Yes, I’m doing it, I’m writing the inevitable body image blog post. It is a style blogger rite of passage and in case that isn’t reason enough, I already have another excuse lined up, as it is Body Confidence Week.
I actually started writing this post back in April, after 2000 words and only a third of the way through, I realised it had become moany monologue (a moanologue?) and while it was quite cathartic to write, it is not something I want to inflict upon the world. My body and I have always had a rocky relationship, probably in no small part because I refer to it in the third person, it’s definitely a wild ride and something I have to continually work on. So I thought I’d rework my original draft into something a bit more constructive – the lessons I have learnt, then forgotten and learnt again. Hopefully sharing them will help me remember them.
Body confidence has nothing to do with how you actually look
It has everything to do with how you feel. The moments I have felt content, pleased with my body or happy in my own skin have been when I have felt strong, fit, healthy, exhilarated, well-rested or pampered. When you feel good, you look good. Work on how you feel rather than change the way you look.
Look after your body
This is one of life’s most important rules, yet it is the one I am pretty much always bending and often outright flouting. Crimes against self love include forgetting to feed yourself properly, depriving yourself of sleep and being a bitch to yourself. Self-neglect is hard habit to break, but real body confidence begins by knowing you are worth looking after. When you’re busy and things start to slip, go back to basics: eat well, drink more water, sleep or rest when you need to, move more, go for a walk, dance to your favourite song and be kind to yourself, and I mean being super lovely to yourself.
Changing your size won’t necessarily make you happier with your body
I’ve been skinny, average and overweight, none have resulted in instant happiness and contentment, each had their pros and cons. If you are fixated on your appearance in a dysfunctional way, getting one thing right just means you’ll move your attention onto the next body part. Focus on the things you love about yourself, work on being happy, not perfect.
Only buy clothes that fit and make you feel fabulous
Clothes can help! Of course we have all had wardrobe angst and changing room dramas (it can’t just be me) but when you find the right clothes, they really do make it much better. Don’t worry about the size you want to be in, that is just a label, only ever buy things that fit well and feel good. Don’t settle for the first thing you grab because it is easier, seek out the beautiful and comfortable items that your gorgeous body deserves to wear. This takes time and money of course, but start infiltrating your wardrobe with lovely things, aiming towards only owning things you utterly adore.
Be nice to and about strangers
I have heard kind, generous people, who I love dearly, make negative comments about strangers across the room or passers-by due to their size, fashion sense, hairstyle or body modifications. I have also heard strangers mutter things about me, and in some cases confront me directly with insults (seriously uncool ladies). How someone looks, what they choose to wear or how they present their body is none of your business, you don’t have to like it. Comments always say more about the person uttering them than their subject. If you hear one, ignore it. If you’re about to make one, stop and ask yourself why.
Keep it in perspective
Today I feel pretty rough, so I went to work with no make up on and my hair just grabbed back in one of those lazy half pony-tails. There is no way I’d post a selfie today as it’s not how I’d choose to be seen. However, I can still leave the house and get stuff done. Contrary to what cheap celeb mags suggest, no one is going to be traumatised by a woman not wearing make up.
You are beautiful right now – appreciate it
I hated the way I looked when I was younger, my face, my body, the whole package, but when I look back at photographs, I actually looked alright! I just didn’t know it or feel it, but I wish I had so that I could have enjoyed the way I looked at the time. I fully intend to get improve with age, I’m definitely more confident now and looking forward to things getting even better as I get older. I don’t always look or feel good now, but I do know that when I am in my forties and fifties, I’ll look back and think I looked great. Now I realise that, I always try to appreciate how I look and to feel beautiful right now.
Compliment others and let yourself be complimented
Everyone needs to learn how to accept compliments right now! I did this on a self-confidence adult-ed course, we all had to give and accept a compliment with the other people in the room. It was quietly hilarious being in a room full of uncomfortable, shy, socially awkward strangers each trying to be genuinely nice to each and accept the niceness in return. It made me realise that giving and receiving compliments are both difficult. Giving compliments can make you feel great, but having one rejected can knock your confidence. If I tell a friend they look fabulous and they disagree, I get really frustrated. I don’t think they are being modest, I think they are basically telling me they don’t value my opinion, which makes me sad. If someone compliments you, just say thank you!
Your body is amazing!
Listen to your heartbeat, do some deep breathing, think about all the things your body does automatically. When you have or live with someone with chronic illness, you realise how wondrous the human body is when it works! Appreciate how your body works as well as how it looks. Don’t forget how amazing your body is.