Friday, July 15, 2016

9 Tips for Body Confidence




Body confidence and body positivity is very much about mind set. It’s more about how you feel about your body, and how you connect with it, than about your body itself. The following tips are not about changing your body but about changing your mind set, and learning to feel confident in your body. Let me know if you have any of your own, or anything you want to add! 

 

The body positive movement is doing its darnedest to change the world. Those who know that all bodies are good bodies are trying to increase the media’s representation of different types of bodies and make sure that we are not constantly force fed the same images time and time again. But it’s taking time, as all change does. You don’t yet live in a body positive world, but I have some good news for you. You can create one for yourself.

One of the first things I tell people wanting to change the way they feel about their bodies is to change their timelines and news feeds. In spaces where you can control the media you are consuming choose the right sources. Use social media to follow body positive accounts and people. Follow people with bodies like yours. Follow people who preach body love. See all the different bodies out there. Flood your timelines with all the wonderful sorts of humans in the world (especially ones that look like you) and remind yourself every day that there are so many types of beautiful, and you are one of them. (I was recently asked by Navabi to give them my best body confidence tip – this is a version of it).

 
Most of what Cosmo taught me about confidence I have pretty much thrown away. God, I rue the years I spent reading bullshit articles that said I had to bleach my anus, eat celery and oatcakes and kiegel until I could pick up 10kgs with my vag in order to be sexy or worthy of womanhood! 

However, one of the tips they include without fail is that you should wear clothes that make you feel incredible about yourself. And I couldn’t agree more! Being so into styling and clothes I write a style blog means that it’s probably not that surprising that I would say that. 

But I guess where I differ from traditional magazine advice is that I don’t believe there is only one look that can help you achieve this. Just wear things you feel great and comfortable in. For me, a lot of the time that means rocking some serious fifties siren vibes. For you it might be leather, lycra or shorts and a tee. Whatever makes you feel fab is bound to give you a body confidence boost.  


I'm a body positive person. I can see beauty in all sorts of bodies, and once you've opened yourself up to actively finding and celebrating that beauty you'll be amazed at how much of it you will find. I come across loads of women who can see the beauty in the bodies of others, but just can't find it in themselves. I believe one of the keys to learning to love your body is learning to love others like yours. Find a body you recognise. One with the same assets and perceived flaws as yours. Find yourself a body positive hero who you can relate to, and who will show you that you can live in your body with peace. It makes such a difference, I promise.



I’m an over thinker. I struggle with anxiety and experience more than my fair share of sleepless nights. When I am lying awake at 3am I am can often be found ruminating over a recent insult (real or perceived), compulsively cataloguing my faults, or obsessing over what people’s negative perceptions of me might be. God, if only I did the same with compliments! 

Why do we cast compliments aside as though they are nothing? Why don’t we give them the same weight as a nasty remark? I think we should wrap ourselves in the compliments we receive. On days when we’re feeling low we should be re-examining the compliments we’ve received and remembering that stranger who complimented our hair, the time someone on twitter said you have “cracking wabs. Really great boobs. Fantastic ta-ta's. Jubilant titties” (thank you Lottie L’Amour), or that time you dared to wear something different and daring and everyone raved about it. Keep your compliments. Collect them. Right them down for when you need them. Don’t chuck them – a compliment is a gift, and you wouldn’t cast that aside would you?  

 
Which brings me neatly on to my next point. Celebrate your sisters. Say positive things about other women’s bodies. Other people’s bodies. Don’t add to the world of body hate. I don’t want to hear any of this skinny girl hating. Don’t think that saying “Real men like curves, only dogs go for bones” is a body positive statement! That sort of snark is a part of the problem! The point is to be positive about all bodies. To stop searching for an unattainable ideal and to celebrate the diversity we find in human bodies – of different ages, sizes, genders, colours, abilities.

So spread the love. Give compliments. Talk about bodies in positive ways. Look for the beauty in everything – trust me you will find it. Be uplifting to the women you know. Remember that there is not a women living in the western world who has not been constantly bombarded with media aimed at making her feel insecure and inadequate (whether she fits into society’s ideal of not) so give her a boost! I am a big fan of the drive by compliment. When travelling on public transport, if I see a dress I love, or someone with perfect eye makeup or a smile that makes me feel warm in my soul I tell them. Wouldn’t you want to know?



Body positivity communities largely started online, and they still flourish in social media spaces. My first forays into the world of body confidence and body positivity were all through online interactions. I started by joining body positive groups on Facebook, then followed body positive accounts on Instagram. I’m not gonna lie – I lurked for a little bit. I was feeling my way, and learning and I didn’t feel authoritative enough to actually speak up about anything. But as my confidence grew, I started to air my opinions and my experiences. And I found myself enveloped in a loving community, filled with women who I could learn from, and eventually teach myself. Sharing your stories, reading those of others, celebrating your heroes and working to stamp out body hate together is incredibly empowering. So get engaged in these groups, and surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you.



Initially, I saw selfies as embarrassingly vain. As a teenager almost everyone I knew protested vehemently about having to be in any photos at all – mainly because having felt hot as fuck in whatever insane fashion victim getup you may have chosen on the night the pics were taken, it’s a bit upsetting when you find out months later when the film was developed that you in fact where not channelling one of the Spice Girls, but were more Kevin and Perry Go Large. I think this gave my generation an understandable fear of the camera. 

Teens of the last 15 years however know all their angles – thanks to being able to take hundreds of images on digital cameras. And once we entered the age of the smart phone, selfies were rife. I found it so bewildering that people would compulsively photograph themselves. Like, what? But when I started blogging I tentatively gave it a little go. It took me a while to get the hang of it, to learn my angles (to be honest I’m still not exactly a pro at this you guys, and always manage to be looking slightly awkward or in the wrong direction). But it’s helped me find my beauty. It’s helped me know my face, and my body, and see them truly. It’s my portrayal of myself, and it’s me validating my own beauty and worth. That may seem vain to some people, but I honestly don’t care. I think we need to spend more time celebrating the things we love about ourselves, and seeing our own beauty. I feel my confidence grow as I move along my journey. I find my images more daring, more honest (I am newly in love with make-up free selfies) and more freeing. And sharing these with a supportive online community has been so pivotal to my body confidence. So go on… Selfie your ass off!



I spent most of my life disconnected from my body. I promised to love it and have a relationship with it when it confirmed to what I believed it should look like. I thought that it might transform into this thing I could be proud of if I starved myself, binged, didn’t look at myself, criticised myself openly, made mean jokes at my own expense. Surprise, surprise – even when I was at my thinnest I didn’t like my body and had no connection with it at all. 

This is a relationship that is still very much healing. I am trying to get to know my body. I am trying to treat it better, and be kinder to myself. I am trying to make up for a lot of lost time. Are there changes I would like to make – sure! I would like to be fitter and stronger if I am honest. But I am committed to loving my body now. I may reach my goals, I may not. But in the meantime I am not going to allow myself to be consumed with loathing for something which is so essentially a part of me. Is me. My body deserves my love now, because it is a good body. It’s mine. 




There is a quote from Friends about facing your fears: “It seems to me it's pretty much like anything else, you know, face your fear. If you have a fear of heights, you go to the top of the building! If you're afraid of bugs... get a bug.” It’s Joey logic, but you get the point. 

When I started my journey I was awed by these women who were facing their fears all over the internet, and doing things I could never imagine being able to do myself. I felt bold enough having reclaimed my sexuality, but all this body positivity, while very inspiring, felt way too far for me. But when you start to challenge yourself you start to change. You face your fears and they honestly begin to shrink and you want to keep challenging them. 

Looking back now I can’t believe how embarrassed I was to admit to anyone I’d started a blog that was a body positive space. I actively hid it from all but my closest confidantes, scared of ridicule. If you scroll down through my Instagram to my earliest pics you’ll see I am looking down in almost all of them. Embarrassed to make eye contact with the camera AND horrified that someone might get a hint of my double chin. But my confidence grew, and in August last year I went to the states and in a hotel pool I wore my first bikini in over twenty years. And afterwards I posted a jubilant, wet haired selfie celebrating my achievement. I posted a picture. Of myself. In a bikini. On the internet. What?! 

After that there were lingerie reviews, Instagram photos of me in babydolls and stockings. A friend remarked on how brave I was, how indestructible and strong, and I stopped for a moment to realise how far I had come. Earlier this year I took part in an un-photoshopped, body positive photoshoot, and a few months later I was photographed (tastefully and implied) nude by Velvet D’Amour. I have no idea what might happen next on this journey. I am excited to know. But none of that would have happened without my first tentative steps, those first risks I took. All those things I was scared off, and to be honest I have done all that and nothing bad has happened. Sure on the odd occasion I have had a silly troll or two to deal with. And there are times when my confidence falters. But hell, I could never have envisaged having done all those things 18 months ago, which proves it’s a journey.

Those challenges might look different for you. I am not saying that being a fat girl wearing a bikini is body confidence. I am not saying you need to get your kit off to feel comfortable with your body. I am saying taking some risks, push your boundaries, and surprise yourself. 

If you liked this post, you may like to read about My Journey with My Body, my thoughts on being Plus Size and Sexy, and my Confessions of a former body shamer.    

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23 comments

  1. Fantastic, Hayley! What an inspirational piece:)

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    1. You are as awesome as you are lovely! Great article. Xxx ooo

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    2. Thanks Laurie! I'm glad you enjoyed reading, and such warm words *hugs*

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  2. I'm new to Twitter Instagram snap chat and to a body positivity, I fell upon body positive ladies completely by accident, at first I thought wow how on earth do they do this ? I assumed they had always been so confident until I realised these ladies had over come all what I felt , to become who they are today, I really had no idea that you are relatively new to this , you were one of my first body positive ladies I admired hopefully one day I can be as confident as you and all the other ladies I follow, love reading your blogs x

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    1. Awww lyndsey it makes me so warm to read that. And yes it took me a long time to get to the point where I was okay with living in my own body. But once I started making those changes the change happened much quicker than I thought it would x

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  3. Great tips, I especially like number five! This post was a real pleasure to read - you are a fantastic writer, girl! :) xx

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    1. Thanks so much lovely, that means a lot x

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  4. Noone would believe you had ever been less than confident if they saw you now. Your journey is moving and uplifting, you have expressed what many feel about themselves.You look beautiful; amazing red hair and a radiant smile! (great bod too).

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  5. This is an amazing post, I love the tips and I think number 1 is how I started my journey I always used to read bullshit mags on the train and gradually replaced these with blogs and books. I found my life is much better now I don't read articles that make me feel crap about myself.

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    1. Magazines are the absolute worst for trash talking female bodies. The writers all need a crash course in body positivity!

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  6. Fantastic article you absolute beauty - love everything about this!

    C xx
    CurvyGirlThin.com

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  7. I never comment on articles however for some reason, today, I hate my body. The thought of wearing a swimsuit is debilitating and usually I get over it, think f**k it but not today. Then I've just read your piece and I cried because I am ok. The only person hatin is me, on myself, and that voice in my head is louder then anything else. So thanks for your article, I will get back to accepting me as I am today and not what I think I should be by the time I go on holiday.

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    1. Wonderful lovely person! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your honesty. I know how hard it can be to get back on that horse, and summer and holidays are tough for body confidence! So proud of you (and all of us) for persevering because this Shit is hard! But you got this! Have a wonderful holiday and think only about the awesome memories you are making. Thanks again xxx

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  8. I absolutely love this post. I wrote my own "Tips for a bad body image day" a month or so ago and I've linked it below.

    I loved the bit your wrote about treasuring compliments. I wrote something recently about how quick we are to reject compliments or actively use them as a tool to put ourselves down and as a body positive activist it's horrible to hear. It's so sad that more women don't feel able to own their bodies and embrace them.

    V <3

    https://sirvikalot.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/tips-to-deal-with-a-bad-body-image-day/

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  9. Such an inspirational post! Really glad I have this a read :) Stuff like this makes me realise I shouldn't be afraid or ashamed of my lumps and bumps! I love my shape and I'm proud to be me, but sometimes I lose that confidence to wear certain things because I'm worried I won't look good. I fill my wardrobe with pretty dresses that I feel comfortable and fabulous in! I'm 21 and I went on holiday in June, I wore my first bikini on that holiday and even though I was worried about what people might think, I felt bloody beautiful. This is my body and I'm gonna flaunt it.

    I've just started my own fashion and body positivity blog so I can share my style with the world! Hehe

    Again, great post!

    Charlotte xx
    www.pandasprinkles.co.uk

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    1. Wonderful to hear. I wish I'd come to all of this at your age. So much time wasted! Think of all the people you can inspire :)

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  10. Thanks for such a great post. Im curvy and curly too and finding uour blog is a joy. I hope that i get to the same level of confidence that you have reached. Xx m

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    1. Aww sweetie thank you so much. That means a lot. Good luck on your journey! Body confidence can come to all of us I promise!
      Xxx

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  11. You are beautiful! Love your blog and your confidence and body positive mindset. Thanks for sharing. Mainly I just come on to feel better about my Collectif addiction x

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