Back in January I got my kit off on here to show off some new undies I’d been sent. It seemed like the natural thing to do but it was also scary as hell because January would traditionally be the time I’d be covering up the wobbles with layers of knitwear after a month of festive eating.
We’re two months into the best heatwave I can remember in years and I’ve long since stopped being self conscious about showing my arms or legs so I had no qualms whatsoever about showing off this bikini from Mermaid in England on social media.
I strutted my stuff in it at Portishead Lido but when I got the images back something happened that I completely wasn’t expecting. When I saw them, my heart actually sank. Despite my confidence in wearing it, the effects of a tough six months struggling with anxiety where carbs are my drug of choice are painfully evident. I didn’t like what I saw.
And it got me thinking about the difference between body confidence and body positivity. On this day I was body confident. It takes confidence to strut around a public swimming pool having your photo taken. But I don’t think I can say I’m body positive about my own body – and with good reason. I’ve gained weight through a sedentary lifestyle and over eating. Sure I have my reasons but I still can’t say I’m positive about these images because they reinforce to me how much I’ve self sabotaged whilst in the depths of anxiety.
That said, when I was having these photos taken there were people of all shapes and sizes in all types of swimwear and I felt neither “fat” nor “thin” but just another person at the pool. I may not fit the all over tanned, perfectly smooth skinned, size 8 Instagram image of “perfection” but I didn’t see one other person there that did. So for me, body positivity isn’t about fitting into any particular mould or ideal, but literally being able to look at myself and know that I’ve loved myself enough to make the best choices for me. For me that’s walking more, getting on my bike more, doing a few workouts at home a week, saying no to whole packets of kettle chips and an entire pot of humous just to take my mind off my anxiety.
I don’t collaborate with many brands but Mermaid in England are a brand that really spoke to me. They’re a swimwear brand that are based here in Bristol and made in Wales, so supporting our local economy. Their brand values are all around moving away from stick thin ideals of beauty and towards a more realistic view of women’s bodies. I knew it was something I’d like to get behind.
I chose the Inner Glow halter top bikini and bottoms because the rainbow colour change totally appeals to the early nineties child in me. The colour change feature is just a bit of fun really but its the signature of the brand and represents a change in mindset from feeling self conscious about not looking like society’s image of perfect beauty to saying, actually we’re happy and healthy, we all look different and we will wear a bikini if we bloody well want to!
I’m really happy to be part of this movement – as a mother I want to show the best example to both of my children that health and happiness is more important than trying to emulate the bodies of celebrities or Instagram models. It’s equally important that we show our sons what real, un-airbrushed women look like as it is to teach our daughters to be confident with their bodies no matter what size they are.
That said, I want to be both confident and positive about my body so here starts the journey of trying to unpick my unhealthy, emotional relationship with food and try to replace with new, healthier habits.