Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Body confidence

 
Last week I spoke about ending the awkward when it came to interacting with disabled people. Today I'm saying end the awkward with yourself. Today I want to post about body confidence. Confidence takes time and is rather like a plant it needs to be nutured and given patience as it grows. It also needs constant reassurance and care. It's a process. One that will soar at times but also be knocked down at others. But for me I think body confidence does not just stem from having the body of a model (and we know that model bodies aren't representative of real bodies); but also having a healthy relationship with your head/mind. Yes I'm talking mental health.

 As I said in my body image post sometimes it's our psychology and thoughts that are the last thing to change when we are actively trying to change our body shape. So used are we to being negative about our bodies and perhaps suffering from low self esteem. Comparing ourselves to others, especially what we see in magazines and on tv. 

 
Personally, I have suffered from low self esteem and lacked confidence for much of my later teens. My relationship to my body though was pretty non plussed. I didn't particularly care what I looked like and didn't have much knowledge of what fashions suited my body shape. To be honest I think it was due to me trying to maintain good mental health. So focused was I on trying to be happy and find new goals. I spoke in my body image post about having to stop athletics and horse riding and I could only manage a few hours of school a week. So life felt completely flipped upside down as did my confidence. To be honest I was angry that my body no longer worked as it had. So my concerns were more based on wanting a body that worked not how it looked.

Of course I'm very much in a similar position now. I would love my body to work better and not be so broken. But at the same time I'm appreciative of the things my body does let me do. And I take more of an interest now into my appearance. Not in a pinching the flab and wrapping a tape measure around my waist every day kind of way. But in dressing up and making an effort with my appearance when I can. Now I love to buy clothes and to experiment more with my style. I used to have to dress all in black and be more masculine in my combats and steel toe caps for work but now my wardrobe is really girly. If you saw my holiday lookbook you'll see that I  love floral prints and dresses. 

 
Not long ago I met my new hairdresser who is just an amazing lady. As well as working freelance she also has set up a salon in a local mental health ward. She teaches the ladies and men there that sometimes taking pride and care into our physical appearance can make a difference to our mental state. They can pop in to the salon for a bit of pampering  or learn how to do their own hair and make up. It might sound trivial and I know at the darkest points of mental illness appearance takes no presidence, but for people in recovery it's yet another tool to add to help you get better. Sometimes it's as simple as having someone there and giving you attention. She's been in talks to set up similar schemes in other units.

So as much as people focus on making physical changes it's just as important, if not more so, to focus on the mental aspects. If reading magazines slating peoples bodies depresses you then stop reading them. If you hate going to the gym then don't go. Find a way to exercise that you enjoy and makes you feel good. It might be riding a bike or it might be pole dancing. The point is enjoy getting the body you want (if that's what you want). 

 
Obviously for my chronic illness friends who find themselves unable to exercise but don't feel particularly body confident then work on building your confidence in other ways. Try to eat healthily, give your body the right nutrients. Wear your favourite clothes. Pamper yourself. Just painting your nails can give you a little lift. Or a slick of lippy. Lipstick Tuesday anyone? Okay it won't change your body shape but you'll be a bit happier about it. At the moment I feel like I've put on a bit of weight with needing to spend more time in bed. I can tell by how tight some of my clothes have become. But what can I expect when doing even less? And it's important to keep eating for energy, as you already have precious little of it. I like to remember that my body has a lot to contend with, every day it hurts in some way and feels attacked. So knowing it's going through a hard time I don't like to mentally torture it too. The same goes for any Mum's out there who's bodies have changed after child birth. Remember the amazing things that your body has done. It's carried a baby and provided somewhere safe for them to grow until they were ready to be born. Your body has nurtured them whilst in the womb and perhaps afterwards if you have breast fed your child. 

So everybody your homework is to focus on being happy. Not all the time obviously. Being sad is okay too. But learn to be happy within your self and who you are. If you can do that you are doing yourself a big favour. 

Sian x

All images are from Pinterest



9 comments:

  1. This is a really great post Sian. When we're surrounded by the media we get constantly told how we "should" look and loose sight of just being our best selves and confident in that, whatever it is.

    When I worked for Clinique we did a charity called "Look Good Feel Better" for ladies with cancer, where they were pampered and made up for the day. It sounds trivial when you have cancer but it meant the world to their mental health to be dolled up and normal for the day :)

    emmadrusilla.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Yes I've heard of them. I saw an article in Look magazine and passed it on to someone who's Mum was going through cancer to see what was available locally. As she had said to me about how much she was missing doing her hair etc. Such a lovely charity. Treating people as people not just statistics.

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  2. Love this post so much Sian! I used to dance 5 days a week and I was never comfortable or happy with my body, probably because I was surrounded by girls with the perfect abs and who had amazing athletic figures, and as a curvy lady I never felt that I was good enough and I could always find flaws, which was easy to do as I was all day in the dance studio with mirrors on each wall. Since I've got ill though I've never felt more happy in my body (not the insides though!) I don't know if it comes down to age, or realising that there's more to life than how 'hot' you look. I can't work out so I have flabby bits everywhere but I'm fine with that, that's me! I dont watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians myself but I think they have definitely made curves more accepted and they are good role models for curvier ladies. Thanks for this! :)

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    1. I can imagine dance college is such a self coscious place to be. Did you face any pressure from teachers etc? No, don't watch the Kardashians either but you're right they are showing that curves are beautiful. And because they are all different body shapes too, but still curvy is great. Okay, Kim might be going to far in getting a big bum. It was sad to see Kendal getting grief at fashion weeks, and being called fat. When she is an example of what's needed.

      I just think it's so sad that people spend so much time feeling bad about themselves. It's no wonder we have such high statistics for mental health problems.

      Sian x

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  3. I think what your hairdresser does is amazing and I totally agree with her! I love having a little pamper time as it cheers me up and doing something as simple as washing my hair or shaving my legs can make me feel so much more confident and feminine! Lovely post xxx

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    1. Thanks Chloe. Yes, she's lovely. It was lovely to speak with someone that could really understand mental illness and see patients as human beings. We need someone to set up an M.E patient version. xx

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  4. Totally agree with this and it doesn't help with so many people in the media looking 'perfect' Would love it if you could leave a comment on my blog and follow beaut - www.roxancolex.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Roxy. You're so right. Will defo check out your blog. x

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