Gaining Body Confidence

What does it mean to be body confident?


In the age of Instagram, everyone’s attention has been captivated by perfect bikini bodies and chiselled abs. No wonder my generation and the one below me are obsessed with the way we look. According to The Department of Health & Children, “71.4% of Irish adolescents feel adversely affected by the media portrayal of body weight and shape”. Hundreds of new cases of eating disorders emerge in Ireland each year, resulting in 80 deaths annually. Researchers have found that adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents or nuclear war. A shocking insight into how the evolution of digital landscape has changed a generation’s thoughts and behaviours.

For the longest time, I had a weird relationship with my body. I never really hated it, but I didn’t exactly love it either. I’ve always been naturally skinny. So skinny that I’ve had doctors question whether I had an eating disorder (this couldn’t be further than the truth), and tall which makes me pretty lanky. Being tall and slim, I hear “I wish I was as skinny as you” a lot! I could never understand this. I have ridiculously long fingers (and toes), absolutely no boobs, a small dip in my chest (pectus excavatum) and a torso that’s too long for most swimsuits.

 

It’s hard growing up and seeing images of what the perfect women’s body should look like when you don’t reflect that. I felt terribly self-conscious growing up around girls my age who all seemed to develop normally. I didn’t get my first period until I was fifteen, 3 years older than the average age for a girl. When I went for my first bra fitting the sales assistant told my mother I didn’t actually need one. So despite people telling me I had a great figure, I felt I had anything but. For the majority, I’d always been really happy with how I look. My mother was always very encouraging and instilled a lot of self-confidence in me. It just sucked that what I wasn’t happy with couldn’t be changed very easily.

In a way, that fact actually helped me learn to accept myself. Apart from going down the route of surgery, I can’t change the way I look. And if I can’t change it then I should learn to live with it. After realising this, I slowly stopped caring. Caring about what others thought about me, caring what I used to think about me and caring what others perception of beauty is. If beauty is big boobs, a tiny waist and pouty lips then fuck it, I don’t want to be beautiful. To me, being beautiful is being a good person, thinking of others and doing the best with what you’ve been given. Beauty is your favourite singer’s voice, the smell of your partner’s pillow and the unrequited love of a dog. There are so many things in life that are beautiful. So why focus on only one, superficial aspect of it?

Shot by Nirina in Portaria, Greece.

I don’t know what you will take away from this blog post. Personally, I hope people will acknowledge that life’s far too short to torture yourself over the way you look. Focus your efforts on the type of person you are inside and I promise you’ll be happier.

Steal My Style

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