I read a fantastic piece on Katherine Omerod’s site Work, Work, Work last week that was so incredibly refreshing it inspired me to write a post I’ve been thinking about for ages. It was an interview with one of my favourite bloggers, Lucy Williams of Fashion Me Now. If you look at her blog or Instagram page it will give you serious life envy. Not in a superficial, airbrushed, my-life-is-crap kind of way, but in a beautiful and completely achievable way. But the beauty of the interview is that Lucy calls BS on the perfect Insta life. And it’s true, especially when it comes to body image portrayed on there.
Instagram is my favourite social media platform (come say ‘hi’ here) but boy can it make me feel unworthy some days. I love my life but there’s nothing like golden limbs on white sandy beaches that makes you want to spontaneously book in a spray tan and an exotic getaway. Just like magazines, we know that a lot of what we’re seeing is the tip of an airbrushed iceberg. No one’s going to show anything less than perfect to the masses. Let’s face it, digging into a takeaway in our boyfriends joggers doesn’t an Insta photo make. But it doesn’t stop us from feeling a certain level of angst about our own appearance and life. And it’s kind of fake to pretend that it doesn’t.
Social media may promote perfect abs, goal-worthy relationships and dreamy interiors, but it also portrays a self confidence that leaves a lot of us out in the cold. While I high five any woman who is completely comfortable in their own skin, there are probably more of us that aren’t always.
Like most women, my body image confidence ebbs and flows from a month to a daily basis. I had always been waif-like growing up. Thanks to a fast metabolism and over-sized tonsils (later removed) I didn’t find food particularly enjoyable or interesting. Oh, how times have changed! My adolescence is a blur of doctors appointments, weigh-ins and protein shakes in an attempt to put on weight and tip the scales past 5 stone. It was never an eating disorder, in fact I dreamed of a curvy body image like my school peers, it just never happened and I felt very ashamed about that.
Ironically, the least I worried or even thought about my weight was when I was at university and I was probably at my heaviest. Like most students, I gorged on pasta bakes, ready meals and family sized chocolate bars to get me through endless Fashion Weeks and coursework galore. Sure, I didn’t feel too great next to the catwalk models I was dressing but who would? But it was nothing a night of vodka cranberry’s and a few hours on the dancefloor couldn’t fix Thankfully it was a time when Instagram didn’t exist and Facebook was a tool to upload pictures from your night out. It wasn’t until I graduated and came home that I realised things had changed. I could no longer fit into my sisters clothes and my grandparents praised me for “filling out”. Gotta love the tact of the older generation!
I properly got into health and fitness at this point, not to lose weight, but to feel a little bit healthier in myself. I was lethargic and my skin wasn’t great so it started slowly. I loved how the effect exercise and healthy eating had on my mind and it wasn’t long before my body image changed again. Now, 8 years later I’m finally at a happy place. Stress, Italian food and tiredness still have some impact on my body from time to time but ultimately, I’ve found a balance and my weight pretty much stays the same.
Sure, I skip my workouts sometimes and have a penchant for an Aldi cookie or two but if it makes me happy and feeds my soul, I’m OK with that. Everything in moderation. Some weeks I workout every day and others a long walk or bike ride with my family are all I feel like. Sure, I’d like a perkier bum and there’s the odd dimple on my thigh in the wrong light, but I know I’m not going to kill myself in the gym for 2 hours a day to get rid of it. I’ve earned those silvery lines on my hips from those pasta-filled uni days – they remind me of those happy 3am binges after a night out in London!
So what if you’re not a 6am runner or have even stepped foot in a gym? If you prefer a lunch time stroll or a casual jog on a sunny day to make yourself feel like you’ve moved, go with it. There’s no definitive conclusion to this post other than to remind you to be kind to yourself, remember that body image is subjective and maybe log off social media for a while when it’s getting too much. You might not be where you want to be yet, and that’s totally fine, few of us are. But when it comes to confidence, look to what makes you feel good inside and not just how you look on the outside.
And on the days you’re not feeling so beach-ready, it’s a perfect excuse to snap up a chic cover-up like my new favourite from Free People. I lived in this when I was in Malta a couple of weeks ago. BEAUT-I-FULLY made with gold embroidery and tied hassles, it’s the only thing I wore to take me from the beach to the bar.
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