Beauty is something every woman on the planet struggles to see in herself – except when they are a small – I know this because as a mom of a 3 year old daughter I can see that a lack of self belief or confidence is not something she struggles with. You can’t tell me that children are born with self-doubt and disbelief. They think they can do anything (a problem for parents of toddlers!) Attractiveness is the least of a child’s concerns. The fact that they have a body that can climb dress or dance or sing or run is enough for them. They are beautiful in their own eyes until someone tells them otherwise which makes self-doubt and disbelief taught or learnt behaviour.
Over time messages get fed to these little people that something about them is not good enough – maybe it’s that their hair is the wrong colour or texture, that their tummy is too round or that they have a big nose. Over time they start to hear the same messages from different sources and then they start to hold back, to doubt themselves and to focus on the negative about themselves instead of the positive. And that frightens me! What messages am I currently laying down in the psyche of my children, especially with regards to their body image?? It’s enough to make you stop and think about each and every thing you say in front of them (even when you THINK they are not around!)
I feel that it is such an important topic to teach our children – but there is no way we can do that as women unless we can actually look in the mirror and LOVE what we see reflected there. How can we expect to teach our girls (and boys) to accept themselves and appreciate their unique beauty if we don’t do it ourselves?
While I know I am not an unattractive woman – I have in the past also struggled with body image issues of my own. I am grateful that none of them have led to serious illnesses such as anorexia but I believe self-esteem issues are a certain type of “illness” that can also take root in your life. During my teen years and early twenties weight and body issues were not an issue for me – I was blessed with good genes and the advantage of youth. However as with most moms, my first pregnancy was when I noticed a change in my body and ultimately my self-esteem took a major knock.
Pregnancy is an amazing experience – one I’m so very grateful I got to enjoy twice – but who are those women kidding when they claim it as the time when they feel most beautiful/ radiant/ happy. I certainly was NOT. Yes there are wonderous moments but the vast majority of the time your body is doing things you never knew it could… From day 1 my boobs took on a life of their own and tripled in size (B – E cup), joint, pelvis & back pain followed by an ever expanding girth, the inability to tie your shoes/ paint your toenails, get in and out of bed, and let’s not mention the stretchmarks… Suffice to say there was NOTHING glamorous about my pregnancy or my post-partum period (let’s steer well clear of the post-birth details for the sensitive and uninitiated out there). And I really don’t think I am alone in this.
Fast forward to the first year of motherhood…. A time when there is zero time for yourself, your partner or your friends – let alone time to get back in shape. Unless you live in Hollywood and have an entourage to cook, clean, babysit and train you in the comfort of your own home you can forget! At the end of my pregnancy I had put on well over the suggested amoung of kg’s and I was too busy to notice, or even care, for the first 2 years. This was followed by 18 months of secondary infertility which meant that I was too down and depressed to do anything about it. Life continued but I had lost me in the process. The fairly confident person who was once me had all but disappeared and in her place was someone who was a great actress!
Things only started to change when 1 year after the birth of my second child (the now 3 year old daughter mentioned above) I realised that I needed to rediscover who I actually was aside from being a mom. What were my interests, abilities, strengths, attractive qualities that had been lying dormant for 5 years??
In the process I decided to start this very blog – Becoming you – to document what I loved and to give me a focus aside from my kids. And as you know it has been a wonderful journey. Through it I have rediscovered a passion for writing and photography, beauty and fashion. I’ve discovered a brand new love for the world of blogs and been exposed to so many amazing opportunities. By spending some time doing something I love (often into the wee hours) I have gained so much confidence in the process, which has had some amazing knock on effects in terms of my appearance.
When chatting to my husband recently about how I have changed over the past 2 and a half years I identified a few things that have improved my overall confidence about myself and my body which I thought I would share with you here in order to inspire you to make some changes in your own life…
Finding a hobby that I love and spending time doing it.
Growing my passion into a business opportunity.
Prioritizing my own interests occasionally.
Giving back in some way – volunteering or donating financially to charity.
Eating healthy food.
Stop snacking on rubbish.
Spending time with my girl friends.
Getting a professional bra fitting and wearing nice underwear.
Having laser therapy for hair removal (for you this might be treating other face/ skin issues such as pigmentation or acne)
Trying out a new beauty product.
Wearing light makeup daily – such as a BB cream, mascara and lipbalm/ stick.
Painting my nails.
Having a professional help me sort out my wardrobe (or asking a friend to help you get rid of “fat” clothes or those that make you feel “ugly”)
Dressing up nicely for date night or birthdays, wearing heels and makeup more often.
Buying fun/ young clothes that make me look more trendy – for me this has been coloured jeans, but I need to buy more fun tops!
Having my hair coloured/ styled professionally every few months.
Using the right hair products such as a mask or treatment once a week.
Finding an exercise I enjoy and don’t want to miss. (OK so I’m only getting this right once a week at the moment but I’m hoping to improve in this area!)
Having a professional makeover & photoshoot – having someone do your makeup, hair, styling and photos does wonders for your confidence!
These are all things that have worked for me over the past few years and without even trying I have managed to loose almost all the baby weight – so many people keep noticing and asking what I’ve done and honestly I keep telling them I haven’t done anything. I think the key for me has been that as my confidence has grown, I have felt better about myself and then been treating myself better too. You hear it all the time but for me this has definitely been true. As I have made these few changes to build my confidence so has my #RealBeauty been more apparent to myself and to those around me. And I’m so grateful I am now able to raise my children (esp my daughter) from a place of confidence in myself and my body – that way I hope to eliminate any of those negative body issues filtering through to affect her self-image as a woman.
My aim is to use Becoming you as a platform to encourage women to change, develop and grow into their true potential, for them to ultimately discover a renewed sense of confidence in their own lives, which is why my motto is “Inspiration for the journey of discovering yourself.”