Body confidence. It’s probably one of the hottest topics at the moment, and rightly so, because it affects so many people. Body-image, body-shaming and self-confidence all intertwine and determine our body confidence. We are constantly bombarded with images that have been edited in every way possible, and I’m not talking about magazines and billboards, I’m talking ALL images. When we see a picture on social media there has been an entire process before someone pressed ‘post’. First, there’s make-up and lighting. Then it’s finding the right angle. After that the best picture is selected, filtered and usually even airbrushed or photo shopped. I see this pictures, and I usually get hit with some heaviness inside. Because I don’t look like that and I never will. But then again, neither do the women in these pictures. There is no such thing as a perfect person. ‘Perfection’ is created by a combination of all the things I’ve listed above. Luckily there has also been a counter movement. Influential women have been posting pictures showing their stretch marks, their freckles, their acne, their bare faces, bodies and souls, and I love them for it. I have struggled with my body in the past. There are still times I don’t like what I see in the mirror. But I’m doing my best to change that, because I’m tired of judging myself by other people’s standards. And this is how.
I’m not very tall, I’m 156 cm tall (that’s about 5ft2), and I’m curvy: I have boobs, a small waist, a big booty and thicker thighs. Classic hourglass me. I have stretch marks and cellulite. I also have good skin and full lips. That’s me. A sum of parts that make me as I am. And try as I might, I can never make myself naturally taller. I will never have a small butt: my bootie is genetically designed to stay. And it has taken me a long time to come to terms with that. It’s just not how I’m built. I’ve gradually switched my mindset. I no longer want to be skinny, like I used to. I want to be healthy and strong. I want to do my body justice, because it does a lot for me. It breathes for me, it sees for me, it walks for me, it thinks, it functions the way it’s supposed to so I can live and do the things I want to do. And the only thing I do is judge the way it looks. I’m such a bitch.
So, if my bootie is here to stay than I might as well make it as firm as possible. If my arms are going to be the size they are, than I might as well make them strong and toned. Body confidence is about accepting your natural body shape and the fact that you can’t change that in extreme ways. I no longer want to change myself, I want to improve myself. It’s a small change in mindset but it makes a world of difference, because all of a sudden I have attainable body goals. I know I can get my butt to be firm. I know I can make my arms more toned. I just have to invest the time and effort. And that is something I do have control over.
I’ve been working out to become more toned and I genuinely love doing it. My body and mind have gotten used to it by now and I hate skipping a session. The most important advice I can give you, is that you have to love the exercise that you’re doing or you’re not going to keep on doing it. I prefer taking group classes over going to the gym or organized/team sports. But that’s my personal preference. When it comes to working out: you do you boo.
I can tell you though, that you’ll always feel a bit uneasy, despite the progress you make. You’re still wearing skin-tight clothing, you’re sweating and huffing and puffing, reminding yourself to breathe and wishing your legs or your heart don’t give out. There’s parts of your body that are jiggling a bit too much and other parts that don’t want to move in the way you want them too. And on top of that, you’re in front of a mirror, surrounded by women in equally skin-tight clothing who don’t jiggle quite as much, or anywhere at all. And it is so confronting, and sometimes even disheartening, but I’ve realised I’ll never reach my personal goals in those classes by comparing myself with these women. We’re all in that class for a reason. And we’re all struggling together to get there. But that’s not my biggest struggle.
My eternal struggle to attain a healthy body is in the kitchen. I love food, I do. It’s just such a shame that I can’t make the right decisions. I love the bad but oh so good stuff: pasta and pastries and chocolate and all that deliciousness. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. But all this good stuff isn’t very good for me, so I’ve been trying to make some changes. I’ve started weighing my carbs, for example. I used to eat a portion of pasta that could easily serve three people. I’ve cut it down to one serving now. I put soup or a salad on the menu more regularly. And it has its effects. Things aren’t going as fast as I’d like them to, but if I restrict myself too much, I become a horrible, cranky bitch that is going to binge everything she sees within week one. So I’m not doing that anymore, ever again. My biggest problem is that I don’t like cooking. I don’t have the skills or ideas and I hate the preparation and clean-up. I get so annoyed watching meal-prep videos, I can’t even tell you. So now I have the whole workout thing figured out, I’m going to have to focus on the eating part, which is not going to be easy. I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to get this part figured out, so if you have any tips: feel free to share, I could sure use a hand!
So as a conclusion to this post, I’d like to say this to the girls who are struggling with what they see in the mirror: we’re all unique. We’re all different. We’re all flawed. What you see in magazines and on social media isn’t real and perfection doesn’t exist. You have a body that does what it has to do. Show it some love, respect it, and work with it, not against it. Starving yourself won’t do you any good, nor will stuffing your face. Working out 4 hours every day isn’t the best idea, but neither is being a couch potato. Just look for the balance and do the things that make you feel good and happy. Because that’s all that matters in the end, and no filter can help you with that.