2015… I trotted off to Cambridge one chilly day to meet with Alex Cameron – a photographer – to strip down to my birthday suit and have my picture taken. I’d never met Alex before and I was nervous as hell, mainly because I categorically hated my body.
At that time, I was feeling the most low I had ever felt in my life with my appearance. I had gained a lot of weight (possibly due to the anti-depressants I had been prescribed at the time) and I really didn’t recognise myself when I looked in the mirror. However, the shoot went really well and I absolutely loved the pictures I Alex presented me with… for the first time in ages, I felt attractive again and I could at last see past the imperfections I was confronted with in the mirror. Instead I could see a little of what others told me they saw, rather than my low-esteem-filled, unhappy shell. There I began the journey of feeling more confident in my body, myself, and with my work and home life. (You can read that original post here).
It does sound silly that stripping off naked and having a picture taken would have that much of an impact on me, but in a world where SO much is focussed on looks, it really did! In a world where I grew up looking at polished-perfect celebrities and models in magazines, and where I constantly compared myself to others on Instagram, it really fucking did matter.
If I wasn’t perfect, then I wasn’t deserving.
Fast forward almost half a decade and Alex got in touch again to see if I wanted to do another body confidence shoot – this time I didn’t even need to consider it!
But then this time, it felt different… ‘I’ feel different! I’m the same weight now as I was then (turns out I find it extra difficult to loose weight because of PCOS, but I’ve also gained some muscle-weight due to trapeze), I have all the same imperfections, but the difference now is that I really don’t give a shit!
There is so much more to life than weight, spots, scars and appearance, and it upsets me hugely that we put so much pressure on our looks, rather than how great we are as people… how loving and caring we are, how much of a good friend/daughter/sister etc. we are…
Side note: I’m definitely NOT saying that you aren’t justified in feeling crap if you have blemishes or feel extra curvy on certain days – believe me I know how much of an impact these things can have on mental health, but I do think we shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves, but instead try and focus on the good things in life, the positive things about us and our bodies, and the things that are going well for us and our loved ones!
I went into this most recent shoot with a completely different vibe. One of the first things I said to Alex whilst stripping off was, ‘I don’t want to look sexy, I don’t want to look perfect. I want you to show the ‘real’ me, bruises, belly rolls and all! I want to encourage the people who follow me online to understand that not everyone you see online is perfect, and that our appearance doesn’t define the human beings we are’.
I love the pictures Alex took of me this time, 5 years on from the originals. I love how much happier and more comfortable I look, and I’m really proud of the woman I’ve become in that short space of time. I really wish everyone could feel the journey and transformation I’ve been on and experience it for themselves, because there’s nothing that feels better than loving the skin you’re in.
Alex is available to shoot your own body confidence pictures too – simply contact her via her email or Instagram here! I highly recommend.