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Body.

I wanted to cover a few topics this week since it’s Mental Health Awareness week but alas, life has just gotten in the way. I have been yoyo-ing between tummy aches and extreme tiredness, and although I have tried to take my laptop to bed with me a couple of times, it just gets discarded within a matter of minutes. Self care and all that.

I actually wanted to blog about body image and the common misconceptions surrounding the pictures I post on my social media. Many people have identified social media as an important factor causing them to worry about their body image, but let it be known that I have never been particularly body confident. I was a very overweight teenager and with that came consequences, such as having my gall bladder removed when I was 20.

When I say overweight, it sounds like I mean just a couple of lbs, but to say I completely abused my body would be an understatement. I can go into the reasons why I thought I over ate but honestly? I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to delve that deeply on my blog just yet. Let’s just put it down to a penchant for chocolate, getting square eyes from watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and learning to design websites from the age of 11.

Kids are mean though, aren’t they? Hell! Adults are mean too!

At 33 I have stretch marks all over my body; arms, legs and tummy. Luckily (depending on how you look at it) they have pretty much faded to nothing, although the excess skin remains. Even at my thinnest I could never quite get rid of it, although I have mastered ways of hiding it for photos etc. Funnily enough, being in front of the camera makes me forget everything, all my flaws etc. You will notice that I wear a lot of long sleeve tops, I also don’t show my midriff (if I can help it!) and I really don’t like my knees. I don’t think these insecurities are going to go away, but the way I deal with them has improved. I recently posted a photo featured in this blog post which shows my stretchmarks and at first, I couldn’t stop looking at them, but then I just figured that’s me and I’m not perfect.

Who cares? Only me it seems!

I also went through a period of under-eating when I was in my late teens. Honestly, I just remember thinking I was happier when I was larger! I dropped to 7.5 stone, and at 5’8 that was pretty hardcore. My breakfast usually consisted of a sugar free energy drink and an apple, which I hoped would last me the entire day. I loved the control that I had, but the guilt of eating something that wasn’t to plan would be absolutely overwhelming. It was only after I was regularly blacking out that my mum stepped in and threatened to put me in the hospital if I didn’t buck my ideas up. I guess I was lucky, I clearly wasn’t in it that deeply because that night I remember eating my first Starburst in what felt like forever, and it was glorious!

Those negative feelings didn’t go away straight away. In fact, I think it took a good few years. I would eat something ‘naughty’ and then in my head try and figure out ways to burn it off. It’s weird, and marvellous how our minds can repair themselves because that train of thought is completely alien to me now.

Just eat the pizza and enjoy!

I guess you could say I have been at both ends of the spectrum with my weight, and I really struggled particularly after having a baby. I didn’t feel sexy, or beautiful, in fact I was made to feel like I was the most undesirable of the undesirable, an ogre if you will. I guess that just made me unwilling to try  and get back my pre-baby body, I mean, what was the point? My worries regarding my body confidence were low down on a very long list of other things I was dealing with though. Phoebe was a particularly difficult baby, I struggled with breastfeeding, admittedly it was a very lonely time. My mental health was low, so I went to perinatal counselling just to try and sort things out in my head, it helped, but I lacked the support network at home which is what I needed more than anything.

Weight hasn’t always been the be all and end all of my body confidence woes. I can confidently add dark hair to my list of body negatives. However, bleaching, plucking, and epilating have always been at the top of my beauty priorities, but I am sure if you are fair you have your own share of problematic areas. I try not to compare myself to others.. too often!

We are all human after all.

I may be a size 8 now, but I don’t feel particularly healthy in body and soul. However, I have never felt more confident in my own skin, which I know is a lot to do with my partner. I still shy away from revealing my post baby tummy but it's getting easier. I guess what I am trying to put across is that life is short, everyone has something that bothers them (in fact, 1 in 3 British adults have felt anxious, or depressed over concerns about their body image) whether it’s the size of their nose, colour of their hair, or even down to their big toes. You aren’t alone when it comes to a lack of body confidence, so let's talk! All I can suggest is trying to embrace it, and well, it’s just you, innit?
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