What's This Blog All About Then?

I'm on a mission to roadtest ways of overcoming negative body image. For years I have struggled with feeling I don't look 'good enough', I'm too fat or flabby. Even when I was a UK Size 8! During each of my two pregnancies I fell back in love with my body, marvelling at the amazing things it was doing and at my feminine voluptuousness.

Now that my most recent baby has been outside of my body for a while, the mum tum and stretchmarks are starting to bug me. I have decided enough is enough. I want to feel proud of my body like I did when I was pregnant. I don't want to wait until I'm a certain weight or dress size to feel good about the way I look. I want to love my body just the way it is right now. And I want to help other women to love their imperfectly perfect bodies too.

Join me on my quest for a better body image. During my journey to (I hope) total body confidence, I'll be posting useful resources, tips and research on body image and self acceptance. There will also be posts from other people shedding light on how to feel comfortable in the skin you're in - maybe you'd like to send me an article? Contact me at annacolette(at)gmail(dot)com with 'Body Image' in the title.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

My First Steps to a Better Body Image

It feels good to have finally started this blog, this quest. But I'm unsure of how to proceed. Here are my ideas so far, what do you think?

In my quest for a better body image, I could start by:

-Implementing some suggestions people have made over the years - like 'don't look in any mirrors for a while it'll make you less body conscious'

-Trying some techniques I remember from books e.g. choose a body part and do nice things for it like Neck - buy perfume, lovingly rub in cream every day, adorn it with beautiful necklaces

-Trying an affirmation for a body confidence - saying and writing it often through the day

-Asking my hypnotherapist friend H for some sessions, and supplementing with self hypnosis CDs and/or scripts she recommends

-Trying EFT techniques to tap away my negative body image

-Exploring (and writing about) my specific issues to define and understand the problem

-Interview friends and family to discover their body image issues and any tips they have for a better body image

-Surveying strangers through netmums, British Mummy Bloggers and other female online networks

-Googling body image, body confidence, love your body and other phrases to see what paths and techniques I can unearth

All of the above seem like good ideas and I think I'll do them all. But I need to prioritise. Writing that list helped me to get clear on the possibilities, and I know that more ideas will come once I put some of the above into action.

I'd like to do one simple thing that I can start to do NOW without any more thought or any preparation PLUS I'm keen to do keep investigating the problem of women's negative body image and usefule resources. As well as this being a quest for myself I would love to discover ways you can help yourself to love your body too.

Oh, and I'd like to improve my appearance too. You know, the usual stuff - lose weight, tone up, keep wrinkles at bay, improve my complexion...etc etc but I want to do these things from a place of 'loving myself and looking after myself' rather than 'fixing myself because I'm not good enough the way I am'. So, I'll only do things I enjoy and that are fairly easy for me.

Looking better can be part of feeling better - but I want the focus to be on how to feel better as I know how hard it can be to change your appearance (for me read 'lose weight') when your mind is constantly whispering 'you're too fat, you can't shift it now you're stuck at this size' and so on. So instead of weight loss I want to focus on doing things to look after my body better, to be more loving to myself.

So - where to start? Have you any ideas? Please let me know...

BTW I would also like to feature guest posts on body confidence and body image. Please email me if you'd like to contribute annacolette@gmail.com

Monday, 6 September 2010

Body Image Test

When I was pregnant I felt proud of my body. I loved my body because it was doing something amazing. It also looked exactly how it should.

For the first time in years I had one tummy instead of three. It was firm. Yes, big but firm. I relished the feeling. And enjoyed the freedom of not fretting over whether friends would be repulsed by the shape of my muffin top rippling through my T-shirt. I felt liberated.

In comparison with my big bump, my thighs and bum looked smaller. I felt good. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I loved my body.

Nearly three months on and the familiar feelings of body loathing are creeping back. This time, I'm determined not to let them get the upper hand again. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to love my body, whatever shape it's in. I want a better body image.

I do want to firm up and lose weight, but I have pretty much always had that goal and have rarely achieved it. When I have achieved it I usually didn't realise it. Like many women, I look back on photos of me in my teens and early twenties and can't understand why I hated my appearance so much. How could I have thought my thighs were fat and misshapen when I was clearly a size 8 and had an enviable figure?

Maybe in ten years' time I'll look back on photos of me now with the same incredulity and realise that I looked pretty good. But what I would really love is to look at photos of me taken last week and realise I look pretty good. And look at myself in the mirror and love what I see.

Is this even possible without losing a few stone first or getting pregnant again? I think it's time to find out.

I realise I owe it to myself to focus on getting a better body image. The first step is admitting I have a rubbish body image. A suspicion that's always been in the back of my mind. But surely all women obsess about their weight, their size, their attractiveness or lack thereof? Isn't that just part and parcel of being a woman?

If it is, I want to buck the trend and do everything I can to love myself the way I am. That doesn't preclude trying to be healthier and slimmer too but I think that will happen naturally as I learn to love my body.

So, just how bad is my body image? I did this body image test to find out and was surprised to say the least. The test is compiled by Deanne Jade, Principal of The National Centre of Eating Disorders. Doing the test made me acutely aware of how uncomfortable I feel about my appearance the majority of the time. Thing is, it's usually low volume mental chatter and goes under the radar a lot of the time. I dislike my appearance but largely ignore the fact that I do. I criticise the way I look but pretend not to notice.

According to the test:

You are suffering from a condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) which is translated as body hatred. This is not a reflection of how you actually look or how other people see you, because there are very many people who have physical handicap, or, who look different from the norm. But they do not feel this badly about themselves. Similarly there are people who look very normal in reality but they experience this sense of deep hostility toward the way they look. BDD and a damaged sense of self-esteem go hand in hand.

Blimey. I didn't think I was that bad. I mean, I've seen a documentary about a woman with BDD and I'm nowhere near that fucked up about my body image. I'm just average to slightly more than averagely paranoid about the way I look. Aren't I? I hope to find out...

On my quest for a better body image, I'd like to discover how other women feel about their bodies. How does your body image (good or bad) impact your life? Please leave a comment - anonymously if that's more comfortable for you. Or you can email me at annacolette@gmail.com