As explained in my title, I am going to use this weeks entry to talk about body confidence issues and how much pressure there is on young women today to look a certain way, act a certain way and be a certain way. Now we no longer live in the patriarchal Victorian society, nowadays women are more independent and have more rights than previously back in history.
However I remember watching a Body Form advert about a month ago as a cinema advert and it’s set in black and white in a class room where a teacher is telling her students about periods telling them they cannot participate in any physical activities or wear certain clothes, however women back then were more restricted and expected to only be able to do a certain set of activities; then later on in the advert women were ski rafting and swimming, I don’t know if you have seen the advert but if you haven’t youtube it. It classifies how much women are seen and less restricted nowadays in general, how times are changed.
I thought I would veer away from fashion this week and as a working-class girl from the Midlands who doesn’t get airbrushed photos and a wardrobe team like the celebs you see, as talking about body issues you girls and of course guys as well can relate more to this topic today.
From the age of eighteen I grew up in a family, especially an extended family who would comment on either how much I have grown, how much weight I put on and just anything in general. I also grew up in a female dominated family on my mother’s side of the family, where getting compared to an older sister or cousins, was the normal thing. I felt like every time there was a family gathering or family party I was being judged. Looking back now I wouldn’t care, I think now that I am not any of my cousins and even though I may look like a few of them I am me, they are them. I embrace my individuality nowadays, I have some really beautiful friends, but they have qualities and looks that make them stand out. Plus what is beauty these days? You can be beautiful in different ways, not just in looks!
I remember working in a bar for two years, I would wear make up and pencil on my eyebrows, wearing lipstick and eye liner if I felt I needed to, however I left recently and felt so much more confident and have more fun wearing make up. Being told by work colleagues that I should wear more make up to look like the other girls and that X, Y and Z takes the time to wear make up and getting reminded that I look like s*** every day and to look more like X, Y, Z at a time when I was feeling so low due to anxiety issues, did destroy my confidence at the time. I am in my twenties and I was still getting criticised and compared to other girls that I worked with, but after speaking to other people at my other work places and my friends at the time saying, ‘individuality is something to embraced, Helen you don’t need make up’ I would be good after a chat with my friends, but I remember working alongside a team of slender, beautiful girls and I would feel like the ugly one of the team, sounds stupid now but that’s how I felt at the time. I remember I did conform and wear make up for quite a while, but it came with a price, a skin break out of spots and blackheads and my skin was getting worse, I would be so run down and tired all the time, I would freak out at having dark circles under my eyes. It’s how I was made to believe by my boss at the time though, that I’d be better thought of and fit in more with the others for wearing make up.
However, I have looked back at previous jobs and the jobs I got now and I have not had any anxiety attacks since then, and my confidence has returned. I wear make up if I feel like, I think it should not matter at work or anywhere if you wear make up as long as you’re hygienic, clean, tidy and presentable. I will have days where I will wear make up if I feel like it, and then on others I will have a day to give my skin a rest from make up, which I recommend about one/ two days a week, as your skin will have a chance to refresh itself. I definitely have gotten my confidence back since then, especially in the summer, I have had new jobs that I enjoy and definitely care less what people think, especially when it comes to my appearance. Any work place should not pressure people into wearing make up, I could understand if you worked on a make up counter or hair salon, then I’ll exempt those occupations.
However, going back from ugly days, I have definitely had a combination of bad hair days/ ugly days and of course fat days. Obviously like most other girls I have terrible menstrual cramps on top of that and of course that makes you feel like c*** and of course I get emotional thinking I am a fat ugly slut, but hey news flash, periods are a good sign really to say you’re healthy! I remember when I was 19 and I lost loads of weight, I went from a healthy 7 1/2 stone to a low 6 stone, I had loads of confidence, boyfriend issues and of course starting university and moving away gave me loads of complex psychological issues, at that time my periods stopped for about a year, and I remember thinking have I ruined my chances of having children or my health and I would’ve given anything at that time to get a normal menstrual cycle back, [as crazy as it sounds.] However, I decided I was going to stop over exercising and eat more, I tried everything it took a long time to get my weight back up and my appetite as well, as during that time my stomach ridiculously shrunk. However, I was so glad when my periods eventually returned. I don’t look back on experiences and regret them, but I see it as an experience and one that I have learned from.
I do look at girls now and think, ‘oh I wish I had a bum like that’ but I look at myself and think I should be happy with what I have got. I do think that during the time of your period, it’s probably like being pregnant, or maybe I am wrong. I however crave chocolate a lot or sweet things that I usually wouldn’t eat a lot of usually, but hey I eat it, if my body is telling me to do that then I do, even though around about that time I have a ‘fat’ day. Hey it makes me feel better.
My top tips for making you feel better on a period:
- Exercise helps, it decreases the pain and of course if you’re having a ‘fat’ day around that time it will help you feel better about yourself and the over emotions will turn into endorphins.
- Remember Periods are healthy and a normal bodily function.
- Eat what your body craves, chocolate is a common thing for women to crave on their periods. There is also studies that prove that chocolate is neurotransmitter and has serotonin in which naturally psychologically lifts your moods. Any body that says chocolate is bad for you, yes it is if eat large quantities, but it is actually good for you, it contains, iron and calcium and is good for brain food.
- Hot water bottle and a hot bubble bath, a lie in the bath tub is relaxing at anytime, why not stick on some tunes and lie in the bath undisturbed it actually works as a great distraction method.
- Painkillers for the pain are also recommended you don’t have to just take paracetamol, feminax extra strength works, however for things you are unsure consult your GP.
- Eat plenty, remember you’re losing blood, you’re also losing iron levels, so it’s important to eat protein of any kind or any iron based foods.
- It’s a good excuse not to wear make up because you’re skin itself is more vulnerable around about that time and as well keep your hair clean as it is prone to become greasy during that time of month.
- Keep busy, especially if you’re in pain or have your emotions running high. Do an activity or read a book or something that you enjoy doing.
If any of you read this and also have advice or tips to give on overcoming fat days/ ugly/ days or anything to do with body image please put something in the comments, or just generally comment if you want to.