Summer is my favourite time of the year. It’s a time of warmth and fun. The days are getting longer and the nights warmer. The sun is shining and nature is blooming. Life’s hectic pace slows down, and we can enjoy quite afternoons with our friends around a barbecue, romantic late night walks with our significant other, and fun vacations at the beach.
But, for a long time, summer, for me, has also been a time of anxiety. The reason? The C-word. Cellulite. That dimply thing that appears uninvited on our things and bottoms and refuses to go away ever, leaving us feeling ugly and worthless. I was so ashamed of it.
I tried to hide it the best I could. Summers in Italy can be torrid, but I still only wore full-length jeans. No shorts and miniskirts for me. And swimsuits, especially bikinis, were out of the question. Although Senigallia looks out to a beautiful, clear sea, I rarely went to the beach. Whenever my friends dragged me there, I was covered from head to foot, too worried about making sure no one saw my dimply skin and too hot under all those clothes, to really enjoy myself.
In the meantime, I tried everything I could think of to get rid of it. I performed massages on my things and bum. Rubbed coffee ground on my skin (all those teen mags swore caffeine was a great treatment for cellulite). Spent a fortune on cellulite creams that promised to reduce it by a fortnight but never delivered (but at least my skin was so soft!). All the while, bemoaning the fact I couldn’t afford those expensive cosmetic treatments celebrities have access to. If something costs you an arm and a leg, it must work, right?
Well, not really. In 2008, a team of scientists reviewed all the current available treatments for cellulite and the results showed what we all already know but refuse to admit: “Cellulite, a skin surface change that is nearly ubiquitous in women, is a condition that remains elusive to treatment. In fact, no treatment is completely successful as none are more than mildly and temporarily effective.” Yep, nothing works. Even those outrageously expensive lasers only provide temporary results.
And yet, we still splurge on them. Or on creams we know are useless, but hey, you never know until you try them right? I too, every time I see a new cellulite cream on the shelves of Boots hope that it may be different from the rest and do something for real for a change. Then, reality sets in, and I leave the shop empty-ended (well, actually I usually leave with some makeup, or shampoo, but the cellulite cream stays on the shelf). I’d rather use my money for something that really works (like aforementioned makeup and shampoo).
But the desire to get rid of cellulite is still there. How could it not when we are bombarded every single day by a thousand images of beautiful women who aren’t apparently, plagued with it. If they can get rid of it, surely we can too. We just have to eat only green food for a month, take seaweed baths twice a week for 20 minutes, or soak the affected area in baby oil and and use a hand vacuum to smooth the area (yes, someone really tried that one, but it made things worse!).
But that’s not how celebrity and models have really gotten rid of their cellulite, is it? Nope, they purposefully pose in positions that hide their orange peel skin, under bright lights that help smooth everything out. And if a few dimples are still evident, no worries. They are just airbrushed away. No one will know. Until some space-invading paparazzi takes a picture of a celebrity enjoying a day at the beach. Then the tabloids have a field day showing us how much a celeb has let herself go.
The message is clear: cellulite is bad. If you have it, you’re disgusting, lazy, and you’ll never find love. But it’s not true. The media wants us to believe that crap, so that the beauty, diet, and fitness industries that finance it can sell us their remedies for cellulite, even if we (and they) all know they don’t work.
The truth is that cellulite is normal. It is the body’s natural way of storing fat. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Cellulite is caused by fibrous connective cords that tether the skin to the underlying muscle, with the fat lying between. As the fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords are pulling down. This creates an uneven surface or dimpling.”
You know what that means? It means that cellulite is not an illness. It’s a normal condition that doesn’t need to be cured. It means that cellulite is not caused by a bad diet or laziness. It occurs regardless of who you are and what you do. Celebrity or working mum, vegetarian or fast food lover, fitness fanatic or couch potato, you are going to get cellulite. Only about 10% of women don’t, which means they are the “freaks” (I say this in the best possible way; no offence).
It also means that we all have been hating ourselves for nothing. That ugly flaw is no flaw at all. The flaw is in the media and in the way it portrays women’s bodies. The media, diet, fitness, and beauty industries love to turn perfectly fine and normal things, like cellulite and wrinkles, into ugly, unforgivable flaws. Whenever they do so, they make a truckload of money.
We, on the other hand, are stuck hating ourselves. Our insecurities and feelings of worthlessness stay with us for years, sometimes forever, causing us to avoid wearing short dresses and doing fun things, and ruining our relationships with our significant others.
It’s time to stop. Stop hating our cellulite. Stop loathing our bodies. Stop hiding behind layers of clothing. Stop staying at home on sunny days because we are embarrassed of what people may think of our dimply thighs (nobody is looking at them, trust me). Stop wasting our money on treatments that don’t work. Stop complaining about it and teaching our daughters to do the same. Stop letting our cellulite control our self-worth.
We are not our cellulite. Each one of us is an amazing and beautiful person who happens to have cellulite. And that’s fine. It’s ok. It really is. It may not feel like it now, but you can make your peace with your cellulite too. I did. Although I still wish sometimes that someone created a cream that removed the chicken bumps for good, I don’t hate myself and my body because of my cellulite anymore.
I never thought I’d get there but I did. Getting the facts straight (ie. cellulite is a normal female characteristic turned into something awful by an industry that profits by it) rather than the myths propagated by the media (cellulite is an illness that only affects the lazy) helped me accept my cellulite. Consuming media that makes me feel good about myself, surrounding myself with positive people, focusing more on inner beauty, and enjoying the moment contributed too.
Now I can rock miniskirts, go to the beach, and do a lot of stuff that before I refused to do because I felt too ashamed and self-conscious. My cellulite is still there for everyone to see, but I don’t care about it anymore. I don’t even remember that it’s there. Its just not important anymore. And it is so liberating.
Accepting cellulite as part of your body means freedom. It frees you, and those around you too. It gives your daughter, your family, and your friends a positive example to look up to. It shows them that you can have cellulite and be beautiful, sexy, confident, loved, and worthy.
So, own it with pride and confidence.
How do you feel about your cellulite?