Raise your hand if you’re bored of hearing the term body confidence? And keep them raised if you’re also kind of bored of seeing bloggers and journalists write about it? Yep – my hand is still in the air too. But I’m going to roll with it and pray that this is the last time I ever feel the need to address this issue…
I rarely post bikini photos, I find I put too much pressure on myself to look perfect and my total bitch of a self-critic just slates whatever the result is because it’s never how I would LOVE to look. Even if I look good there’s usually something I’d still like to change. But I had a rare moment of feeling like I looked banging a few weeks back and popped an Insta Story up in a couple of new bikinis. I was feeling myself! My body looked good, I felt happy and for once I didn’t look in the mirror and think “ugh vile” or “I look okay but I’d look better if I had ab lines/ lost an inch here…” – because let’s face it, it’s sad but true: who doesn’t occasionally have these crappy niggling thoughts when we look in the mirror? But I received a few messages which left me in a totally weird head space over it.
They went a little like this:
“I hate my body. We have the same shape and seeing that you’re able to be so accepting of yours makes me feel as though maybe I can accept mine too” – hmmm, I was not aware I was a dodecahedron trying to fit into a world of hexagonal and square holes y’know…
“we literally have the same body and I see that you’re so confident but I just can’t love myself this way. I wish I had your confidence” – wait what?! what’s unloveable about the way our bodies look?!
“You look amazing! How are you so confident with your body? My friend said we’ve got the same body but I just don’t get how you can be so happy with it. It’s not fair! “ – I mean, I was a lot happier about it before you sent me this message hun. Now THAT’S not fair.
“thick thighs thick thighs!!! It’s so refreshing to see a girl with a bit of chunk her!!” – erm….
I get it. These were all intended as compliments – or at least, disguised with the intent (perhaps I’m naive in thinking that these people genuinely wanted to compliment rather than neg me? But I really think they meant no harm) It is nice to know that I have helped others feel better about themselves in a world where many of us go online and leave feeling worse off. But when I had those messages, all I felt was wrong. As per usual with the internet, it was the negative things that stuck to me more than the positive.
Phrases like “hate my body” in a sentence comparing it to mine instantly triggered me to think, should I hate my body? Ugh, yeah, come to think of it, I do hate my body… Since then, I’ve had other people message me saying they greatly admire the fact I am so body confident – like it’s a weird thing to see somebody like me be body confident – and hearing things such as me accepting my body made me feel like that’s unusual. Why is it weird and unusual for me to accept my body? To only ACCEPT my body? What is wrong with my body? Is it unacceptable to others?
Helen Anderson did a YouTube video on this recently, as well as a blog post, discussing people making judgements on her body. I think she dealt with it and put it into words far better than I could. And the truth is, I do get offended when people say they admire me for my confidence and being “happy in your own skin” – I understand they’re trying to be nice, but it’s almost saying that there’s something not quite right with my body, and that my ability to be happy with it is weird and misplaced. In saying it, it’s as though they’re questioning how I could be happy with my body. And it does offend me, because then it makes me question what’s wrong with me that makes it so hard to love and accept? Then I start to see my flaws – the things that people like to remind me aren’t “normal” (by Instagram standards…) – and start to fixate on them, and think of ways I can change them.
In Helen’s video, she mentioned how that anything outside of a slim size 6-8 is often seen as erring more to being plus size. Is it because we’re so used to seeing this typical image of a “popular” body on Instagram – slim in a very leggy, long-limbed way, and predominantly white – that we think anything outside of that is abnormal and worth commenting on? Which, in reality, is such a skewed vision because if we take a look at the women around us on the streets every day, everyone is different. In fact, there is no real normal.
Hell, I know I’m not stick thin. I get a daily reminder of it when I do the putting-on-my-jeans-dance. You know? Where you grab your belt loops, jump around like a bunny, lunge left, lunge right, and shimmy your bum a bit? I have curves, but I still fluctuate between buying an 8, then sometimes 10s or 6s – and I know I’ll probably have some of you reading this thing wtf you’re not big at all? And I don’t think that I am. Honestly, every day I wake up in the morning, and I look in the mirror like the vain sod that I am, and I can happily say that I like my body. Sometimes it looks good. Sometimes it doesn’t. But in general, I like my body. It’s only when I go on to social media, or I receive certain comments that make me feel like I’m not normal, that the insecurities start to eat away at me and it turns my body into a vanity project rather than something functional. No, I’m not skinny, and yes I do feel weighed down with that being the ideal beauty standard in society, but it takes me from liking my body to questioning it and putting a magnifier up to every tiny flaw.
I feel so conflicted writing this post, as I know that my issues don’t lie with peoples comments on my body, but the hangups and deeper-rooted issues that these DM’s trigger. It’s the same ingrained way of thinking, and messages across traditional and social media, that constantly reminds us skinny is the only real way to be beautiful – a bullshit message that I totally detest and disagree with, especially when I look at the beauty in diversity of shapes, sizes, and colours of the women I see every day.
You can hardly blame anyone that works in an industry where your value is often based on your appearance in getting caught up with these emotions. But I know that my value and worth as a person has to come from elsewhere. I came into this career as a blogger/ influencer because I love to write, but as I’ve spent less time writing and more time growing my Instagram over the past months, I’ve started to value myself less as a person and become less confident in myself.
We all grew up on a diet of skinny girl culture, and we’re still living in it – just rather on the tv and in the magazines, it’s on our phones and notifications. But right now, we’re also in this movement where as women, we’re trying to work on redefining our relationship with our bodies. Embracing them for our strength, their ability, the fact that they work and house a skeleton and a bunch of gooey organs, and allow us to experience and truly live our lives, rather than punishing ourselves for not looking the way society has always dictated we should look. We are making progress. We’ve spent so long trying to reclaim this, that every time I let a comment like this upset me, I feel like I’m undoing any good work other people in this whole self-love, body-confidence movement has been doing.
It’s going to take time retraining my thought process on this. And more importantly – I’m going to stop talking about it. My body, body confidence, or lack of it. Or at least I’m going to try not to. When you give your time and energy discussing these things, it just legitimises the issues. If we all keep talking about body confidence – for good and for bad, really – it’s still another way of overanalysing and dissecting our bodies on so many levels and it’s unhealthy. It’s wasted energy! And I encourage you to perhaps not comment on others bodies. What you see as a compliment may be a negative to them. It may highlight a perceived flaw they’ve been trying hard to get over. I’ve had to go back and think about what I’ve said to people in the past – but the truth is you just don’t always know how it will affect somebody.
Tbc guys, I guess.
Photography by Allie from Rush and Teal // Robe is by Intimissimi