I recently saw one of the beautiful bloggers I follow, Alex from Days of Daydreaming, ask if anyone would be willing to write about their own Body Confidence journey. Her aim, is to get people talking openly about this issue & I knew I wanted to be a part of it straight away! So, with Alex’s guidance, I’ve created this post to talk openly about my battles with confidence, what I’ve learnt & how I keep myself on the right path.
From a young age, I was aware that my body didn’t look like those people on TV, film or magazines. When I was young I was always told ‘ it’s just puppy fat’ & ‘ you’ll grow into your body’ this made me think that at some point my body will magically transform into the women I saw all around me.
I’ve always had small breasts, small waist & wide hips/bum/thighs. Feeling out of proportion and abnormal. I’ve always been aware of my freckles, moles & body hair too. I felt like they were all imperfections & that I should be smooth & completely blemish free, like all the billboards & magazines. Growing up through the nineties & noughties, where women were all photoshopped past all recognition, meant I was always trying to strive for completely impossible beauty standards.
This thought process led me to having an unhealthy relationship with both food & exercise. As soon as I turned 18, I joined my first gym & started to diet. As I’ve always had wide hips, a sizeable bum & thick thighs, my aim to was make them ‘normal’. What started off as way to get healthy & loose a bit of weight, became a bit of an obsession.
I would try to barely eat any food & go to the gym nearly every day. I lost a lot of weight & my top half dropped from a size 14 to a 6. But, my bottom half, remained a size 10. I remember feeling so disheartened. I tried harder to make my bottom half slimmer, which led to my boobs & upper body, basically disappearing. I was essentially abusing my body, but people were always telling me how great I looked. Even though I was unhealthy. Thankfully for me, I had people around me, who helped me stop being as strict with my food & exercise before it went too far.
Fast forward to my 3rd year of university, not only was I under a large amount of pressure with my degree, I was also struggling with personal circumstances. This led to me completely abusing my body. I never seemed to have time to eat properly, with work, uni, family & home life. I constantly ate quick junk foods at random times of the day & night & before I knew it, I was a size 16 and severely anaemic.
For some women, size 16, is a beautiful size & shape to be. But I knew that for my height & shape, this was not my body at its healthiest.
During this time, I visited a friend in Taiwan. During the trip, a group of us visited a lagoon with a waterfall. Lots of people were jumping into the water from the top. I couldn’t do it. I hated the thought of getting up there & everyone looking at me, seeing all of me, or watching me wobble as I climb up the rocks. I look back now & wish I hadn’t been so silly, those people didn’t care. But in that moment, I hated it. My own body confidence has held me back from doing a lot of things & looking back at moments like this, I wish I hadn’t been so worried or insecure.
After a trip to Taiwan, I started to come to terms with my personal issues & decided I needed to make a change. I planned out healthy & balanced meals, I took control of my exercise. I ran 3/4 times a week (only for 20-30mins or so) and I started doing yoga as way to de-stress & tone.
Once my weight & shape stabilised around a size 10/12, I knew this was where my body shape should be & where I feel at my healthiest.
Another one of my main struggles, I have had with my own body confidence, is clothing. I definitely don’t have the shape of the ‘normal’ woman, that most clothes in the high street are based on. I will often try on clothes, that are loose & tight, in all the wrong places. I would always tell myself, this is because my body isn’t normal. But, one of the things I have learnt, is that most/all women have this problem! Theirs only a handful of lucky people who can walk into a high street store & know, that anything in their ‘size’, will definitely fit.
Over time, I started to learn which shops have clothes that suit my shape & that its ok to not be the same size in every shop. There have been times, when I have bought clothes and paid for them to be made shorter, more fitted & less fitted. Most dry cleaners offer a basic tailoring service & for £10.00 you can modify a high street dress to fit you perfectly.
I’m now 26 ( nearly 27 ) and I can say I’m at a point where I can love my wobbly bits, my freckles, moles & my imperfections. Body Confidence to me, is being happy with my own unique shape & feeling healthy. I found that once I stopped comparing myself to everyone else, I could help grow my own body confidence.
One way I do this, is I choose carefully what type of people & imagery I surround myself with. Whether this is TV shows, magazines or social media. These can all be very fake places but especially, Instagram. Everyone is constantly flooded with pictures of perfect women & their bodies, which look ‘candid’ but have a whole team of makeup artists & stylists behind the camera, helping get the ‘perfect image’.
I try to mainly follow women who are smart, healthy, funny & most importantly normal. For me, I find it’s really important to stay away from those accounts which promote impossible beauty standards & ridiculous body modifications. (Even I can’t help the odd snoop on Kylie Jenners page, but I try not to only follow lots of these types of accounts)
One thing I have also found, that helps me feel more body confident, is caring for myself. It may seem trivial, but when I really take the time to look after my body, it will always help improve my confidence. This could be anything from putting on a hair mask or giving myself a mani/pedi, to changing my diet & eating healthier. Although they seem like small things, self care is one of the most important things you can do, learning to love yourself and looking after your body go hand in hand with each other.
Don’t get me wrong, of course, I have moments when I hate my body & hate the way all my clothes look & feel. (Like everyone) But this will pass & I’ll have days where I feel great too. All of that is completely normal!
It took a long time for me to realise that I have my own body shape & no matter how much I diet or exercise, there are things that I can’t change about my body. Which is fine, as they are what makes me, me!