Body Confidence: Why Is It So Damn Hard?
Do you struggle with body confidence and have no idea why or where it comes from? Maybe you know where it comes from but still feel isolated in how feel. I’m here to tell you that even though your body confidence is unfounded (there is NO reason for it – you ARE beautiful) it’s still pretty normal to feel that way.
When I first started working in photography I was mostly shooting weddings. But now, I’ve moved into Empowerment Boudoir Photography in the Edmonton area – a true passion of mine. It wasn’t long after I started working in photography that I witnessed the paralyzing fear a lot of women have when they face a camera. You might think that I’ve only encountered this when doing boudoir shoots. But let me tell you something, girl, you would be WRONG. I’ve seen this in all kinds of photography. And it made me ask myself…
Why do so many women struggle with body confidence?
The truth is, for most of us, it’s kind of engrained in who we are. We grow up receiving messages from the people in our lives (parents, grandparents, romantic interests, other kids when we’re young), the media, and sometimes even the stores we shop in.
Stores That Cater to Few Body Types
When I dig in and talk to my clients about their personal experiences and try to help them uncover where this is coming from they often tell me that they were bullied, put down, or compared to others. They observed their mothers obsessing about their own bodies. A lot of them walked into stores with excitement and walked out feeling deflated because their clothes were too small, or too big, or too long, or too short, or just didn’t fit their curves (or lack of curves). They felt like misshapen lumps of dough in a cookie-cutter world.
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Body Confidence-Defeating Messages from our Mothers
“A moment on the lips, forever on the hips,” and similar phrases were passed down from generation to generation. Maybe because moms wanted to save their daughters from being bullied or help them find mates. Maybe just because their own insecurities were spilling over onto them.
Whether they THOUGHT they were doing the right thing or not didn’t really matter, though. These women still carried around the after-effects of self-judgement and low self esteem.
On top of that, moms unknowingly pass their own insecurities down to their children. Studies show a child’s self-esteem is influenced by how confident their parents are. If they hear their parents talk poorly about themselves, they’re more likely to grow up doing the same.
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Media Messages Pummel Body Confidence
When I was younger it was mostly magazines, billboards, and TV shows that ruined the body confidence of girls my age. Now, even though most people don’t look at magazines and *some* TV shows are featuring less “runway model” looking people, we are inundated with MORE negative body messages than ever before.
And, of course, we can thank social media for that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate social media and I don’t think everyone should go delete their accounts. In fact, I’m trying to use my social media platform to inspire body CONFIDENCE among women. I’m trying to use it to counter-balance all the negativity.
How to step OUT of body insecurity and into body CONFIDENCE
I know it is hard to break free from all the years of negative self talk and you might think you’re not worthwhile of a healthy esteem, but you’re wrong. You’re worth every bit of confidence that’s owed to you (which is to say, a lot). Stepping OUT of insecurity and into confidence will affect your mood, your outlook, your career, your relationships – the list is endless.
For a lot of adult women, the stakes are higher than ever before: Your children’s confidence is on the line. Your daughter needs you to love yourself, so she can learn how to love herself. And your son needs to learn how to appreciate a woman. And girls should appreciate other girls, and boys should appreciate their own bodies as well and the bodies of other boys – let’s not get too stuck on gender stereotypes. The point is, you are the role model they desperately need.
Strip Away the Layers
Whether you’re thinking about stripping away ALL the layers in a boudoir shoot or just stripping away a few I promise you that this is one of the best ways to start stepping into your body confidence. Sure, you might get a few odd comments from people with their own issues, but I really think you’ll find most people speaking up about how GREAT YOU LOOK.
Start by visiting a local store with friendly staff who can help you find just the right clothes for your particular body type. Then ditch the oversized sweater and the pants you bought simply because they made your butt look smaller and start wearing clothes that accentuate YOUR body. (Which, by the way, might be a body that barely has a butt and that is OK, too).
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
This can be a VERY difficult thing to stop doing. It’s literally something a lot of us learned to do very young and can’t imagine our lives without. But remember, everyone else’s genetics, environment, lifestyle, etc. is different from yours. Only YOU live your life and were born with your DNA. Comparing your body to someone else’s isn’t fair to EITHER of you.