Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Finding my way to a new kind of body confidence.

There was only ever one period in my life when I would have been considered 'skinny' or to a  'healthy weight'. It was a long time ago and I was in my early teens. You see I was a chubby little girl and everything for my age was always too small for my body.

Through my late primary school years I was bullied. Not just a little, I was really horribly bullied all  through school. I lost all my confidence pretty quickly and as I hit my teen years I hit an all time low with my personal body confidence. No matter how skinny I was, it wasn't really what I wanted to be happy. I was a size 6-8 in UK sizes for my early teens and looking back I probably hated my body the most through that period. I always wanted to change something about myself. However what did change through my teens was that I found a confidence in my own personality. I was a total emo kid and I seemed to find who I was. I met friends and they always pushed me to be better and to believe in myself. Which built up a confidence I never knew was there. They made me feel good about not being the same for the first time in a very long time.

During my late teens things changed again, I met Simon and I didn't want to be skinny, I wanted to be happy. I wanted to stop trying to control my eating and doing way too much exercise without enough sleep or food. I had developed bad habits with eating, in that I didn't really do it! I wore new rock boots most days and walked miles in them between hills (we lived in a valley) and just general walking. I wasn't looking after my body in any way and I realised I needed to eat healthier. Which in turn brought on weight gain and suddenly I was 'fat', not only by my own standards but according to my doctor I was now 'overweight'. Slowly my confidence started to dwindle away again.

By the time I was pregnant with Dylan I was up to being a size 14 and afterwards I didn't feel comfortable in my own body. It had changed (just as it should!) through my pregnancy and I wanted to hide it away under baggy clothes. So I did. For a long time everything needed to be flowy and fall without hugging my figure. I spent the next few years on a yo-yo of dieting and putting on weight.

In the year before having Scarlet I decided to accept that my body wasn't built to be 'skinny'. You see in my late teens I was diagnosed with PCOS and what I didn't know until we started trying to have a second baby was that it can affect the ability to loose and maintain a weight. After years of having this my own doctor had still insisted I wasn't trying hard enough to be a 'healthy weight' and that I was 'obese'. I had learned to accept that I was 'fat' because lets face it that's what they where telling me. I'm fat and yes, that is true. What isn't true but is implied by those statements is that I am unhealthy. I'm not and I wasn't unhealthy. I walk, pretty much everywhere, I have pretty good stamina. At a size 16 I walked up a mountain, pushing a pram, carrying a 9 month in a carrier. I'm not unfit and it would seem that this weight is where my body naturally bounces back to. So why am I always being pressured and told I need to change that?

Once I had accepted that my body was going to be however it was and that no amount of dieting or being skinny would make me like it more, I felt a little more free. I wasn't weighing myself down with a need to be different. I happily stayed there in a place where I didn't love my body but I no longer hated it and wanted to change it all the time either. I'd found a kind of limbo in myself.

During my pregnancy with Scarlet I had serious health problems and a lot went wrong. Pretty quickly I realised that actually I wasn't unhealthy before. I had no health problems other than my PCOS. I wasn't even in the at risk sections for anything weight related. I had the worst pregnancy of the three I've now had. After I decided that I wouldn't try to be 'healthier' by changing my every day life because I was still trying to eat healthier without dieting. 

Over the last three years I also started to find a world full of bigger people who loved their bodies and who found happiness in doing so. It started with watching people on Youtube and TV who are happy and accepted despite their size. Then last year Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks started to share her body confidence journey on Instagram and I found the body confidence movement. People who wanted to be accepted by society instead of being told to change themselves. People who might not be unhealthy because they are fat or people who aren't happy with the need to be skinny because skinny is always better right? Wrong, skinny people can be unhealthy too. You don't just assume that they are though do you?

After reading and watching as Hayley found her confidence, I started to find small parts of my body that I actually really liked. My lips or the colour of my eyes and as I opened my mind to how I don't have to be a skinny, flawless person to be happy and to feel like I look good, I felt better in myself! It's taken me longer to love my 'tummy pouch' where having children has changed my body shape and my body fat naturally comes there now. It's taken even longer to like my arms which have stretch marks and bingo wings. However I do like them. They are a part of me.

Now years after my confidence was stripped down to it's bare minimum and I wasn't happy with even one thing about myself. I was finding a true happiness with my body. My confidence wasn't really following behind, I was still dressing in t-shirts and skinny jeans or dresses which had a big skirt. The most fitted my clothing got was 50's style dresses. That was until I stumbled upon Carrie Dayton on Youtube. An American beauty Youtubber who is happy and confident as a plus sized woman. I watched her videos on styling mid sized bodies, she wears the same UK size as me so I figured that I could try them. Now I don't have the same style as her, in fact I'm pretty far off but I found a whole new purpose to my self love journey. I wanted to simply be happy and to feel good about myself, as I am, without changing anything. Armed with some of her tips mixed in with another youtubber Sierra Schultzzie  I wanted to find some new clothing which made me feel amazing!

It's taken some time and honestly I feel like this journey has been happening through my entire life. I found a skirt which didn't fit in to my normal go to wardrobe. Yes it's still flowy and it's not figure hugging but it is something I would usually just put back on the hanger thinking I wasn't 'skinny enough' to wear it. I wore it twice and I felt good! I felt like I was happy in my body despite being just over a month post partum with my third baby.

The next time I wore it I felt pretty great, I felt so good I asked Simon to take some photos for me with and without the children. I stood in public, okay so it was pretty covered inside a hedged garden in the botanical garden but there where people there and quite a few stared at me. I stood in front of the beautiful flowers and I posed for some photos. I felt confident. I feel good and I felt like I was beautiful which I didn't say when I got home and shared the photos online. It seems funny to type it now. I felt so good but I didn't feel confident enough to tell anyone that I felt like I looked beautiful. I guess there is still more confidence I need to find.

Since then I also bought myself a dungaree dress which hugs in all the places I try to hide, I can't wear leggings underneath to stop my legs rubbing together and I certainly can't hide under layers. However I love it! I didn't think I would and I was convinced I'd buy it, hate it and return it. I was so wrong and I wore it to a birthday party last week. I felt great, I even went out for a walk with Avery later that night and honestly surprised myself by how confident I felt I did take a quick photo which is above and I feel like I am really finding my self confidence. 

I am happy, I feel good in myself, I don't want to be skinny, I don't want to focus on the numbers in my clothing or the numbers on the scale. I don't want to be told I am fat, unhealthy or that I am obese. I just want to be healthy and other than the number on those scales I am. So I am going to stop feeling bad about not matching up to other people or the expectations that are pushed on us to be smaller and healthier. Instead I'm going to be happy, I'm going to find more clothing that makes me feel great and I am going to find a way to feel good about myself in the small moments without make up and fancy clothes as well as the big ones. 

1 comment:

  1. It’s so horrible being bullied and far too common! I had a fantastic primary school experience so it was a shock to the system when I started secondary school and got picked on horribly. It really had a knock on my confidence and I still have self esteem issues now. What an experience you had, I’m glad you feel happy now! X


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