My first Youtube vlog!

diets bad for you

So I finally bit the bullet and moved (just a little bit) into the 21st Century today. I posted a video on my Youtube channel!

diets bad for you

It’s a bit rough around the edges and my editing technique definitely needs work (as does my Google profile) but hey – it’s my first go! You can take a look at the video here:

 

FacebookTwitterShare

The struggle of choosing to be natural

file4941261620140

I think increasingly in today’s society it’s difficult to make a conscious choice to stay natural. By ‘staying natural’ I don’t mean letting your pit hair grow past your waist or never wearing make-up – of course not! I mean staying away from surgery, fillers, hair extensions and weaves and other fairly invasive enhancements which Instagram models and celebrities display in abundance on constant streams of ‘perfect’ photographs which tell us how we should be – and which often cause us to feel inadequate as a result.

I’m still natural – but only just

Over the course of my journey to semi-self-acceptance I’ve considered most of the above countless times. I even went all the way to the surgeon’s office for a boob job before he (rightly) turned me away because he could see that my motive wasn’t right and my perception of myself was skewed because of my body image issues. although in my opinion surely anyone without medical need who considers potentially risky surgery which involves a foreign body being implanted into you and general anaesthetic has some sort of body image issue?)

Let me define what ‘natural’ means for me, though. Natural is no permanent hair extensions or weaves (I have clip ins for special occasions but rarely wear them, as I spent a lot of time battling hair loss and getting my hair thick and long again). Natural is no false lashes (I look after my own to keep them long). Natural is no surgery (boob jobs, lipo, bum implants). Natural is not feeling bad with no make-up on.

Why is staying natural difficult?

Whilst my journey started with me wanting to change myself ‘for the better’ into the person I felt I should be in order to be liked, now when I have rare episodes of self-loathing they tend to be because I’ve inadvertently been exposed to n image of someone who I can never look like, or someone who I can look like, if I have some sort of work done. the first one is heartbreaking, because i can’t change how I look (and shouldn’t – there’s more on that in this post here) but the second is plain dangerous. Because suddenly, that look that for some reason I desire (and is coveted by many others) becomes attainable. It’s also difficult because these two groups aren’t easily defined – for example some girls have weaves which look incredibly natural yet enviably perfect, or subtle facial enhancements such as Botox or lip fillers which give them a ‘perfectly natural’ appearance when in fact the opposite is true. What we see as ‘natural’ online is actually fake – and if that’s confusing for those of us who know, how must it feel for those who don’t (especially young people and children)? And with social media and an increasingly image-obsessed media, we’re constantly exposed to images of these ‘naturally perfect’ people – it’s the world we live in.

I call surgical procedures and sen-invasive beauty treatments like peels and fillers ‘enhancements’ because that’s exactly what they do. So you almost feel like when you choose to be natural, you choose to be sub-standard. Less than perfect. And that’s the biggest draw to opting for fakeness over liking who you really are and the beauty you were born with- and the most potent reason behind why staying natural is difficult.

Why do I choose to stay natural?

Only one thing has stopped me from giving in to my self-enhancement cravings. And that’s my desire to stay natural. For starters I really dislike having things stuck on my face or on my body – fake tan, fake hair, fake lashes – even fake nails. This is one of the reasons I choose to grow my hair long, to grow my nails long and take care of myself on the outside and on the inside nutritionally to make sure they’re well nourished. But more importantly I just feel as though being fake is cheating a little. I know in my heart of hearts that however much I crave that surgery, if I take it, I’ll be letting myself down. I’ll be conscious that every compliment I receive isn’t mine – it’s for a surgeon, or a product, or a weft of hair. I always say that although nowadays I do receive a lot of nice feedback about how I look that it doesn’t change how I feel inside – deep down, I’m still that girl who is being bullied and I tear myself to shreds feeling ugly. But one thing that feedback does do is remind me that if I change who I am externally, the perception of who I am internally those around me have may also change – and nothing’s worth risking my relationships for.

So how do i ensure I can live with myself with out giving in to these cravings? Aside from my golden rules (you can read about these here) I do invest in myself with a number of key products and routines. For example, instead of wearing fake lashes (even on nights out) I use an oil-based growth serum on my lashes which works really well. I only use natural shampoos and fresh aloe vera to wash my hair with. I moisturise my skin with natural oils.

Compared to someone who doesn’t do any of these things, I might seem unnatural or overly obsessed with how I look. But actually these things simply nourish my natural body and whilst they go some way to ‘improving’ it they don’t change my appearance drastically. They’re just part of the method I use to help me to live with myself. Nobody can be expected to walk around with no make-up and no clothes on carelessly in a world so image obsessed – and Tough cookie isn’t about that. It’s about encouraging and praising small changes.

Why should you choose natural?

The bottom line is, it’s easier to go fake than to stay natural. It’s easier to quickly ‘fix’ the part of yourself you don’t like or obtain something you feel you lack and be showered with appreciation than it is to try to love what you have and risk fading into a background of ‘perfection’ when you do.

When you choose to go natural and ignore aesthetic pressure, you start this process of self-acceptance. It won’t happen overnight – especially if you have self-esteem issues, but gradually you will start to feel better about yourself. You’ll have more time for the things you really love in life, because you only be so hung up on how you look (and you won’t be spending hours in the salon or in front of the mirror) Before you can ‘go natural’ completely, you have to not give a shit about other people – about what others are doing, and about what others are thinking. And that’s easier said than done (I’m not at that stage yet!). But as I said before, small steps add up and eventually you realise you’ve come a long way. So start with the golden rules and work your way towards not self-love, but self-acceptance. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself – and for your children and the next generations to come.

Need help? You can read all about getting to a point of self-acceptance here –

 

FacebookTwitterShare

Know your triggers

better body image

person-woman-hand-apple

 

Whilst I talk a lot about my Golden Rules for better self-esteem, the one thing I couldn’t use them without is a knowledge of what starts me off thinking bad thoughts (and indulging in negative behaviours as a result). Without this, I wouldn’t even have been able to create the rules, let alone put them into practice and make things better for myself.

The Golden Rules are general and I feel they’ll work for most people, but the root triggers behind the things we do are of course unique. Some may be the same, some may be slightly different, some may be the complete opposite. So I wrote this post to discuss why knowing your triggers is so important, and how you can identify them so that you can use the Golden Rules more effectively and start your journey to better self-esteem and body confidence today. 

What are my triggers?

As you can see, I know most of my triggers now – and that allows me to know what to avoid. But sometimes I don’t realise and I either have to remind myself, or I have to come up with a new coping strategy or put other things in place so that I can live with myself day-to-day much better without bad thoughts or harmful behaviours getting in the way.

Social media is a trigger for me – along with photoshopped images and selfies. When I talk to other people I find they struggle with the same things, or perhaps a blend of others. For example they may have one friend in particular that they envy, or have people who are nasty and no good for them in their lives (including partners, friends and family) who fuel their insecurities.

How can you identify your triggers? 

To identify your triggers, you need to realise firstly when you’re thinking or doing things which are harming your self-esteem. For example, beating yourself up over the advert on the television. Considering a new diet. Feeling bad because you’re not the ‘ideal weight’ you want to be. Sometimes these can be individual situations, but sometimes they can actually be a chain of events all leading from the same source – for example, you could see the advert then feel as though you don’t measure up, so you go on a diet.

Once you see this happening, stop for a second and ask why. Why am I doing this? Why am I feeling like that? Was it a comment someone made? Was it a habit of weighing yourself (more about this here, here and here). Was it an image on social media that made you feel inadequate? Sometimes it’s surprisingly easy to see the root cause behind what you do and say and feel – at other times you might have to dig a little bit deeper. Then you can set appropriate boundaries to protect yourself from the things that harm your self-esteem – and that’s what the Golden Rules are all about.

Adapting the Golden Rules to fit your triggers

I made the Golden Rules using my own triggers, selecting the ones which most people identify with and tell me they also struggle with. So using the examples above, here’s how you’d apply my Golden Rules:

 

“Someone made a comment about me”

Golden RuleDon’t give a shit about what other people think

How to deal with it: If the comment was purposefully malicious then you have to ask why that person wants to make you feel bad. Usually it’s because there’s something they’re dissatisfied with about themselves, so they feel the need to point out ‘flaws’ in other people (rightly or wrongly) to help them to feel better. This is just one reason why listening to comments other people make (and worrying about what they think) is futile – because not everyone is going to think you are amazing (and that’s okay). Remember also that often when we have low self-esteem we can even take compliments the wrong way if they don’t fit in with our ideal self – or simply feel that someone has said something negative about us when in fact they haven’t because our insecurities fill in the blanks.

 

“I weigh myself regularly and today I’m a lb over. Now I feel fat.”

Golden Rule – Stop weighing yourself

How to deal with it: I’ve been here. The solution? I stopped weighing myself (you can read more about that here). That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s one of the best things I ever did and I’m sure it’ll help you, too. Remember right now that weight means nothing – more on that and why you shouldn’t worry about that 1lb here.

 

“An image on social media made me feel bad”

Golden Rule: Avoid Social Media

How to deal with it: Again, a simple solution here. Cut it out! More here.

 

“I’m self-conscious about the size of my legs and I see girls everywhere who have slim, long legs. I wish I had legs like them.”

 Golden Rules: Stop comparing and Find something you like

How to deal with it: Clearly this one thing about your legs consumes you. Perhaps you have body dysmorphia, or maybe you’ve become obsessed with looking like someone else. I had the same thing with various parts of myself (all of which I’ve come to accept), including my hair, my stomach, my legs, my boobs. At the end of the day we can’t change who we are, and we shouldn’t (link), but also we need to recognise that comparison achieves nothing (other than making us feel bad). It’s been proven that we rarely come off better when we compare, so it’s best to try and squash that habit. I also talk about self-acceptance in my books and in the Golden Rules – and to do this you can find one thing you like. So you don’t like your legs, but do you like your eyes? Your nails? There will be something.

 

If you’re struggling with any of these and haven’t already, take a look through my Golden Rules for better self-esteem here.

 

Like this post? You’ll love these:

 

FacebookTwitterShare