Hannah Victoria Gladwin

Body confidence: what if you’re not ‘body positive’ about yourself?

Posted on 12

*In collaboration with UK Swimwear.

📍Arenal d’en Castell, Menorca.

In an online world full of contradictions, do you feel conflicted about your body image?

This post is about how a simple bikini photo shoot (pics courtesy of Dan – thanks) led me to feel more confident and ask myself if I should feel guilty for not always being happy with my body.

When you go on a week-long beach holiday do you take enough bikinis for a month or is that just me? I love the sea and swimming (and apparently bikinis) so when UK Swimwear reached out to me about collaborating I said yes straight away. You’ll find designer swimwear to suit all different needs and styles – for me I loved every single item by Watercult (their stuff is beautiful!)

But then, I realised for this blogpost that I would have to photograph myself in a bikini and put it up for everyone to see and I wondered if I wanted to do that… It’s weird because I post photos of myself wearing outfits, so why should this be any different? I’ve been struggling with my body confidence so now, so I was worried about putting photos of me semi-naked on my blog…

Hannah with on hand on her head in the sea.

Wearing Watercult Bandeau bikini*

So, originally I was going to write a holiday checklist (I always need to do this before every trip, so I’ll still publish that) but now have these bikini photos ready to post, I thought that talking about body confidence in this post would be more fitting.

At the end of this blog post, I have three points for you to take away that I hope helps if you ever feel bad about yourself… or feel bad for feeling bad about yourself.

Conflict of feelings

I feel ashamed to say that I’m not happy with how my body is at the moment.

Whatever body shape or size you are, unfortunately, you’re not immune to feeling body-conscious. We’ve come a long way in the representation of women’s bodies but there is a lot of damage to undo. We’ve seen the supposed ‘perfect body type’ presented by the media and advertising for so long now that social media and society has created an ingrained pressure for women to look a certain way.

But now, there are conflicting messages in the media too – “you should be proud of your body whatever it looks like!” “Don’t conform to the patriarchy’s ideals of beauty!” “Be confident” and other slightly aggressive demands amongst all sorts of inspirational quotes. We still see ‘perfect’ images of Victoria Secret models everywhere in magazines but we’re now being told we should always be positive about our own bodies.

80% of people have stretch marks and 90% of women and 10% of men have cellulite. That’s 90%! How can that be something we are embarrassed by when literally almost every woman has them? Click To Tweet

Hannah sitting on the beach in the waves. Arenal d'en Castelll

It’s kind of confusing.

And it’s making me feel guilty that I’m not always ‘body positive’. On the other hand, I don’t feel like I can use the expression ‘body positive’ because I don’t want to appropriate a message that’s been created for plus-size women. I’m just an average size with the average concerns… I’ll obssess over so many things wrong with my body,  yet I would never think so harshly about other people..

It’s not just me or you that feels this. Here are some quotes from other people that we can probably relate to:

“I obsess about my weight constantly, and I really hate myself for it, especially for being such a hypocrite. I preach self-love all the time to my friends and can’t seem to find any for myself.”

From article: ‘’I feel guilty but I hate my body’: a feminist confesses’

“If you’re one of the girls who still feels inferior no matter how many body-positivity articles you read, you’re not alone.”

From article: ‘I hate my body and think I always will’

Everyone has scars and ‘imperfections’

I am able-bodied, thanks to a surgery I had when I was two. If it weren’t for the NHS and a fantastic surgeon, it’s possible that I wouldn’t be able to walk properly. So, why am I putting my body down when it has managed to go through so much with me?

Ever since then, I’ve had a large scar on my right leg and hip and one going through my stomach across the pelvis. Yet I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed by the scars. I never mind telling people where they came from when they see it and ask. I’m actually proud of them – my war wounds 🙂

Hannah doing scynchronised swimming in the sea. Arenal d'en Castelll

(I used to do synchronised swimming but I’m rusty so don’t judge my technique!)

 

However, when it comes to my cellulite, my stretch marks, and my lumpiness it fills me with disgust. But it’s totally normal and natural for anyone to have these. In fact, 80% of people have stretch marks and 90% of women and 10% of men have cellulite. That’s 90%! How can that be something we are embarrassed by when literally almost every woman has them?

I feel ashamed to say that I’m not happy with how my body is at the moment. I know that’s because there’s more to life than our bodies and, to other people, there may look like there’s anything ‘wrong’ with my body. And there isn’t – so that’s why I feel bad sharing my insecurities.

I shared an Instagram post a few weeks ago saying I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and everyone was so kind; a lot of you were saying that I had nothing to be worried about. There’s nothing wrong with how my body is but right now I feel that this isn’t my body.

That probably makes no sense.

I’ll explain…

Hannah faces a rock in a rock pool, with both hands on head clutching hair.

It’s more of a psychological issue than a physical issue.

Never before have I had any issues or worries about how my body looked. I did a lot of exercise and managed to maintain the same weight for years. That was until I took some medications a few years ago which had the side effects of weight gain. Ever since I took those, they changed how I felt about myself; now I’m focused on so many ‘flaws’ I never had or noticed before. I’ve been struggling to get back to where I was – the ‘old me’ who didn’t worry about that.

It’s not that I think my body shape or size is not nice and I don’t want to write anything that would make someone else upset or self-conscious. But, I don’t feel like my body suits me. I feel uncomfortable having a bit of chub I didn’t have before. I look at my old photos and that is a happy person who didn’t worry.
So, I suppose my problem is not how I think I look but how it makes me feel.

The body I have now is one that hasn’t healed itself yet. My scars from my operation have healed. But, the lumps, the extra cushioning around my cheeks and waist are scars that haven’t healed yet… because they are reminders of a mentally tough period in my life which I’m not over yet. When I’m out the other side I’ll either have lost these parts I don’t like or I’ll be happy enough to accept them.

But that’s why I’m not joining in with the movement of shouting from the rooftops that I have flaws and I’m proud of them. Does that make any sense?

Hannah stands in the sea wearing black and white balconette bikini.

That’s one of the reasons I like fashion. It makes me feel better.

You may look at my photos and think I have nothing to worry about… And I know that I shouldn’t worry, which where this guilt comes from. You may also say, well if you’re not confident why are you posting these photos?

To that I say, well, it was a lot of fun taking these and I felt more confident as we went on. I feel happy with how these came out. They have happy memories behind them. My boyfriend and I were on holiday together, having a laugh playing around taking these photos and I felt good wearing this bikini*. Also, it helped that I knew that no one on the beach knew me that day so I didn’t worry about looking silly.

Sun is behind Hannah's face

I wish you could see behind-the-scenes of this photo… I’m demanding that Dan ‘get lower down’, ‘no, lower so the sun is behind my face’ … Him: ‘No I don’t want to get all sandy; I’ll have to go and wash it off in the sea again!’ ‘I can’t see you, it’s so bright!’

And trust me, these photos aren’t all realistic themselves – I’ve put up the best photos of the bunch and we took a lot of photos… and a lot didn’t make the cut. In these I’m stretching out, facing my back to the camera, and trying to angle myself so the lumps and rolls don’t stick out. Same as what models do on photoshoots and everyone does on Instagram. Just take Iskra Lawrence’s example that we can all hide certain things when we pose a certain way.

So, the last thing I’d want is for anyone to compare my images to themselves and feel bad. These are just some photos that I think turned out well.

What you wear makes a difference

Putting on this bikini, I could tell it was of a much higher quality than the bikinis I normally wear… As soon as I put it on I felt really good in it; it fits well and the bikini top gives the support of bra. (A good supportive bikini top is necessary when swimming – trust me! I’ve had a few rogue floating bikini tops after diving into the pool before!). I love the embroidery and the elastic on the bottom is supported with Petersham so I’m sure these will last for quite a few holidays to come.

Close up of the bikini bottoms - black with white aztec embroidery with tie-sides and gold filigree pineapple charms.

Look at the little gold pineapple charms!!!

What you wear really can dictate how you’re feeling about your body and image. When I’m dressed in something I love, I feel confident and am therefore happier with how I look. When I’m in panic-mode and having ‘nothing to wear’ (we all know that’s not true, but we’ve all been there) and I chuck on something I’m not quite feeling, then I know I’m not going to be thinking positively towards my body. I’m fairly sure that I’m not alone in this.

So, if you’re going to a pool or a beach, my advice is to find a swimsuit that fits you really well in the style and design you really like. It’ll make all the difference to your confidence.

And if you want to do what I did, try taking some photos and you might end up with ones that you think you look banging in.

Hannah sits on the sand looking out at the sea.

What’s the conclusion to this then?

I have three things that I’ve realised:

1. You’re not alone if you feel guilty for not always liking your body.

In today’s world of social media, it’s hard not to escape the paradox of ‘this is how to improve yourself!’ and ‘be fine with how you are!’. We can’t blame ourselves for having mixed feelings about our image.

2. Don’t compare yourself to images online

Although almost it’s unavoidable seeing these images everywhere and it’s become an unconscious thing to do – comparing ourselves is not healthy for our esteem. When you catch yourself with these thoughts make a conscious point to tell yourself that a photo online doesn’t always tell the full story.

3. Make a small step towards body confidence and dress up in something that makes you feel good

I’m not meaning that you should ‘dress nicer’ and I’m not insinuating you need a magic makeover, not at all. This isn’t just surface-deep. On a psychological level, you can boost your self-esteem if you’re happy (or happier) with how you see yourself on the outside.

Now go out and treat yourself! It’s the perfect excuse 😉

Have you ever felt bad for feeling bad or are you always confident no matter what? Honestly, I’d love to hear different points of view on this. Leave me a comment and maybe we can start a discussion.

 

*This bikini was gifted.

XOXO

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12 Comments
  • Stephanie Mulholland
    October 9, 2018

    You look sensational and what a fabulous post.

    Thank you for sharing this, body confidence causes so many people issues. Honestly, something as simple as dressing up can make such a difference to your confidence.

    Stephanie xox
    The LDN Gal

    • Hannah | Admin
      October 9, 2018

      Thank you Stephanie! You’re right it does make a difference! 🙂 Xxx

  • Tanya
    October 9, 2018

    Love this post and have to say you look fabulous girl! I resonate so much with everything you’ve said, I’m not skinny and I’m on the cusp of plus size but if I’m in an outfit that I love I couldn’t be more confident. I’m trying to love my body more but some days are harder than others. I got a new swimsuit for my friends hen do holiday and it honestly boosted my confidence so much

    • Hannah | Admin
      October 9, 2018

      Definitely! If you feel good, it makes all the difference! I saw your photos from that hen do on your blog and you looked beautiful and you did look confident!
      Yes, some days are definitely harder. I hope that you have more good days than bad! Thank you for commenting 🙂 x

  • Caroline Agoba
    October 9, 2018

    That bikini is lovely! And I agree completely. I used to be so body confident but lately I’ve been comparing myself to others I see on social media. That hourglass figure is just what is being seen as perfect lately and it’s not the case. I love the way you embrace your body, and you’re gorgeous! Great post

    Caroline | http://caroomakeupblog.com

    • Hannah | Admin
      October 9, 2018

      I really do believe that for all the good social media can bring, it really is not good for our mental state – especially when it comes to our body image. You’re right, we’re always presented with body type that gets us down if we don’t look like that.
      Thank you so much Caroline xxxx

  • Alicia
    October 9, 2018

    Omg babe you look amazing! This is such an amazing post and the bikinis look gorge! I really relate to this so so much because since going on the pill I gained so much weight and I just felt so uncomfortable
    You look amazing babe well done!
    Amazing post

    Lots of love Alicia! Xoxo

    • Hannah | Admin
      October 9, 2018

      Thank you Alicia! Seriously, thank you! I’ve had so many lovely comments and DMs from people saying they feel the exact same. It’s awful to not feel comfortable with yourself..
      xxx

  • Mj
    October 10, 2018

    You look good in your swimsuit love! It’s normal to feel self conscious, believe it or not that’s most girls! What matters is that you spoke out on it and it will help so much people. Confidence is always key❤️ fab Swimsuit and fab post!

  • Jane
    October 10, 2018

    You look fit, fab and healthy! We are always more aware of our own perceived imperfections than other people are.

  • Lucy
    October 10, 2018

    I completely agree with that you are saying! I’ve come along way in my fitness journey and I am super proud of how far I’ve come. But there are days when I doubt myself and hate my body. I completely agree with how you feel bad about feeling bad (does that make sense!? ahaha) I get that way when I feel down, its like a cycle. You feel down but then you end up feeling down because your down.
    I understand that you feel uncomfortable in your new body post medicine and thats normal. You look beautiful but if it isn’t the body your used to it will feel awkward!
    Such an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Lucy
    http://www.styleirregular.com

  • Kelsey
    October 10, 2018

    You look amazing! Thank you for sharing this! more women should speak up about it! I have had hate before for my weight loss journey posts and now no longer write about my journey and how I’m starting to fall in love with my body again. Thank you so much for this post x

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