Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank you kitty

Isidingo actress Kate Tilley is CLEO's brand spanking new guest blogger for the month. In our August issue she opens up about her struggle with anorexia (page 123). This is her space to chat more about herself and answer any questions you have. Send them to cleo@caxton.co.za

I would like to officially cut the red ribbon and start my first CLEO blog with my strongest and most desired wish for every gal out there. My wish is that we all learn to celebrate our physical and inner differences that make us beautiful and unique individuals! Hang on a second before you yawn: I’m not for one minute going to bore you with preaching. I want to put your minds at rest, and clarify that I realise it’s normal and healthy to want to feel fabulous and beautiful about the way we look. Who would I be trying to kid if I said otherwise? But it’s not normal and healthy when who you are becomes about your physical appearance.

I decided to start my blog with this theme because I was somewhat inspired by a little event that took place in front of the fireplace last night. An event that caused, yes, a light bulb moment. A moment that made me aware of my true and raw inner beauty that makes me (I’m going to coin this term) Kate Tilley perfection! Before I begin my story, I’d just like to say, thank you kitty (another term I’m coining and will be making use of in my future blogs). Right, so my story begins…

I have a little cat named Mischa. For starters, Mischa is a truly unique little cat! I got her from a small pet shop about four years ago. She was the tiny runt of the litter, just a small ball of black fluff with two enormous golden eyes and, wait for it, no voice! Seriously, she couldn’t meow! Despite her odd looks and even odder vocal attributes, I found her to be just too irresistible for words. So, without permission from my family, I scooped her up and took her home! As you might have figured, Mischa was probably rescued from the streets of Jozi and was disease- and flea-ridden. It took a couple of weeks and some serious TLC until she started to warm to the idea that we would love her despite her peculiarities.

To cut a long story short, over the past four years, Mischa hasn’t transformed into any kind of swan. In fact, she’s developed into a fluff of black fur with bushbaby eyes, wobbling around on short, stunted legs and has revealed a tongue that hangs out involuntarily. And, believe it or not, Mischa still has no voice! She’s also turned into the most unlikely of cats in her nature and temperament. Unlike the majority of cats you and I know, Mischa doesn’t like to laze about, she doesn’t like fish or milk, she doesn’t enjoy being smothered with love and strokes, and she doesn’t even like laps! Despite Mischa’s eccentricity and, dare I say, unlovable nature, my family has grown to love her for who she is. At first I had a hard time accepting that she didn’t want to be picked up or loved, but I soon came to accept it.

So it was to my sheer and utter delight that yesterday night, after four years of living with my family and with six different laps to choose from, Mischa chose my lap! Of course, I sat as still as a mouse for a whole 45 minutes just wanting to make the moment last forever. And it was in those 45 minutes that I thought that there must be something special about me, something beautiful that transcends any kind of physical beauty, to make Mischa choose my lap and choose to be loved by me tonight instead of one of my other family members! Her choice had nothing to do with how I looked - it was my true beauty she was drawn to, namely all the things that make me Kate Tilley perfection! Perhaps it’s the similar kind of inner beauty that made me choose Mischa when I found her at the pet shop. Last night, this sense of being okay with who I am, regardless of how I look on the outside, was probably one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced!

It was this sense of acceptance and love of my true beauty (from both myself and Mischa) that made me wish I had allowed myself to experience it and celebrate it all those years ago during my struggle with anorexia. I now realise that my anorexia was a way of trying to attain something I already possessed: not just perfection, but Kate Tilley perfection. It was because I had no sense of self-worth or self-love that I strove to be what I thought other people would see as good enough. Something I now realise, no matter how much I starved myself or over exercised, or how hard I tried to overachieve and please others, could never reveal my inner beauty. So my challenge to all of you this week is to find one thing about yourself - whether it’s physical or not - that makes you perfect. Then, celebrate that one thing by making it known to others (humans, animals or even plants… just share it with something!) Perhaps if we all do this, we can bring a smile to our faces, which in turn (and this is scientifically proven) can bring smiles to other people’s faces!

Ladies, I would now like to invite you to feel free to share and ask any questions about anything to do with eating disorders or body image. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and share some of my experiences of living with and managing an eating disorder. And if I feel I can’t answer you, rest assured that I will consult a professional who’s trained to deal with such a question and get back to you.

So let me love you and leave you with my last words… thank you kitty! I hope all of you have a thank you kitty moment this week!

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