Listening to the body confidence podcast by Talking Tastebuds (Venetia Falconer) with Jada Sezer and the #i_weigh campaign made me think about my own body and self confidence journey.
Total self-confidence isn’t natural to many of us.
Growing up I was short (I still am!) and overweight.
I didn’t have a particularly bad diet, I just probably are more than a small girl who wasn’t doing oodles of sport needed. On that topic, sport. I enjoyed some of it but let’s be honest, I wasn’t great. I remember the time I couldn’t run 400m in one go. I wasn’t too bad at sports like hockey, but I was in the B team, not the A team.
So short + overweight + not great at sport.
I then go and add nerd to the mix! And this was before being a nerd was cool! It was my family’s culture to try hard academically and I put it upon myself too from quite a young age. Honestly I enjoyed doing well too. Sadly, it was not the culture of my school to try hard in lessons so this also added to the mix!
I didn’t fit in and I probably didn’t help myself.
But should I have not tried hard academically just to fit in? Maybe I could have, but I don’t regret it for a second as I probably wouldn’t have got to where I am now with the achievements I have if I didn’t instil that culture when I did.
Nevertheless girls are girls and I remember some mean comments. Like one girl who fake whispered loud enough so I could hear ‘look at her thighs they’re the size of tree trunks’. And then there was the tall girl who walked into me and then pretended she didn’t see me.
Stuff that now I would brush off or call someone out on. But when you’re a 11-12 year old girl who doesn’t really fit in you take those comments to heart more.
Luckily my secondary school I fitted into way more. There was more of an academic culture and so much sport that I really got into it. I really enjoyed my hockey team, we had such a great balance of mild competitiveness with fun – and left the serious stuff to the 1sts who were either England or county players. I even started running voluntarily.
I think here is where I started to get some body confidence. I had learned that my body didn’t need so much food as others in my family and asked for less at dinner time. I just fitted in more and had friends. Having people you feel comfortable being yourself around I think is so important for overall confidence, but actually body positivity too.
I think it takes a while to forget mean comments from when you were younger, but you can. Honestly, it did generate a background insecurity about body image for me for quite some time.
Now? Now I feel kick ass strong, confident and sexy! I feel proud of what I have accomplished and proud to be sharing life with the most amazing and inspiring guy I know. I am lucky enough to have someone where we remind each other that we’re awesome on the inside and out.
I didn’t grow much at all! But I love being petite. I exercise regularly, a mixture of strength training, HIT and yoga mainly. I am unashamed to say there is partly an aesthetic drive to do this. But I also love how the exercise makes me feel. Seeing the weight I lift go up and my body feel stronger. I like how I can learn new yoga postures whilst enjoying moments of restorative mindfulness. How I can push myself harder and faster.
I’m still a nerd but I and proud of this and know it’s cool really!
Just because you are a strong, confident lady who feels proud of herself doesn’t mean it was always the case or there wasn’t a journey to get there. We should rejoice in each other’s achievements and support people along their journeys.
My family are also great and I’m lucky enough to live very close to many of them. We’ve always been close and support each other with whatever makes us happy.
So my tips to you:
Before you say an unkind word think about the consequences – is the comment justified or helpful?
Surround yourself with kind people who you feel comfortable in yourself around and who you can properly talk to and say ‘no’ if needed when they ask you if you’re OK, but also who you can have a good giggle and celebrate the good times with.
If someone says a mean comment to you just think, does that say more about them than it does you?
Find something you enjoy that makes you feel confident – be it a sport or another passion you thrive at.
If goals are your thing, set yourself them. Make sure they are realistically achievable and celebrate your successes.
I’ll probably always be in the ‘B’ team at team sport, but I really couldn’t care less. I did end up playing hockey against the teachers at the old school those mean girls were at with my hospital hockey team a year ago, we smashed them 5-0 and I have to admit that felt pretty dam good!