Malin Andersson: “I Still Bear Scars From the Changes I Made to My Body”

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Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It has taught me, looking back at my younger self, that I wish I hadn’t meddled with my appearance at all. But maybe hindsight is not so beautiful, as I can’t turn back time. I can’t undo any of the surgery I had; or at least most of my aesthetic procedures on my already youthful face.

“Oh Malin, you always had this inner-glow about you growing up. Care-free and tomboy-like. You weren’t at all concerned as a child about how you looked, because nobody had told you anything different. You put all of your soul into having fun and integrating play and wonder into your childhood.

So what went wrong? Why did you feel the need to try and change the body you were once so comfortable in? It was your safe space. Your home.”

I can see it now that I’m 31. As I’m sitting here typing this, I can feel a surge of gratitude for the growth that I have endured over the past two years. I’ve finally come to accept that the way I look has nothing to do with needing anyone’s validation. It has nothing to do with needing to be loved. I just needed to love myself.

Oh I wish I knew this when I was younger.

I’ve put my body through an insane amount of hurt and pain, all in the pursuit of the beauty standards society has placed on us. I made choices based on wanting people to accept me. I thought that if I changed something, anything, maybe I would feel the love that I didn’t have for myself.

“Entering Love Island in my 20s catapulted me into being an object for people to observe, spectate and comment on. A meatsuit.”

Between the ages of 16 and 25 that amounted to liposuction, two breast uplifts, nipple correction, endless lip filler and botox – something so normalised in the way we live, but it never fixed anything. I wish these procedures came with a warning. A warning that our appearance may change, but our bodies might not function the same as they used to. And our minds? They may get a temporary confidence boost but the healing that is required to truly love yourself, that’s not included in the price.

I remember breastfeeding my daughter Xaya, five years post-surgery, and looking down at my nipples which are now misshaped. That I didn’t mind so much. My daughter failing to latch on? That hurt.

What about my stomach? The excess stretchy skin and lumps I have from the aggressive liposuction? This I have come to accept. It serves as a reminder that we are not our bodies – we are so much more. The scars around my nipples which have completely changed in shape, the random vein across my forehead which is a result from botox, and the residue of overfilled lips and excess tissue left from abusing lip filler – it’s all a part of me now. My past lives with me through these marks.

What was beauty to me though? Being bullied as a kid and entering beauty pageants at a young age made me focus completely on my external appearance. Entering Love Island in my 20s catapulted me into being an object for people to observe, spectate and comment on. A meatsuit. Nobody spoke about my internal features such as my goofy laugh or my humour – it was solely my body. And for all of this, I forgive myself. I forgive myself for allowing an external world of hurt people to hurt me.

So what did I do to bring myself to a place of acceptance? I had to visit the parts of me that I thought were unlovable – this wasn’t my lips, my stomach or my breasts. In fact I didn’t focus on any of my external body on my journey to heal. I turned inwards to situations and scenarios from my childhood that made me feel like I wasn’t enough. And slowly, after revisiting these memories, I was able to release the pain, shame and guilt knowing now that it wasn’t me. I had just grown up in a world where my parents, people around me, the media and other influences told me I wasn’t good enough.

“Really ask yourself, why when you look in the mirror you aren’t happy with yourself?”

Today, I put my attention into wellness now, eating foods that make me feel good like home-made smoothies with Arella vegan collagen, a natural way to increase elasticity in my skin and help my cells without harming my body. Yoga, meditation, running – the list is endless. I do all these things to nurture myself, not to change myself.

All I would say to someone that is looking to alter their appearance through procedures is to really ask yourself: Why when you look in the mirror you aren’t happy with yourself? Is it because of what somebody has said to you? Can it change through truly accepting your beautiful self in all of your glory? What would your inner child say to you that once loved every part? I know for me, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about myself. That’s one thing I do know.

You are enough, and you’re so much more than your body.

Malin Andersson is a mental health advocate, author and speaker who works hard to use her platform to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide guidance to her following. Her raw honesty and openness in discussing her personal battles has captured the hearts of many. Malin constantly encourages her followers to take a positive outlook on life and is big on promoting self-love.

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