Why does body negativity exist ?
I have always had body issues
Body negativity comes easy to me. Body confidence has never been a strong point of mine. From a young age I have always been conscious of how I looked; being taller than average and having a slightly plumper frame compared to my peers.
Perhaps my lack of body confidence was because I was bullied or being surrounded by images of petite pop stars and movie stars throughout my childhood. Either way, it has impacted my life and my happiness greatly.
Clothes shopping nightmares
I recently went shopping for trousers for work and ended up nearly crying in the changing rooms. Personally I detest trying on clothes, that is why I mostly shop online or just grab and hope I don’t have to return it.
I had picked up what looked like a pair that would fit in Simply Be and it even had a small elasticated section on then. Putting them on already feeling negative. I thought if I said to myself they would not fit then the opposite would happen and I would be surprised. I was wrong.
The sad thing about it was they nearly fit. I could have forced the button shut and sucked my stomach in, but I felt so uncomfortable. Trying on a pair of tailored trousers after a summer of comfy elasticated clothes made me feel claustrophobic.
I admitted defeat and went hunting in more shops. Big mistake. Not finding any plus size sections in the high street stores I visited. This made me feel like an outcast; I was not good enough for the high street shops like New Look and H & M.
I eventually found my saviour at Yours Clothing. This store is one I love, as most of their clothes have elasticated waists, which I find more comfortable. I hate feeling constricted in my clothes, mainly because I prefer comfort over style. Clothes with elasticated waists can be a lifesaver but I am well aware that they can give you a false sense of security.
Even when I was thin, I thought I was fat.
During my teenage years, I believed I was fat. I was 5’7 and a size 10/12 which for my height was perfectly acceptable. While I complained about my ‘huge’ stomach, teachers were concerned that I did not eat. My mother dismissed these concerns as she knew the one thing I liked to do was eat. Food has always been a source of comfort and I had a healthy appetite.
However, the negative thought was still there. I looked like the perfect vision of health yet I found my body grotesque. I was caught up in the comparison trap; comparing myself to celebrities and peers. My natural default was to blame my body for many things; being bullied, feeling socially awkward and boys not liking me.
You would think I would learn
Getting older does have some benefits. You begin to realise what is actually important in life. Having responsibilities as an adult is a great way of putting small things into perspective. I have realised that not everyone will like me and my inner clown, but that is perfectly fine. Not everyone will like my quirky style and loud mouth; that is fine too. However, it is hard to accept my body the way it is.
I have tried all the diets; like a clumsy hamster, I have got onto the wheel only to fall off spectacularly every single time. Having PCOS makes traditional diets very hard, I have only ever lost weight when on the Atkins and that is not a good diet. I decided a few years ago that I was done with diets. I gave up trying, I admitted defeat.
I have accepted that this is how my life and my body is; plus-sized. Acceptance, however, does not mean love. I am not at the point where I love my lumps, bumps and curves; but I am at the point where I accept that my body is a part of me. My body needs to be treated with kindness and compassion. The type of compassion I show within my own life and the people around me. Showing kindness to myself and stop surrounding myself with negative thoughts about my weight and figure.
I have stopped comparing myself to other people, I still slip occasionally, but I am a great deal better than I used to be. Having accepted that not all clothes are made the same and size can differ greatly depending on where you shop and what you buy. I have also come to accept that I have a bad relationship with food and I make small changes every so often to improve my lifestyle and my diet. So far, I believe I have made some changes that have improved my self-image and in turn, improved my confidence as a plus size woman. I have begun to treat my body with the care it deserves, after all, it is the only body I have.
What changes have I made
Recognising emotional eating
I eat for my emotions, both negative and positive. If I have had a bad day, I will eat. Likewise, if I feel well I will not be as conscious about food. I need to recognise that my emotions can often control how I eat.
Drinking more water and less fizzy drinks
I am terrible for fizzy drinks, especially diet cola. Having guzzled fizzy drinks for most of my life I realise something has to change. Drinking the recommended amount of water has never been something I am good at doing. Drinking water is a chore in my opinion; I would rather quench my thirst with a fizzy beverage or a coffee.
I have worked to cut out cola, not completely, but I do not drink a two-litre bottle a day. Now I have a diet Cola occasionally. I did go through a two month no cola period but the summer holidays have thwarted that. Moving onto lemonade to get my fizzy kick. I then started diluting the lemonade with water until I made the move to fizzy water.
Having fizzy water and a splash of cordial or syrup is not as good as water on its own but it is an improvement to the numerous bottle of cola I drank in a week.
Improving my posture
This is hard work. My posture has always been poor and I slouch all of the time. Since practising mindfulness I have realised how poor my posture is and I will work to change this.
The main requirement for doing a sitting meditation is to sit up straight and with dignity. This was extremely uncomfortable at first but like everything; practice makes things easier. Walking, sitting and standing tall with my head held high has also improved my state of mind. I have realised that slouching does not show pride in myself; deserving to hold my head high. I am just as worthy as everyone else, so why not be proud to be me?
Recognising bad habits
Being thirty-seven years old, I have developed many bad habits. These are not just with food and my diet, it is also with my state of mind. I try to recognise when my thoughts about my body turn negative and try the practice gratitude rather than focus upon the negative.
Wearing clothes that I am comfortable in without judging myself
I am the queen of comfortable clothes. I do not like being restricted by the clothes I wear as it makes me feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic. However, in my own mind, I judge myself for wearing things that are stretchy or elasticated. I often feel not as fashionable or as ‘put together’ as other people compared to myself; dressed in jeggings, a T-Shirt and an oversized cardigan.
My own happiness and comfort is the main priority here. How can I be myself if I am dressed up in items I do not feel comfortable wearing? I might look more stylish or ‘on trend’ but I would not be me. Accepting that this is me, showing gratitude for having the ability to dress comfortably should be cherished.
This is not from an exercise point of view; I am far too lazy for that. I am aware that I am not the most active person there is. However, I should encourage myself to do more as it is another piece in the puzzle of happiness. This does not mean running a marathon or pumping iron at the gym. It means doing more with my children, seeing my friends more and taking the stairs rather than the lift more often.
Keeping myself busy with tasks that nourish me and make me happy, like playing with my children, will ultimately help with my body confidence issues. If my mental health is good, then my perception of myself and my body will not cause me to get upset with the way I am. I need to be kind to myself and remind myself that I have had two children and always struggled with my weight and that is perfectly fine. I will live my life one moment at a time because we only have moments left in our lives.
What is your view?
Do you think body confidence is an issue? I would love to hear from anyone who identifies with my journey. I would likewise love to hear from people who love their body, what is the secret to your confidence? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Ciao for now makeup fans xx