortunate that it’s also a part of my work, and so I have created a life that is full of play.
I challenge you to find that thing that makes you smile from your heart.
That one thing that you have loved for years. You may need to reconnect with your inner child or you may need to find something new so that you can smile and laugh and play.
So, I guess my message is: keep laughing, keep singing, focus on the great things about who you are. Try to really, and I mean really love yourself, and try to use opportunities to lift others up. Making someone else feel great, always has a return effect on us.
I had one of those bad days yesterday and I’ve woken up today so sad and frustrated and angry. I yelled at the kids this morning, I slept terribly, and so I’m going to have to take my own advice today. I’m going to go home later, and do something that I love. I’m going to sing and I’m going to find a way to laugh. Or maybe I’ll focus on making my kids feel awesome and loved, so I can feel better.
‘ Life is too important to be taken seriously’
– Oscar Wilde
You can find out more about Sarah and her drama school HERE