Our bodies are something we have to live with…like them or not! However, having to deal with so many stereotypical expectations of what we should or shouldn’t look like has meant that in relation to confidence, our bodies and how we look play a huge role in how we deal with the situations that life presents to us.
From my own personal experience, I have always had confidence issues with my body from a very young age and even today, now I’m in my forties, as much as I have learned to accept who I am, there are still things about my body that don’t make me feel good. It’s a rollercoaster ride that I cannot get off and I’m sure many of you will empathise with that.
Body issues can come in many forms; your shape, size, colour, ageing, blemishes, wrinkles, acne, hair loss, scars, post-baby, major injuries, disablement – the list could go on! Whether these are things you have been born with or have come later in life, the feelings they evoke put us in a constant state of flux on a day-to-day basis. Trying o decide what to wear, how do our hair, the parts we want to cover up and hide behind.
Whatever the case, no matter how insignificant it may be to others, as individuals it can have a devastating effect on our state of mind.
We’ve all heard the stories of bulimia and anorexia, leading to extreme weight loss and in worst cases, death! There is also constant media coverage of size 4+ models being told they are too big or famous faces being captured on a beach with the focus on them looking ‘less than glamourous’ or ‘overweight’!
This constant pressure that we not only put on ourselves, but are subjected to everywhere we look makes it unsurprising that body confidence is such a big issue for us all.
With that said, there are ways to combat that mindset to be happy and confident with who you are:
We are not all supposed to look the same. The world is a beautiful place because of its diversity, not because we all look and sound the same. They say variety is the spice of life and it is! We are all made to be attracted to individuality so embrace what you love and improve or accept what you don’t. Either way, you are and always will be beautiful.
Look after yourself! There is a whole range of products and services ready and waiting to help you with your diet, getting fit, skincare, hair care and any other imperfections you seek to improve. The most important thing is that you maintain the motivation for taking care of yourself both on the outside and the inside. No amount of diets, fitness regimes or anything else will work if you don’t take care of your mindset first!
Do it for you! There is nothing outside of you that can define who you are more than yourself. Make a choice - a decision to take control because you want to and not because someone else told you to or; because you are trying to conform to the stereotypical view of what ‘society’ thinks is perfection. You were already born perfectly you, so embrace who you are and what you look like, because individuality is much more attractive than conformity.
Lead by example! This is particularly true if you have children. As parents, we need to help them see how amazing their bodies are, not just because of what it looks like, but because of what it can do. When they see your confidence, they will hopefully learn to embrace their bodies too. I know that my son has been very self-conscious of his skin as he’s grown up and there were times when it really got him down. No matter what products he used nothing seemed to work well enough. It was a constant back and forth of me telling him that he would grow out of it (and him not believing me) as well as reminding him that not only was he not the only one going through it, he was still handsome. Trying to convince teenagers that their bodies are amazing when they are going through that hormonal change is a big challenge. My advice is to just keep the lines of communication open and remind them they can talk to you about anything worrying them. We all go through that stage and that’s all it is, a stage, it doesn’t have to define their whole existence.
Finally, take inspiration. There are so many people who have suffered life-changing injuries or disabilities that have gone on to do the most amazing things that many able-bodied people couldn’t or wouldn’t do. They haven't allowed their disability or injury to define them, they make a point of showing that they are just as capable of making the most of life and being confident regardless of what they look like. So, if they can do that, we all can. Take inspiration from people who are succeeding despite adversity.
With that said, don’t just take my word for it, here is a great article in the Telegraph, discussing 7 body-confidence tips from world renowned beauty brand Dove!
Your body is the only one you’ve got, love it, appreciate it and take care of it, so it can take care of you.