If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will have noticed that a theme is forming at the moment. Time to shine is just my latest musings on self confidence, self image, body confidence and the many and mixed emotions we face as a woman surrounding our sense of self.
I am not choosing to focus on this to be self indulgent. Although, it is something I am working on on a very deep level personally at the moment.
I want to talk to you about my journey because I know that I always discover things about myself most effectively through listening to other people’s stories and revelations.
My musings today are definitely a continuation but also feel like a huge leap forward.
As you know I am building up to a huge step for me personally next year. Next May I will be taking part in a Real Full Monty show at the local theatre (this photo shows the amazing cast who took part this year).
We haven’t even started rehearsing yet. I know that I have a lot of inner work to do to get to the point where I can do this and enjoy it so I am starting now.
After years and years of feeling self confident about my body it is not going to be an easy thing for me.
Some how between now and next May I have to get to a point where I feel happy stripping down to my knickers in front of over 1500 people.
I am not just worried about what I will look like, although of course that is a huge factor. I’m worried about getting the right message across and I want to raise awareness of rare conditions. To give people who might be struggling physically or mentally hope that they too can beat their demons.
Of course I am worried about what I look like. I don’t want everyone running out of the theatre screaming! But I know that that won’t happen. I want to use this as a motivator to help me care for my body more from now on. As a busy mum I have neglected my physical body over the years. This is the perfect excuse to start looking after myself properly again.
I don’t eat badly, but we can always eat better can’t we? I don’t exercise enough (although I do more than I have done for years) and silly things like, I never remember to moisturise.
Well no more!
From now on I intend to look after my body. It serves me incredibly well and considering everything it has been through it is amazing!
The other day I decided to write myself a list of things I like and dislike (physically about my body) and the dislikes list was twice as long as the likes. I thought I was doing pretty well on the learning to love myself. It looks like I have an awfully long way to go!
For a few days I have been trying to decide whether to post the photo below. My husband took it when we were in Rome recently on my request. I was wearing a bikini for the first time in 13 years and I wanted a record of the fact that I had done it. I posted a photo of my head and shoulders on social media at the time. I wasn’t brave enough to post this one. I keep going back and forth about whether to post it but the bottom line is, I want to show you that it’s ok. With my rational head I sit and watch people who look like me go past at the beach or by the pool. I think “she looks great, I wish I was brave enough to wear a bikini”. But I still can’t get to that point when I look at myself.
So here it is!
Now I don’t know what you will see when you look at this photo. You might be as appalled as I am. You might see the wobbly bits. The stretch marks. The ill fitting bikini, that I bought thinking I would never wear it so it didn’t matter.
But here’s what I would like you to see
I would like you to see a woman who has given birth to two beautiful children and survived two c sections in order to bring them safely into the world.
A woman who despite growing in all manner of strange ways throughout her life, tries really hard to stay in shape. To keep her body strong enough to care for her family.
Someone who despite feeling really self conscious wore a bikini all day in a public place. And managed to smile on a photo that she was feeling very uncomfortable posing for.
A scared and scarred woman trying hard to over come her own insecurities and fears in order to hopefully inspire other women to feel more confident in their bodies. To raise awareness of all the millions of people around the world who struggle every day. Those with pain and terrible side effects who are too exhausted to tell anyone what they are going through.
We all need to get to a point where we appreciate our bodies for the amazing things they do for us. For the functions they perform, often without us even realising. Instead of only caring about what they look like on the outside.
We also need to remember that the way we see our own body is very different to the way everyone else sees it.
I know all of this on an intellectual level. But my insecurities and my peri-menopausal hormonal wibbles just tell me I’m old and fat and no one should have to look at this!
I thought my self confidence was pretty good. It turns out that when I dig a little deeper I have just used a few clever tricks to fool myself. It’s amazing what you can achieve with a combination of being too busy to think about something and changing your life to make sure you never have to confront your fears. So I am great at being body confident when I don’t have to go swimming, when I wear clothes that I know flatter me and when I don’t think about it too much.
Meanwhile in the real world there is still a little voice in my head saying; “But look at; those stretch marks, that double chin, those wobbly thighs, that wobbly tummy, my big feet/hands, those saggy boobs…”
Do I need to go on?
Now I hope that you are one of those amazing women who loves their body. That you are just reading this wondering what is wrong with me. However, I don’t think I have EVER met a woman who loves everything about her physical form.
My beautiful Mum was two dress sizes smaller than me on my wedding day and I was the smallest I have been in my entire adult life that day. She won’t wear certain tops because she’s too boney! She looks incredible! My sister is almost 6ft tall and a size 10/12. She has had two children and looks amazing but does she love her body? No she tries to tell me she’s fat!!
Never have I met a woman who loves everything about her body.
Do I think that by doing lots of inner work over the next 12 months I can magically be that woman?
No of course not!
Am I going to get to a point where I can walk onto the stage at the Gatehouse and feel proud of myself for being brave enough to strip in front of 500+ people a night for 3 nights?
Oh I do hope so!
Well, I am going to be doing it, one way or another. I am committed to the self care and also the cause now. Whether I can get to a point where I feel proud of my body. Only time will tell, but one way or another it will be seen and I will have to do it.
Where are you at with your own body confidence?
What have you done to try and improve it?
I’m so conscious that I have to be careful what messages I am sending to my children, particularly my daughter. I am very careful not to talk about the things I don’t like in front of her. I talk about my body’s limitations because of my condition but I try really hard not to pass comment about things I like and dislike about myself.
I’m delighted that both my children want to come to the show next year. If I can show them that it’s ok to be whatever shape you are and that we should be proud of ourselves not feel like we need to hide ourselves away I will really feel like I have achieved something special.
It’s my time to shine and wearing a bikini and being brave enough to share it with you is the first twinkle on a long path to illumination on stage next year.
I would love to hear from you if you have any stories, any recommendations for things that might help me on this journey or you just want to tell me to cover up!