On body image…

I went to a children’s party a few weeks ago and a mother constantly prodded at her daughter’s stomach anytime she reached for anything sugary. She then turned to me in front of her and whispered loudly

“I wish my daughter was slim like all of these other girls. Seriously, I keep on asking her if she watches films. Does she see anyone her age looking like her? I mean think about it; you are like 3x times her age and she is about 4x your size”.

I shuddered. I couldn’t believe that this lady was speaking like this.

Although, I honestly feel that she meant well and was genuinely concerned about her daughter’s health and poor diet, I did not think this was an appropriate way to address the issue. It was embarrassing, extremely awkward and I hate to think about the effects that such comments had on the young girl’s self-esteem.

Throwback to my own childhood and I remember when my friends, as if they were body valuation experts, pointed out that my hips were ‘too narrow’ and that guys wouldn’t like me if I were ‘too small’. Prior to this, I had never really noticed my body. I was about 13 years old. As far as I was concerned, my hips were fine and my body was just my body. I hadn’t yet got to the point where I ‘understood’ that apart from fulfilling the functional roles of daily living; my body was also ‘supposed’ to be a sexual object that I should be concerned didn’t meet boys’ desires. Initially, I would eat loads and wear extra shorts under my jeans to try and look bigger. But afterwards, I decided that this was actually a ratchet look, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

But, what if I really took the views of my friend’s seriously? Last year, I came across the deeply disturbing news report of Joy Williams, a 23 year-old, from Thamesmead, South-London, who died after travelling to Thailand to have a £2,000 buttock augmentation surgery. It is believed that she was bullied and long struggled with issues of self-esteem.

So much is affected by how we feel about ourselves. It impacts the way we work, set and pursue goals, and the relationships we allow ourselves to be in. It is especially important to watch the way we speak to young people as they are still developing their self-identity. Moreover, I believe that personal incidents can be so much more pertinent in shaping our views about ourselves than social media. My conversation with my friends, for example, could have left me with the impression that my body is designed for men and that I should always dress or act to please them. The girl at the party could grow up believing that she just wasn’t good enough or lead her to become over-obsessed about food.

We have to learn to love ourselves and remind each other that we are all beautiful. Many people criticise the media for only presenting ludicrously high standards (and also one sided views) of beauty, yet we don’t check the way we speak to each other or the mind-sets that we have subscribed to. Now, I’m not saying that we should lie to people who are not taking appropriate care of themselves that they are doing well or excuse ourselves when we let ourselves go – but we should think about the impact of our words. We should also have informative discussions with each other about how we feel and ways that we can work together to all be better.

On Confidence part 2:

As a follow up to my last article, I wanted to share a number of tips that can help you in the journey of developing your confidence (they are also a reminder to myself :-))….

  1. Have an honest evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses. And no, this is not the time to throw your hands in the air or groan that you are not good at anything. Everyone is good at something – whether that be making people smile, doing hair, understanding complex mathematical equations or simply even listening. Celebrate your strengths. Keep building them and work diligently on areas where you need to grow.
  1. Examine why you don’t feel confident and address it. For some people, their lack of confidence is contextual. In general, they feel pretty confident, but when faced with an unfamiliar situation they clam up. Fear often causes us to shut down and not carefully think through our responses or improvise appropriately. For others, their lack of confidence is deeper. They have very low self-esteem, which may have been brought about by a past situation. I recently watched a TV show that featured a young boy who was painfully shy. When probed on why he was so quiet, he said that he felt like he was a low – life and that no one really cared about what he had to say. He was about 13 years old. I was heartbroken. I wondered what could cause him to think in such a self-depreciating manner. Addressing your lack of confidence could be as simple as practicing impromptu speaking, or it could mean dealing with negative experiences that have long gone unchecked.
  1. Think about where you want to be. Visualise. Dream. Use this as fuel to work on your development areas. Focus on the areas where you want to grow in confidence, and don’t give up!! I have this quote currently saved on my phone: ‘fear kills more dreams than failure ever will’. It reminds me that we are often our own worst enemy and that sometimes it is overthinking a situation that causes us not to get there.
  1. Start by practising it in a safe environment. If you want to be a better writer, but you are not yet that comfortable in putting your work out there – that’s OK. But please give your work to someone you trust and who you believe has good judgement to proofread and edit, and then get it out there. If you are preparing for an interview, do a mock run first with a friend. If you have to sing or give a speech in public, do it in front of a video camera or mirror first. Practice, practice, practice with your family, receive honest feedback, practice again, and then make it happen.
  1. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Do the best you can and just let it be. Xx

On Confidence: Part 1

So … I haven’t written anything for a long time.

I wanted to, but there were no ideas in my head. And when the ideas came, I struggled to transform them into coherent sentences. When I finally put something together, I tussled with the thoughts that my work wasn’t good enough. Had I put the comma in the correct place? Did my argument make sense? Did I even have an argument?!

As someone who started this blog to develop my writing and inspire people to work towards their goals, I have often struggled with confidence and just getting things out there.

Confidence is the belief in one’s abilities. It is certitude. It is swagger. It is the courage to begin when you are not sure what people will think, or if your idea will work. It is the ability to communicate that you actually believe in what you are saying. Confidence often separates those who are skilled from those who are excellent – those who stand out.

The challenge with a lack of self-confidence when you want to begin a new project or develop a skill is that you often don’t begin. And if you don’t begin, you don’t give yourself the chance to learn and become great. You hold yourself back.

Let’s not allow a lack of confidence be a barrier to our success. Who cares what people think? We can make mistakes, learn from them and flourish in our craft. Remember that if you don’t start someone else will. The voice in your head that says you can’t make it is deceptive and needs to be controlled or shut down. Let’s give ourselves a chance to grow.