Body Confidence. It’s not a phrase I would have used in my 20s.
When I look in the mirror I see stretch marks, a wobbly tummy, droopy boobs.
My legs are ok. I like my smile. My hair needs to be dyed constantly due to ever creeping greys.
But you know what, I don’t really care as much as I used to.
And by no means am I saying I don’t care what I look like, I just mean I’m ok with not being perfect.
I’m ok with things that society tells me are actually not ok.
But I haven’t always felt this way. In fact these feelings of being ok are quite recent.
My negative body image started in childhood. I’ll be honest. I was always the chubby kid at school, and boy did the other kids let me know about it.
I pretty much spent my entire childhood feeling like I didn’t fit in. I got called every name under the sun. I was so self conscious about my body. Looking back, I wonder how I left the house some days.
My poor body image affected a lot of what I did. I didn’t have a lot of love for myself, so God knows how I thought anyone else could love me. But if I’m honest, I was desperate for someone to love me.
I found the person I thought completed me at the ripe old age of 18. If only I knew then what I knew now.
When I was 26, that same guy told me that he couldn’t get married.
We’d paid the deposit for our wedding reception venue 3 days before he told me it was over.
It broke my heart. Actually more than that. It shattered my soul. It made me question who I was, what I was, what I deserved. It made me ask a thousand questions.
It definitely made me focus on those things that I didn’t think I had, especially physical attributes.
I will never forget the words he spoke “marriage just isn’t for me”. What he really meant was, I don’t want to marry you.
I found out about the cheating a few months later. And had to relive the torment all over again.
Looking back the signs were all there.
It didn’t help that the girl he cheated on me with was a good 5 years younger than me, blonde, slim – you can imagine, right?
It took me years to get over it. In fact, I still bear the scars now.
He of course went on to get married and have children.
So marriage was for him, just not marriage with me.
Anyway, after 3 years of being single, dating too many guys than I probably should have, getting drunk too many times just to appear like I had it all together, I met my husband.
I think I was a size 18. My boobs were a bit perkier, my wobbly tummy wasn’t quite as wobbly. My hair didn’t need constant attention. I didn’t have wrinkles around my eyes or half as many stretch marks.
But you know what, I hated myself. I couldn’t bare him to see me naked. It was torture.
It totally affected the way I acted in our relationship. It affected my ability to let him into my life completely.
Fast forward a few years and a few kids and the way I feel about my body has changed.
I couldn’t give two rats about my wobbly bits. Even when my husband sends me work out ideas (which previously would have sent me into a tail spin). These days I just send back laughing emojis – he gets the drift pretty quickly.
I know that I am enough. I know that while I’m not a perfect 10, my worth is not reliant on the way I look. It’s made up of loads of other things and none of them relate to my physical appearance.
And I know that when my husband sends me work out ideas, he’s not saying he doesn’t love me the way I am. He knows I feel better when I exercise and is just “trying to help” – and that’s ok. I can see that. A few years ago I would have been totally blind sided.
I don’t think those scars from my 20s will ever truly heal. They are too deeply ingrained in my being. They make up who I am. They have come to bring me strength of character, resilience.
But becoming a mother has given my body purpose. Purpose that is bigger than any worry about wobbly bits. It has grown two beautiful boys and breastfed them for longer than ever imagined I could.
I hope that if I ever have a daughter I can teach her the lessons it took me a good quarter century to learn. I hope I can teach my boys the same lessons, but in different ways.
Teach them ways to honour the women in their lives. To respect the way they look and to empower them to feel beautiful, no matter what their size.
How do you feel about your body? Can you honestly say you love yourself? Have confidence? If you’re interested in changing the way you feel about yourself – why not come along to Dr Katherine’s No Bull$hit Body Confidence Talk on October 17th at The Rose Hotel. You’ll find all the details here.
Want the best playgrounds sent straight to your inbox?
SWM will keep you connected to the best in the South West!
Plus discounts, giveaways and the best places to eat, play, explore and shop!