Why confident bodies are not always body confident
We’re all human. Even stylists.
Every woman suffers with a lack of body confidence in one way or another throughout her life. Even stylists. Styling isn’t a job that involves just clothes. It’s so much more than that
Many of us do the job we do because of our relationship with our bodies and perhaps past history, ultimately we want to help others come to accept their bodies and feel good in their clothes. You will have heard women describe the many parts of the body they don’t like and struggle to find a few they do whilst onlookers raise an eyebrow in disbelief of such comments against what others can see is perfect. Sound familiar?
The body positive movement has accelerated in recent years and we are all learning to accept our bodies the way they are.
The reason many people choose the journey of personal styling is down to their own experiences from which they have learned and want to apply to others. To prove that we’re human, we asked our stylists to share their personal body confidence issues and had an amazing response; we’re still talking about this now. Our stylists tell us about their insecurities and how they overcome those little voices inside telling us we’re less than perfect;
This is such an important subject. I struggle with my stomach and my hands; my hands are small, they also have age spots so I have regular manicures and although they are small, they are cute! After months of home cooking and eating my stomach feels an uncomfortable size so I avoid wearing tops that are too tight. I try to keep the focus on my best parts, mentally first, but also with clothes. I also keep training daily because a healthy body is more important than a beautiful one
It’s a very important subject that affects many more of us than we realise. Most women look at others and assume because they look good and are slim they don’t have body issues but they do. I began my battle with Anorexia at age 16. It actually took until I was 35 to stop binging and purging. Even after that I couldn’t accept myself for what I was. It is such a complex subject as to what was going on in my head 24/7.
I gradually learnt to focus on my good points and accept the parts of me I had always hated and eventually began to love myself. Self love isn’t vain it’s a necessity to find true confidence. With my clients I focus just as much on this as I do their outfits and it’s amazing how good someone can look and feel when they’re at peace in their minds with their appearance
Alex: This is such an important topic. I think becoming a mum has made me even more mindful of being kinder in the way I talk about and to myself, as I want my daughter to grow up with a positive body image. I was bullied at school for being chubby and having a big nose so I think that’s where my hang ups started. I’ve always struggled with my legs, feeling like they’re too chunky. I think all women struggle with their changing shape after having a baby too. I always try and instil in other people what an amazing thing your body has done and it’s to be celebrated, I need to be better at taking my own advice. But the older I get the more I realise none of it really matters and we need to be happy in ourselves as life is too short!
We all have concerns about our body image even people such as ourselves who perhaps are in a better position to overcome some of them by clever dressing and accessories, but it doesn’t alter that we may still be anxious about it.
I have struggled for a long time with my stomach area this is exacerbated by hormonal changes when the body goes through the menopause. Bingo wings are another area despite regular exercise I can’t seem to tone or tighten. I’m also not keen on my hands but I try and keep them manicured so I can look at them and feel more confident
Probably one of the most powerful moments for me has been working with a client with a supermodel figure (I grew up in the 90s and wanted to be Elle Macpherson). This particular client hated her body and said she’d much rather have my body! My body that I consider to be short and stout (as my Grandmother told me). We were both rather stunned at this revelation, but it really made me realise that most of us want what we don’t have! I’ve always struggled with my legs, feeling like they’re too chunky. I think all women struggle with their changing shape after having a baby too. I always try and instil in other people what an amazing thing your body has done and it’s to be celebrated, I need to be better at taking my own advice. But the older I get the more I realise none of it really matters and we need to be happy in ourselves as life is too short!
We all have insecurities with ourselves. I don’t like showing my legs; I have thread veins on the top parts of my thighs I wear midi dresses to hide them.
I don’t like the look of my hands, they have aged with time but I like to keep my nails painted as an attraction. I don’t like my ears I think they are big! I have the typical mum-tum but rather than seeing the flaw I look at this in memory of carrying my girls and feel proud of what my body can do. These are small details I pick out, but I generally look at my body in a positive way and use clothes to conceal the areas I don’t like as much. I exercise regularly and have seen the changes this has made to my body and mind, it’s made me realise how much self care is important.
Body confidence is about having a confident mind; feeling good on the inside and out. We overthink the exterior of our bodies by seeing the flaws and insecurities, we put ourselves down by being negative towards how we look. I see bodies of all shapes and sizes as a beautiful thing being different to each other, we should be more confident and happy being that way.
Why are we so self critical? I’ve struggled with my body image my whole life and watched so many friends too and been helpless to help them. I have found though that really throwing myself into sports helps. I took up karate again last year after a 15 year break. So now my concern is more about 'can I stretch this way and that' and 'can I reach that high kick?' It becomes a much more functional relationship.
So many of us are so hard on ourselves, and for a long time outside influences like the media have been so keen to tell us what perfect looks like… As a mum I find it a particularly tricky subject as I watch my daughter grow up and start to drop things in to conversation like ‘do I look fat in this?’ (she’s 8!) this has played a massive role in me trying harder to love my body.
I try to repurpose my thoughts towards questions like ‘is this item actually right for my body shape or is it really not my style and that’s making me look critically?’
We’re so quick to blame our bodies for something not working, having worked in sports it’s helped see understand how women need positive role models because these women are amazing at what they do; our bodies are amazing tools, they are so strong. So I try to focus more now on what my body can do, especially when it can create other humans, how amazing is that?
For me it was always my anxiety and my feeling of never feeling worthy after being bullied at school. I suffered with panic attacks from the age of 18 and was told to go and lie in a darkened room 🙈 Clothes were my confidence - dressing up made me feel like confident me. It took me years in my 20s to overcome this and that’s what then drove me to do what I do today