Friday, 22 January 2016

Body Confidence in Practice

   I'm in a beautiful hotel right now (the Grand Hyatt Martinez in Cannes, to be exact - and to brag on a whole new level), surrounded by gorgeous architecture, stunning views of the Riviera (a place where I thought only existed in the lives of A-list celebrities and my rich Aunt Maud), and fun, fantastic, intelligent people who know much more about anything than I do - but that somehow seems irrelevant because all I can bloody well think about is how big my thighs are.

   Aren't I supposed to be in my twenties and care free? That's what everyone tells me, anyway. But I'm not care free. Not at all. Not when it comes to my thighs. These damn Bratwursts of legs that are attached to my ever growing hips are the bane of my life, and have been so for maybe two or three years; but, recently, they've got so bad that I've begun enshrouding myself in long, loose layers, squeezing my legs together when I'm standing still with the deluded intention of appearing thinner, and NEVER going out in a bikini (I've actually had to tell people that I'm hydrophobic so that I can get out of wearing one).

   I've tried dieting and exercising, but I never realised how hard it is to tone up and slim down with a metabolism as slow as a snail. My boyfriend keeps telling me that I have to keep at it for months before I see a difference, but there comes a point where you just break down and wonder if it really is you that's the problem. The determination's there, the motivation's there, and the desperation is there, but how can you continue working as hard as you do for zero results? It has destroyed my confidence, and it's hard to picture myself ever rebuilding it.

   Now, you're part of one of three schools of thought here. Either you're thinking, 'stop eating and shutup', which would be a rather insensitive response to a sensitive subject and ultimately irrelevant (as I said, I've tried dieting), or you're thinking, 'you shouldn't get so worked up about something so superficial when there are more important things to worry about like (A) and (B)', which is almost equally as insensitive because now you're dismissing something that is clearly very important to someone. OR you feel exactly the same about your own insecurities, and don't know how to beat it.

   In actuality, I'm not worried about those of you belonging to the first or second groups; what concerns me is the amount of people reading this who may feel the same way. It's clear that there are too many of us hating too much of ourselves, but we feel as if we can't talk about it anymore because of this great big contradictory subject called 'Body Confidence' which tells us to love ourselves without inhibition, but completely disregards the notion that confidence doesn't come easy for a lot of us. In fact, most people I know dislike something about their body, and are afraid to show it off for fear of embarrassment, negative comparison or ridicule.

   Now, talk about your body issues with your friends and they'll say something like: 'don't be stupid, you're gorgeous; you're silly, you're so hot; it's all in your mind, you don't really look like that', which makes you feel better about yourself for a day or two until your mum's friend makes a seemingly innocent joke about how much you're eating, or the office dickhead asks you why your jeans are so tight. The more confident woman would brush off these remarks and probably break out a witty comeback, but the rest of us spend the day sweating it, believing that we're not beautiful and probably hating our friends for lying to us.

   The problem with the world is that, unless you're close to someone who understands and can relate to what you're going through, you're pretty much on your own. You're the only one who can make things better for yourself. You're the only one who can make your life positive. You're the only one who can change your mindset for the better.

   But how can you do all these things when you've got so much working against you? Instead of giving you the bullshit transparent clich├ęs that lack substance, like 'think positive' and 'believe in yourself', I've put together the best pieces of advice that I can find to try to help you (and me) begin the long and hard journey back to happiness:

D O N ' T   M E N T I O N   I T

   Constantly bringing up your insecurity in conversation (unless it's a serious conversation with someone that you trust and can really understand your problem) gives it life, making it harder for you to move on and let go. Nothing good comes of mentioning it in casual talk, because the conversation will move on and you'll most likely be distracted. Every time you find yourself stuck in a chat with your friends or colleagues about issues with appearance (and in my circles, it happens a lot), whether it's cellulite, stretchmarks or weight, try not to contribute. Simply listen, instead of fueling the fire.

T A K E   C O M P L I M E N T S

   Too many of us are guilty of getting all shy and embarrassed when we receive compliments. If someone says that they think you look amazing, that you have great hair, that you have excellent style, that you're smart, funny, intelligent, chic, elegant, cool - smile and say thank you. The only thing that comes of refusing a compliment is awkwardness, but indulging in a friendly, mutual social transaction will likely boost your mood.

L E A D   Y O U R   F O C U S   E L S E W H E R E

   Take your mind off your insecurity by leading the focus elsewhere; for example, try out a new hairstyle, paint your nails a vibrant colour, or wear a great pair of shoes. Consciously drawing attention to a fantastic part of your attire or appearance will make you focus more on that positive aspect, rather than the negative one.

   If you've got a tip to help with body confidence, please post it in the comments - it may help someone more than you know!

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