Welcome to my first post of 2017! I know, crazy right! I hope you are doing well and have had a great start to the year so far. Today, as you can probably tell from the title, I am going to talk with a much more serious focus on the topic of body confidence. This is something, which like everyone else, I in the past and still to this day struggle with. I am sharing my story with you all today and my thoughts and feelings in hope that in some way it either inspires you or helps you in some way, because believe me or not, I wish I had someone who would have said this to me when I was younger.
Going through your teenage years is very confusing (and yes, I am aware I am a still a teenager) but I feel for me my life has somewhat settled down and I have gone through my confusing times. The time when I really struggled in my teenage years was secondary school. The whole of secondary school I struggled in some way. You know what it’s like I am sure. I was bullied, I wasn’t popular and I like any other child I searched for acceptance and wanted to be liked and loved. I had relationship drama and just the basic daily struggles any teen goes through when they are that age, but they’re different stories on their own! The point is, in secondary school was when I felt my most vulnerable and self-conscious. I was very aware of my body and who I was but more importantly at that time, I was even more aware of who I wasn’t and what my body wasn’t.
This seems so strange to write about this, since practically no one knows the struggles I went through during school. I was a very timid child and didn’t really have that many friends and even the ones I did, because of this crazy situation (again another long story) I still very distant from and sort of like the outsider or that in some case I didn’t belong. I think the only person who even partially understands any of this, but still even to this day I have not shared the full story. I’m just not that sort of person really. I am quite a private person and I find opening up to people rather difficult which is why for a lot of people a lot of my life remains sort of a mystery. I just you know would rather not speak about my past sometimes. There’s things which happened which I would rather stay there. However, as I grow older now, I realise the significance and importance of speaking about my problems in over-coming and so that’s what I am doing.
So why I am speaking about this now? 2016 was a massive year for me in so many ways. Some good and some bad. However, it was a year of significance personal growth. Throughout 2016 I grew so much a person and I now feel a lot more comfortable and confident to speak out about my problems and know that I am not the only going through what I am or has gone through what I have. It’s very reassuring knowing that you are not the only person. I developed so much confidence last year so many reasons, became an incredibly independent person and in general just learned a lot about the person I am. Last year for me personally, was a year where I definitely saw an increase in my body confidence which makes me so happy, especially after years of struggling with the way I look.
When I was, younger I was unbelievably confident and outgoing, I really don’t even know who that person. Then again, back then I wasn’t aware of the difference between people and I also didn’t realise just how mean some children could be to you. I guess from what I can remember and when I look back through photos, that my confidence began to disappear around the age of 7 because I started to do less and sort of go into the background. Before then I had always wanted to try absolutely anything, I always loved being the main part in the school plays and performing. I never had stage fright or worried in the slightest. I was so sure of myself and had confidence I my own abilities it was nice. I was never a cocky child though. Never. I was always aware that people were better than me or pretty than me etc. besides I wasn’t about showing off. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone back then, because I believed in myself.
When I moved into junior school that’s when things started to go wrong. Bullying got a lot worse and I didn’t have any friends at all. I remember just sitting on a bench at lunch by myself or play hop-scotch by myself. My best friend through primary had moved houses and gone to a different school and that was my only friend gone. The situation never improved and in fact, it got even worse as he years progressed by and to be honest I have never understood why no one liked me. All I know is my confidence took a huge hit in those years. I use to dread school performances and have massive stage fright. I remember one dress rehearsal being ill because I was that scared to go on stage out of fear of what people would say, which looking back now is so bad because I enjoyed performing and I should have been having fun as a child anyway. I was always really scared to talk or make friends or speak to new people. I did feel very alone and isolated. I lost all my confidence because I thought there was something wrong with me because no one liked me or wanted to be friends with me. I just wanted to be liked.
Anyway, school life continued as normal for the next four years and then year 6 arrived and I was 11. Of course, no one knew how I felt because I always acted happy and pretended like things was fine. I didn’t want anyone to know what was wrong or how I was feeling. Besides I thought I was the only one, even though now I know I am not. I had become good at putting a front on, which is I guess why I am so good at it now because I had been accustomed to it and doing it for the past 10 years, I don’t really know anything else. So, if you know anything about my life at all, you are privileged because I don’t let my guard down easy.
Anyway, year 6 rolled around but now things were starting to change. We began having sex education and I began going through puberty and I had never been so sad about anything ever. I hated it. Mainly because I was developing a lot sooner than anyone else and I hated that. It was something else which made me different and created a divide. All I remember thinking to myself… “Great! Another thing to go wrong. Is not having any friends and being bullied not enough? Why something else for them call me out for?”.
As we all know, children are vicious. The moment you aren’t the same and you are different, automatically for some apparent reason gives them a reason to make your life hell for it. I had been use to all the other insults now about being fat, ugly, stupid. You know all the traditional ways for other to bring you down but now this was something else and it got personal. I had been insulted and called all those things, variations and much worse for years but the bullying was taken to the next stage. I began developing boobs and I hated it and to this day, I don’t like them and wish I could change them and no one can understand why but it comes back to this. My body is just one thing I was sensitive. I remember absolutely dreading PE lessons and getting changed. I began wearing those small bras, but no one else was yet and I was embarrassed and ashamed of my body. I swear at times I use to try and avoid getting changed for PE and when I did I use to turn away in hope no one could see. But of course, every time was the same. People laugh and makes jokes and bring it to everyone’s attention and It was awful. I hated those days. Right then, at those moments in time, I just wished that the ground would swallow me up. That’s when my body confidence really began to suffer.
Of course, when you get older, you presume the children become more mature but as you find out that is still quite clearly not the case. It didn’t get any better in secondary school. In fact, it got worse for a while. Year 7 was the start of something new: new school and new people, except the bullying was the same and worse. People who didn’t even know me, judged me and I just felt so awkward and embarrassed. Thankfully, as people developed that sort of bullying began to slow down and yes it did take form in another way but that’s a story for another day!
Even as comments about my body became less frequent and more focused on something else, that didn’t matter. The damage had already been done. I already hated myself. I hated the way I looked. I now believed I was ugly and fat.
My parents and family wasn’t really much help in this so I gave in talking to them about it, because like any family they tell you aren’t fat and that you’re beautiful no matter what but those words kind of don’t mean anything to you because you just feel like they’re obliged to tell you those things are your family. I remember getting really upset when a pair of shorts no longer fit me anymore because I had grown. I didn’t see it that way though. All I thought it was for was because I was fat. I got so upsetting insisting that I wouldn’t eat and wanted to be slim. Of course, my parents didn’t let that happen and I did eat my dinner that evening. I felt fat and ugly and wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. I just hated who I was.
MY struggle has lasted my whole life. I have always hated something at some point or another since I was 7 and I think that’s sad now. I remember in year 10 and 11, which of course are the years where you want to attract guy attention, so you try even harder. Me though… a different story completely. I was ugly. I wasn’t allowed makeup still. I got the occasionally spot and I would freak out and cry. I was still fat and hated my stomach and thighs. To me they were just disgusting. Who was ever going to love me? I was nothing compared to the other girls. I wasn’t nearly as pretty or nearly as slim. What did I have to offer? Academically I was clever but I was just called a ‘nerd’ and back then no one thought that was cool. I wanted to be popular and something I wasn’t and I tried so very hard those 2 years to be something I wasn’t. I started a crazy intense exercise programme and pushed myself to maximum. I drained my physically and emotionally. I would skip lunch occasionally or instead just eat an apple. Looking back now I realise how sad this was. Trust me, things got crazy. Not crazy enough that I ever developed an eating disorder thank god! I don’t know how I didn’t but I am so thankful I never did.
At that time, I hated myself and because of this I pushed away the first guy to take an interest in me a way. I didn’t love who I was and I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin and I just felt so low about myself and not having any real friends that I pushed away this guy. If I didn’t love me why would anyone else? I was so convinced that I was so fat and ugly that I couldn’t believe that one else would want me or want to love me or be with me. It just didn’t make sense. Plus, lots of other stuff happened within school, my idea towards relationships changed. I became a cynical person. Overall, I had lost all my confidence and was a negative person. I was negative about everything to do with myself and so self-critical.
I vividly remember this one time in year 11. God I cannot believe how upset I was and cried. I was doing GCSE, despite everyone laughing at me and telling me I couldn’t and for one of the sports we had to go swimming and get assessed. At this point I just started to wear a little bit of mascara too. Well I was in the teacher’s office and I broke down in tears and I mean floods of tears. I couldn’t go swimming with people from my school let alone boys from our school. I remember sobbing saying I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be seen in my swimming costume with my thighs and stomach. All I know is that mascara rolled down my face and I looked a state. I was terrified. Luckily for me, the teacher understood just how upset and scared I was and arranged for me to go another time but the point is, I shouldn’t have felt that way. I shouldn’t have been made to feel that way about my body.
My body should be something I love, cherish and respect and I see that now. I see how awful it was that I hated my body and felt that way. Now of course I still have issues. I wish my stomach was flatter and my thighs were slimmer but you know it’s my body and since I have moved out I have had a lot more control over my diet and changes have gradually began to happen and I feel a lot better about who I am. I still don’t like my boobs, thighs or stomach but it’s a working progress and you know I now have a different attitude towards things.
I believe it is so important to never sacrifice your mental health for the idea of the ‘perfect’ body, if there is even such a thing. Everyone is damaged, flawed and imperfect but that’s what makes us so beautiful. Don’t believe all you read in magazines and see in photos and the media, because it is quite often photoshopped and I hated myself for not looking that way and being perfect. It was totally unachievable and wasn’t me.
In this world, we live in today and the society we are faced with you cannot win either way. You’re criticised for being too thin, you’re criticised for being too heavy. It’s impossible to please everyone, so stop trying make yourself happy. I have body issues but so does everyone. As soon as you realise that the people you think are ‘flawless’ or ‘perfect’ too have body issues then you will see the reality. Everyone has something they are insecure about and perfect doesn’t exist. There isn’t just one body type and weight that is right. Everyone is different and that means there are billions of different versions of perfection. You have just got find someone who sees your version.
Body confidence doesn’t come from having the perfect body, it comes from you embracing the body you have been given. As soon as I changed my perspective, things began to change. I was trying so hard to please people who couldn’t even care if I was alive or not. I was trying to impress people who didn’t even notice me or know I existed. Who would walk straight past me in the hallway like I was invisible. Or trying to impress people who I was just a joke too, someone to laugh and make miserable. Why was I willing to try some damn hard to impress those people, who didn’t even matter? Yet I wasn’t willing to do it for the person who mattered the most – myself.
I now know beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are. I know the prettiest thing I can wear, no matter how long I spend getting ready, is a smile. I feel most confident and happy when I am smiling. Learning to love yourself is the greatest revolution.
Life is way too short to spend another day at war with yourself. There’s far too many wars and crises going on without creating one with yourself too. You are imperfect and inevitably flawed but that’s what makes you so beautiful. Trust me when I say this, being confident and loving who you will make you happier than any diet you go one.
Every woman is beautiful, it just takes the right people and guy to see that. If they can’t love you for who you and what you have then let go. They aren’t worth having in your life. Happy girls are the prettiest. You’re amazing just the way you are and you should be at home with your body. It’s a beautiful gift and you love every single part of it, even though there will be parts you would like to change.
Change your mindset. Be positive. We tend to only notice the bad things about ourselves that we forget to appreciate the things that are amazing about us and that are so beautiful. Have the strength and courage to be different and accept the body you have. Exercise to be fit and healthy not to be slim. Make positive changes, ones which make you healthier and improve your lifestyle.
Value your own body and love who you are. You really are beautiful.
I don’t know how I have just got through writing this. I can say there was a few tears. I don’t ever want to feel that way ever again. I have felt so vulnerable writing this and sharing this part of my life with you but I know I wish I would have someone to tell me this and tell me that everything was going to be okay and that I wasn’t only one. I think it is so incredibly how many of us fall out of love with our bodies and hate ourselves. We should be building each other up and making every person feel beautiful, not tearing them down and making them feel awful about themselves. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did. I want you all to love and respect and know you are worth more than the words that people say to hurt you. You are loved and you are beautiful. You don’t makeup, or any guy to make you feel special. As long as you see your worth and recognise you’re beautiful then that’s all that matters.
Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself!
Thank you so much for reading and I love you all lots!