As I was sitting down to write this blogpost, I noticed a draft post lurking underneath the published pieces. It was titled “I’m Feeling Disconnected From My Body,” and I wrote it in June earlier this year. As I skimmed over it, I realised that I have made a fair bit of progress since the beginning of summer. Step by step, I have been tackling the restrictive feeling I’d had within my body for the first half of the year and the difference I feel now is… well, it feels good. Not fully better, but decent.
I think past me explains what I was feeling best:
“This afternoon, a brand asked me to gather some stats from a recent post I worked on with them. As I went on Instagram and clicked on the Story Archive button, a notification popped up, showing me the photo I had shared on this same day four years earlier. It was a picture of me biting my lip, taken on my iPhone 4’s questionable quality camera back in 2015. When I saw that photo, all pixellated and washed out with a bad filter, a wave of nostalgia came over me. Not for the old phone, or for my haircut or the lipstick I’ve inevitably lost but really loved. For the fact that I used to feel so confident. I felt hot! I can’t remember the last time I felt that.
“The thing about confidence is that it’s a creeper. When you have low self-esteem, there’s not an overnight quick fix. It takes months to build, like a muscle. And my self-confidence muscle has been relaxing without me even realising.”
Can you relate? For the first half of the year, I had this creeping feeling of un-sexiness (is that even a word? It should be) that I couldn’t shake. A lack of body confidence that manifested in wanting to shy away. Filming myself felt like a chore, and I didn’t really want to look back at photos I was shooting for Instagram or my blog. Ironically, I’d been feeling much more sure of myself in other areas. I’d learned what clothes I like to wear and how to assert myself in my work. I felt confident that I wasn’t a shitty person, and that if I followed my gut, I often made the right decision. However this is all a different flavour of confidence. I hadn’t realised that through putting the work into nurturing these other confidences, I’d let slide doing anything that made me feel good about my body.
I wasn’t shaving my legs or plucking my eyebrows. Arguably arbitrary, but both make me feel a sense of self, and act as a form of self care. Baby steps sometimes have the biggest impact, but they’re also the easiest to neglect.
It probably doesn’t help that I’ve always had a dysmorphic view of my body. I’ve never been the most in tune with how I look, and it’s taken a lot of focus since school to pull me away from the most dysmorphic perceptions of myself. As a result, there was definitely a period of time where I knew what I looked like, but it feels like, along with my food relationship, that understanding has slipped. When I look in the mirror, I’m not really sure of what is me and what my mind is perceiving to be me – does that make sense? There’s some kind of distortion going on up there. It’s not a unique issue – I know some of my friends experience this too – but it definitely affects the very physical sense of confidence we all have. How can you feel sexy when you have no perception of what sexy would look like on you?
I’ll also hold my hands up and admit I’m not the best at identifying, let alone sharing, my feelings when I have them. I have this habit of only talking about things once I’m over them, not while I’m going through them. Maybe I’m a slow processor, or I’m ashamed of my feelings? Idk. I’m trying to get better at it. But yeah, it feels nice to look back at that post from June and see that some progress has been made.
So what changed? I didn’t go on any fancy diets – in fact my health feels… not great right now, but that’s a chat for another day. Building confidence can feel like an impossible mountain to climb, believe me I know. It started with the simple things that I’d neglected in my self care routine – shaving, plucking, having a dance in my undies while I was getting ready, etc. I also started doing a bit of exercise, starting myself off with a mission to do two classes a week. Again, baby steps, especially with something as intimidating to a lot of us as exercise, can be the best way forward. So far I’ve only had one week where I didn’t work out, and it’s coming up to three months of my ClassPass membership. I can’t even tell you how much a sweaty yoga session helps. I haven’t dropped a jeans size, in fact I can’t even see any muscle definition, but just knowing I’m doing something small movement-wise and going out of my comfort zone has really helped me feel more in tune with my body.
I also had a haircut, which almost makes me want to laugh as I write it because it couldn’t fit the makeover romcom stereotype more. “All she needed was a haircut!” Stereotypes aside, for me, it really did work. I had been trying to grow my hair out all year, and had this vision of living my best Hot Girl Summer™️ life come May 2019. Think: sexy, beachy waves with a little definition. However, my hair is thick and heavy and oily. It just wasn’t working. Cutting it all off again and going back to brown made me feel sixteen times more like myself. And not just any version of myself; the sexy, cool version of me who’s a bit witchy and loves autumn. Soft girl aesthetic and all. I don’t want to be that annoying cliche women’s mag guru, but if you’re feeling a bit funky in your body, I’d highly recommend trying a new haircut.
I think the most important thing I’ve been reminded of is that body image is a process. We never reach the end; there is no glistening trophy of “confidence” that we can lift after a certain period of time. I still have bad days; in fact, I still have very bad days, but at the moment the good ones occur a lot more frequently. I feel an inner sense that I’m settled, and that feels good. I might have a period where I feel like I did in June sometime in the future, and I will have to cross that bridge again. It doesn’t devalue my progress in this period of my life. It might be cliche, but it really is a journey, and I’m proud of every step I make with my body confidence.