At the beginning of the year I made a promise to myself (and to you) that I would embrace my body, and even my sexiness, a bit more in 2018. But I’m a bit annoyed that at 6 months+ in, it still feels a bit uncomfortable for me to even refer to my sexiness on this blog, let alone in real life. I think that inner cringe as I type this tells me that I haven’t quite got to the point where I feel I am sexy, or that I have the capability to be sexy just yet. I don’t really know how long I thought it would take to get to the point where I’d be able to post a picture that not only exuded confidence (in myself and my body), but also feel confident and happy to post it without the usual (should I, shouldn’t I inner battle), but I really hoped I’d be there by now.
I think the lack of a sun drenched holiday, and the fact I haven’t had the opportunity to grapple with the decision of whether or not to post posed bikini pics on the gram, has let me off the hook to an extent, and also stalled my envisioned progress in this area. I think if I had posted a few of those, and if nothing horrendous happened as a result, it would have helped me move forward with all this.The confidence shoots I had planned to do with bloggers/photographers I met at a lovely and supportive lingerie event earlier in the year haven’t been arranged yet either, which again has meant I haven’t yet put myself into the situation that would force me to celebrate by body in the way I hoped either.
I know this probably feels like a post purely about body positivity or sensuality, but it isn’t really that at all. Of course I wish I had more muscle tone, and that years of living with CFS hadn’t left my body looking a bit weak in places, and stodgy in others. I also wish my boobs didn’t go gloopy looking when I’m on top. But on the whole, while I’d say I’m not body confident, I am body comfortable, and that’s fine by me. Despite my love of playing with fashion and gazing over beautiful fashion images, I perhaps surprisinglyt don’t put too much emphasis on appearance these days, so being ‘okay’ with what I got is more than enough for me.
This isn’t about loathing my body. This isn’t about the fact that I’ve put on weight or that I’ve acquired many more stretch marks and thread veins. If I dissect the goal I have, to showcase my body more, it’s about something much, much deeper. This all stems from an awareness that I care to much about what people think. I worry that they’ll think that it’s amusing if I try to smoulder or look alluring in photos. I worry that they’ll think I’m deluded about my level of attractiveness or the age I am, and what I should be wearing at said age. I worry that they’ll think I’m arrogant or prioritise the superficial over everything else that really matters.
But I really want to stand up straight and proud and stick my boobs out, rather than curve my back in an effort to hide the plumpness of my chest. I want to wear the revealing outfits I love on other people, and not worry that people think ‘they’re not for me’. I want to not only ‘feel myself’ but also be happy to share with people that ‘I’m feeling myself’ that day (I’m not referring to masturbation btw, this is the phrase cool kids use to say they’re digging how they’re looking/feeling). I just don’t want to be so god dam apologetic anymore.
I think when I feel happy in myself I feel happier to share that side of me. So I guess my recent apprehension to post pictures of myself in what could be deemed posey/serious/sexy shots means that I have a lot of work to do on my life/feelings overall. But I’m glad I now have enough self awareness to realise this, and take action…but more on that later.
I’ve been thinking how I want to tell people about this particular quest of mine too, and it’s a tricky one. Of course I want my followers to relate to me and what I’m talking about, but I also don’t want to force or fake anything for the sake of coming off as ‘relatable’ and ‘one of the girls’. I know I can see this a mile off when others do it, so others will too, plus it’s so important that in this crazy social media world we try to keep a firm handle of authenticity. But unfortunately, if you are of a size which is deemed closer to what is the ‘typical’ media ideal body shape (size 8/10’s) a confession about feeling insecure or lacking in confidence about this stuff can lead to people thinking you’re fishing for compliments, or that it’s a blatant attempt to create an intentionally inspiring body positivity post. Some probably think you’re you’re not in the rightful position to be someone spouting those kinda message. I know that sometimes as an acne sufferer I’ve felt irked when someone who has perfect skin talks about how she refused photoshop for her magazine cover – so I get it. People have quite rightly become quite cynical about this stuff too because some people do these things to further their career rather than from a place of genuinely wanting to share positive and empowering messages. It’s definitely hard to separate because we’ve all gotten so good at faking.
Much Like Jameela Jamil’s wonderful ‘I weigh’ movement, I don’t want people’s self worth, confidence and pride to be based or focused on their weight, clothes size, appearance either, but I also worry intensely about how kids are perceiving their very normal/healthy and natural bodies in light of what they’re seeing online.
So I can’t decide whether it’s helpful to post pictures or captions talking about my stretch marks, thread veins, cellulite, uneven breasts and acne scars, as a reminder that they’re normal, and that others don’t need to feel like they need to get work done to be or feel beautiful. In a world of fillers and filters, cosmetic surgery and contour is it important I show the impressionable people viewing Instagram that what they naturally have is not unattractive or just the ‘before’ image. Or are these posts serving to enhance the unhelpful message that these things are even important, and should have an impact on your happiness, confidence, success etc.
I’ve also seen a trend amongst us influencers when we try to do something positive about this topic, which I have more than likely done myself, which I’ve realised in hindsight isn’t helpful or fair. And that’s using comparison to enhance the message of embracing our flaws or our ‘real bodies’ . We shouldn’t have to display an appreciation or acceptance of our bodies by contrasting what we have that is different to models, celebrities, pop stars, reality stars, Instagram stars etc. We shouldn’t assume that because they look super confident, ‘perfect’, ‘flawless’ or vogue-ready, that they don’t have insecurities or that they don’t have similar anxieties about posting pictures. I know a lot of models and you’ll be surprised how many are shy or insecure. Just because we think they’re beautiful, it doesn’t mean they feel it all the time and don’t battle the same issues we do. After all, some will no doubt suffer with similar repercussions of existing in a highly competitive industry, one which breeds paranoid and insecurity. Others might be posting those pictures to try and give themselves a boost of confidence because they’re feeling a bit lacklustre.You shouldn’t assume or take any Instagram image on face value, there’s usually a lot going on behind the scenes.
Also, what a pity that when we post these raw and real images it is such big deal, something to be applauded or celebrated. I hate that it’s inspiring to show our real, true, and untouched images. I wish it was standard, a complete non event.
I’ve been seeing a hypnotherapist to deal with a lot of issues connected to my confidence issue. We are working through things likes nerves and anxieties, and in particular how much I worry about people’s opinion of me and how it is constantly effecting my decisions, and then in turn my happiness. It’s still a work in process but I feel good that rather than focusing on outward things like just sorting out my wayward eyebrows, getting my hair done and getting a better fitting bra, I’m trying to work on the root causes too.
But I think working with photographers has helped me a bit too. Seeing pictures arrive in your inbox where you see yourself in a different light, and don’t scroll through hating on every single one, definitely makes you/me feel slightly better. Each photoshoot I have had so far I’ve found myself getting more comfortable with getting into poses that portraying the sassy confident lady I want to be, even if for now it’s more about playing a role that only lasts till the shutter clicks. Fake it till you make ethos it in full force….
When I changed into this red floral dress in Balham Sainsbury’s loo in order to pose for some blog outfit pictures with amazing photographer Del (Derek Bremner), I came through the automatic doors feeling more than a bit embarrassed and self conscious, I genuinely wanted a tent to fall from sky and then envelop me as I walked out in the public arena of shoppers laden with bags. My wedges were pretty low by many people’s standards, but I couldn’t help but feel that it made this already short (for me) summer dress look even shorter – perhaps even tarty. I was worried about how the sunshine gleaming the slightly translucent fabric would make me look. When I posed near a lamp-post on the corner of the street I was genuinely concerned people would think I was having pictures taken that would end up blue tacked in a phone box.
But it’s so silly (and annoying), because I love the outfit, and on anyone else I wouldn’t think they looked at all tarty, or that they shouldn’t be wearing something so short. So what’s my problem?
Is it because I grew up as a tomboy, the girl that was often viewed by the opposite sex as the mate and never a girl to be desired? Is it because I still live my parents and I’ve been forced to regress, and therefore looking like a lady, let alone attempting to be a sexy lady feels unbearably uncomfortable? Is it because I’ve gotten so used to being covered up and going for the less overtly sexy attire? Or is it, like I keep saying, because I care too much about outside opinion and that fear of judgement takes aware any pleasure I may get from wearing a cute summer dress like this?
I think all of the above play a part if I’m honest. But I’ve also realised now, having gone through real peaks and troughs the last few months, how much my situation (broke and living with the rents) and my career impact my confidence levels. If I’m feeling crappy about my work, how I’m being treated, my position in the industry, the quality of my work etc, it clouds whatever positive feelings I have about myself that have stemmed from other areas of my life. I have to feel satisfied, fulfilled, or appreciated in my career and my friendships to feel content and at ease with myself, and as you guys will know, these things for me are a constant battle for me. Whilst I’m weirdly sort of pleased to find out that this is what impacts my confidence and happiness the most, and not just my outer shell, it’s still not particularly convenient.
Anyways there’s another random collection of thoughts and tangents that entered my head this morning. I’d love to hear from you about all this. What do you see online and/or in AD campaigns that genuinely make you feel more empowered or confident? How do you think us bloggers should address our own issues, and or send out confidence boosting messages? How do we get the balance right in terms of talking about visual issues (body image) as well as our mind, perception and prirorities (inner confidence)?