Spoiler Alert: There isn’t one.
But oh how I’ve wished and wished that there was. I haven’t even found the body confidence dial yet. You know the one – you gradually keep turning it round as you discover who you are, and become at peace with your body and how you look day-to-day, instead of with a new outfit, some makeup and a fancy filter?
Good old fashioned body confidence. What does it even mean anymore? How do you get it? Where does it come from? I wish I knew. I can truthfully say I have never felt ‘body confident’. Ok, I’ve maybe felt confident in a particular dress, or I’ve felt confident that my skin looked good with no makeup or my hair looked ok a certain way, but never body confident. Not even ok with my entire body for a notable period in my life, there’s always been something, and occasionally it seems like it’s everything.
At 8 years old I told my new house mistress that I hated my thighs. At the boarding school I attended until 13 I refused to borrow the clothes of fellow boarders, in case I stretched them and became the whispered-about girl that you didn’t lend clothes to. Almost as bad as being the girl who made clothes smell – it was that time when you don’t all know if you need deodorant or not yet. Eventually 99% of you realise deodorant is a necessary evil. But you don’t all grow up to be the same size, shape, weight or figure as each other and you definitely don’t all have the same levels of body confidence.
At 21, my thighs are now often bottom of my internal ‘rubbish bits’ list. Usually somewhere fairly high up are my boobs. At one point I was confident and happy with the size of them. Now they’re big – they make blouses gape, they make bras expensive and they make my top half look huge if covered up, but if I wear anything even remotely revealing they are unavoidable and I feel as if I’m showing them off.
Maybe on a night out that’s acceptable – until guys drunkenly grab them as they walk past, perhaps presuming that because they’re there and they’re on show they’re up for grabs (ha ha) – but at a family occasion or in an office environment where you want nothing less than to seem well put together and presentable, the thought of unavoidable cleavage and unwanted attention makes me want to live forever in jumpers and 70% coverage ‘granny bras’.
At the minute, body confidence seems that goal that I’m ready to work on but I’m not sure how to reach. I’ve got to grips with my mental health, and I’m working on that. I’m working from the inside out, something that I do really believe will aid me with becoming really properly happy in my own skin without feeling like I have to make myself miserable by dieting or forcing myself to the gym. Even if losing weight and getting fitter is what it takes, then I can do that better now. But what if losing weight isn’t actually the magic key to the land of body positivity?
Perhaps if I repeat body confident affirmations every day, I will begin to believe that my worth is not determined by a number on a label in the back of my jeans. Perhaps if I get a tan and some expensive underwear and pose on Instagram preaching the importance of self-love and describe how I learnt to love my stretch marks, I’ll begin to believe that no one cares if I have a roll between the top of my high-waisted jeans and my bra strap. Perhaps if I start a healthy fitness regime and show off my progress via social media, I’ll begin to believe that I am beautiful and attractive and can be confident in a dress that clings to any part of my body.
It all sounds a little far-fetched.
Of course, there’s people that do those things. I follow them on Instagram. I could give you the account names of at least a few from each example I just listed – but just as I’m envious of the fitness models with their abs and strong bodies and dedication to gym so hard that what they eat doesn’t matter, I’m also envious of the body positive accounts that show me people of all shapes and sizes oozing confidence so hard that what others think doesn’t matter.
My point is – there is no one-size fits all method for gaining body confidence. What works for other people you know in real life and social media might not work for you. I don’t know what my method is yet, and this blog is for all those people feeling the same. The people who haven’t started – or are still on – that journey to body positive enlightenment, or whatever its called. You’re not at the very bottom of the self-loathing ladder – although you may have been at one point – but you’re definitely still wondering if you missed the class on body confidence and where it can be acquired from. It sometimes feel like if you ignore the pressure to look a certain way, then you invite in the pressure of having to be confident in the way you do look. It’s a very personal balancing act, and unfortunately the switch doesn’t exist, but the dial does, it’s just a case of trying to find it and giving it a turn. If anyone has a torch, please let me know.