From the get-go girls and women are surrounded by images of bodily perfection with the inference being slim and toned brings body confidence. Life coach, Sarah Doyle, begs to differ
I have battled with trying to understand body confidence as much as I have battled with my weight. I used to believe you could only feel confident in your body if you looked a certain way. I spent years searching for ways to make my size 14 body worthy of something to feel good about. During my search I noticed that we have been taught that the most attractive feature of a person’s humanity is their appearance and the most desirable assets are youthful looking skin, a flat stomach, perky bum or long, toned legs.
For a long time all I wanted was to possess a body that would take up less space. I thought that there was too much of me for anyone to love. Far too often I saw confident women lambasted and labelled as masculine, conceited, arrogant or vain.
I felt so desperate and uncomfortable in my own skin that hiding became second nature. I thought accepting my body would make me lazy. We are living in a culture that worships the gym for its weight loss and appearance altering side effects. Our passion for fitness has dissolved into an obsession with leanness and as far as I see, the gatekeepers – personal trainers, gym instructors, social media influencers – have encouraged a nation to become disconnected from the greatest gift our fitness can give us; our health, vitality, longevity, power and confidence.
Here’s the truth, as far as I see it. Body confidence looks the same on you as it does on me. Just because we have different bodies doesn’t mean that we can’t love our differences. For me, body confidence is no longer feeling afraid of my body. I weigh 80kgs and that number does not scare me anymore because it no longer rules me, or defines me. I am, and always will be, more than a number. Body confidence is no longer feeling ashamed of my body because it doesn’t look the way the magazines say it should. I own every inch of my body without apologising for it. My body is worth every bit of space it takes up in this world.
Body confidence is about expressing my creativity through fashion, tattoos, piercings or something else. I have a right to adorn my body in whatever makes me feel good. Be that tight dresses or oversized shirts, allowing my creativity to manifest through my choices, no longer living in fear of what others might think of me, what is flattering or acceptable for my shape.
Body confidence means loving my body for what it can do. My body is more than a tool to express beauty. My body is a vehicle to help me connect with my strength, power, vitality and mobility. My body is strong. Body confidence means that I am grateful, appreciative and compassionate towards my body. The dreaming, fantasising and wishing that my body would look different are no more and I feel at peace, and comfortable in my own skin.
Body confidence means no longer allowing my mind to question my body’s imperfections. Body confidence means accepting and embracing my flaws and loving them anyway.
Body confidence means that I no longer let how I feel about my body prevent me from saying yes, living my life or challenging myself. My body is worth every bit of space it takes up in this world. And so is yours.
The problem is not your body – it has never been your body. You are, and always have been, beautiful. The problem is how you think about your body. Your body is not just a prop to express beauty. Your body is a vehicle to help you connect with your strength, power, mobility, agility, worth and value. You have everything you need to be confident right now. Own it!
Sarah Doyle is founder of www.thebetterlifeproject.ie