I recently attended a boudoir photoshoot with the wonderful Galerie Studios who take the most simple and strikingly beautiful portraits. I was attending with my little cousin, Hannah, who at the tender age of 21 is beginning to love her curves and embrace that she is very beautiful.
I hoped that a boudoir shoot would help Hannah with her body confidence and, thankfully, I was right. With the help of Anna, the Art Director, and Ceyla, the Client Manager, we were both made to feel completely at ease throughout the shoot. We both came out beaming, and with some beautiful images of ourselves – mine are shared below (sorry not sorry for the overkill but I love them).
Unfortunately, not everyone leaves a boudoir shoot feeling so content and empowered with their own images. Anna and Ceyla work tirelessly to put their clients at ease and make them feel good about themselves, however they were quick to tell me that some girls simply can’t break through their own body image barriers – that some girls are so entrenched in the societal ideas of beauty that they cannot see their own. At times, it has been so bad that girl’s have cried when seeing their photos – photos that anyone else would find breathtaking.
This revelation made me so sad – it reminded me again why I blog (it’s hard to lose sight times) and why I do strip down to my pants … to show that you don’t need to be fat free to be beautiful!
Yet sometimes I think I talk to such a small subset of people – to people who have already begun their body confidence journey simply by finding the likes of myself and other plus size bloggers on instagram or twitter or social media. So how do we reach out to others?
Simple – by continuing to post, continuing to speak, continuing to being seen.
I chose to not have any of my images edited from this shoot – to show my body in all it’s splendour. For ages now I’ve made no adaptions to my blog or social media photos – I don’t use smoothing or colour altering filters, most of the time my daily selfies don’t include make up, and I’ve never photoshopped my images beyond cropping them. I’ve also posted unflattering images of myself – sat in my pants on the sofa for all my rolls to hang out. I chose to buy these pictures unaltered and unedited, completely raw because it shows me in all my honest glory. I’m not hiding behind skin smoothing, or being enhanced with photoshopped high lights – I’m just me!
I feel this is important – I’m fairly well progressed in my body positivity and body confidence journey. I am, for the most part, happy with my body and therefore I’m in a place to be showing it off – I understand it’s not for everyone, and I have received a fair amount of criticism for it. However, I feel it’s important to show those not so happy with their bodies that they can be, even if they don’t fit the societal mould of so-called ‘perfection’.
But perhaps showing my body off is not enough alone … instead, perhaps I should be sharing my own little hints and tips of how to achieve body confidence. Now, I can only speak of my own journey and share what works for me – different people have different journeys and different experiences so I’ve linked some other posts about achieving body positivity at the end of the post. Please do check them out, but until then, here are mine:
1. Get to know your body
This probably sounds a little strange but you need to know what you love. I use to hide my body away and not look at it because I was ashamed of what I saw. However, over time, I started showing little by little to myself. I started to accept my wide shoulders, my droopy boobs, and burgeoning hips.
Over time, I looked past the things I didn’t like and started to focus on the things I did like. Spending more time in the front of the mirror, then starting yoga (which really does give you the most fantastic awareness) meant I learnt my body, I started to accept my body, and then I started to love my body and see the good in it.
My illness means I spend a good portion of time massaging my body to stop my muscles seizing up. Doing that really made me realise how strong, how flexible, how powerful and ultimately how resistant my body is. It’s hard not to love my body for that!
2. Don’t believe everything you see
Everything from magazines, to fashion brands, to social media lie. They put our unrealistic images of women who are photoshopped, enhanced, taught to pose in so-called “flattering” poses, and, often, have the clothes their selling pinned to give the perfect-fit.
This unrealistic image of the body is, ultimately, immensely damaging if you don’t realise that those images you see aren’t what the woman really looks like and you certainly shouldn’t be comparing yourself to that image. Even those images that aren’t photoshopped down to the last inch depict a woman who has been looked after, more often than not, by a nutrionist, a personal trainer, a hairdresser, a beautician … all to put forward a contrived image that it unattainable for those of us working full time jobs, cleaning our houses, digging up weeds, walking the dog, picking up the kids from school, simply just living our normal daily lives.
3. Surround yourself with positivity
Now this may seem a little obvious – but also difficult given that negativity is often hard to avoid. The easiest tricks are to hide friends/family/acquaintances who promote a body-dismorphic outlook on their social media.
Negativity in person is more difficult. Sometimes a friendly chat works, if not, make them the read the blogs I linked below so they can see how damaging their behaviour can be. I know of someone who has really struggled with obsessive diet and weight-loss talk in the work place. It is okay to speak out about this – to talk, in confidence, to HR or to a trusted manager that you find it difficult to put up with the chatter. It is okay to speak out if a topic makes you or others uncomfortable.
4. It’s okay to doubt
So I’ve preached about confidence but we all have those minutes when confidence wanes, when you don’t feel good about yourself. It may be due to an ill fitting dress, or because you’re under the weather, or because some b*tch was mean to you.
We all have those days and it’s okay to not be okay – you certainly shouldn’t be beating yourself up about it! Instead, do something to lift yourself. I go swimming – I’m like a killer whale in the water, all grace and speed and strength! For others, a warm bath and a good book may lift their mood, or an evening in with Netflix … whatever floats your boat – do it, spend some time on yourself, and go on to feel better another day.
5. Fake it to you make it
On those days you’re not feeling your best, fake it! And eventually you’ll believe it.
When I’m feeling down about my appearance I do have some little tricks to give the impression of feeling great – I’ll often put a bit more effort into my appearance. I’ll put on some lipstick, curl my hair or, even more simply, throw on a pretty dress. Feeling like I’ve put in a bit of effort makes me feel that bit better and eventually, my spirits and my confidence will rise again.
6. Tell others when they look great
I don’t know why but taking the time to tell others when they’re looking great can always make me feel a bit better about myself – I walk a little taller, smile a little brighter. Kindness, acceptance, and a lack of judgement is at the heart of body positivity and you have to action what you preach. It works, I swear ….
Just a few of my favourite blogs to read … there are many, many more out there though …
- Ganesha Awash – Body Confidence Tips
- Pretty Big Butterflies – It’s OK to not be OK
- Kimberly Nichole for The Militant Baker
- Lotte L’Amour – Becoming a Sex Goddess
- Fran Hayden – Why Choose Self Love?
- Nerd About Town – My Body Confidence Journey … So Far
- Curves & Curls – 9 Tips for Body Confidence
- Kitty Rambles A Lot: It’s The Little Things That Help
Like I said earlier, the above are just actions that I have found helpful in my own body positive journey but please do leave comments below if you have your own hints and tips!
Oh, and all the lovely underwear from my boudoir shoot will be reviewed over the coming weeks so do check back!