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.

My mini workout at home

You know the days when you really don’t want to brave going to the gym or even worse going outside for a RUN but you still want to do some sort of exercise… well my answer to this is to do a mini workout at home. Even though you might not think it will do much, its not all about wearing yourself ragged with a massive long run or sweating it out at the gym for hours on end, its more importantly about sticking to some sort of exercise regime whatever that may be because progress and results only occur with consistency. My mini workout doesn’t really involve any fancy equipment, the only fancyish thing I use is a 5kg kettle ball for some exercises but you can improvise with things you have at home, whether that be a big bag of sugar (although that could be a recipe for disaster if a spillage occurs now I think about it) or simply anything heavy enough to make your arms work a little harder after a couple of reps. Or, you don’t have to use the kettle bell at all and just rely on your own bodyweight. I must point out that I am no fitness expert but these are just a few exercises that work for me and ones where I can really feel the burn the next day. So lets get started!

First up is the fire hydrant which really gets those glutes fired up (get it because its called a FIRE hydrant… not funny Molly). All you do is get on your hands and knees and lift one leg up at a time till you reach a right angle position or as far up as you can go. I do 3 sets of 10 reps and then on the last set of reps I will hold my leg up in a right angle position and do 15 mini pulses/reps which really sets my glutes on fire!

Still on your hands and knees, next are donkey kicks which again make your glutes really work for it. Instead of lifting your leg up to the side, you lift your leg up to the ceiling still in a right angle position remembering to squeeze those glutes all the way to the top and back down again. I do 3 sets of 10 reps for these as well and sometimes (if I’m feeling energetic) I will repeat the mini pulses/reps with this exercise as well, whilst holding my foot up in a right angle position towards the ceiling.

Sticking with the glutes theme, next is one of my favourite exercises to achieve that plump booty… SQUATS! I squat with a 5kg kettle bell, just to add a little bit of weight and make things slightly harder for myself. Remember when you squat to keep your chest out, shoulders back and look straight ahead to avoid injuries from bad posture. Also the wider the stance the more your glutes and hamstrings have to work, compared to a narrower stance which focuses more on the quadriceps. I usually opt for a wider stance as I aim to get that peachiness! I do 3 sets of 10 reps of these and sometimes will do a couple of pulses at the bottom of my squat before coming back up to really feel the burn.

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To get my heart rate up a bit I will then do 30 jumping squats which really takes it out of me and my complexion then resembles that of a bright red tomato!

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Another amazing exercise to work your quads, glutes and hamstrings are lunges. I do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg whilst holding a kettle bell in one hand and believe me when I say my legs are burning after this exercise.

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Like many other people I want to be able to do a decent amount of consecutive press ups the ‘man’ style way, but for now I’m sticking to 3 sets of 10 reps with the ‘girls’ style press ups and a 30 second break in between and that suits me just fine. I can still feel the burn but I’m not collapsing every time my nose touches the floor. I need to walk before I can run.

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Now onto abs… the hardest part of this workout and also the weakest part of my body which doesn’t help matters. To get those abs engaged I do 50 crunches one after another and then lie on the floor for a bit until my abs stop burning.

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Then when my abs have recovered a little bit, I do 30 russian twists which really get those muscles working. I hold a kettle bell whilst twisting my abs from side to side but you can also do this without one. The further you go back the harder your abs have to work, so when you’re feeling like you can conquer the world you lie on back until you nearly touch the floor!

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And finally what better way to finish your abs off than the PLANK… my best friend and also my worst enemy. I tend to hold it for 2 minutes in total, but turning to the side every 30 seconds. So straight on for 30 seconds, then the left side for 30 seconds, then the right side and back to the front again for the last 30 seconds. This is one of those exercises that you really dread doing beforehand but just feel so good afterwards. I admit I have to force myself every time to commit to this.

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Lastly to round the whole routine off I do my favourite exercise of all time… WALL SITS! I usually pretend that I’m just about to sit on an imaginary chair, get really low and hold it for about 2-3 minutes depending on how badly my legs are shaking by that point. Trust me sometimes they shake so uncontrollably that I’m amazed myself.

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I hope you enjoyed my mini workout routine and maybe even found it useful. I just want to say that I’m well aware you can see my roles in some of these photos, my skin is a weird complexion and there are some pretty unflattering angles of my body but thats me and I don’t intend to hide that. This is simply me in my room just showing you the exercises that I usually do if I don’t go to the gym or go for a run. None of these images have been retouched or photoshopped in any way as thats not how you would see me in real life so why should I portray to you someone that I’m not? Like always I stick by my motto Be True Be You.

Can you tell the difference between high end and low end high street?

This is a question that has been troubling me for a while… can you really tell the difference between something that costs £100 plus compared to something that costs just £30? Well I wanted to test this and really get to the bottom of whether splashing the cash is really worth it. So I ventured out on Saturday with the intent of trying on high end high street clothing and then their low end high street alternatives to compare, well my version of their alternatives anyway. Something I must share with you though is my experience trying on high end high street clothing. Oh well, did I feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Not only did I feel pressured to buy the clothes, which I really couldn’t afford anyway, but I felt so out of place and got the impression that the employees knew I couldn’t really buy the clothes I was trying on, giving me a look of pity mixed with shame as I handed the clothes back to them (reluctantly with some of the items I must add). At the end of the day should it matter if I could afford them or not? The whole point of having fitting rooms is to try before you buy and anyway I am trying before I’m buying even if the buying comes years later when I have a proper, higher paying job. Nothing like some well-advanced preparation. Without further or do I’m going to show you the outfits I tried on with their descriptions below and see if you can spot which ones are high end and low end high street. All will be revealed at the bottom of the page. I know you’re tempted but see if you can guess without looking at the answers first and comment below if you got any right or feel free to comment anything you’d like! (I must add that the shoes are mine and are  same throughout. They were £7 from TK Maxx if you were wondering).

  1. Casual wear: Floral printed dress paired with a leather jacket

2. Formal wear: Monochrome floral dress with greyish tones

3. Casual wear: Blush pink top with biker style jeans

4. Occasion wear: Contrast print dress

5. Now I know these outfits aren’t exactly matching but I just fell in love with these items when I saw them so it will be interesting to see which one you think is high end and low end when the outfits aren’t comparable.

Now are you ready for the big reveal…..

  1. The left image is the low end high street from New Look. Dress = £24.99, Jacket = £29.99. The right image is the high end high street from All Saints. Dress = £188.00, Jacket = £318.00
  2. The left image is the high end high street from Coast. Dress = £95.00. The right image is the low end high street from Quiz. Dress = £24.99
  3. The left image is the high end high street from Mint Velvet. Top = £69.00, Jeans = £79.00. The right image is the low end high street from Primark and next (as primark didn’t have my size in their jeans). Top = £8.00, Jeans = £35
  4. The left image is the high end high street from Coast (again). Dress = £129.00. The right image is the low end high street from Quiz (again). Dress = £26.99
  5. The left image is the low end high street from Zara. Jacket = £49.99, Trousers = £25.99, Bralette = £19.99. The right image is the high end high street from Modern Rarity which by the way is absolutely stunning. Top = £60.00, Trousers = £10

So all in all were you right? Can you tell the difference between spending a £100 plus on an outfit or merely spending under 50 quid? It amazes me that higher end high street stores charge so much for some of their clothes. I mean yes there is an obvious difference in quality sometimes but I’m not sure if that grants them the privilege to charge such extortionate prices. Now this may be because I am a student and I don’t have much money to flaunt around buying expensive clothing but I am a great believer that you can rock absolutely anything no matter what the price tag says because style is something that can’t be bought. You own your style when you Be True and you guessed it 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.