Body Positivity, Clothes and Confidence

I think everybody at some point in their life has stood in front of the mirror and just picked away at their flaws. Everybody has wished their tummy was smaller, their arms more toned or their bum was bigger. It’s one of these universal truths that sadly we can all relate to. Now however we live in a selfie age, where flaws or not, everybody is posting themselves in all their filtered glory. While it can be argued that this might pile on more pressure to the body conscious population, it has also started a wave of positivity. The body positivity movement is daring us to enjoy our bodies for what they are, lumps, bumps and all.

I’ve always had a bit of a funny relationship with my appearance. My PCOS has always meant I’m bigger than average; the ironic thing being that PCOS can be helped by losing weight but PCOS makes it difficult to do this. You’re in a vicious circle. I took up swimming around the end of 2016 though and while I wouldn’t say I’ve lost lots of weight, I have got fitter and that was really my aim.

My arms are quite chunky but now it’s all muscle and I feel proud to say I can bring in all the shopping in one go. If I’m ever asked what my favourite body part is I usually go with my legs. If I could get away with oversized t-shirts, girly boxers and over the knee socks all day, every day I totally would. Alas I live in Scotland and the climate does not allow me to whip my legs out as much as I’d like. I think I got lucky with my face. Growing up I always felt this odd kind of guilt because I actually liked my face. Like how dare I be happy with my natural features? That societal goblin still gets to me but thankfully, only occasionally. I have had so many people say that want my nose and while it looks adorable, I’d say my smile is the best part of my face. After getting my wisdom teeth out last month, I felt so sad because I couldn’t smile properly for weeks! Look at any of my selfies and you’ll see I like a big open mouthed grin, if I tried that it was agony.

My problem part is my torso. This is where you go but that’s the main bit! And yes, dear reader, it is but I don’t completely dislike it. My tummy used to bother me but when you consider literally everyone has one, it becomes less of a concern.  My problem is that I have a ridiculously long torso. I have to buy the majority of tops in a size or two bigger or wear a vest underneath. It’s actually comical when I go shopping; if I was into crop tops I’d be sorted.

Now weird torso or not, I have to clothe myself and with how many clothes I have, I’m definitely managing. To sum up my everyday style; I live in autumnal colours all year round, I have too many nerdy t-shirts to count and I love a tunic. If I’m dressing up for a night out, I tend to go for bright colours, shift dresses are my saviour and I will forever rock casual shoes to the club. Dr. Martens are the best for clubbing, it sounds mad but trust me. I’ve always loved fashion, I like trying a trend but don’t feel the need to stick in a stiff box because the catwalk has told me to. Clothes should be fun but I think a lot of us forget this.

Over the last year I’ve been trying to make the effort with what I wear. Even if I’m just heading to the library or the supermarket, I’m picking my outfit carefully. I’m rediscovering clothes that I bought and never wore or stuff I haven’t worn in forever. I’ve turned what sometimes could be a chore into something fun again. I’m experimenting with my style and it’s making me really love my body. I might be a bit oddly proportioned but I, as the famous and wonderful Tim Gunn says, ‘make it work’.

I started to take pictures when I really liked my outfit and I was determined to get my whole body in the shot. I wanted to remember that those shoes went with this dress and jacket. Most importantly though, I wanted to remember how I felt in that outfit. How happy I was, how confident I felt. It’s strange how a bunch of clothes put in the right combination can instantly change how you feel about your body and yourself. The right outfit can transform your mood and your confidence. I look back at these photos now and think ‘Damn, I looked cute’ and I can’t wait to do that even more. As we speak I’m looking at an adorable outfit I want to wear tomorrow for the first time. I’ll take a photo of it and strut my stuff out the door feeling good about myself.

Your relationship with your appearance will always be turbulent. Societal pressures will probably always be there, at least in this lifetime. Loving your body might take a while and in the mean time you have clothes to give you a major helping hand. I have a challenge for you. Next time you stand in front of the mirror, pick something you like about yourself. Not something you want to change. It could be your bum or your hands or maybe it’s this one freckle that has a cool shape. I want you to focus on how you like that part. That feeling, no matter how small, should be what you think about next time you go to the mirror. This time you might just like your eyes but next time you realise actually your nose is pretty fab too. Take that feeling and just snowball with it.