Hi Guys! I’m so excited to share with you the interviews I have conducted with some amazing body confidence influencers. I wanted to get different perspectives on how people have overcome their own body issues, as I know not everyone has had the same journey I have. The first of my beautiful ladies is the wonderful jenny_leeeee. The fashionista, body confidence advocate, (and Britney Spears enthusiast) talks to me about the struggles she has faced and how she overcame them:
At what age did you start becoming aware of your body and a pressure to look a certain way?
Even at the age of six, I was aware that I was taller than most kids my age. It was never something I was concerned with, but around the age of eight or nine (3rd grade) I became aware that I was just bigger overall than most kids my same age. This was about the same time when I guess kids my age always started taking notice because jokes about me being “fat” or “big” began. I remember it hurting my feelings and I didn’t understand why I was different than the majority of my other girlfriends. Clothes shopping for school around this time started becoming like a chore and I was shopping in the Missy section…while most friends were still shopping in the Girls department. I would say the pressure to fit in by looking a certain way just grew with every passing year from then onward.
Do you recall any defining moments in your past that negatively affected your body image?
It’s strange and funny what you remember growing up and while I remember mostly happy times at school (which is where most peer pressure is, of course), there were comments from my peers around when I was the age of nine or ten that I remember so vividly. There were comments such as, “I bet when you look down your belly is so big you can’t even see your feet” or being nicknamed by one kid Jelly Roll #2 along with two other peers because we were deemed “fat”.
I’ve always loved fashion but growing up as a bigger girl and visiting a store dressing room was never fun. Nothing I loved ever really fit and I remember in middle school buying a really trendy dress from a Delia’s catalogue and thinking I looked so cute in it! When I wore it to school I had friends tell me that there were a couple people talking about the dress and how I was “too fat” to wear something like that. It was just a jersey dress! I thought I looked cute in it! I had no concept or thought in my head that I looked fat whatsoever. It was a blow and I never wore it again.
I am so thankful that plus-sized girls of all ages now have trendy, fashionable items that fit nicely because they deserve to feel good and well-dressed as much as anyone any other size.
What has been the biggest struggle for you to overcome on your journey to self-acceptance?
By far the biggest struggle has been my own mind and my own thoughts. External influences and factors never help a situation, but only within the last two years have I fully realized that my struggle for self-acceptance begins and ends with myself.
My weight has fluctuated, my size has fluctuated, but I was NEVER satisfied. Never. At one point in my life I was at my smallest weight/size and still thought I was huge. I realize now I was struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and albeit probably mild, it was present and haunting me every time I looked at myself in the mirror. As I write this, it makes me shake my head and my eyes fill with tears because I see that there was nothing I could have possibly done with regards to changing my physical self that would have made me happy.
I was always told that one day I just wouldn’t care anymore what people thought of the way I looked, that with age I would just not give a damn. That couldn’t have been more wrong for me. Self-acceptance didn’t come with age…it came with self-talks and self-love first and foremost. I made a promise to myself maybe two years ago that I was no longer going to let my body size and weight define me as a person, and if I wanted to lose or gain weight was MY choice and no matter WHAT size I was, I wasn’t going to hate myself. You can’t love yourself by hating. You can’t improve by hating.
I see it every day in women of all ages. Women of every age who still bash their bodies- and most don’t realize they’re doing it. A comment made among girlfriends of “Oh, if I could just lose these last ten pounds” or “I’m so huge!” is hurtful to yourself and others. To most it may seem like a general statement, but when I hear it I become sad. Why has this become an acceptable “bonding” topic of conversation for us as women? Our weight loss? Really? Why can’t we bond over more positive things….
I’m not saying I think it’s wrong to want to improve yourself physically, but obsessing over a number on the scale is NOT healthy. Period.
What prompted you to start promoting body confidence on social media?
A brief history: I used to have a blog. For the majority of its existence my blog was dedicated to both Fashion and Fitness. I was documenting my workouts and weight loss and also showing off my outfits of the day. In my head I had to lose weight to keep looking better in my fashion posts….I didn’t know plus-size fashion bloggers existed at this time (around 2009). I’m sure they were out there but rarely did I find any. And it always seemed liked people who followed my blog were all smaller “average” sized women….not size 12/14 women, which was my size at the time.
Fast forward to today, look at all of the body confidence and plus-sized fashion bloggers who exist! It’s such a positive thing to see come to the forefront and I finally saw women with curves, fat, rolls, bigger boobs, broader shoulders- JUST. LIKE. ME. I saw ME. I saw myself in these women, both mentally and physically. I knew I wanted to be a part of this.
I mainly use my Instagram account as my platform for body confidence posts. I’m posting what I’ve always loved- clothes and makeup- while being myself. That’s what it’s all about…being your true self and just sharing that with the world, because inevitably someone will see you and relate to you.
If you could give your teenage self some advice, what would it be?
Pretty simple, really:
Enjoy life. Go to the beach. Stop NOT doing things because you think you’re fat. You’re not and the people who love you don’t care and the people who don’t know you who SEEM to care? DON’T MATTER.
How has the body confidence community helped you stay body confident?
For me, it’s always nice to feel love and support. I know first-hand that self-confidence starts within yourself, but having a support system of others you can relate to is OH so important. It’s important for myself and others to have someone to talk and share experiences with, someone who understands. Having other body-confident women in my life has made me a better person and while many of them are internet friends, they are still, to me, simply friends. Bonds are created and occur in the most unconventional ways today, but to me they are just as or stronger than any other.
The body-confident women I follow on social media are women I consider to be friends and role models and they give me strength on the days I want to give up or feel down. Their words, messages and confidence just feeds my own.
Finally: if you are having a low self-confidence day, what do you say to yourself or do to remind you how amazing your body truly is?
We all have them. We all have days, no matter how self-accepting we are, where we might have negative feelings towards our bodies. Even when I have these feelings, I know it’s only temporary. I remind myself that I am ME. I am no one else. Comparing myself to other’s doesn’t fix any problem I might have. This may sound silly to some, but on days where I “hate” my body, I get butt naked in front of the mirror and stare at myself. This may seem counterintuitive and that it may magnify a body part currently giving me stress, but it opens my eyes at the big picture. For someone who, for the longest time, wouldn’t look at her naked self in the mirror for longer than one second, it’s an important part of being me now. Because now I don’t see one “bad roll of fat”, I see one whole beautiful body and for that I’m thankful.
Big love and thanks to Jenny for giving me such an honest and insightful interview.