“Body Confidence” is a relatively new expression, coined by the magazine industry in the last 20 years, and to be honest, I find it somewhat of a confusing combination of words. What does it even mean? Which part of it is most important, the body or the confidence? The phrase is totally ambiguous, which I suppose is perfect when it comes to describing how women feel about their bodies as we do all seem to have a love / hate relationship with them.
In today’s society there is so much pressure on people to be a certain weight, height and dress size that we have become hardwired to view our bodies negatively as we strive to achieve an impossible look, manufactured by the press. I think US comedic actress Tina Fey summed up the idealised look we are all told we should obtain in order to be beautiful when she said…
That’s hardly the most attainable look is it? So, how are we meant to have any confidence in our bodies if we don’t fit society’s unrealistic standards of what beauty is?
Out of that list of 12 expectations, I’d say I have 6 which means I only conform to 50% of what the media portrays as being beautiful. If I bought into that way of thinking it would be detrimental to my so-called body confidence. Having worked in PR for women’s fashion magazines up until last year however, I know that this is all a made up concept. The magazines write about and promote the products that are advertising in the publication and therefore funding their entire existence. It’s all one big PR and marketing stunt.
Whilst at IPC Media I became friendly with people in the photographic editorial team for Marie Claire and would see first hand, the magic they and their computers would work in order to turn models and celebrities from great looking women into the medias perception of beautiful women. Keep in mind these iconic females had already been photographed in the kindest of lighting, wore made to measure clothing and had their hair and make up done by the best in the business, yet still it took a team of people to tweak their pictures, be it by making their eyes bluer, calves longer, waist narrower etc and so the list went on.
Trust me, body confidence has nothing to do with the number of inches around your bust and hips, or between the top of your head and the soles of your feet, these are all hang ups we’ve allowed the media to inflict upon us. Even the famous women with enviable figures whom we’d feature on the front of the magazines would worry about their bodies and scrutinise themselves harshly on photo shoots, complaining about cellulite or sagging breasts. The truth is there is no perfect shape or size – we are all so individual. Our perfection shines through from the way we carry ourselves and there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who knows her significance and isn’t concerned with the media’s perception of body image. Confidence is mental, not physical, even when it is about your body.
Ok, I admit when I am donning a pair of sky high heals I physically carry myself better as I am forced to walk tall with my shoulders back, so may appear more assured compared to when I’m kicking about in my trainers, but those extra inches definitely don’t have an effect on how I view myself or my body. Equally I don’t feel any more confident in who I am whether I wear a tight fitting dress or jeans and a t-shirt.
I see confidence as a feeling or a belief in something. For me the confidence I have in my body comes from being happy about who I am. I like to travel, to meet people, to live and interact with them. I like physical challenges and leaving my comfort zone. Instead of preening in a mirror and taking endless selfies, I like to focus on what is going on around me and the people I surround myself with. That is what drives me. I don’t know if it makes me beautiful, because being beautiful has never been a big concern of mine – I would rather be interesting, adventurous, funny, crazy, talented etc – but those things and people make me feel fulfilled. When I am fulfilled I am confident in my whole self; mind, body and soul.