*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…
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
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.”
“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 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.