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Do you see your body like a reflection in a hall of mirrors?

Do you see your body like a reflection in a hall of mirrors?I’ve written several articles on body image, and how we see ourselves over the last couple of years.

(If you want to check some of them out then have a look at the links below:

We know it’s an issue, we know that the media is playing a huge part in how we view ourselves, but we’re still not seeing clearly.

How do you see your body?

There are organisations and companies who are doing their bit to help women break the illusion that our bodies don’t look the way that they are supposed to…but ultimately the only thing that will make a difference is the eyes with which we view ourselves.

It’s like we have a pair of distorted glasses that are reserved only for looking at ourselves.  We see the bits that wobble, those that are bigger than we’d like, and those we’d tweak a little here or there if we could.

I’ve had a couple of experiences recently which really opened my eyes in respect to my own body image…and I wanted to share them with you, to help you take off your own distorted glasses and begin to see yourself clearly.

When you look at your body, do you love or hate your wobbly bits?

I’m quite lucky, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and work over the last few years with respect to how I view my own body.

At one point I had no body confidence at all.  I saw myself as plain, unattractive and I only noticed the bits that wobbled.

Now I love the wobbly bits! After all, I’m a woman, I’ve got a fabulous hourglass figure and without the bits that wobble, the hourglass wouldn’t be very shapely.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to look after my body, inside and out…but I also see it for the beautiful shape that it is…and I don’t want to change that.

I’ve gone on a journey with my own body to get to this point that has been a revelation.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have shared my experiences with doing a full nude portrait shoot and my first visit to an all natural hot springs in California, clothing optional.

The path hasn’t been easy…but I’m grateful for where it’s brought me.

Do you see your body the way that other people do?

Then earlier this week I was at a local spa enjoying the hydrotherapy pool when I saw a woman who I thought had a gorgeous figure.

I couldn’t see a single thing about her body that couldn’t be complimented.

…and I became curious as to whether she saw herself in the same way.

So, as random as it seemed at the time, when we were sat alone in the steam room together, my curiosity took over, and I asked her the question…

“Is there anything about your body that you don’t like…anything that when you look in the mirror that you wish was different”

“Yes”, she said, “my thighs are a bit too big”.

I was amazed.  Even someone who had a figure that I imagine a lot of women would be quite envious of, could find a fault…something that wasn’t quite ‘right’.

…and it reminded me of a conversation I’d had with friend I’ve known since school just recently.

To put the conversation into context, this friend of mine was always known as being one of the most popular and attractive girls at my school.  She got a lot of attention from the boys, she was someone all the girls wanted to be friends with and she was referred to for years by my own Grandmother as “Claire’s pretty friend” (…as opposed to what I’m not entirely sure!)

When we were at school I’d always wished I could look like her with her beautiful curly hair and lovely figure.

A few years later when boys were a much bigger part of our lives the guy who I’d had a crush on for the longest time told me how gorgeous he thought she was and wanted to know if she was seeing anyone, which just reinforced my belief that she was prettier than me.

It’s now many years later, we’re both a lot older, and in some ways much wiser too…so when she came round for dinner recently and the topic of conversation came up, I wanted to share my experience from when we were at school.

She was amazed to hear how I’d spent so many years wishing I could look more like her and thinking that she was so much prettier than me…

…because at the exact same time she’d been wishing she could look more like me!

We’d both spent much of our teenage years looking at the other and wishing that could be us…and not appreciating the natural beauty that we BOTH had.

Neither one of us is better or worse looking than the other…we’re just different, and beautifully so.

How dull would this world be if we all looked like Kate Moss or Beyonce or Eva Longoria?

It’s about time that we begin to celebrate our own unique brand of beauty.  Our own innate gorgeousness, in all of its glory.

We and we alone have the ability to change how we look at ourselves…so this week I invite you to take of your distortion glasses, and see yourself clearly for the first time.

Every morning this week I’d like you to look in the mirror and rather than focusing on the blemishes, the scars, or the bits that you’d rather didn’t wobble so much….this time focus on what’s beautiful.  Find what you’re proud of.  Look for what you like about yourself.

It could be that you have nice eyes, or a great smile….or it might be that you love some of the bits that wobble! 🙂

Look for your beauty, look for your uniqueness, look for what you love about yourself.

Take of the glasses…and allow yourself to see how beautiful you really are.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you recognise your own beauty? I didn’t…

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror...

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

When you see photographs of yourself, what do you notice?

Do you see yourself as you are?

Or do you see what you believe is there?

The reason that I’m asking this is that for many many years I didn’t see what was there.

I saw what I thought was there.

You see, when I was much younger I got some very fixed ideas about my appearance.

At school I wasn’t one of the popular girls.  I didn’t get into makeup and hair very early on, and I certainly wasn’t obsessed with it as some of the people I went to school with were (the curse of an all-girls school I guess!)

I wasn’t one of the ‘popular crowd’, I wasn’t one of the girls that the boys were interested in or asked out…in fact I don’t think that many of them even noticed me.

Combine these facts with my grandmother’s insistence on describing one of my closest friends as ‘Claire’s Pretty Friend’ (…as opposed to…?) and my perception of my own personal appearance wasn’t very high.

…and, being perfectly honest, this perception stuck with me for a long time.

Even when boyfriends described me as ‘beautiful’ or ‘gorgeous’ I would often rationalise it by thinking that they were the exception to the rule, that they were talking about who I was on the inside or that they were saying that because ‘that’s what boyfriends are supposed to say’!

I spent years battling to be ‘skinnier’ than I was, trying diet after diet….I even tried the awful atkins and slimfast options at various points..  One word…yuk.

Taking on my ‘one of the boys’ mentality meant that I hid my body behind jeans and baggy jumpers for the most part.  I remember one ex boyfriend even commenting how surprised he was the first time he saw me in a dress…not just because I was wearing a dress, but he couldn’t believe how slim I was because he assumed my baggy tops were covering more weight than they were.

Over time I became more comfortable with how I looked, but I never saw myself as particularly attractive, and I certainly wouldn’t have used the word ‘beautiful’ to describe myself.

Over the last few years though, something shifted.

I started noticing some of the comments I was receiving…and how many positive remarks I was getting about my appearance.

Tweet from NelsonA random tweet from a friend I’d not seen in years introducing me to his followers as “One of the most beautiful woman I have ever met” really surprised me.

I have received so many lovely and humbling comments about photos that I’ve shared on Facebook and videos that I’ve shared…it got to the point that I couldn’t ignore what was being said to me anymore.

One day I realised that I wasn’t seeing myself as I was, or how anyone else was seeing me.  I was seeing myself as the plain, unpopular teenager who didn’t feel pretty next to her attractive friends.

…and I wasn’t the only one.

The mirror liesSo many women see something different to what’s really there.

Several years ago one of my favourite TV shows was called “How to look good naked”.  In it, the fabulous Gok Wan would take women who hated their bodies through a process to reconnect them with the beauty of their gorgeous real figures.

Part of the process was the “Gok Shock”, displaying images of their body somewhere agonisingly public and have people from the street comment on what they could see.

This video of the lovely Angela shows how drastically different a person’s perception of themselves can be from what other people see…she even manages to pick up a date along the way!

Another part of the process was to get the lady in question to do a line up with other women, looking at a particular area of her body that she disliked.  Gok would line up the other women from smallest to largest (of the body part in question) and then get her to position herself at the point in the line where she believed that she belonged.

Every time without exception the women would place themselves in the wrong place…always seeing themselves as larger than they actually were.  This video of the lovely Cindy shows that her perception of her tummy meant that she was walking around with an extra 2.5” of imagined weight on her waistline.

It’s no wonder with the bombardment of ‘perfect’ women in the media that we question our own appearance at times, but we need to see it for what it is…an illusion.  Almost every image we see is doctored, tweaked…or changed completely…it’s not real.

After all, in real life each and every one of us is perfectly imperfect…and that’s beautiful.

Love your reflectionSo I would like to invite you to take a good look in the mirror today, to release any past perceptions that you might have had…and to see yourself for the beautiful woman that you are.

Because it’s about time that we all recognise our own beauty…and start to celebrate it!

So smile, find three things that you love about your appearance and say them out loud….you deserve the compliments! 🙂

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x