In the ‘real’ world, not the flittered, shiny, air brushed version of the world, real beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes. Something which should be celebrated not agonised over. Yet sadly for many, insecurities surrounding body image prevail. Affecting, the curvy, the skinny, those who have had children, those who haven’t and everything in between. I’ve been there and worn the T-Shirt.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to take part in the third Warrior Woman project, organised by the inspirational London style blogger Nat who writes Style Me Sunday. In partnership with Dove, the perfect fit for such a project, the theme was the importance of being fierce and overcoming insecurites and vulnerabilities, putting your best foot forward and being the best version of yourself. Encouraging positive body image and high self esteem the day involved, inspiring talks, comedy for the sensational Scummy Mummies and a photo shoot like no other, a first for me, bearing my soul in my underwear.
Easier said than done when you have to get your kit off in front of strangers and stand in your over sized Bridget Jones knickers, seven months after giving birth to your second child. But it’s one of these things that has strangely been on my bucket list and was an important milestone in terms of my own self esteem and self confidence and I hope it sends out all the right messages at a time when both men and women, girls and boys are living in a culture obsessed by appearances and not in a healthy way.
The photos arrived in my in box on Friday evening. Your gut instinct is to scrutinise over them in agonising detail, magnifying all the flaws which only you can see. However, given that just over 10 years ago size 6 clothes were too big for my tiny frame, my periods had stopped and I had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, I took a step back and saw my body in a whole new light.
Having had two boys 19 months apart I have a new love and appreciation for my body. This has been a slow burner but pregnancy has allowed me to develop a much healthier appreciation of my body. It’s a pretty awesome tool and one that should be celebrated and as I’ve written before the lumps, bumps, and stretch marks are positive reminders that I have housed and grown a tiny human for nine months.
Admittedly since Reuben was born I’ve made an effort to keep fit and active and generally eat healthily, as although I’ve fully recovered from the demons that haunted me in my early 20s, there is an element of control that never quite vanishes, after the hangover if you like, of an eating disorder.
But equally I have a healthy appetite for food and a love of cheese, bread, pasta and G&T’s by the bucket full. My tummy is squishy, my boobs are exhausted, my but is wider and my thighs chunkier but I’m not going to loose sleep over any of this as I don’t get enough sleep as it is. And actually since having children I have actually uncovered a new level of confidence and can love myself a little more than I used too. My priorities have changed and my focus has shifted. My new body shape is just perfect the way it is thank you very much. It may not be cat walk worthy but it’s worthy for the path I’m walking.
I also want my two sons to realise real beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and shouldn’t be measured by your waistline or the size of your thigh gap. Equally I don’t want them to grow up scrutinising their own bodies. By being confident in my own skin I hope I can inspire them to be as confident in their own.
Real beauty doesn’t come in one size. If we were all carbon copies of one and other the world would be a pretty desperate place. Being human is about having imperfections. Striving for perfection is exhausting and comes at a price. Our imperfections instead should be embraced as they make us who we are as individuals. I may have been the second person to stand in front of the camera but despite the nerves the Warrior Woman project certainly uplifted my mood and boosted my self esteem, standing along side a wide variety of talented and inspirational women, who shouldn’t be defined by their dress size or their body shape. Their individual characters bring so much more to a room and make a bigger impact.
A big thanks to Style Me Sunday, The Tape Agency, Dove and Imogen Loveday.
Photo credit Angela Dennis.