With Tess Holliday appearing on the front cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, I’ve read a lot of blogs around body confidence in recent times. My preference was to stay away from joining in this conversation because, without going into depth, a message can easily can lost in translation over platforms such as Instagram. However, I’ve done my best to offer my opinion on this & body confidence as a whole in the blog below.
Before I start, I should explain this is a big one for me. I definitely didn’t love my body for a long time, in fact all I wanted to do was change it. I was obsessed with how it looked & my skinny physique didn’t feel adequate or “manly”. Without muscles I didn’t feel like I had the right to be a confident man & I was submissive & intimidated by more physically impressive men. I decided the gym was where I’d find the answer & I managed to change my appearance, but the reality was, however I presented on the outside, internally I still didn’t love myself.
So when I’m writing about the appearance of a women on the front page of a magazine, a big part of me says I’d just rather not pass judgement, whilst another voice says good for her to embrace how she looks. But most of all, the point I want to make is this:
My life changed when I stopped trying to impress others & instead started to live in line with my own values. To do that I had to stop listening to the voice inside my head that was trying to tell me how I was meant to look (in comparison to others). Instead, I connected more to the emotion inside me that told me how I actually felt about myself. In other words I started to listen to my soul, rather than my ego. The result was my behaviour changed & I started to become more proud of the person I saw in the mirror, I started to love who I was.
The voice in our head will lead us to make decisions that keep us safe & content, but it’s the emotion deep inside that determines our inner peace and true confidence. If we aren’t happy with the actions we take & if we don’t live in line with our deepest values, then we are likely to suffer from a lack of inner peace in the form of an empty feeling, anxiety or depression. The actions we take include how we have treated our body & whether we’ve shown it what we consider love. That’s an individual choice, but I believe it’s vital we are all honest with ourselves as to how we really feel on the inside & try to establish why we may be feeling any sadness or discontent.
Health (both mental & physical) is a high personal value for me. That means at those times when I don’t want to exercise or I fancy some unhealthy food, my values tell me i’m more fulfilled when I train & eat healthy, so that’s how I align my behaviour (the majority of the time). That’s just me though, if we want inner peace we must all connect with our own values & not succumb to aligning our behaviour to serve others or fit into what society deems as normal.
Another way of saying this is that the way I live my life is to focus on fulfilment rather than happiness. Fulfilment is a deeper, longer feeling inside whereas happiness is a short term emotion that can come and go quickly. Generally speaking if you are fulfilled you will feel happy, if you are happy it doesn’t mean you will feel fulfilled. So for me, living in a way that brings fulfillment is a better way of living than one that achieves short term happiness fixes but lacks a deeper feeling of fulfillment.
So with regards to body confidence, for me it all comes down to this. It’s not about how we look in the eyes of others, it’s how we honestly feel about ourselves & that is something entirely personal to each of us individually. We all have different perceptions of what is healthy, so what counts is that we are really honest with ourselves about where our deep values sit & we do our best to align our behaviour with them. It’s then, & only then, that we learn to really love ourselves & begin to understand that we are so much more than just how we look.
We are the only ones who live with how we feel, so we owe it to ourselves to do what makes us feel good on the inside. If we don’t, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we live with a sense of emptiness, anxiety or depression. That’s my answer to body confidence and confidence in general, connect with what matters to you at a deep level and live in line with those values. Make yourself proud and regardless of your shape, size or appearance you will look in the mirror with pride and a deep sense of love.