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Fashion, Living

Body Talk

I was recently lucky enough to feature on my pal Katherine Ormerod’s new, amazing site Work Work Work last week, talking about life beyond the instagram feed, losing yourself and friends to work, and body image politics online. I’m so happy so many of you read it and liked it already – thanks so much for all the amazing comments and feedback I’ve had. While I often share deeper stuff on here, sharing more personal stuff and opinions on someone else’s platform felt really nerve-wracking so thank you for all the positivity after it published…

Following on from my piece on here about ‘perfection’ – or lack thereof- I wanted to touch on a few more musings about body image in this online age. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially with summer holidays in sight. As with so many things today, transparency is something to strive for so in the spirit of doing just that, I wanted to share a little about my own body confidence journey. We are all so much more than our bodies, faces and hair, but it would be idealistic and kinda fake to pretend that this stuff isn’t still a thing we all think about or feel some angst about at some point in our lives. I think more than anything, the online space can sometimes project a fake confidence. Yes it also projects perfect abs, relationships and wardrobes but to me, it’s the seemingly perfect confidence that can at times feel the most alienating. While I’m sure there are so many women out there who are 100% confident all the time, I’m sure there are even more women who aren’t. It’s empowering to read an interview with a non sample-sized celebrity describing loving their body and shape sure. But what about when you don’t love what you’ve got?

Happiness in my own skin hasn’t always come easy and nor does it correlate with weight or size. I was probably at one of the happiest, most confident points in my life aged 19 while travelling and was a good few jean sizes larger and probably a stone and a half heavier than I am now (quite a bit when you’re petite in frame and height) thanks to copious amounts of pies (new Zealand), Pad Thai (Thailand) and wine out of a box (Australia). Don’t get me wrong, I still had days of wanting to be that waif on the beach (thank god instagram and facebook weren’t a part of my world back then), but overall I remember my physical appearance not being something I worried about and I simultaneously had one of the best times of my life. Equally, I look back on some pictures of when I was 21, when I’d lost a fair amount of weight thanks to a break-up and a rough time with friends, and remember feeling more self-conscious and aware of my body than ever before despite being the tiniest I’d ever been. I remember that even now when I’m doubting myself or I’ve been sucked down an instagram hole of honed and toned ‘perfection’ to remind myself of reality, priorities and where happiness really comes from.

Now, nine years on, I’ve found my happy size and have done for some years. Stress and/or too many takeaways will have an affect from time to time sure, but on the whole, I’ve found my equilibrium. I can eat a bit more or a bit less and I pretty much stay the same dress size. I know now, thanks to the period of time I mentioned before in my early twenties when I was very restrictive and anxious about food, that I will never deny myself anything now because I know that for me at least, that is the path to obsessiveness and unhappiness. Granted I don’t eat pancakes drenched in syrup every morning, but I if I want chocolate, cheese, pizza whatever, I have it, just to a certain degree of moderatio .. But when I say moderation, I’m not one of those ‘two squares of dark chocolate only’ people, I’m a whole bag of Dairy Milk Caramel Nibbles person. I eat carbs pretty much every meal without exception (I grew up on a potato and cereals farm), don’t eat a huge amount of meat and always eat when I’m hungry. I really, firmly believe that finding your happy size comes down to eating sensibly but equally not denying yourself anything. I’m terrible at gruelling exercise or routines or gym memberships these days.  Instead, I do random things that feel right on the day. I love long walks or hikes ( like trying to get my 10K steps in a day), some yoga from time to time, squats and crunches in front of the TV or going horseriding and paddle boarding when I’m travelling. I really want to try climbing and bouldering too and have been known to dance like I’m on MTV circa 1998 around my living room (if it’s good enough for Tracy Anderson) from time to time… I’m sure I would really benefit physically from a PT or something, but right now due to time and let’s be honest, inclination, it’s just not something I’m going to do. In today’s culture of being super saintly, you have to kind of let yourself off the hook sometimes and just acknowledge you are never going to get up for the gym at 6 A.M and that’s FINE.

I have some days I feel great, others where I’m so bloated I look 12 weeks pregnant (seriously, those ‘we’re expecting’ instagrams could be me after an extra large bowl of linguine) and feel like crap. I’ve been on trips featured on this blog before where we’ve taken some bikini shots during the first few days, when I’ve been pale, puffy and generally post-Christmas, and it’s put me in such a bad mood it’s ruined the whole day and I’ve taken it out on Jamie time and time again. Awful to admit, but it’s true. I’m as guilty as anyone as scrolling through instagram and feeling like I’m lacking on a bad day. Let’s be real here, this stuff can turn a good day into a bad one sometimes…

But equally I know myself now, and I know my limits. When I feel glum about cellulite or stretch marks (yes I have them – you can them on one of the pics below), I try and swallow those negative feelings, because ultimately I know that I am not going to punish myself in the gym five days a week, at least not at this point in my life. Also, the more and more amazing women I spend time with on the beach, the more I realise every one has these ‘flaws’ to some degree, so much so I now wonder how they were ever labelled as flaws in the first place? I also know on a rational level that those things are normal, natural and not deserving of self-hate. That knowledge isn’t innate but the more I push out the negative inner critic and welcome in that inner positive cheerleader, the easier it gets to call upon when you need it. Plenty of water and bio-oil are the only things I really try and lean on for those two now; I come at it from a positive place of improvement rather than a negative place of change if that’s makes sense. Plus, I actually think stretch marks can look kind of cool to be honest. In the same way scars, birth marks and freckles can be attractive, I think silvery stretch marks can look really feminine. That might sound weird but I really think we have to try and re-brand these things we’ve come to see as shameful things we need to hide.

In the past I’ve posted pictures in the same week, where one would get a comment about my squishy stomach or call me-out for sucking in, and another would simply say ‘too skinny’, normally because of my collarbones or spine – they have always protruded no matter what probably thanks to bad posture growing up. I know mum, you told me so… I’ve posted pictures of my own cellulite after initially wanting to delete it, or better yet incinerate it immediately, in a bid to face my own demons while always reassuring others (it went down so positively), but on the flip-side I’m human and feel the pressure online as much as the next person so I’m obviously inclined, along with every other person, blogger or not, to choose the good pictures over the bad most of the time. Another more recent instagram, which featured me in a bikini and body positive message about being ‘beach ready’ without the need for months of prep as we’re often seemingly encouraged to do, had a few comments basically saying I wasn’t allowed to say that given my size 8 body which really got to me. I felt really, really guilty in case I should have posted a pictures of my belly rolls or thigh dimples, but equally indignant that you apparently can’t feel media pressure or have bad days unless you’re above a certain dress size. That you have to be deemed ‘curvy’ (hate that word) by others to have ever had a day feeling shit about yourself or wishing you had what she had. The point was about the weeks/months worth of prep we’re often encouraged to undertake just to step foot on the sand; from body brushing like crazy, to cutting out sugar, to planking every moment of the day. Not about my size. I talk more about this in my Work Work Work article amongst other stuff so do check that out. 

We’re in some kind of cycle on social media right now. We all know that instagram is just showcasing the best bits and yet the pressure to have a ‘perfect body’ (whatever that even means FFS) remains and instagram has been related to depression and self-esteem issues in just about every age group. As someone who makes a living in part through instagram, I feel every bit of that from comparing myself to others to feeling responsible for contributing to the cycle by posting my share of curated photos and receiving a lot of lovely ‘perfect’ comments than make me great and fraudulent simultaneously. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I love following inspirational accounts by my peers in the industry; I just feel like it’s important to sometimes say, ‘you know what I’m not 100% sure of myself 24/7’ and own those doubts and insecurities as much as we’re encouraged to own our confidence. And if you don’t have doubts or anxieties about anything? Great! I commend you not condemn you… I think that’s amazing. I’m just going from my own experience which certainly hasn’t been a confidence train from zero to thirty. 

Ultimately this stuff is universal and confidence is not necessarily about losing those last few pounds or cutting out ‘bad’ foods for a month before a trip…There’s no finite end or conclusion to this post, apart from to highlight that finding confidence can take time, years in fact and it isn’t a finite destination. I can feel like I’ve found it once and for all and then just like that, I lose it entirely for a moment and have to work at getting it back. It can come from taking up boxing and drinking your greens, it can come from eating whatever you want in the cinema without worrying what option is the ‘best’ for you, or it can come from focusing on the inner you and what that part of you has to offer those around you rather than just how long your legs are. Me? A little bit of all of that does the trick for me… Remember to be kind to yourself and not feel bad if you haven’t got there yet. Confidence can of course come from gaining or losing weight, it’s stupid to pretend our bodies and minds aren’t connected, but ultimately it’s in your head not your thighs that the problem lies. Trust me.


Bikini | Marysia Swim 
Shirt | John Lewis 
Necklace | Theodora warre 

 

Ph. by James Wright 

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Comments

  • The Gold Lipstick

    Absolutely love it!

    Mireia from TGL
    https://thegoldlipstick.com/

  • Such an honest post, I also loved your article on Work, Work, Work – loved it.

    Petite Side of Style

  • Catarina Mira

    Wonderful post! More and more I think the trend is going towards embracing our flaws. By the way I came across this article that I think you’d like to read. It’s not really about body confidence but about how the internet makes us addicted to distraction.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/opinion/sunday/addicted-to-distraction.html?_r=1&mc_cid=1cdf37fe5f&mc_eid=70f8fa1be3&referer=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FvdaSfxZMUi

    Love,

    Catarina
    X

    http://www.catarinamira.com

  • Love it!!

    The Pink Pineapple

    New post:http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com

  • Lizzie

    Beautiful photos and even more beautiful words.

    theButter.co.uk

  • Sarah

    Very inspirational to read! Have been following you for years and as I was very into bloggers 5 years ago, I have stopped following many in the last years. Partly because I am older and my interests have changed, but for a large part also because I felt that the content was sometimes too superficial. Nevertheless, I feel that you have changed in the years too and I am always happy to read your pieces where you take a stance and try to get a discussion going. As you said, I think it is very needed and important that ‘influencers’ sometimes use their voice to make things (that they care about) known, other than just fashion or hotel choices. Besides that, I just agree with what you’re saying about body shaming and imperfections, so all hail :-) Let’s try to get the positivity and realness in the Instagram world! X

  • REH

    Thank you for this post lucy, I often relate very strongly to the things you talk about and this has hit the closest to home. As a former model, I was the most unhappy when I was what society deemed “the perfect size” and have only in the last year or two been able to find peace and confidence in my own skin through healthy but never restrictive eating and semi-regular (ish) exercise. So, very similar to you. I so know that feeling of what you see in the mirror or on camera being so different to how you view yourself, and in terms of body image vs social media it’s kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. You want to appear confident and happy with yourself, but never vain or like you’re trying to hard, but also relatable, but also can you be body positive if you’re less than a certain size or is that promoting an eating disorder, but also if you’re above a certain size are you promoting obesity, but if you use a filter are you being real, but if you don’t are you ugly…. there are so many contradictions that I see all the time on social media and the internet, and it does take a real amount of strength to address that it is a real up and down time – we can’t always be happy with ourselves, but we can’t always be unhappy with ourselves either. From what I’ve seen, it looks like you work so, so hard and deserve everything you have, and I find you very inspiring – sorry about the ramble! X

  • Liv

    Absolutely loved this lady. This week (and in fact over the last few months) I’ve felt the least confident with my body than ever (I have a wardrobe of mini dresses but can’t bring myself to wear any of them) and it sucks. I know it’s a mind over matter thing but this rang so true and I know I need to give myself a firm talking to xx

  • Beauty!

  • Paula

    Lucy!I really appreciated this post, and I have also read the one you were featured on Workworkwork. I am 33 years old and I have also been through that path where I was the happiest and sure of myself as a teen to early 20s I think partially is because I didnt care so much about what was going around me, etc. and ofcourse we didnt have so much social media. But anyway, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share with us and being so sincere and transparent about this subject, I think that your posts have become much much more LOVELIER because you show yourself just as you are and for my part that is what I really admire about your blog.

  • Marianne Rowley

    Fabulous post! I am currently writing a book about overcoming disordered eating and I thought you raised some really interesting points. I am now a happy, healthy size 6 and like you don’t diet or do a crazy amount of exercise. My dilemma is whether to go full on media.. blogs, insta etc or to stay anonymous. Only yesterday I was writing about how smaller women don’t seem to be “allowed” body insecurities.
    My fear is that like you, I will be “called out”, criticised and judged for the way I look. I don’t want my body to be the main focus of people’s attention. The reality is that we are living in an image and perfection obsessed era, which is a sad but undeniable fact.
    Ultimately the message of my book is about accepting and celebrating our individuality, warts and all.
    We are all human after all.

  • Oh Lucy this is such a good post, I really enjoyed what you wrote on WWW, and this has just expanded on that. Often I read body confidence posts and just feel like they are so insincere or superficial (ironically) but this felt completely sincere and was really nice to read. Also you look like a total babe (obviously) xxxx
    http://www.fashionnomads.com

  • Such an important issue in todays world… Around a year ago I was having huge body image issues because of the fact that I have a very mild case of pectus excavatum which makes my ribs flare out. Over the past year I have been really trying to feel more confident about my body and whilst I feel more confident now, your statement regarding confidence isn’t a finite destination is so true! Keep up the wonderful posts!

    The Leach Life | theleachlife.com

  • Kim

    Your bathing suit is so cute! Wonderful post, very inspiring. I have the same thoughts that run through my mind, thank you for your guidance on how to deal with these kind of days.
    Kim

  • I think the real stigma comes from feelings of comparison and “why does that person have that body and I don’t?”. It’s an issue that, as you get older, starts to slowly feel okay. But it’s also something that’s in your power to control. If you want to look a certain way it’s not by looking at others that you’re going to change but by looking at yourself. I love that you’re talking about this, because I feel it does not get talked about enough, in a world where people are looking for all the realness they can get. Myself included. Those are the people you can feel related to and bond. Xx

    http://www.i-life-u.com

  • Aimee Buchan

    This is such a great and honest post to read. I love your blog and Instagram feed/stories. Loving the bikini and shirt combo, you look fab! A x

    http://www.areyouaimee.blogspot.com

  • I’m not sure how many times I will say how much I love reading your posts. Many more, I’m sure! You strike the balance between being an inspiration, both with your sense of style and your outlook and attitude, and being totally relatable and down to earth. It’s a wonderful thing. Please keep doing what you do, I for one am hugely thankful for you!

    Ellie x

    http://www.shoestringthreads.com

  • Caroline Jean

    Such a wonderful post! I love your honesty and it is inspiring :) thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I’m so thankful!

  • Body Image issues are such pesky things that rob us of joy. Loving what you’ve got and taking care of it is key to happiness. Sue me, I’m skinny what do I know.

    Inez | My Small World

  • Tamara

    I think you will hit a nerve with this blog entry, as body confidence is something that seems to be lacking in too many women. We are judged all the time – and the hardest judge is the mirror which does not reflect the image that we’d like to see.
    Tamara xX
    SchuhXL Schuhe in Übergrößen
    http://www.schuhxl.de

  • Amy Chappell

    Thank you Lucy for this really inspirational article. I feel like I can relate so much to this post! I too am a little awkward with my body petite in frame and height but somehow long lanky and sometimes can be so goofy it scares me! I have tried the gym thing my friends are really into it and I’ve tried to keep up but I have realised it is just not for me! I love to dance and that is where I’m happiest even if it’s not everyday just when I want to do it! I feel like I’ve been so worried about my body recently and it’s so silly really. But yeh just wanted to say a big thank you because this has really helped me especially coming from you who’s style is so great :) X

  • Kelly Marie

    LOVE your honesty in this post!! I agree, social media can be really disheartening sometimes. In an effort, to show life isn’t perfect, I’m beginning to use my Instagram as a platform to raise awareness for Friedreich’s Ataxia (a rare disease I live with), capture lovely shots, and hopefully inspire others. I would love for you to check it out if you have time! Would also welcome any advice (I literally have no idea what I’m doing!)

    Handle is @kelbarendt

    Xx Kelly

    p.s. waiting on the edge of seat for a new FMN book club post ;)

  • Love your bikini<3

    It looks super fashionable! xx

    http://www.oneirojewelry.com

  • Katrina Fernandez

    I totally relate on this post! Recently I’m overthink on how to achieve a perfect body, I did my best do diet and exercise but I realize after then I don’t care what people say. I just love my body and happy with my life and that’s it. Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo,
    Katrina Isha

  • Piia

    That piece was so necessay just before summer, thank you Lucy! And I totally agee, Instagram is such a great place on a good day, full of inspiation and such a vile place on a bad day, full of negative influences.

    x
    http://www.selfmadeblog.ee

  • ohjulcor

    I couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much for it! We recently moved to California where I feel a even bigger pressure to have “the perfect body” but on the other hand I exercise more regularly, eat whatever I want and I feel that my clothes are getting too big. But I am not stressing out about it and feel more and more confident in my body even with the pressure going on here. I think it is so important to just do whatever is/works best for you and not to compare yourself to others because you never know their whole story. Thanks again for this great post!

  • monicawelburn

    Lucy what a beautiful piece! So well written and eloquently put!

    ADORE this line: “(confidence) can come from focusing on the inner you and what that part of you has to offer those around you rather than just how long your legs are” – hear hear!

    ❤️ Monica x

    P.S. You are such a babe inside AND out x

  • Rita

    I can just say THANK YOU!!