Today’s post is the first in a series about body confidence.
Recently, I’ve felt that body confidence has become a growing issue in my life. I’m reading about it more, hearing people chat about it and I’ve come to the realisation that I need to improve mine.
For this series, I’ve chatted to some other bloggers who would like to be involved. To see their posts, keep an eye on my Twitter (@alexdaydreaming) and look out for my next post. Through this, I aim to get people discussing body confidence, what it means to them and how to improve it or help others. If you’d like to get involved, feel free to make your own post, contact me via my Contact page, or message me on Twitter.
First, I wanted to talk about my journey with body confidence. It has always been my weight that has stopped me from being body confident. I was always a ‘chubby’ kid. I can remember from the age of at least 7 being conscious of the way I looked, wanting to lose weight and being called ‘fat’ as an insult. Surely 7 is too young to be worrying about this kind of thing? I can’t remember getting too upset about it in primary school as although I was called fat, I had a good group of friends and wasn’t too worried about what people thought. I would wear whatever I wanted – which as often a tank top and skirt from Tammy – and not care what anyone else thought.
I think I started to become conscious of what I was wearing when I started dancing. I was about 11 and my body was starting to change but I suddenly felt like I was bigger than everyone else (even though looking back, I know I was slightly bigger but nowhere near how I felt). At dance, all the other girls wore tight tank tops but I just couldn’t – I hated how I looked in them – and tight show outfits were a nightmare. Thinking about it, this all stems around my stomach.
When I got to secondary school, things got a bit worse. All the pressures of high school were there and I was so much more aware of how I looked and how my body was changing. Being called fat was still going on but it was never a constant thing – it was thrown at me in an argument or when someone told me someone else had called me that, as if it was the worst thing in the world that you could be. It wasn’t all the time so I could deal with it but it started to upset me a lot more and made me think ‘so that’s what people think of me.’ At this point, my body confidence was quite low and I found it hard to feel nice about myself.
I think that the added pressure of the fact that I was starting to become interested in boys and dating just brought me down even further. I had so many boy friends and got on so well with them but if I started to like them more, and told them about it, they were never interested. All I thought was ‘maybe they’d like me if I was skinny’ or ‘they might actually like me but won’t want to go out with me because of how I look and their friends would laugh at them.’
Having said that, growing boobs was honestly one of the best things that happened to me! This may sound strange, and from other body confidence posts and videos I’ve seen, many people felt more conscious of their body when this happened. For me, it gave me something that made me feel confident. It made me feel womanly and more grown up and it was something I liked about my body. Looking back, I realise that my body confidence issues revolve around my stomach. I hated it and to some extent still do. I wouldn’t wear clothes that showed it in any way and would dread P.E as people might see it as I changed. I hated the shape, that it stuck out, that it was quite podgy.
I think this was the worst thing for me and it affected me all throughout high school. It makes me angry to think about it now because this insecurity about my body didn’t just arise from thin air. Yes, there is societies perception of attractive which contributed to it as all I saw from the media was that you had to have a flat stomach. But as well as this, I let other people, who are completely meaningless to me now, bring me down so far that I couldn’t ever feel completely good about the way I looked.
When I got to Sixth Form, no one called me fat anymore but the damage was already done and I felt horrid about my body. However, I started to get more male attention and this was when I started seeing my current boyfriend. I hate to admit it but this made me feel somewhat better about my body. I don’t like the fact that it was male attention that made me feel better about myself but I’m still grateful for it; it sparked something in me to do something that would allow me to feel better about my body for ME. I don’t believe in changing yourself to for anyone and I never did this but I think it was something about the validation of other people that increased my self-worth and made me feel good about myself and my body. In fact, I have my boyfriend to thank for a lot of this. I felt that if he couldn’t care less about the size of my stomach, why should I? And this has helped me so much as I feel like now, I don’t care about what other people think about me.
Despite this, I’ve definitely still got body confidence issues. Just because I don’t care anymore about what other people think, I still care about what I think about myself and this is what I need to work on. I hate my stomach and recently, an insecurity about my arms has appeared.
This is what I want to change. I want to be able to reassure myself that my body is fine the way it is and I don’t need other people to tell me this before I actually believe it. Therefore, I’ve set myself some body confidence goals:
- Accept that it is literally just an arm and a stomach. I need them and that’s it. No one will even pay any attention to it, so I don’t need to either.
- Accept my hips and the curves of my body. It runs in the family and I should embrace it.
- Be more active. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I’ve started going to the gym. This is in an attempt to make both my body and my mind healthier. I’ve found that doing this has calmed some of my anxious feelings and made me feel like I’m being productive about feeling good about myself.
- Lose the fear of bodycon clothes and wear whatever I feel comfortable in.
- Maintain the lack of interest in what other people think about the way I look.
- Discuss body confidence to help others.
I’ve also written with some body confidence questions that you’re more than welcome to answer yourself:
What makes you feel good about yourself?
Clothes wise, skirts and dresses mostly make me feel good about myself and the way my body looks. Being active always make me feel good too as I feel like I’m actually taking care of my body.
Do you feel pressured to look a certain way?
I mean, so much less so now than before but yes. Mainstream media still presents a certain image as attractive and I definitely feel pressured to look this way. But I’m also old enough now to know that it’s not realistic; everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. So, I feel it but I know that I don’t need to adhere to it.
How would you like to improve your body confidence?
In short, I would just love to be comfortable in myself with the way my body looks. At this point, it’s not for anyone else. I just want to finally not worry about how my body looks.
Has anyone else ever made you feel insecure about your body?
YES. Definitely. I think this is mostly where my lack of body confidence came from. When I was younger, I thought what everyone else thought of my body was what defined it, which I think is natural. But now, except for perhaps my boyfriend, I couldn’t care less what people thought.
Has your body confidence ever stopped you from doing anything?
I have to say that it hasn’t stopped me from doing anything other than wearing clothes I wanted to wear. There has been, and still is, many times where I want to wear something but I feel so insecure about my body that I don’t. Luckily, I’ve never missed out on anything because of it. I’ve been close to missing things but I always push myself past it.
How do you deal with a day of low body confidence?
For me, I always feel better when I have a bit of a pamper morning/evening. I’ll use nice products in the shower, cleanse my face and use a really great face mask and then watch a feel-good TV show, most likely Friends or That 70’s Show. I don’t know how to make myself feel better about my body in this situation so instead, I’ll distract myself with something comforting. If you have any better tips, I’d love to hear them!
Is there anything you could add or remove from your life that would make you feel more body confident? Why?
I think that now, there isn’t much I can remove except for how I compare myself to others but that is a lot easier said than done! Previously, I needed to remove the negative people who brought me down but now, I can truthfully say that I’ve done that.
So that concludes this post. Keep an eye on my Twitter for the rest of the posts in the series as well as links to posts from other bloggers. I would really love for people to get involved so if you answer these questions or make your own post, leave a link to it as I’d love to read it!