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Body Image: Dealing With It

BODY POSITIVITY, what does it mean?

Everyone seems to be talking about it so it must be relatively straightforward….

For me, it’s anything but.

On the surface I think body positivity and body image are a state of mind, an attitude we all strive for.

Beneath that, it’s about self acceptance and learning to love yourself. That is a huge thing for someone to invest in and we shouldn’t give ourselves or other people a hard time for struggling with it.

I find it ironic that I am writing a blog post about this. Me! Someone who has struggled with a negative relationship with their body so much that the words body and positive rarely make it into the same sentence. Yet here I am. Here are my thoughts...

I’ll start by saying that confidence in general is such an ambiguous subject. Everyone is different and it’s easy to create an image of ourselves that we want people to see.

Some people may seem confident yet lack any self belief, just as those who seem unassuming can have no issues with their self esteem.  

It’s an important thing to talk about and bring attention to, not just for those who suffer from a lack of confidence, in their bodies or otherwise, but for everyone. From understanding comes empathy - and we could all do with a little more of that!

The way I understand body positivity is as a social movement based on the idea that everyone of all body types should feel positive about the way they look.

That, as an idea, is lovely. Lovely though it may be, I think it is completely unrealistic for some people.

In today’s world we are met with the relentless pressures of social media and perfectly perfected magazines. Not to discredit the fabulous work done by the likes of Jameela Jamil and other body positive activists but the pressure is there and it is real. It can be difficult to feel good about yourself.

That being said, the harshest critic of all is ourselves.

I’m all about the aesthetic….

There is no lipstick too bright and no pattern too outrageous. I delight in defying the fashion ‘rules’ that people take too seriously. Less is definitely not more and red and green should absolutely be seen.

My beloved makeup and clothes give me the CONFIDENCE I need to be myself. I never leave the house undone.

Isn’t it strange that it’s by hiding behind such materialistic things that I can be my best self? I can’t decide if that’s interesting or just sad.

My point is, once all the materials that we use to present ourselves the way we want to be seen are stripped away, what’s left?

That’s what needs to be addressed. The relationship we have with ourselves. It is so important but can be so difficult to develop and nurture.

It is a harsh lesson that I’m still learning. The most valuable thing  I’ve learned so far, is that the way we look after ourselves internally has a direct affect on the way we look. That is, the way we see ourselves.

If we dedicated the same amount of time being kind to ourselves as we do bashing ourselves, body positivity would not be something we had to strive for.

It’s important to look after yourself and so much of that comes from listening to what your body is telling you. I mean both physically and mentally, everything from a balanced diet to checking in with yourself regularly.

#selfcare and all that.

Seriously though, dedicating time as often as you need it can make the world of difference. Go for a walk. Light some candles and go for a long bath. Hell, chuck some mood music into the mix if you’re feeling extra indulgent. Get your hair done. Eat the chocolate. Sorry…. I digress.

Feeling good looks good! Wear what makes you feel fabulous - whether that be a hoodie and leggings or a hot pink suit - if what you’re wearing gives you confidence, take it!

There is no shame in taking inspiration from people you admire but make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Trying to be more like other people isn’t going to make you more confident in yourself.

I went through a stage of about two years that I refused to be in any photographs because I hated what I looked like. I started to make jokes about they way I looked and that became my attitude towards my body and it’s ‘image’.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t take any compliments from people. Nothing was ever good enough and I genuinely hated how I looked from my hair to my weight. I had no positive feelings towards my body whatsoever.

Everywhere was telling me to ‘love myself’ yet I couldn’t do it.  

As I’ve gotten older (because 21 is so mature), I’ve realised that I’m probably never going to love my body but I’m ok with that. It doesn’t mean I can’t be kind to it.

You can be as dolled up as you like but no outfit or makeover is going to make you like yourself.

Validation does not come from what you look like or what others think of you, it’s what you think of yourself.

A few months ago, after a particularly rough time, I went to see Mary Poppins Returns. There is a point to this, I promise….

Firstly, if you haven’t seen it already then why not?

Secondly, I think Disney do a fabulous job in putting over important messages, usually through song and who doesn’t love a good Disney ballad?

There is one song in particular called ‘A Cover Is Not A Book’ and oh my goodness, if there was ever a song more relevant to this subject. It literally says:

“... a cover is not a book so open it up and take a look… don’t let the outside be the guide … what really counts and matters is the special stuff inside.”

As hideously cheesy as it is, it just sums up exactly what I set out to say. Maybe I should have started with that. Oh well.

We need to treat our body with the respect it deserves!!!

It’s the only one you’ve got, it’s gotten you this far and it’s going to be taking you a whole lot further - you may as well be on good terms with each other. I realise that this has been a rambling of my ideas and doesn’t really answer any questions but hopefully it’s a perspective that can help someone.

So, the main things I’d like for somebody to take away are:

It starts with you. Whether you can barely look at yourself in the mirror or think that you look pretty damn good, the positivity comes from the way we interact with ourselves.

Positive body image is what you make it. It’s an attitude that we can all adopt when thinking of ourselves and other people. Some people’s confidence in their appearance can be much better than others but things are not always as simple as they seem.

It’s easy to act confident and if wearing a sequin jacket is going to help with that, DO IT! It is absolutely ok not to LOVE your body. Do you know anyone who genuinely loves everything about the way they look? If you do then fabulous, more power to them.  Ask them to share their secrets, but in reality we all have something(s) we wish we could change.

We’re only human.

Some days you’ll think you’ve found the formula to self love and then the next day  you could feel right back at the beginning. These self destructive days make self love next to impossible.

That’s why I would encourage you to really embrace and develop the body positivity and acceptance when you’re having a good day. When you feel good, do good.

The only reason I can sit and say all of this is because I’m in a good space at the moment, who’s to say that in a weeks time I won’t have to refer back to this just to remind myself to practice what I preach?

Resist the need to compare yourself to everyone else - it will just make you sad. Invest that scrolling time into looking after yourself.

Watch Mary Poppins Returns. Or listen to the soundtrack at least

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