A few years ago, I started to look into the subject of body confidence – it was for a book I was beginning to write. I was hooked and began talking to more and more women.
Were you confident no matter what your shape? What impacted your confidence? Were you affected by images in the media? Were you jealous of friends who were prettier or thinner? Why did we feel confident one day but the next want to hide behind a big, baggy jumper?
We had some great, honest conversations. We talked about how we felt growing up, how our boyfriends/parents/peers had impacted our confidence (negativity or positively), if social media was affecting us, what things made us feel good or bad about ourselves.
For those of us who had children, we discussed how pregnancy had affected the relationship we had with our bodies.
10 Things That I Learnt About Body Confidence
So Many Things Can Affect How We Feel About Our Bodies
There are so many things that affect how we feel about our bodies – both negatively and positively. Here are a few things that my friends shared with me:
posts on Instagram, how strong my body feels, a bit of a tan, if there aren’t too many wobbly bits, stretch marks
comparisons to my sister, comments from my boyfriend, how well my clothes look on me, how calm I’m feeling in my head, exercising on a regular basis
hormones and time of the month, how fat I feel, eating well and avoiding sugar crashes, age (care less about what people think of my body as I’ve got older)
very few realistic role models, having time out for me, pregnancy.
Is It Age Related?
Body confidence comes and goes. Feeling good or bad about ourselves isn’t reserved for certain age groups. Some of my older friends (my age group – 40’s) feel more confident now, some less so. One of my friends commented, ‘I’ve got more confident in my skin – more settled – as I have got older. I recognise who I am and what I can and cannot change in myself.’ Another said, ‘my body confidence was knocked massively after kids.’
It Affects So Many Areas Of Our Lives
How we feel about our bodies affects so many areas of our lives – probably without us even realising it. From our relationships, to our careers, to our health and emotional well-being.
I think I’ve only just recently began to connect the dots on this one. When I’m not feeling great about how I look, I can feel quite negative in general. It’s like having a bit of a black cloud over my head. I might not speak up in a meeting at work, I might not want to have sex with my husband, I may not go on a night out.
However, when I’m feeling good about myself, it’s a whole different story. I feel sort of unstoppable and more empowered.
It’s Not The Same For Everyone
Things that affect one woman’s level of confidence, don’t necessarily affect another’s. As Jo, 43, commented, ‘I was looking in the mirror the other day, things were sagging a little, a few stretch marks, bingo wings, but if I stripped off and went to bed with a man it wouldn’t worry me now.’
Do You Have To Be Thin and Pretty?
Those of us who felt confident about our bodies weren’t necessarily those who were stereo-typically pretty and thin. Yes, you know it’s coming – it’s to do with how you feel, rather than how you look.
I have a friend who isn’t classically pretty but she just has this oomph and she is gorgeous with it.
Stop Judging Us!
So many of the women I talked to felt judged by how they looked and they didn’t think that was right. We also felt that men didn’t have to live up to the same standards that we did.
Rach, commented: ‘It’s not all to do with how we look, you know. When we get judged by our looks, all the other stuff that makes us who we are gets forgotten. All the amazing skills and experience that we have, for example. And I think we need to stop judging each other.’
We Want To Help Our Kids
For those of us with kids, especially daughters, we wanted to learn what we could do to help them grow up feeling good about their bodies. Some of us didn’t believe there were many positive role models for our daughters out there. Many of us were worried about social media and how we could control what our kids were looking at.
I worry about my own daughter – she’s only 6 – but I wonder how she will deal with the pressure to look good and what I can do to help her be positive.
Let’s See Some Real Women
‘Please can we see some natural looking, real women.’
Good call! We overwhelmingly agreed that we wanted to see some real women in the media, women that represented how we actually look, warts and all. We want to see women of all shapes and sizes. And of all ages too.
Similar to the above, some of us felt that the image (in the media for example) of a woman had become too sexualised and too narrow, after all, how many of us were tall and thin, had big boobs and had no signs of ageing. Oh and less of the airbrushing please! It helps no-one!
Don’t Stop Living Life
Sorry but this isn’t something I’ve learnt as such – so not technically number 10. But I wanted to end on a positive – something to get you thinking. Rather than focusing on what we look like and feeling unhappy about ourselves, let’s put our energy to better use. And I know it’s easier said than done especially if you’re feeling crap about how you look.
But please don’t let how you feel about your body stop your enjoyment and participation in life. Share your opinions, take on new challenges, apply for that new job, go to the gym, take up a new sport, wake up feeling good about yourself, be positive – even if it’s just for the sake of your daughter.