A Beginner’s Guide to Confidence

Confidence is key, that’s what so many women’s magazines/style gurus/celebrities tell us and sure, there’s something in the rhetoric. However, is there really a way to become confident if it doesn’t come naturally? I must say I don’t really know what I’m talking about, there’s no secret recipe but I can tell you how I got here, by way of a thousand tears, some self-realisation and a whole lot of tying jumpers around my waist to hide my enormous junk.

People compliment me on my confidence all the time which is nice to hear but means one thing as far as I’m concerned: “You are so confident, despite everything”. I’m not being needlessly cruel to myself but let’s face it, I don’t look like a model, do I? I’m short, round, ginger and over 40 – I might not change a thing about the way I look but I definitely do not fit the ‘ideal’. So where the heck do I get off not giving a fuck?

Take up space, wear what you want and never, ever apologise for being here

The thing is, I do give a fuck and I also don’t. I’ve learnt the hardest lesson of my life now and that’s that I deserve to be here, even in my capacity as a fat middle-aged woman. I’m allowed to love myself with ferocity, I’m allowed to demand respect and I’m definitely allowed to wear fitted jumpsuits and enjoy the fuck out of fashion. How I got here was via a lot of reading, following fat activists and feminists on Twitter and slowly allowing myself to heal from a lifetime of bullshit from every corner. Diet culture, fashion magazines, adverts on the TV – they sell us one beauty ideal and although I know things are changing, they are changing slowly.

A few years ago something in me clicked into place and I no longer felt the need to beat myself up. I started to wear the clothing I wanted to and I started to relish myself. Obviously there are days when the confidence fails or I have a melt-down because I can’t find the thing I want to wear (hello work’s Christmas do last Friday!) but you’re damn right I’m as confident as I can be. I’ve earned the right.

What are your thoughts?

Anxiety 1, Voluptuous 0

I had a panic attack yesterday morning and had to come home from work. I lay down until it passed and then watched The Conjuring with a cup of tea and a banging headache. I’m off again today with the same headache but really it was frightening and I still feel out of sorts.

Even though I have an anxiety disorder, I very rarely have these attacks. I can remember two over the last year and they were scary bastards. This was no different – I felt like I was going to collapse and then I just felt an ominous feeling engulf me, like something really bad was about to happen. I felt like I had to flee and I couldn’t get out of the office quick enough.

Yesterday (and today) are the sunniest days we’ve had all year, everyone’s smiling and showing skin – and I’m home feeling sorry for myself. I know I’m normal but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Can’t I just live?

I feel daily as though there is a war raging inside me, one between the anxious me and the confident me. They’re such polar opposites with such vastly different attitudes and they butt heads constantly. Anxious me wants to break me with the self-doubt it sends coursing through my veins. I will never let her win but sometimes I’m not quick enough and I hear what she’s whispering – “You’re not good enough”, “Nobody likes you”, “You don’t deserve that”… oh, she’s a little cunt alright.

She’ll never get the better of me but sometimes I let her run the show, she is part of me after all. And while this is happening Confident me has a nap, posts Instagram memes and rallies against the patriarchy in her head (the patriarchy is responsible for consumerism and the unrealistic beauty ideals that keep us feeling like we’re never good enough). Confident me tries on jumpsuits and shushes Anxious me when she tells her (me) that I can’t wear that.

I’m tired and I’m feeling sorry for myself. My head hurts and I feel old and crabby. My skin needs moisture, my fringe needs a cut and everyone looks so effortless in the summer sun. I wish I was out there and I’m glad I’m indoors. I want company and I want to be left alone. Like I said, a constant battle, an eternal game of tug-of-war.

Ageing

I posted this on Instagram late Saturday night in a moment of candidness and it got quite a heartwarming response. So I thought, why not share it here? It’s one of the things I think of the most at the moment, the relentless passing of time and how it affects my self-esteem.

I know it’s not something I can stop and I know we all feel this way from time to time, or will feel that way, it’s just a subject close to my heart. So sue me.

IMG_20180217_221136_012You know something? It’s hard getting older. It’s nice getting older but it’s also incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re not the young sprite you used to be. I’m insecure about being over ten years older than a lot of the people in my life but I like the variety and I feel more energetic and lucky to be able to learn from them too, I would never change it.

I mention my age a lot like a proper grandma but I wouldn’t change it. I’m mostly comfortable in my own skin and it’s so important to embrace who you are. I got to this place via a hundred funny stories, some loss, hardship and good old-fashioned love. Not to mention with (a lot) of help from my friends. Life is amazing and beautiful and it’s mainly down to the people you surround yourself with.

I wouldn’t change a thing, for all the tea in China. And I really love tea. ❤

What are your thoughts?

Radical

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I don’t know who’s artwork this is, but I love it

I saw this video yesterday, posted as part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek and like most women would on viewing it, felt very emotional.

Why is it, still, that we’re so quick to trash talk ourselves, yet would never dream of doing the same to our friends or other women? (Hopefully).

Why is it, after all this time, after all the girl power mantras, the compliment-heavy chats in toilets with drunken girls on drunken nights and all the pushing back against the impossible (and ever changing) beauty ideal, we still can’t cut ourselves some fucking slack?

It’s a simple view but I like the idea of trying to speak to myself as I would my beautiful best friends. Of seeing myself every now and again and saying “You’re beautiful girl, look at you!”.

I don’t feel pretty all the time, in fact I’m tired of the negative voice that says I’m worthless, old and lumpy, that I’m a monster who doesn’t even look human compared to anybody else.

The same voice tells me my husband is only with me for a bet (a long bet), and that people feel sick when they look at me.

Every day is a battle to get on top of that point of view and to quash it. To remind myself that it’s just one voice, that there’s a stronger voice in there somewhere, it just doesn’t shout as loud.

I’m willing to keep fighting to be honest. What other choice do I have? I’m not going down with that hateful ship, no way.

How do you practice #radicalselflove? ❤

Painting the Walls

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I’ve never identified more with an illustration found on Twitter before (Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas kindly sourced the artist, who is Suzeart).

This is exactly how I view my tattoos and how wonderfully that’s been put here. Too often I’ve told myself I’ll wait until I’m a certain way (thin, obviously) before I treat myself to nice clothes, a decent haircut – new tattoos. Once I even set myself the goal of a new tattoo at every significant weight loss milestone – how sad is that? If you want ink and can afford it, why wait? Treat yourself NOW dammit.

I didn’t really start to love myself until I started to take some ownership. To witness other fat ladies online doing something as radical as loving the fuck out of their bodies had such an impact that I can’t really put it into adequate words. I knew I had to start taking responsibility too. This involved taking back the word “fat”, using it as a descriptor rather than a derogatory term, accepting what I really look like and not hiding away in shame.

And not putting my body down.

That’s the hardest part for me I think, seeing myself caught on camera by someone else and not freaking out, feeling crushed by how grotesque I am. But nobody said it would be perfect, or easy. Learning and maintaining a strong sense of love for oneself is an ongoing project as far as I see it. I very much doubt you one day arrive at a permanent plateau of total and utter satisfaction for who you are – or maybe some people do.

I started getting more into brightly coloured tattoos about 2 years ago. Before that I had tattoos, but they were mostly rebellious or part of my rites of passage. I was lucky enough to make friends with a tattooist who could facilitate this on the reg and together we changed the landscape of my chubby little arm forever. Although we’ve both moved on and I see Alex now instead, during that time I started to think of myself as less of a useless lump and more of an empowered person, doing what I wanted without permission.

That felt good and although I’m nobody’s door mat, I sometimes find it hard to demand things for myself. Painting the walls and hanging pictures all over my body is a form of expressing exactly who I am, without having to use the words I so often stumble over.

I put myself under the needle again yesterday afternoon and let me tell you that ribs are a whole other ball game when it comes to tattoo pain. Youch. So so worth it though to be able to rock the piece below.

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Yes that’s side boob

This is my new mantra BTW. When I feel the need to run myself down to others or be derogatory or rude about my looks, I shall stop and remember that I love myself. More than that, I completely adore myself, rolls and all.

It’s fitting somehow that I went through Hell to get this tattoo (not really, my tattooist is very good) – a nod to the journey *puke* from utter repulsion to self-acceptance. None of it’s easy, for any of us but if we can at least get on the right track, we’ll start a happy life-long relationship with someone who will love us for the rest of our lives, and love us better than anyone else can.

It’s okay, I’m going now. I just wanted to share the above illustration and a few of my thoughts on moving into your body fully and decorating as you see fit.

I know tattoos and body modification aren’t everybody’s idea of expression but I think this can translate to how you wear your hair and make up your face, how you dress – not everything has to be permanent or set in stone. I just happen to like my paintwork that way.

Always have, always will ❤

Lest we forget my inspiration for the above skin decoration, my original post featuring Artist Yayoi Kusama.

It’s Life Gym, But Not As We Know It

Fuck I want to cut my hair!
Fuck I want to cut my hair!

I’ve decided to overhaul my entire blog and turn it into a healthy lifestyle/fitness blog instead. No more movies, books or random musings; more diet plans, chats about cardio and slagging off carbs.

HAVE I FUCK!

That will not happen on my watch, I can promise you that. However, I did want to blog about the gym today, simply because it’s Something I’ve Been Doing lately. If you’re not into this shit, please don’t read on, I’ll be back for the usual hi-jinx soon!

Before I start, a little background. I’ve never really disguised the fact that, like many women, I have struggled with body image. I’ve hated myself and my looks for at least two thirds of my adult life, and isn’t that a disgrace? Isn’t it a horrible thing to think that anyone would look at themselves and feel shit?

I can’t honestly say that I feel like a fucking goddess every day of my life but I have started to get to grips with accepting who I am. By making sure I’m around positive people, reading and following some amazing bloggers and generally have a good old talk with myself, I think I’m finally getting it.

A few months ago though, I felt very bad and honestly, it wasn’t about how I looked, it was in how I felt. I was tired all the time and by Friday, when the weekend officially kicked in, that was it. Getting dressed and out of the house, even to grab food felt like the biggest task.

I took myself to the doctor and nothing came up. In the end it was a suspected virus. But I felt like it was a flashing neon sign urging me to do something for myself. So I joined the gym.

For the record I used to work out with an old friend back when I still lived at home. She would say things to me like “Oh bless you, you do try Christa!” and “You’re just very big boned” as a means to motivate me and I never felt good about myself. I quit easily then assumed all gyms would be full of preening prickheads like her and avoided them for the next 20 years.

I was wrong and right about that. My gym is full of posers, and a surprising number of teen boys who think it’s a youth club. But nobody gives a jeeping fuck about me in my joggers, sporting a cherry tomato hue in the corner – and that’s the beauty of all this. I can just get on with it and no-one cares.

Phew.

I feel brilliant at the moment. I love the feeling of setting out to do something and actually completing it. I feel stronger. And that’s all I really wanted from this.

I am not counting calories, aiming to be thin or dieting. No sir. That road leads to ruin and is fraught with failure.

Also, I’m thinking about learning to lift weights. Can you even imagine?

*curled bicep emoji*