Me, my self-esteem and my body don’t have the greatest relationship. I’ve gone from being so scarily thin in my early teens, struggling with a body disorder, being a “healthy weight” but convincing myself I was over weight in my late teens & early 20s, piling on a lot of weight, slimming down to a “healthy weight” again in my mid-20s and now I’m back to struggling with my weight and body confidence issues yet again. It feels like a constant nightmare, which I can’t wake up from and it keeps replaying. Body confidence and feeling confident in your own skin is something most women struggle with, on many occasions throughout their lives.
Every person (including men) probably struggle with body confidence at one time or another. As men and women we are bombarded with images of how we are supposed to look. Women in particular have to constantly deal with the media trying to sell the idea that as a woman, our value lies in our youth, beauty and sexuality. We are bombarded with messages telling us we need to look a certain way, act/behave in a certain way, comparing ourselves to others and we end up believing these messages.
I am still the girl who walks into a room with my head down because I’m terrified of what people’s first assumptions are about me. I always wonder if people assume I’m rude. I recently went to a blogging event and I was the only blogger there who was above a size 12/14. My face was swollen anyway as I’d had a reaction to some food I’m intolerant to the day before. I do suffer from anxiety but I instantly felt like I was being judged by everyone else there because I wasn’t as slim as the other girls. As I was eating brunch, I noticed a group of women on the table opposite making comments about my weight and they kept pointing/laughing/staring at me. This is just one example of how one person or a group of people can make one person feel so low.
We pass judgement without thinking, it’s human nature after all. Although things are improving, as more of us are opening up and talking about topics which are considered taboo, such as periods. There is still a huge stigma around periods and women seem to have a lack of confidence when on their period. Women are talking more openly about what products they use. Women are talking openly about how they feel uncomfortable wearing certain clothes which they normally would, how they feel unsexy in granny knickers to keep their sanitary towel in place. The benefit from open-ness such as this is period panties such as Knixteen now exist. Imagine no leaks?! Underwear which does the job of a towel AND it’s so much better for the environment.
Last year I surprised myself with regards to my confidence, as I booked in for a photoshoot with my good friend Laura (definitely check out her website, Laura Haley Photography). It was a spur of the moment kind of booking. Although I know Laura well anyway, she helped me feel at ease in front of the camera and I was surprised that I actually managed to go through with the shoot and didn’t completely bottle it. I was also quite shocked when Laura sent me the final photographs, at how I looked in front of the camera (in a good way).
I don’t want to look in the mirror and instantly think about how much I hate myself, anymore. I don’t want to worry about what others think of me. I don’t want to compare myself to others and wonder why I don’t look like that. We need to value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes. Body confidence is a process and it differs for each individual. However, I want to be proud of the woman I have become. We are all so much more than our bodies. I am more than my body.