A little over a year ago, I was trying on some trousers in a changing room full of mirrors when I caught sight of the back of my thighs and my bum. “What the hell is that?!” I thought to myself, looking at the dimples on my skin that I had never noticed before. It struck me that the surface of my thighs was now lined with what I knew to be cellulite – I was mortified.
“I’ve never had cellulite before!” I wailed to my mum, my friends, my colleagues… to anyone that would listen. Truthfully, I’ve probably had cellulite for a lot longer than I thought, but I don’t make a habit of looking at myself from behind so wouldn’t know. But there’s no denying that I have cellulite now.
“Everyone has it,” I was reassured by everyone who was older and wiser than I was, but when I flicked through Instagram, opened a magazine or saw a billboard for a film poster, I didn’t see a single trace of dimpling, puckering or indentation on anyone I saw there.
I spent so much money on creams and lotions for fighting cellulite. I bought an exfoliator pad and a circulation stimulating glove (both essentially the same thing…) in the hopes that it would make it magically disappear. I did squats before I went to sleep. I glared at my thighs with hatred, hoping that my searing stare would somehow make it wither and melt away.
But it was no good. The cellulite stayed and with it so did my shame.
When I knew I was going to be going travelling Australia, I was so excited, but I had one big worry – my cellulite. It was going to be on show. In England, I could hide it beneath jeans and cosy layers, but when it was going to be 38 degrees outside I wasn’t planning on wearing many items of clothing. The weeks leading up to my departure, I scrubbed and scrubbed my skin, slathered ointment after ointment on it in a desperate attempt to make my cellulite somehow look slightly less rippled, but of course it didn’t work. Once you’re cursed with cellulite, you cannot do anything to fully lift that curse.
The first few weeks in Australia I was a self conscious mess. Before we went out anywhere, I’d say to my friends ‘can you see my cellulite?’ I’d double check any photos that were taken of me, often cropping my legs out of the picture if even the slightest hint of it was visible. I was paranoid that people were looking at me and laughing, worried that someone would see my legs and gag.
It changed about threee weeks into the road trip that I took with my fiance. We went to a beach one day, me trying to cover myself up and sit down on my towel as fast as I could before anyone spotted me like I usually did. It was whilst I was sat looking around, too scared to walk over to the walk to the water in case someone commented on my bumpy thighs, that I noticed one of the thinnest, prettiest girls I had ever seen. She had abs, flowing golden hair and… cellulite. She had cellulite too! I looked around the beach at the bodies of all shapes and sizes, all builds and athleticism’s and noticed that every woman on the beach had cellulite too. Some had it on their stomachs and arms as well as their thighs and bums. Some had loads of it, some had little patches, but we were all definitely team cellulite. The only difference was that they weren’t cowering away behind a towel. They were surfing, jumping in the waves, laughing with their friends.
Later that day, my fiancé and I went back to our hotel and played stupid games in the swimming pool. We threw my sunglasses in and dived to the bottom for them (yes, we are 25, but we still know how to have fun, okay?). I didn’t care who saw us being childish and more importantly I didn’t care who saw my cellulite. In that moment, I was just a young woman enjoying life with the person she loved. If anyone would have looked at me, I’m sure they’d have noticed my beaming smile way more than they’d have noticed my cellulite.
I asked my fiance to take the photo above of me. Initially, I was scared to post it because when I first looked at it all I could see was my cellulite. But then I thought of the beach, of the beautiful women who all looked like me from behind. My cellulite wasn’t ugly. It just was what it was.
I shared it onto my Instagram and recieved lots of lovely messages. From then on, I’ve tried to be better with my cellulite. There are still some days where I panic it is overly visible, but those days are less and less now. I’ll wear a skirt or shorts and won’t be walking around wondering if people are staring at me. I’m learning to own it, one day at a time.
It was around the time that I had my cellulite revelation at the beach that Jameela Jamil confronted Avon about their methods of selling a ‘cellulite reducing cream’ just like the one I had being buying and drenching my skin in back in England. They were using the slogan ‘dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)’. Thankfully, Jameela got them to change the way in which they advertised their product and Avon were really apologetic about missing the mark so much with their campaign, but it got me thinking about why I felt such a deep rooted repulsion with the way I looked when I first noticed that I had cellulite.
Quite simply, the media portrays cellulite as disgusting. It’s airbrushed out in photo shoots, giving the illusion that no one has it. I’ve seen candid paparazzi snaps of a range of celebrities from Emma Watson to Serena Williams to Hilary Duff with it. All incredible, beautiful women… all shamed for having cellulite. Then because we are constantly told by the media we consume that it is disgusting, the comments people write underneath the photos are more hideous than anyone could ever make cellulite out to be. I’ve read comments like ‘she has the legs of a 90 year old woman’ and ‘if my wife had legs like that I’d leave her’. Over and over and over again these nasty comments are shouted, reiterating the idea that to have cellulite is to be unattractive, hideous, disfigured even.
But I was on a beach where every single woman had it… are you telling me that on an entire beach full of people, not a single one of them is attractive? Are you telling me that Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes ever, cannot be admired because of a few dimples on her skin? Are you telling me that a woman’s worth is simply cut down to the number of times her skin dents in? Doesn’t that seem a little absurd?
I know what I write will not change your perception of your cellulite if you hate it the way I did. I know that that level of hatred has been deeply ingrained in you over years and years of your life. I know that it will take an epiphany moment, a moment where you think screw it and just stop obsessing over something that really does not matter. But I still want to take the time to reassure you, as everyone did me, that it is normal. Everyone has it. Cellulite doesn’t discriminate against size, age, gender, weight, fitness – anything. If you get it, you get it. It doesn’t make you any less attractive or any less you. If anything, it makes you a little more interesting. Your skin now has it’s own texture and pattern unique to you, isn’t that exciting?
And, despite what the marketing team at Avon originally wanted us to believe, dimples are cute on your thighs.