6 WOMEN 6 REAL PERCEPTIONS

Body image is the inner picture of the outer appearance.
It is a person’s perception of their body.

 

Mama Life Magazine decided to bring together 6 women from sizes 10-18 and ask them about their perceptions on their own body image.

One thing for sure is that we all have hang-ups. But age seems to play a big part in our changing bodies and how with age comes wisdom and acceptance that we are not your media standard image of what women should look like.

Its time to challenge these thoughts and break away from archaic standards and embrace the bodies we have.

You have been criticing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens

Mama Life Magazine

ARE YOU SECURE WITH YOUR BODY IMAGE?

I am, I have off days where none of my clothes seem to feel right but after a lot of soul searching, I look in the mirror and I’m happy with what I see, the stretch marks, bingo wings, cellulite, parts of a body that is sexy, strong, active and took care of the children it produced and nurtured.

DOES YOUR BODY RESEMBLE THE MEDIA’S STANDARD OF BEAUTY?

My body is bigger than what mainstream media uses to sell beauty, I am “plus size”. I have stretch marks, cellulite, tattoos, moles, dark circles and thin hair from thyroid disease.

All of these things would rule me out of representing the media’s standard of beauty. However, we are starting to see more “normal” looking women on tv, which is something I’ve always campaigned for.

WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, DID YOUR RELATIVES AND OR FRIENDS INFLUENCE YOUR BODY IMAGE?

My dad raised me as a single father, he always told me I was beautiful, he always encouraged me to be healthy and active. He was disabled as a kid so he couldn’t do the things I got to do.

His encouragement helped me enjoy being active, strong and helped me appreciate being able bodied. I saw my body as something that was capable.

WHAT WAS THE LARGEST CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TO THE INSECURITY AND SECURITY YOU HAVE TOWARDS YOUR BODY?

The largest contributing factor to insecurities I did have about my body was that I used to measure my self-worth by the value my partner had for me and my body.

I became insecure, especially after having two children within 19 months. My boobs felt like wet tea bags after years of breastfeeding. My tummy has a lot of stretched loose skin from the pregnancies.

I’d say the biggest contributing factor to the security I now have with my body is realising that my self-worth isn’t in anyone else’s hands, it’s in mine. And the more you practise seeing the beauty and strength in your raw, naked self, the more I workout, the stronger I get, the more secure I become and I will never hand my self-worth over to anybody else again.

Ashley x

Mama Life Magazine

ARE YOU SECURE WITH YOUR BODY IMAGE?

The last time I can remember feeling secure in my body was when I was a child! I remember being in my early 20s and feeling “fat” and now I look back at pictures and would give anything to look that thin again.

After two children I feel the biggest and most unhappy I have ever felt with my body and now approaching mid-30s I have alsorealised that dieting for a special night out has to start months in
advance!

The crazy thing is I feel secure in my life just not my body.

WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSES PEOPLE TO BE INSECURE ABOUT THEMSELVES AND HAVE A NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE?

Social media- it’s dangerous! 10 minutes scrolling down my news feed and I feel ugly. I wish they could ban filters and apps that adjust your pictures. Some girls adjust the pictures so much that
they end up looking like a cartoon character and then I see people commenting saying “wow” and all I’m thinking is “does no one else see a cross between Betty Boop and a doll?” Then you see them around in real life and they are beautiful!

I’m proud to say I don’t feel like I need to adjust my pictures, I only post one when I take a nice pic.

DO YOU AVOID WEARING CERTAIN CLOTHING BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU FEEL FAT?

YES! My whole wardrobe is black, loose and all my tops cover my shoulders and tops of my arms.
I like to buy bigger sizes so it doesn’t cling to my figure, I’m not a girl who is bothered by what the label says, nor does it make me feel crap that I have had to buy a bigger size, as long as it fits me and makes me appear slimmer I’m happy. However, I do often avoid clothes shopping as I’m waiting for this miracle weight loss that I plan but never happens!

HOW DO YOU MAKE OTHERS FEEL ABOUT THEIR BODY IMAGE?

My job is to make women feel and look beautiful, if I had a pound for every time someone said “could you just make my face look thinner” I would be a rich lady.

I think a woman to woman compliment means everything! I love to compliment someone as I know it goes a long way and if I think someone looks great then I will go out of my way to tell them!

I never notice things on other women that I worry about on myself which most of the time reminds me that I have nothing to worry about.

Rachelle x

Mama Life Magazine

ARE YOU SECURE WITH YOUR BODY IMAGE?

Most days I am secure with my body image but this can change when I have been too lazy to work out. I know I have to work out to keep my body in shape, so in the weeks I don’t train this can leave me thinking differently.

Looking in the mirror on a daily basis I generally feel secure in the way I look.

WHAT DOES A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE MEAN TO YOU?

A positive body image to me means feeling and looking comfortable in my own skin. When getting dressed in the morning, if I’m happy with the way my clothes fit or I’m wearing whatever I want to wear and feel comfortable this will then make me feel happy which will determine a positive body image in my mind.

WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE?

I look good for my age and this is reinforced when I get compliments. There are areas I can improve on, i.e. my stomach which I have to work extremely hard on, but this is one area I wouldn’t hesitate to spend money on.

STRETCH MARKS AND CELLULITE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM?

I used to hate having stretch marks all over my stomach as I believed I couldn’t wear crop tops or stomach revealing items but as the years have gone by I look at them and think they are the product of me producing my 4 beautiful children. I find ways to wear clothing to disguise them.

HOW HAS YOUR BODY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

When I was younger I didn’t really have to worry about my body image because I was a very active individual that also had a natural slim frame. As the years have gone on, having kids and focusing on them mixed with work has slowed my activity levels down.

This has impacted my body because when time is limited and I don’t fit in a workout I feel that I am not working towards the “perfect” body shape and fitness that society portrays. This then makes me obsessed in getting back into my fitness routine of working out 3 or more times a week.

Elaine x

Mama Life Magazine

WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER DID YOUR RELATIVES AND OR FRIENDS INFLUENCE YOUR BODY IMAGE?

I was influenced by my peers, the main difference has always been my height. I have always enjoyed getting active from dancing to netball and as I grew older, I understood the importance of this more for my mind than body!

HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IMPACTED ON BODY PERCEPTIONS?

When pregnant I joined a Yoga class for Mums to Be and through this met my support network.
After having my children, I found it difficult to find time to exercise. I joined a local Netball team Chasetown in Burntwood after having my son as a fellow mum invited me along – I loved it! Not just the sport, but the team spirit. I have also found a love for running, I’m not the fastest but do enjoy getting the head space and raising money for Autism West Midlands.

For me feeling challenged is important, setting a target seems to work. Wolf Run, an adult assault course which requires team work to complete, is my thing!

WHAT DOES A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE MEAN TO YOU?

Positive body image for me is a combination of both a healthy body and mind. It’s a constant balancing act, new chapters in your life come with a unique set of challenges.

Before children time wasn’t so much of a barrier; since having children it is.

There are a number of awesome people who have positively influenced this journey since I became a parent. Through Nurture Network, which I setup in 2016 as a way to connect with likeminded parents, we work with local community partners, including the Lichfield Fitness Community and the Yoga Collective to find ways to make physical fitness more accessible for the whole family!

WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR, WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE?

I will do all I can to use my body and mind to positively impact others.

My sister who is severely Autistic alongside other complex needs is my motivation; she like many others hasn’t had this opportunity. If you have been given the capability why not use it, challenge yourself. I believe that we can inspire each other.

When it comes to getting summer ready there are a number of things I would change including my c section fold, but I try my best not to focus on this and concentrate on the things I can control.

Confidence in using my femininity is something that continues to challenge me. I am in awe of those who use it as a strength.

Charlotte x

Mama Life Magazine

HOW HAS YOUR BODY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

During my early teens I was a size 14 bottom as I had such a big bum and thighs I looked so unproportionate as my top half was 2 sizes smaller, being a shortie at 5ft 2, I just looked like a duck!

In my late teens I evened up and had an all over equal size 10. After having my girls, my waist size increased by 2 inches, my boobs got bigger then totally disappeared, my cellulite increased and the stretch marks doubled.

Fifteen years on and I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight which is cool but I do feel that I need some serious toning.

My body is not so much about what it looks like now but more about how comfortable and happy I am in it.

WHAT WAS THE LARGEST CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE INSECURITY AND SECURITY YOU HAVE TOWARDS YOUR BODY?

The largest factor to the insecurity of my body came about in my marriage. What started as jokey comments about my “cankles”– (where your ankles meet your calves) and my “mosquito bites”(small tits) led to years of insecurities, I felt I was inadequate and unwomanly, my confidence was at zero. I would always notice boobs and ankles on other women and compare my body to theirs.

I couldn’t physically change the “cankles” so I accepted that this was a part of my build, and actually realised ankles come in all shapes and sizes just like boobs. However, my boobs were a massive insecurity I couldn’t get over, I didn’t feel feminine so upgrading the “mosquito bites” was the biggest positive factor both mentally and physically. It definitely made me feel more confident about my body.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR, WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE?

My body is the trophy of my life. I have learnt to appreciate and love the body I am in. I have a body that has produced two beautiful lives into this world. I have scars, stretch marks, some sag, and some foreign objects! But ultimately I am comfortable with the reflection that looks back at me.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WITH A POOR BODY IMAGE?

Look around you and your interactions, as it is these interactions like social media or social circles, partners and family that contribute towards how you feel about your body image.

Eliminate anything in your life that has a negative impact and if you can’t eliminate it, always remember you have the power to change how it affects you.

Do not concern yourself with other people’s judgements.

You do what makes you happy.

Mel x

Mama Life Magazine

WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR, WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE?

When I look at myself in the mirror, I feel sad as I’m not the person I once was. I have always been on the larger side, at my heaviest I was a size 28; 4 years ago, I managed to get down to a 14/16.

I remember looking at myself in a changing room mirror with the most beautiful fitted dress and crying because it was the first time, I truly loved myself for who I was. I loved who I saw staring back at me in the mirror.

Sadly, I have gained a bit of weight over the last few years so I don’t like what I see staring back at me at the minute.

But only I can change this…

HOW DO YOU MAKE OTHERS FEEL ABOUT THEIR BODY IMAGE?

I always make compliments to other ladies; if I see someone with nice eyes, or a lovely colour lipstick, wearing a nice dress or noticing their weight loss…even if they smell nice!

I get lots of compliments about my hair when I have had it done or my perfume or a particular dress. It always lifts my spirit’s so I like to do that to other women.

WHAT WAS NORMAL BODY IMAGE WHEN YOU WERE A KID?

I am incredibly lucky to have grown up in a time when there wasn’t social media or even mobile phones. No one had their eyebrows drawn on, no gel nails or extensions; the only fashion I remember were jeans with zips in, or jelly shoes with a matching bag.

We all played out until our mid- teens, which sadly doesn’t happen now.

I was a well-built child, I swam for the county, I was games captain throughout my high school and I never had any bullying at school for being a well-built girl. I am sure it would be a different story had I been growing up in today’s times.

DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR BODY? IF SO, WHAT? AND WHY?

I do want to change things about my body; I want to lose the weight that I have gained. I loved the gym and I haven’t had the time to go (that’s my excuse).

Since launching the magazine and talking to different women about their experiences with dieting I have learnt so much about nutrition but haven’t done anything about it. Now I feel it’s the right time.

You have to be in the right place to be able to do something about it, otherwise you end
up being at a worse place than you were before because of the pressure you put on yourself.

I have to remember how I once felt as a size 14 which is the size I’m happy in.

Natasha x

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