*DISCLAIMER: All opinions are simply my own! My intention is never to offend or upset anyone. I know that this can be such a touchy subject, but I really wanted to talk through my thoughts in the hopes that it helps someone else. When I mention the 'ideal body', I mean in terms of what society views as the ideal body, not myself.
Please don't read this if you are triggered by conversations about weight gain/loss, body image, body dysmorphia etc.
Little summer throwback!
I'm not gonna lie; I'm not the most body confident person in the world - in fact, I'm probably one of the least! Sharing this picture and opening up in this way is giving me a lot of anxiety, but I think it's important to talk and discuss these issues. I always said that I wanted to be as open and honest as I can be (without massively over-sharing!), and I personally love reading and hearing about other people's experiences because it helps me to feel less alone.
As well as being able to help other people with the kind of content I create, I also make it to help myself just as much. In the same way that I make some of the positive quotes and advice I share on Instagram, I make them because I need to hear those positive, encouraging messages too. However, writing this blog post is incredibly terrifying, because this is something that I don't really talk about with anyone. So if this does help or resonate with you, please do let me know.
So... I've gained weight over the past few years, and I'm no longer the slim size 6 girl I was at 17. Not many people talk about how it feels when your body changes as you get older, and how difficult it is to accept yourself when this happens. The majority of celebrities and people we see in the media - whether on social media, on TV, in adverts, on clothing websites - are all very similar sizes. The idea of the 'perfect' body (according to society) is one that is slim, petite, has no lumps or bumps, is flawless... I could go on. So if you don't look like that, it can have a really negative impact on your mental health, your body image, your self esteem and make you question your entire existence (or is that just me?)
A few months ago, I filmed a haul and try-on video in collaboration with Fabletics (which is honestly insane to say! I still have to pinch myself, because I LOVE Fabletics and everything they stand for), and in that video I was trying on clothes. Which, in itself, is an exercise that often makes me cower in fear, but this time I was doing it on camera. For people to watch. And potentially judge. Which is absolutely terrifying!
As I gained weight, I felt less and less confident in myself, and my love of clothing and fashion died a very quick, but painful death. I felt like I had to cover up, to hide my arms, my stomach, my legs. My wardrobe became full of long sleeved jumpers and leggings - the uniform of the uncomfortable girl. But in that video I wore things I hadn't even tried on in years, never mind worn out in public. Things like crop tops, tops without sleeves, tight fitting sports leggings.
And... it felt great.
I had spent SO LONG hating myself and my body, and in all honesty... I'd had enough. Before filming that video, I was nervous, scared, apprehensive, unsure, terrified about putting myself out there in the most vulnerable way and highlighting something that I am not comfortable with. But what surprised me was, in that video I was laughing, smiling, joking around with Ben (who was behind the camera filming for me) and generally just felt good.
I had forgotten what it was like not to hate myself.
No, my body doesn't look like the 'ideal body' and no, I don't always like it and no, I don't look great in every shot. But that's my body, that's what it looks like right now and I have to accept it. Because I can't go on hating myself any longer. On that day, I felt more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I had in years.
With that being said... I think it's also okay to not be body confident. I would love to sit here and say that I am 100% confident in my own skin and that I can wear whatever I like and that I love myself every single day - but that's not realistic. Just because I felt confident on that one day when I was filming that try-on haul, doesn't mean that every day is like that! I don't feel comfortable in my own skin most of the time, and I have days where all I want to do is wear my big, oversized marshmallow hoodie and hide away from the world.
But with that being said, I want to contribute by changing the narrative of what the 'ideal body' should look like and help to represent the midsize girls, because that is EXACTLY what I needed myself when I was at my lowest point. But, I also think we should be realistic and honest about this being a journey towards self-love and acceptance, rather than a destination, an 'end goal', a 'target weight'. I spoke about this a little bit in my Fabletics video, but I felt somewhat guilty for saying that I wasn't comfortable in my own body. I felt like there was a lot of pressure to either be a certain, slim size or to be 100% body confident at any size. But what if you're not?
I just want to be as open and honest as I possibly can be on here, and I just wanted to let you know that the road to body positivity and/or confidence is a journey. It's not something that happens overnight! It takes time, work, and a whole lot of self-love. If that comes in the form of actively trying to lose weight, then that's okay. If you don't want to lose weight, then that's fine too! Everybody's journey and body and perception of themselves is completely unique to them. Whilst someone may appear body confident by posting photos or videos of themselves, they might not be feeling it on the inside. Just remember that social media isn't always a true reflection on how people are feeling - and for me, sometimes posting photos of myself on social media is actually a way for me to try and accept myself for who I am and how I look.
HOWEVER, I just wanted to also make the point that just because you lose weight or can fit into a certain size of clothing, it does not automatically make you happier or body confident (or even healthier!) Body confidence is more about accepting that everyone has things they like and dislike about their body, and learning to love yourself for who you are. Remember that everyone in the world has things they would change about themselves!
The bottom line is this - I'm fed up of waking up most days, hating myself and feeling generally unhappy.
For me in my journey, I just want to have a better relationship with food, exercise and myself. I am going to start running again and trying to complete the Couch to 5K (because if I sit on my couch for much longer, I might start blending into it). For me, exercise benefits both my body and my mind. When I exercise, I find that my anxiety is generally better and I feel much better about myself. It puts me in a better headspace, a better mindset and I just generally feel happier. THAT, to me, is much more important than the number on the scales or which size I can click on a clothing website. I just want to be the happiest, healthiest version of myself - which is not just about my appearance or how much I weigh. Just because someone is slim or has the 'ideal body', that doesn't automatically mean they are healthy. Similarly, just because someone is larger than the 'ideal body', it doesn't automatically mean they are unhealthy!
I have spent so long restricting what I eat, calling foods 'good' and 'bad', hating myself because I had 'failed', saying "I can't eat that", trying something on and crying, feeling glad when my stomach rumbled as though it meant that starving myself was working, stepping on the scales and breaking down in tears.
I've had enough. I deserve better. And so do you. I am going to continue working on myself, my relationship with myself, food, my body, exercise, my self-esteem, my body image for myself. Not because society is telling me to, not because anyone else is telling me to, but because I want to. Because I want to be happy. I want to wear clothes I like. I want to take photos of myself because I feel amazing. I want to fall in love with clothing and fashion again. I want to wake up and feel happy and proud to be me, and not wish I was somebody else. And THAT is more important than the size of my jeans.
I really hope this has helped someone else feel less alone, and that it has in some way reassured you that you're not the only one who is dealing with these issues. We're on this journey together! As always, my dms and messages are always open for anyone who needs/wants a chat, whether its about this topic in particular or anything else for that matter. I'm always here for a chat.