A bit about me
I’m a 21-year-old body-positive advocate, model, and student, wanting to help others feel great about themselves and their bodies.
Having survived a 6 year-long battle with severe anorexia, I began exploring the amazing world of body positivity. Starting to heal the toxic relationship I have with my body has been one of the most worthwhile things I will ever do. I’ve gone from hating my reflection to the point where I couldn’t leave the house, to modeling for incredible brands like SwimSociety. Through trial and error, I’ve found ways to improve my body confidence and the way I see myself, and I’d like to share some of the things that have helped me. I’ll also talk about my experience working with Montana and Swim society and why it’s been such an important part of my journey.
What does body positivity mean to me?
To me, body positivity means acceptance of yourself, exactly as you are, no matter what shape or size you may be at the time. It is acknowledging that everybody (yourself included) is on a different journey with their body, health, and relationship with themselves, and unconditionally embracing them on every stage of that voyage. It’s about finding peace with your mind and your body and getting to a point where your appearance and size do not hold a big weight in your life, allowing you to get on with more important things like spending time with friends and family, creating memories and laughing until your belly hurts.
Things that have helped me on my journey
With the body positive movement, there are a lot of phrases such as‘ love the skin you’re in’, which implies that you should look in the mirror and be 100% happy with yourself from head to toe. As much as this would be wonderful, it’s not always realistic, especially if you’re coming from a place of real negativity towards your body.
Instead, aim first to be neutral about your reflection. Replace words like ‘hate’ with ‘indifferent’, ’ fine', or ‘okay’. For example instead of saying “I hate my arms”, say “ I am indifferent about my arms”. It may seem silly at first but by doing this you can slowly change your internal dialogue to have a more neutral stance when you look in the mirror.
The same can be done with your actions. If you find yourself scrutinizing your body in the mirror, look at your reflection, shrug, and walk away. Having a physical action associated with this ( for me it was a shrug) helps to close that chapter in
your mind so you can move on with your day, rather than being tempted to go
back and take another look in the mirror.
We’re all guilty of having bad thoughts about ourselves, but sometimes we don’t even recognize that we’re doing it.
Next time you catch yourself saying something negative in your head, repeat it out loud. It can help you recognize how unkind you’re being to yourself. If you wouldn’t say
it to a friend, then you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself!
Vocalizing critical thoughts about yourself aloud can help to break the cycle long term. You become more aware when you are having them and can slowly rewire the pathways in your brain to put a stop to those thoughts. Replace the negative thought with a
positive one each time and your subconscious dialogue can gradually become something that lifts you up rather than tears you down.
Make your social media a positive space
A journey to self-acceptance is hard enough without negative influences around that make you feel worse about yourself. I highly recommend doing a social media cleanse and unfollowing any accounts that make you feel more negative about yourself or your body after seeing a post.
This doesn’t just have to be with influencer pages you follow, you may also find a friend is a trigger too, but not want to offend them by unfollowing. In this case, you
can easily mute posts and stories on Instagram, so you can still follow them
but their pictures won’t appear on your feed all the time.
Flood yourfeed with positive influences. Spend some time finding body positive pages that you can relate to and leave you coming away from time on social media feeling better about yourself.
Step outside your comfort zone
Sometimes, the best way to get comfortable doing something is to first get a little uncomfortable for a short time. It’s easy to wait for the perfect moment, until you feel ‘ready’, but often that moment never comes around. It may be wearing a bikini to the beach, shorts on a hot day or just leaving the house when you’re having a bad body image day.
Challenge yourself to do it anyway, and see what
happens. The first few times may be difficult, but like a lot of things, if you expose yourself to it enough, it starts to get easier. You’ll notice that the things you were worried about (e.g. everyone stares at you) don’t usually turn into a reality. This was exactly my experience when first met Montana and the Swim Society team.
I was suddenly at a casting standing in front of the team, in just that. It was unbelievably scary, I remember shaking whilst waiting for my turn at the casting, but when I was called up, I was shown nothing but kindness and positivity and ended up really enjoying myself!
On the shoot a month later, I was around other models of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, all of whom radiated beauty inside and out. It helped me see how beauty has no size boundaries and every one of the girls looked so incredible in their swimsuits.
I felt so accepted and encouraged by Montana, just for who I was, and for how
my body was, right at that moment. No one there felt I needed to change in any
way to be able to wear a bikini, so why should I?
Looking back, it’s amazing to see how much further I’ve come since then. Being comfortable in your body and learning to love yourself is a journey that never ends, there
will always be ebbs and flows in how you feel. But the bad days can become
further and further apart, and the things that once consumed you for hours can
slowly fade into the background, allowing you to live your life without being at war with your mind and body.