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Mirror Mirror on the wall - was I ever the fairest of them all?



*This photo was taken of me during a dance exhibition in about 1988, with my instructor John Robinson.

 

When the subject of ‘what age did I look my best’ came up, I must admit, like most of us would, I immediately took a mind-trip back to my 20s, when we were all our perfect weight, wrinkle-free and supposedly full of confidence about the way we looked.

 

On deeper reflection though, I came up with an answer that surprised myself. I truly believe I look better now, in my 60s.

 

I looked back at photos of myself when I was young, and to be honest, it was disappointing. This was the time of life when I was supposed to look my best, and I just looked tired and sad.

 

I married very young and by the time I was in my mid 20’s, I had two small children and was trying to make it to the top of my career in dancing. I was at the gym for an average of 2 – 3 hours a day, danced 3 hours every night and competed all weekend. Was I fit? Absolutely! Was I healthy? No, definitely not.

 

I can recognise now, striving for physical perfection was my escape from a relationship that was not great. I thought that if I looked better, it would prove that I was enough. That in perfection, I would be loved.

 

I was so consumed with being perfect, that I was missing out on enjoying my life. I existed on a diet of Cabbage soup (the go-to diet of the 80s) and pushed myself to physical exhaustion every day.

 

Over the years, I managed to break both the unhealthy eating and relationship cycles, and although I am now carrying extra weight, I am okay with the way I look, because I am happy. The sunken cheeks and dark shadows under my eyes have gone (most weeks), and although I am not as fit or flexible as I used to be, I am healthy. Would I like to be thinner? Absolutely! But I am now losing weight in a healthy way – progress, not perfection.

 

My body gave me three beautiful, healthy 10lb babies, and enough stretch marks to draw a road map from Perth to Sydney. But every one of those stretch marks is a testament to the love I have for my kids. So yes, I am proud of them.

 

In our recent bookclub ‘Tilda is Visible’ author Jane Tara talked about how when she was misdiagnosed as going blind, she realised she would miss not being able to see herself grow old (if you missed bookclub, the recording is on our YouTube channel), and I realised that I want to see myself grow old as well.

 

Despite the unhealthy times in my life, I have laughed A LOT. And my face shows that. But I can now look in the mirror and honestly say that I like the person I see looking back at me. Happiness is truly the best beauty treatment. 

 

Jody Webster


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