A massive thank you to everyone who read or commented on the first SLH post – I was so happy to see such a positive reaction and hope you all found it enjoyable and inspiring! This week we’re joined by Ellen from Babies, Biscuits & Booze who very kindly agreed to take part to show her support and sprinkle a few body positive vibes onto the interwebs…
Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
My legs. I quite like having my legs out; I prefer wearing skirts and dresses to trousers. My legs are brilliant because they allow me to walk, run and dance (badly).
My eyes. I have heterochromia which means one of my eyes is half brown, half blue. David Bowie had the same thing. If that isn’t fabulous, I don’t know what is!
My mouth. This is what allows me to talk, eat and laugh; 3 of my favourite things!
Share a memory of when you felt particularly good about yourself.
This is a strange one as in some ways it was a very difficult time, physically, and my relationship with my body was undergoing profound change. But I felt good when the midwife visited a few days after my son was born; I was healing and breastfeeding was going well. He hadn’t lost weight and she was really impressed. I felt pretty powerful, to be honest. To have carried and grown him in my body, given birth and then to provide the nourishment he needed with solely my body…I don’t know, that felt pretty good!
Has your relationship with your body changed over time?
I think I have come to respect and enjoy my body more the older I get. I went through the usual paranoia and obsession with being thin as a young teenager; there was a phase for maybe 6 months or a year when I was really worried about being skinny and would do exercise videos at 6am and try not to eat any junk food. Luckily I seemed to realise what a waste of time that was, very quickly! Then, as many students do, I had a total disregard for my health while I was at uni. I don’t think many people are particularly healthy while at uni though so I don’t beat myself up about that. For the few years in between being a student and having my son I worked in the hospitality industry so I was always on my feet; I appreciated being physically able to do the work I wanted to do. Now, my body doesn’t look as good as it used to but it’s achieved so much. Being pregnant and then able to breastfeed has given me a huge amount of respect for my body.
If you are a parent (or have little people in your life), has this changed how you perceive or discuss healthy body image?
My little man isn’t very old yet, but I want him to know that a normal female body is not the flawless one you see in adverts. I hope he grows up to understand that our bodies are all different and there are many ways to be attractive. I would hate for him to pick up any ‘subliminal messages’ from me that food is something to stress over or battle with, or that carrying a bit of extra weight somehow makes you lesser as a person. I hope he’ll have a good relationship with his body and feel confident in his own skin.
What advice would you give to your teenage self on the subject of body image?
After I got over the exercise video phase that I mentioned earlier I think that, for a teenage girl, I had a pretty good body image. I would definitely tell myself to ignore the boyfriend who told me I’d look better, thinner, when I was 16. Maybe I’d get him to do some reading about positive body image! I’d want to remind my teenage self that it isn’t what you look like that counts. It’s who you are as a person and the things you do that matter, not what you look like.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for your body?
I got really into my yoga DVD while I was pregnant, which was pretty impressive for someone who is totally averse to exercise. I really enjoyed the relaxation that came with that and feeling connected with my body. I do a lot of walking which I guess is good for my body.
Share one confidence boosting trick for days when you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’.
I put on an outfit which fits well and is comfortable and I try to do something that makes my body feel good. For me that’s normally having a stupid dance, or going for a walk, or even just chucking my little boy into the air and having a cuddle. It reminds me that it doesn’t really matter that I’m bigger than I used to be.
Who in the public eye do you admire for celebrating natural body shape?
I think Mindy Kaling is a brilliant example of a natural body shape. Amy Poehler has a fantastic attitude towards body image and Kate Winslet is another example of somebody who celebrates a natural shape. All of these women have publicly made great comments and statements about being body positive which is why they spring to mind.
Give us your best body positive quote or mantra.
This isn’t specifically a body positive quote as such but it kind of sums up how I feel about the perception of being ‘attractive’:
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”– Roald Dahl (The Twits)
It confirms the belief I have that people are drawn not to the most physically attractive person but to the kindest or happiest looking one.
I pledge to love myself a little more today by…
Remembering that this body is strong, impressive and wonderful. It’s a gift to be physically able to do all the things I want to do, and an amazing achievement to have a lovely little boy.
Ellen has also written this wonderful post over on her blog which I am sure some of you will relate to: the dreaded post-pregnancy body battle! (I stayed in my maternity jeans for at least 4 months.)
I hope you enjoyed this post, thanks so much Ellen for your support!
If you would like to take part in this series I’d love to hear from you, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.