Five steps to being body confident

First of all I need to clear something up here, there is no right or wrong way to be body confident because it’s something that is individual and personal to you. Body confidence is something that I have definitely struggled with in the past and you don’t just suddenly gain it overnight. We’ve all been there when you don’t feel confident enough to wear that  dress because you’re paranoid about your tummy protruding through or that skirt because you don’t like the look of your legs. A lot of body confidence comes with age as you discover your body shape but it also comes from loving yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin. So I’m going to share with you 5 things that I’ve learnt and do to gain body confidence.

1.  Exercise. When I exercise it automatically makes me feel better about myself and so much more confident because I feel great on the inside and outside. Whether that be going for a run, a quick gym session, workout routine at home or just  simply walking it doesn’t matter just as long as its some sort of exercise. Some days I know I need to exercise to function properly as I get into this weird mood where I’m all grump and cranky until I’ve got that heart rate up and muscles pumping.

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2. Selfies. Now I know this sounds rather vein but honestly taking selfies really does help with body confidence and anyway why should it be seen as a crime to take photos of yourself!? But its important to remember that when you take these selfies DO NOT criticise yourself, instead point out the things you like about your body and the things you’re proud of because everyone deserves to be proud of who they are.

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3. Surrounding yourself with supportive, loving people. The people around you and those who influence you are so important in terms of confidence. You need people who lift you up and bring out the best in you, which even applies to people on social media. That’s why on Instagram I follow those who inspire, motivate and educate me. For example one of the accounts I actively follow is the amazing and inspiring @iskra who is an Aerireal role model promoting body confidence and embracing every body shape. If you surround yourself with positivity and confidence then this will radiate through you as well.

4. Learn to appreciate but don’t compare. Now this is something that I have only recently mastered and I admit I still struggle to stick to this sometimes. What I mean by learning to appreciate but don’t compare is that you can appreciate other peoples body shape and appearances but it is important not to compare yourself to them and even worse beat yourself up about the fact that you don’t look like them. We’ve all been there and said ‘Ohhh I wish I looked like her/him’ but I’m here to remind you that every single one of us is unique and our uniqueness should be celebrated and not used to compare or make people feel bad about themselves. Once you stop comparing yourself its amazing what this can do to your confidence levels. Now you might be thinking what about all the things on social media though? Well truth is social media can be both an amazing and dangerous platform but it essentially comes down to how you perceive it and how you allow it to influence you. I allow social media to influence me in a positive way and in turn I aim to project this positivity throughout my social media as well. 

5. Wear and keep clothes that fit you. Now I know this sounds kind of stupid and obvious but you know those pair of jeans that you’ve had for ages and are still a little too small but you don’t want to chuck them out because you might get into them one day… just chuck them out! Trust me I’ve been there with my small clothes hoarding syndrome and its definitely not healthy for you. I kept all my size 8/10 clothes for about a year even though they didn’t fit me at all, but I realised this was just me desperately trying to cling onto the body shape I used to have and not embracing the body shape I now have. This was wrong as all I would achieve was wasting 5 minutes of my time trying to squeeze my mermaid thighs into my tight fitting jeans which would then lead to me being upset  and feeling rubbish about myself because they don’t go past my knees. Great confidence comes with feeling great in what you wear and more importantly feeling comfortable in it, so get rid of those clothes that no longer fit as hard and sad as it is I know but its got to be done. Just think of it this way it now frees up more room for better clothes that actually fit!

Now this isn’t an extensive list on how to be body confident by any means, it’s just what I’ve found that works for me along my journey with my body so far. To this day I’m still learning and discovering things about myself and my confidence levels. Of course I have my up days and down days just like everyone else does, but this is all part of the learning process. There will probably never be a definitive day when you could say ‘I am totally, 100% body confident’ but this doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself or that you aren’t body confident at all, it just means you are being true to yourself; like my saying goes Be True Be You.

Beauty, size what are they to you?

I just want to start of saying thank you to all those who participated in my questionnaire, I really appreciate the honest and open responses that I received. It was really interesting to gather different peoples perspectives of beauty and size and what it means to them. In todays society we are bombarded with so many people telling us what we should look like or what we should aim to achieve and from the results it is clear to see that this has had a major influence on us.

The first question was ‘what do you think is the perfect size to be in clothing?’ The responses to this question both did and didn’t surprise me as the majority of people answered a size 10/12 which is what I used to aspire to be. But the most interesting answers were those that selected the ‘other’ option. The majority of people who answered ‘other’ explained that there is no perfect size as it depends on who you are. This made me smile when I read this as it really does depend on who you are. I’m a classic example of this as a few years ago if you’d have asked me this question I would have said a size 8/10 but now I would say exactly what was said here; it really depends on you as a person and what you feel comfortable with.

The second question was ‘are you happy with your current size?’ Now the responses to this one were slightly disheartening as the majority of people said no. Following on from this question was ‘if said no to the previous question what size would you want to be in clothing? and the majority of people selected a size 12. This supports the responses from the first question about what is the perfect size and reveals that the majority of people aspire to be  that  ‘perfect size’ themselves. I deliberately put ‘perfect size’ in quotations here because as participants mentioned before there’s no such thing, because A size is individual and B how can there be a ‘perfect size’ if shops aren’t consistently producing clothing to the same measurements. I know from my shopping experience I can be a size 12 in some shops and then a 16 in others! Also I’ve often wondered who decided that these specific measurements were going to be a size 12 or size 14. Why does having a 29 inch waist grant you a size 12?

Moving onto the questions about beauty where it was really eye opening. The first question was ‘what is beauty to you?’ The general answers I received were about feeling confident, comfortable and happy with yourself which I would strongly agree with. Confidence is key, everything from body confidence to studying for exams or even going for a job interview. I mean you would’t walk into a job interview with no confidence at all, act all shy and mutter when you’re asked questions, obviously you’ll be nervous, but how can you expect the employer to put their faith into employing you when you haven’t got the confidence to talk to them? This is the same with body confidence how can you expect society to embrace all shapes and sizes when you aren’t confident with the way you look. Everyone has the right to be confident in themselves and more importantly everyone has the right to love themselves.

The next question was ‘do you think you’re beautiful/handsome’ and as expected the majority of people answered no. This is understandable because not many people like to talk about themselves in a positive light. Many people are quick to highlight their negatives but when faced with flaunting their strengths, we kind of go all shy and modest because we don’t want to appear arrogant. My response to this is its okay to admit that you think you’re beautiful. We are ALL beautiful as beauty doesn’t take a specific form. I realise that you wouldn’t necessarily go up to someone and say ‘I’m beautiful by the way’ but maybe when you’re taking those selfies or looking at yourself in the mirror (as come on everyone does that every now and then even if its for squeezing those spots) try and point out the things that you like about yourself as this will not only boost yourself esteem but also boost your confidence.

And lastly the final two questions were ‘would you change anything about your body’ and ‘if said yes to the previous question what would you change?’ There was no surprise here as the majority by far said yes. The most common answer about what you would like to change was generally slimming down and toning up, especially round the stomach area. I myself have had these same thoughts… I need to be slim and have a flat stomach with wash board abs and my bingo wings need to firmer and not wobble like jelly every time I move them. Well my time thinking these thoughts are over as I’ve been slimmer and basically had a flat stomach but you know what it was so hard to maintain and I was so miserable and grumpy all the time because I hardly ate anything and would feel really guilty if I had even a small square of chocolate, that I choose my now size 14 self with a rather large bum and a little pouch on my belly for my food baby. So I may have rolls when I sit down and my thighs may splatter out onto every chair that I sit on but hey ho I get too much enjoyment out of food and more importantly I choose to lead a happy life. This is not to say that my way is the right way by any means as I am a strong believer that everyone is unique and it is just about finding whats right for you and you’re body. There’s no harm in having goals such as toning up or slimming down, but just remember that they have to be realistic and right for you. If you’re happy with the way you are but feel the need to change for others, PLEASE DON’T! Embrace who you are as there’s no one else like you out there  and remember to Be True Be You.

Dressing for your shape

Dressing for your shape can be very hard, especially nowadays because let’s face it does anyone have a clue what size they are? I sure don’t! Retailers don’t want to make it easy for us, one minute they seem quite generous with their sizing (raising suspicions as everything seems too good to be true) and making you feel a little better about yourself, but others simply want to crush that little confidence you have left as you barely fit one thigh into that same size skirt you just bought from the generous shop. Been there done that and it ain’t pretty trust me. So with my body shape and sizing I can tell you that I’ve been a range of sizes and shapes, from a size 16/18 to a size 8/10 and now settling at a size 12/14. I know it may sound silly but I can tell you that accepting my body shape at a size 12/14 has been rather difficult for me as I was previously a lot slimmer and since going to university my body has changed drastically. I’ve now got hips, a bum and mermaid thighs which I should be proud of because thats what makes me ME and who cares if you got a little bit of extra junk in the trunk to hold onto, at least I know if I fall on my bum it might cushion the blow a little! So I’m just going to share with you some little tips on how I’ve found what works with my body shape and if you’re a bum, thigh heavy girl like me then you’re in the right place…

First look is the dreaded skirt. Now I say dreaded because when you’ve got a big bum and thighs skirts are a nightmare, from riding up when you walk to being too goddamn short altogether. So to get round this I have found a style which I would say is the most flattering, comfortable and practical of all skirts, being the A-line skirt. As you can see in the left photo, a body con skirt just isn’t flattering at all and too short for public appearances but in the right photo the A-line skirt brings me in at the waist then flows out in (would you believe it) an A shape to balance and proportionate my figure. Plus I’m really loving high neck tops to elongate my body which probably doesn’t need elongating more than it already is, nearing 5″10, but I love it anyways. Oh and explanation to the random unicorn is basically there was a plug socket that I couldn’t crop out so I thought why not stick a unicorn in there instead; professional I am not but real I am and all that.

Horrible skirt (left) is from new look size 6 and horrible top (left) from new look size 10. Nice skirt (right) is from primary size 12 and nice top (right) is from H&M size Large.

Look two is dresses. Ahhh dresses what a palaver these are to find. So when I was slightly slimmer I could literally shove anything on in any shape and it would look pretty decent but now my big bum has formed this is just a no no. The best advice here is length length length! Midi dresses are perfect for a bigger bum and thighs as you can conceal those bad boys up whilst also accentuating you’re shape believe it or not. I’ll show you what I mean below…

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Horrible dress (left) is from new look size 12. Nice dress (right) is from Marks and Spencer size 12.

Even though the first picture doesn’t look too bad, you can tell from the second picture just how hideous this dress really is. It rides up when I walk, it’s too short and frankly it makes me look like a sack of striped potatoes! But if you take a look at the third picture my body is immediately elongated and appears slimmer which is all down to the amazing midi length. I can’t stress enough how much this type of dress flatters a bigger bummed figure, plus there are no issues with saggy tights which take you back to your three year old days again, as it’s long enough to get away with wearing no tights while still keeping warm in those winter months.

The third and final look are jeans. These were originally the hardest item of clothing to find for my shape as I just couldn’t find anything that would go past my mermaid thighs! So you can imagine how excited I was to find a style of jeans that actually fitted me, and of course me being me I’ve bought them in as my colours as I can (but not as many as I would like due to being a poor student). Without a doubt high waisted jeans are my best friend as they automatically draw your attention to the waist area which is significantly smaller than my bum/hips, plus they make you feel so much more secure by allowing you to hide that food baby when necessary until you get home to let it all loose. Also an extra tip is to do with coats. I find that the most flattering coats are the longer ones that cut me at the right place as a shorter coat that stops right on the bum would just maximise my assets more than I would want them to. I actually got this coat from the tall range (well I say got I mean my sister didn’t want it and of course I wasn’t going to turn down free clothes, especially from the all expensive Topshop) because me being of a slightly taller height the normal size coat cuts me off at the bum so if you’re the same as me I would highly recommend buying from the tall section, well from the little options available anyway. Oh and explanation for the random hand sticker is again the same plug socket that I couldn’t crop due to my thumbs up to show how happy these jeans make me.

Horrible jeans (left) are from H&M size 12 and horrible top (left) is from primark size 12. Nice jeans (right) are from Tesco F&F size 14, nice top (right) is from river island size 14 and coat is from Topshop size 12 in the tall range.

If you found this helpful in any way let me know in the comments and if you have any tips or advice on dressing for your shape I’m all ears. I’m pretty new to all this stuff so I’m no expert by any means but I’m eager to learn, grow and just have fun with it as I go along. I’m not going to pretend to be anything I’m not so what you see is all me, it may not be perfect but professional I am not, real I am.