I was interviewed yesterday by a journalist who is writing an article for a pregnancy magazine. She wanted to talk about women’s body image when they are pregnant. She was keen to get some insight into how women feel about their bodies, how it impacts their eating and how they manage all the attention when they are expecting a baby and their body shape changes beyond recognition and pretty much out of their control.
We talked at length about the different ways in which women react to their changing bodies. About women (like me!) who use being pregnant as the perfect excuse to stop controlling (or trying to) what and how much we eat. It’s just about the only time in our lives when many of us give ourselves a break. By telling ourselves that we need to ‘eat for two’ and that we going to put weight on anyway...we give ourselves permission to eat more than we would have before, to stop restricting ourselves, to ‘indulge’. We talked about the women who, while pregnant, have a temporary respite from hating their bodies. Seeing their bellies swell for a positive and ‘legitimate’ reason, they can be a little kinder (or perhaps just less vicious) about their bodies, for a few months. We talked about the women who work so hard to stay slim before, during and after pregnancy and those who love the bigger breasts, fuller bottom and bulbous belly. Women come in all shapes and sizes and their reactions to being pregnant vary widely.
As we talked and talked we moved away from pregnancy and onto body image in general. I hadn’t talked to a journalist about this for a while (and I can go on and on and on for ever… which I did!!). As I spoke words that I have spoken a million times I was struck yet again by how crazy and sad it is to me that so, so many women define themselves by the size of their bodies. I feel devastated to think of all the wonderful, intelligent, kind, capable, caring, hard working women out there who don’t think they are good enough, who feel bad about themselves, who hold themselves back and put themselves down... because they are overweight.
Body confidence doesn’t come from the size of our bodies. Body confidence comes from believing that we are good enough whatever our size. From believing that value and worth cannot be measured in inches and pounds. Body confidence comes from acting confident and believing we deserve the same respect as women who have smaller bodes.
What is the difference between a woman who is described as voluptuous, curvaceous and sexy and one who is described as fat and frumpy? The difference is not in how she looks, the difference is not in her size, the difference is in how she feels about herself.
Feeling an being beautiful is not dependent on a dress size or indeed the dress. Feeling and being beautiful is something we cal all do. If we can silence the judgements and the criticisms for just a moment, we can acknowledge that being slim will not make us kinder, more intelligent, more capable, more generous… being thinner won’t make us a better partner or mother or daughter. Being slimmer won't make us beautiful. We can be slim and hate ourselves just the same.
And once again being willing to be beautiful calls for COURAGE. The courage to say “I am beautiful”. The courage to believe it and act it and say it out loud. The courage to stop hating ourselves.
What would the world be like if women stopped waiting for other people to tell them that they are beautiful? If we began to grab that authority for ourselves?
What would the world be like if women stopped apologising for the way we look, if we stopped diminishing ourselves day in day out.
I have had enough. I refuse to let the world decide for me if I am beautiful or not.
I am a beautiful woman. Regardless of my size I have right to everything that a slim woman has and does. And so do you. And the more I believe it and the more I act on it, the more others see me as beautiful too.
And I also know that telling ourselves we are beautiful when we don't believe it, is not enough. So-called 'positive affirmations' have never worked for me. There is no magic solution to get from hating our bodies to feeling beautiful. Fake it til you make it? Not powerful enough to fight the powerful, nasty gremlins that are backed by the media, society at large and every single message we have ever been given about beauty. Body confidence comes from first and foremost owning our bodies. The starting place is to treat our bodies with respect. To stop hounding them with criticisms. To acknowledge the bits we don't like and accept that whatever we currently feel about our body it is ours and it is what we have. Body confidence comes from dressing in comfortable, well fitting clothes we feel good in, from taking the time to take care of our bodies in whatever way appeals (make-up, moisturiser, perfumes, massage...). Body confidence comes from making friends with the body we have, not ignoring it and blaming it for everything that it wrong with our lives. You don't have to believe that your body is beautiful to take it under your wing, to care for it and protect it.
Once we've finished our new Overeating book, Body Confidence is next. I can't wait! In the meantime, the 'Own your body' chapter in our current book is a great starting place.
I would love to have been able to send each one of you who reads this blog a beautiful, delicious Easter Egg! Instead here is a little gift from the Chocolate Fairies for this Easter. Click HERE to download our Beyond Chocolate Masterclass On Body Confidence...
Wishing you all a very happy and chocolately Easter.