March 19, 2014 | fashion, life

Body Confidence Wobbles

Body Confidence

I love my body. I really do. The more I’ve gotten into fitness over the past few years, the more appreciation I have for it. But last week, I experienced a bit of a wobble in my body confidence and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I became overwhelmed with emotions I haven’t really felt before and it threw me for a loop. Knowing body confidence is an issue that rocks many women, I feel it’s important to share what I felt and how I got myself back on track to body acceptance quickly.

I was on a photo shoot last week, the premise of which was to try on a lot of dresses (and I mean a lot of dresses). We’d been advised to wear one of those backless, strapless stick on bras and nude coloured panties. As I owned neither of those things, I went and got some the day before the shoot.

Shoot day rolled around. It was an early start and promised to be a long day. I put on my stick on strapless bra and new panties and headed to the studio. Hair and make up done, it was time to get down to the nitty, gritty. After trying on a couple of dresses, my stick on bra stopped sticking on one side so wouldn’t stay in place. Add to that the nude coloured ‘no VPL’ panties I’d bought turned out to be VERY VPL. This underwear situation completely threw me off. I was ,all of a sudden, really uncomfortable and massively self conscious.

There were a number of us involved in the shoot all trying on dresses. The organisers had asked for a variety of sizes, but as is often the case, the majority of dresses the labels sent were sample sizes. I’m a UK size 12. I have broad shoulders, I have hips, I’m muscular. Each time I tried to change into one of these dresses and could barely get it over my head or it wouldn’t stretch over my hips or the zip wouldn’t do up, it chipped away at me a little more.

All of a sudden, as I watched the girls around me twirl and pose in these beautiful dresses they were trying on, I felt like a giant heffer. I could feel myself getting a little emotional – why is my body so big? Why can’t my shoulders just be a little narrower? Why can’t my hips just slim down a little? But I was there to do a job and everyone there was so lovely and as much as I wanted to just go home and hide for a while, I had to press on.

I managed to find a couple of dresses that fit and looked OK, despite my disastrous underwear situation. I want to stress, none of this was the fault of the people who organised the shoot or anyone involved – it was a great day that was a lot of fun, but something as silly as my underwear not doing what it needed to and a few dresses not fitting stirred up something kinda painful in me.

I got home after that super long day and once back in the comfort of my own clothes, found myself shedding a tear or two. I felt ridiculous. I haven’t really had these emotions before. I’ve always loved my body and I was upset that something so trivial in the grand scheme of things could shake me like this.

I explained what happened to my other half and he simply said: ‘You have an athletic, muscular body that you have trained to function in a certain way and it does that. And that is beautiful.’

And just like that, I remembered why I love my body. I love it for what it can do. I love it for carrying me around marathon courses or cycling me up six mountains in the Alps last summer. I love it because when I run for a bus, I don’t miss it. I love it because I can lift heavy things. I love it because I can get breathless and sweaty and out of control and be fine again a few minutes later.

That matters more to me. I love what my body can do. It’s OK that it doesn’t happen to be in the shape and size that conventional standards tell us are acceptable. My body does what it needs to do. And I’m alright with that.

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15 Comments

Cata | ChemEng Geek, Feminist, Runner

This very nearly brought a tear to my eye! I hope a lot of girls read this and realise it’s not all about the outside, and start to admire what the body can actually do instead! It’s taken me a long time to get here, but training for this marathon with Orsi I’m amazed every day at how capable we are and how far we can push ourselves. Thanks for the bodylove Bangs!

Tash

Lovely post. Sometimes it’s the simplist things that throw us off-kilter. For me it’s when any sort of underwear or tights dig in to my hips and creates 2 lumps….I hate it and it can bring me down even if I love the rest of my outfit. Rest assured it happens to everyone. I’m glad you rediscovered the love for your body. Your other half is right, you’ve trained your body to function in a certain way and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved and how strong you are.
Thanks for sharing!
Tash x

http://www.balletdancefitness.com

MissPond

I am still struggling to find my body confidence lately. I dread trying on clothes for I find myself always working myself into a state about what I do/do not fit. After falling off the exercise wagon due to chronic illness my confidence is lacking, but like you I must remind myself that despite this cruel illness I have managed 2 half marathons and have recently been able to start weight training. Thanks for reminding me about what I should be focussing on.

Amani

Wow! This was really touching Bangs coming from someone that’s suffered with body confidence issues pretty much my entire teenage years this has reassured me what matters thank u x

katie

Well done for sharing bangs, as an athlete you often don’t fit into the stereotypical body shape of what feminine should be but remember it’s the stereotype that is wrong.

I had the same experience recently when buying a dress for a new years eve party. I got stuck in a dress in the fitting rooms. I’m a rock climber, I have a skinny waist but wide shoulders and muscular arms. I got into a size 8, which fit fine but I then couldn’t get it off over my head. Or off over my hips. In the end I had to get an assistant to come and help me.

I got the dress in a larger size than my usual to accommodate my beastly man arms. Which did not make me feel better but I really loved the rest of the dress.

Thing is though I have the arm definition and toned abs that most of the girls at that new years party dream of. Maybe I’m a bit more muscular, but I’m getting married next year and will have a strapless dress with no need to worry about toning for the wedding. I’m climbing Kilimanjaro this year, which I am training for, so I’m only going to get less feminine looking…but the feeling I’ll get when I get to the summit and the feeling when I finish a hard boulder route is worth it.

Plus I love that I never have to ask my bloke to open a jar for me and I can carry both my nieces on my shoulders 🙂

Sarah Ann Harris

Such a great post, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve definitely found that the more I get into running, the more I have come to appreciate my body for the amazing things it can do. A year ago I would never have dreamed of the things I’ve discovered I’m capable of! You should be so proud of what you’ve achieved and I don’t doubt you’ll go on to achieve even more!

Sarah x

http://www.seeharrisrun.blogspot.com

Simon

Bangs, that is a great piece for so many reasons – not least the fact that you are in a loving relationship with someone who talks utter sense. And the fact that you could understand quickly what was going on and put it right in your head.

I have just come back from a training camp in the Algarve and it was a revelation – imagine a hotel full to the brim (and I am talking about a very, very big hotel here: 450 double rooms most with double occupancy) with athletes. Some were very normal types, but there were also international level training and development squads from Russia, China, Norway, Sweden, etc. There were decathletes, sprinters, marathon runners, shot-putters, javelin throwers, long jumpers, hand-ball players… you get the picture. And it was hot! That is the point of a warm weather training camp. But it meant that everyone was stripped down to very little. And the funny thing was that I think everyone was intimidated to start with – I know I was – by the incredible physiques on show. We are talking 5% body fat on some of the young international-level athletes. But after a while you start to realise, I am who I am. I can do whatever it is I can do and I look the way I look. Then suddenly it becomes about being a better you, rather than worrying about how someone else looks. So I tried to go a little further in my 5 minute threshold reps, tried to bust out 1 more press-up in my core conditioning session, tried to push a little harder at the end of my long run. That is where happiness and self-confidence comes from for me.

Fran

This is such a great post and made me really happy reading it. I think your take on body image is amazing and I’m definitely going to remember it for the future.

Jessie in Fashion Limbo

You are the embodiment of Wonder Woman, Bangs, never doubt that. But thanks for sharing, because Wonder Woman doesn’t feel amazing every day, and because, it’s so difficult to be 100% confident about your body in this day and age of sample sized dresses, photoshop, crazy beauty canons and the like. xx

Fiftn UK

You look perfect just the way you are. Just think about it this way: The other girls’ bodies can’t do what yours does. Plus a dress is not a one size fits all. A dress that looks perfect on you will most likely look like crap on other girls. Keep loving your body, it’s your best friend, for better for worse.

MrsB

I have the same body type that you have and I so know how you felt that day… The difference is that you are tall as well and dresses and high heels actually look good on you. I stay away from glamour most of the time, I just cannot fit into any dress with fitting sleeves or a waist 😐 My body can now do amazing things though so most of the time I don’t fret, I wear clothes that I know are a safe bet for me (loose dresses with belts + cardigans) and all’s well in the world. Most of the time 🙂

Nikki

great post! I often feel very self conscious around women who are smaller than me, but I try to remember what my body can do, like you said. I am a marathoner, I am a personal trainer, I have muscle. My body is strong, not skinny. Strong is the new beautiful. Thank you for opening up to us!

Shana

You look fantastic, Bangs.
The point is to be healthy, fit and strong. Who gives a damn about what one looks like in some girly dress.

Nicola

I’ve always had an issue with body confidence, I’m a big girl and I have a chronic illness which doesn’t allow me to exercise. I’ve worked out strategies over the years to keep me sane but I still struggle at times. The worst dress disaster I had was trying on bridesmaid dresses with my sister (size 8) and another friend (size 12) I’m a size 18/20. I knew the shop we were in wouldn’t be any good for me but I tried anyway. I got my boobs stuck in a dress and it took two other people to get me out. Mortifying!
I sometimes get a shock when my sister has a wobble but like you it’s usually underwear/comfort related. We went to a wedding at Christmas and my sisters underwear was not working with her dress and she felt awful. She looked amazing but she felt self conscious all day.
I wish my body worked the way yours does but I have to put up with my own limitations and work out my own way.

anotherwisemonkey

Great post, Bangs. Sorry to hear you had such a bad day and glad that things fell into place so soon after. Have you had any further aftershock moments or was that the end of it?

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