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.