The idea of body confidence is something that has been all over the media and the internet for years now. Like most people, I truly believe that body confidence is something that everyone should have. But that’s easier said than done isn’t it? It’s like when someone tells you to “cheer up!” and immediately expects that to solve all your problems. Long story short, body confidence isn’t something you can just decide to have. It actually takes a lot of work. Body confidence is a journey, one that I don’t think ever truly ends.
Whenever I hear someone talking about how body confident they are, I must admit I get a bit jealous. Despite writing this post all about body confidence, I am not completely confident in myself. Honestly, I don’t think you can ever truly love your body all the time. There will always be things you don’t like about yourself. But I think the key to becoming body confident is recognising these things and trying your hardest to reconcile yourself with them. You may never learn to truly love your flaws, but the journey is more important than the destination.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Remember when you were a kid and the last thing you ever seemed to think about was how you looked? Imagine if that’s what life was like now. But for most people, especially those of us so invested in social media (guilty!), how we look is often at the forefront of our minds everyday. Usually when I talk to people about when they began to start caring about their looks and when they began to lose confidence in their bodies, they will say that it happened around puberty. And this makes sense doesn’t it? I mean, after all puberty is when some pretty major changes start to happen in your body. The skin your in begins to change and grow and sometimes it means you no longer feel like yourself.
I was very lucky in that this wasn’t the case for me. Even during my pubescent years, I didn’t care about how I looked. Sure I would make some changes to my appearance like dying my hair, but this was born out of a sense of boredom, not a lack of confidence. It wasn’t all rosy though, I have some pretty tragic photos of myself to look back on now. You know how most people go through an “awkward stage”? My awkward stage was basically my entire life up until the age of 18.
Even at 18, I wouldn’t say that I had completely lost all body confidence. I still liked the way I looked, I just made an active decision to make a few changed. I think I naturally grew out of my awkward stage when I started University and felt like I had more freedom. At Uni no-one was judging me for my clothes or my hair, I didn’t feel like I had to fit in with anyone else. University is an equaliser in many ways: everyone just wants to make friends, things become more about personality than looks. And, it was in this environment that I thrived.
When I Lost my Body Confidence
However, a couple of years ago, things took a bit of a turn. When I was on my year abroad, my mental health went on a downward spiral (we can save that fun topic for another post!). I lost a lot of weight, too much really. I wasn’t overweight to begin with, so with the amount I did lose it put me in dangerous territory. Slowly, I began to hate looking at myself in the mirror, because every time I saw my reflection it was also a reflection of my mental state. Heavy stuff, I know.
When I came home, I knew I had to put on weight again. In my mind, gaining the weight back equalled happiness. Gaining the weight back would make everything better. And so began a whole year of yo-yo dieting. And, spoiler alert: gaining the weight back didn’t make me feel better, if anything it made me more miserable than before.
Moving Back Towards Normality
In the past few months, I have started to move back towards normality, but I am still left with the scars of my body confidence crisis. Now, I exercise regularly, eat healthily and I am back to my healthy, happy weight. So, you would think that I would be back to my usual confident self. I wish. Although objectively I know that there is nothing wrong with the way I look, I still struggle.
Whenever I try to take full body outfit photos it’s an excruciating process which usually ends with me close to tears. And I know what you’re probably thinking: ‘that’s so dramatic!’ I don’t disagree with you. Honestly, I still don’t even know why I see myself in this negative light. But unfortunately, that’s the way that it is. Like I said, gaining body confidence is a journey, and a long one at that.
But, I am getting there slowly, I know that for sure.
What I’ve Learned Over the Past Year
What I’ve learned over the past year is that you should never take your happiness for granted. Life isn’t about having the perfect body. It’s about knowing what works for you: knowing what exercise you like, knowing you can eat that burger and fries and not hate yourself. Your happiness should always be prized over your image. Often, your loss of body confidence can be reflective of something deeper. And, if you think that is the case it is always essential to talk to someone.
If I could take one thing away from my body confidence journey it would be this: it’s only once your happy inside that you will start to see how great you look on the outside.
What are your thoughts on body confidence? I would love to know your thoughts or even your journey down in the comments!