Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Body Positive - how do you measure up?

There's been one story I've been drawn to this past week: Essena O'Neil, an Instagram "star" with around half a million followers, quitting social media due to the current status of social media, namely building your self-worth against the number of likes you receive for pictures. She edited some of her Instagram photos to highlight the truth behind each shot adding captions such as:

"This candid bikini shot? Totally staged. I just want younger girls to know this isn't candid. It's contrived perfection."

You can watch the Buzzfeed video of Essena explaining her decision to come clean about the images she portrayed on Instagram below:

As The Wardrobe Angel I have seen many bodies and let me tell you - they are all individually unique and awesome. Where clients think they are 'fat' they usually aren't, where they think that dropping that magic 7lbs will make them happy it probably won't and when they compare themselves to another woman in their life and feel they don't measure up - let me tell you, they do. So much of our lives is lived in comparison which made the YouTube video (above) even harder to watch - if Essen's  images were a sanitised and starved version of her self yet she built an empire on them and got paid for them - then cripes, isn't that sad?

I had the pleasure of working with a client a few weeks ago who wrote me the most awesome piece of body positive feedback I have ever had. It is LONG but keep reading - there is so much in it that we can relate to including how our body image and our relationship to our body is formed in our family unit.

There is an F-bomb and an S-bomb in here so be warned. Here we go...

Dear Stephanie

I would just like to give you a big THANK YOU for the profound impact that you not only had on my wardrobe, but also on my life.  I always feel it is important to share these things with people, because they need to know what impact they have on people’s lives and how important their work is.

The shells have come off of my eyes and every day, little by little, I love the way I look and dressing is now a pleasure.  I now KNOW what looks good and what looks shit.  I have come to love and appreciate parts of my body that before I hated and wanted to hide.  I now wear things I never thought I could and best of all, I feel good in it.  And because I feel good, I strut my stuff and I know that makes me look even better! 

The world of dresses and midi skirts have opened up for me, and what a beautiful world it is!  I feel like The Little Mermaid as she finally set foot on solid soil.  I feel feminine and like a lady and through the way I dress, my true personality now finally shines through.  I grew up with a father who always resented effort put into your appearance and 'girly' things and I always had it in my head that in a man's world, you should repress that femininity because there is no place for it.  Now...fuck that!  I am feminine, I like sexy and I like looking well put together with minimal effort and how much simpler could you do that than with a dress.  You also introduced me to petticoats and I recently found the hottest lacy (and racy) number I think Marks and Spencer has ever done – now I wish a gusts of gale force winds would swoop through London to lift my skirts daily!

When you came to my house it was like talking to an old friend and at no moment did I feel uncomfortable with you.  You rummaged into a place that, for a woman, is sometimes a bit of a sanctuary and private place, yet it felt like it was the most natural thing you could do.  You immediately told me my body shape and exactly what I could do to enhance it.  Not once did you make me feel ashamed for having larger hips and rounded shoulders, nor did you tell me I could do with losing a few pounds (yes, that has happened to me before); in fact, you made my body sound incredibly sexy and like it was coveted by many!  Your skill and knowledge of fabric is fascinating.  Your experience with fashion and know-how of different stores are priceless.  You are certainly fulfilling your calling!

It is amazing how somebody’s life could change by knowing how to dress to look good.  Before I hired you, I thought I’d get a very detailed list of what I should wear and would have to go on a massive shopping spree to find those items.  But my wardrobe is actually much smaller now and much simpler.  When I shop now, I only focus on certain silhouettes and styles, and only buy what I know works for me and what I love.  Having that knowledge takes the guess work away and saves me a lot of time and money!  I am now finally one of those people who buy ‘investment’ pieces. 

You are, therefore, worth every penny and I can’t recommend you enough. Feeling good because I know I look good gives me an immense boost in my confidence, so much so that I feel I can now do anything.  I used to look in the mirror and see one big, ugly blob but now I can go for that job I want, I can go into that store I love, I can go on the dates I long for and I can have the life I want.  You changed the way I dress, but because of that, I changed the way I see myself.  And that is something I will always be grateful for!  

Thank you, Stephanie!
Before you head off check out this wonderful piece on Body Positivity featured on The Olive Fox earlier this month, written by my sister-in-law Janet from the blog, Words The Can Only be Your Own

 "The human body is an incredible thing and it seems almost insulting to waste time focusing on your flabby arms when those arms sew or bake or draw beautifully."

Til next time...x

The Wardrobe Angel

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