People worldwide struggle with self-acceptance, especially nowadays that social media has become an important factor in our lives. The journey to self-acceptance involves constant movement and is filled with ups and downs. In order to truly accept who you are, you need to get to know yourself first.
Melanie Chisholm, also known as Melanie C and Sporty Spice, is an award-winning British singer-songwriter and one of the members of the iconic girl band the Spice-Girls. In her song "who I am" Melanie reflects on her journey to self-love and acceptance. The inspiration behind the song and her eighth solo album, Melanie C, is that "we never celebrate the difficult times. We celebrate our successes always but we've got through the hard times and we really should acknowledge and celebrate it too. We can do it by just accepting every aspect of ourselves." Melanie said.
From a young age Melanie knew music was her passion and her dream came true, she was a part of the successful girl-band the Spice Girls. "I just loved it and I pursued it. I was training to work in theater because I thought the music industry was so difficult to get into. Little did I know I was going to be part of one of the biggest girl-bands of all time." Melanie said.
With fame and success comes attention, and it is not always the good kind. Magazines, paparazzi photographers, media channels, and influencers feed the public’s crave for knowledge and curiosity while leaving them wanting more. That constant attention, high expectations, and a mix of opinions about the individual lead to stress. One-day people write positive comments, but in a blink of an eye, it can go the other way around.
"There's nothing that can prepare you for fame," Melanie says. "Although you're achieving your dreams, it's hard. With all the incredible experiences you have, there's a lot of weird stuff to deal with. You're being written about. Everybody has an opinion on you. You're away from home a lot, and you're working very long hours — it's exhausting."
Dealing with the pressure of fame from the age of 20 and the constant attention on every aspect of her daily life, affected Melanie's self-esteem. In order to gain back a sense of control, Melanie started to cut back on food and exercise obsessively. "I controlled my eating, my exercise — everything I possibly could. I was underweight for a couple of years, and it was very damaging for my mental health.″ she admitted.
After Melanie got criticized for her look, her sexuality and other aspects of her life, her self-appreciation was damaged and she felt like she needed to change. She wanted to create a new version of herself, one that will be perfect and better appreciated.
"I was described as the plain one at the back. So I tried to make myself perfect. I ended up making myself really ill. I was anorexic for a few years. I was exercising obsessively and I ended up being incredibly depressed. I was in denial.”
Guilt played a role in Melanie's mental health as well. She was raised in the small industrial English town of Widnes in a working-class environment. "I come from a background where people always had to struggle to make an income and then here I was living my dream earning ridiculous amounts of money and I felt guilty, I felt like I had to deserve it and I was punishing myself by trying to make myself perfect," Melanie explained.
After the Spice Girls tour in 1998 ended, Melanie used the break to fly to LA and work on her first solo album "Northern Star". At the time Melanie was in denial about her mental health and her body signaled her what she couldn't yet say herself. "I quite quickly felt really down and I was struggling to get out of bed and I started binge eating. I think probably because my body was so starved because I hadn't eaten properly for years my body took the decision for me." Melanie said.
When Melanie was diagnosed with depression she felt relieved, she knew what she was going through has a name and that it is something that can be treated. It happened during the promotion of her first album and, even though Melanie loves her work it was a challenging time for her.
Melanie struggled to balance her career and personal life while taking care of herself and her health. Even in the darkest times she remained positive, hopeful and determined she will get better. She never lost the "flicker of hope" that things will get better.
"It was a long process, I tried a lot of different therapies. I did take antidepressants for 18 months and I've always had talking therapies which I think are very helpful when you find the right person for you – a combination of all these things helped to get me better." Melanie said.
Recovery doesn't happen overnight, it takes time and patience. Melanie's acupuncturist said to her once "it took you a long time to get yourself in this state so it's going to take you some time to get better." Melanie said.
Over the years Melanie learned how to be kinder to herself and her inner dialog with herself changed. "we can be so cruel and disgusting to ourselves with the language we use in our heads to ourselves. I made a real conscious effort to NOT allow myself to do that [use hurtful language towards myself]." Melanie said.
Melanie has been open and honest about her past struggles on interviews and in her music. In the lyrics of her song "Who I Am" Melanie reflects on her past with love, acceptance and kindness.
"When I look in the mirror I finally like what I see There's been so many changes I accept they're a part of me"
After a long inner struggle, she has grown to truly love and accept herself and she inspires her fans and followers to do the same and join her on the journey to inner freedom. "I just thought that it might be time to make peace with all that and truly accept myself on a new level,” she says.
One of the key factors for having successful relationships with others is work. You will need to work on your relationships and dedicate time and effort so you may enjoy their blossom and the wonderful benefits of friendship and love. The relationship you have with yourself is no different and you will need to work on that to be able to enjoy the wonderful feeling of freedom inside you that will allow you to blossom and thrive.
GRE Psychology By Kaplan, 2016