Blog: My Body Image And The Pandemic

During the pandemic I found myself beginning to dislike my body more and more, triggered by the online fitness frenzy of lockdown

UK lockdowns have had their viral trends, and we certainly saw this in the area of healthy living. For me, it felt like everyone suddenly began posting pics of their morning runs, their obsession with home workouts, and ‘exciting’ healthy food recipes. I jumped on board and started running to try and increase my fitness (and serotonin levels!). However as lockdowns continued, and the social media fitness frenzy kept going, things took a negative turn for me when it came to my body image.

I felt increasing amounts of guilt if I missed a workout or didn’t go on a run. There was this idea that ‘we shouldn’t waste all this time given to us’ and therefore should be trying to get fit all the time.  I knew I didn’t agree with these posts, but they were still affecting me. I was examining my body like I had when I was younger, seeing if my legs had slimmed down since I started running or if my abs were more visible.

A ‘new’ body

In the summer of 2020, I had graduated university and felt very anxious about entering the ‘real-world’ in the midst of a pandemic. This anxiety led me to have a larger appetite than I normally had and I was eating much more than usual. This was okay as that was what my body wanted and needed, but it made me feel very insecure.

I realised I had gained weight and needed to buy clothes one or two sizes up from my normal size. This body that had carried me through a global pandemic and graduating university suddenly felt alien to me. It had let me down, I felt, by not fitting into the size 10 clothes it had previously been able to fit in.

The day I discovered stretch marks creeping over my thighs I started shaking. I felt less worthy and less desirable because of them. At the same time, I was disappointed in myself for getting upset over my slight weight gain. I’ve always been pro the body-positive movement and would never judge any of my friends or think they were less ‘worthy’ or ‘beautiful’ because of their weight or fitness regime. 

It was a confusing time. Online it felt like I was simultaneously being bombarded with posts telling me to love my body and posts telling me to get off my bum and do some exercise to lose the ‘lockdown weight’. 

Accepting myself

Luckily I have wonderful friends that I opened up to, who didn’t invalidate my feelings at all, but still reminded me that nothing about ‘me’ had changed. It was normal to feel a bit uncomfortable with my changed body but it didn’t affect my worth at all.

Try to remind yourself that the past year has been incredibly difficult, and your body has done something amazing by carrying you through it. Opening up to a friend or family member can be really helpful too, even for just a reminder that you are enough, regardless of the size of your jeans. Even simple self-care acts, such as having a bath or moisturising regularly, can make you feel more at home in your ‘changed’ body.

Discover Fumble’s pandemic support series

The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives, and we’ve all struggled to understand and digest the changes that continue to happen all around us. 

Our pandemic support series explores young people’s experiences of COVID-19, and helps you start to make sense of the chaotic and uncertain time we’re living in. Discover the full series here

Other support

If you need more support right now, here are some of our favourite places to start.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Last reviewed 23 February 2021

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels