What Are Your Thoughts On Beauty & Body Image?
Today I’m doing something a little different and sharing with you a beauty Q&A between InvisiblyMe and Elizabeth from the fabulous Ice Cream And Clara. She asked me some excellent – and quite difficult – questions, and I did my best to answer them here. Enjoy!
1. What Are Your Three Most Favourite Features?
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding questions like this incredibly difficult to answer. I’ll go for :
- My empathy, compassion and sense of humour, with a gloriously sarcastic edge to distract from my super-stressy personality.
- My locks when they’re straight out the box! My hair has thinned a lot over the last few years but I love my hair when it’s freshly coloured red because it seems much fuller. Sadly it’s only ever a matter of weeks before it turns 50 shades of ginger.
- My eyes, because you can say a lot just through your peepers and they’re pretty damn incredible organs when you think about it to give us the blessing of sight.
2. Where Are Three Places You Go When You’re Feeling Good?
- The local parks. There are some absolutely gorgeous places for a short walk when I feel up to it, where you can sit beneath a tree to think and reflect, or take a wonder by the water and get some photographs of the swans.
- The shower. I love a luxuriously hot shower and singalong to refresh me.
- To bed. Alone. No, not like that! There’s sadly nothing risqué about this answer. Pain and illness can make sleeping uncomfortable and annoying, so I adore the nights where I can snuggle up and get some proper rest.
3. What Beauty Tips & Tricks Never Worked For You?
Blackhead pore strips that claim to rip out blackheads but merely rip the money straight out of your purse.
4. In A Masterclass For ‘How To Look Pretty For School’, What Would You Teach?
Assertiveness, because there’s nothing prettier than being confident and able to stand up for yourself, advocate for yourself, and make your voice heard.
5. What Are Three Features You Feel Most Insecure About?
1. My stomach, which has been so problematic over the years. When I was much younger, I used to hate myself for being ‘fat’, and back then I was technically overweight considering my BMI. I was self-conscious because of my tummy rolls, but none of that mattered when I suddenly developed health issues age 19.
Bowel problems made the issue of fat and cellulite redundant, because all I wanted was for my insides to work. I now have an ileostomy, so I have a stoma bag on my tum. There are times when I feel very self-conscious and embarrassed, particularly when the bag shows through clothing. Other days I can rock it and not care, grateful only that I’m alive and that modern medicine makes it possible.
2. My teeth. They’re not straight and they’ve never been white, so you’ll very, very rarely see a photo of me smiling with my gnashers on display.
3. My face, especially when my skin is looking especially pasty, tired and spotty. I tend to think I have a face for radio, but a voice for silent films.
6. What Would You Tell Your Younger Self About 2020 Beauty Trends?
Listen to what your mother says was cool in beauty and fashion when she was younger. By the time you’re older, those same trends will probably come back around again!
7. What’s One Item That Helps You To Feel & Look Pretty Without Makeup?
Lip balm. I’m a balm addict who can’t go longer than an hour without re-applying. Even when my skin is washed out, my complexion is spotty and my eyes look like I’ve not slept in a month, having soft, moisturised lips makes me feel a bit more put together.
8. Finish The Sentence : I Feel Bad For Not Knowing How To…
Properly curl my hair. I’ve got an awesome pair of curling tongs, but any time I’ve attempted it I just like like I’ve had a fresh super-size perm, with ringlets that hang heavily around my face. I can’t even reach the back of my head to do all of the hair, so it baffles me how people can do this by themselves. I would love to try casual, light waves. The reality is a frizzy perm that’s been ruffled by my cat’s claws.
9. When Was The Last Time You Felt Insecure?
A specialist appointment at the hospital. I wasn’t feeling on top form to begin with but I was put on the spot to try to explain my symptoms and justify my feelings. If you get a doctor or specialist that doesn’t care, is sceptical or is otherwise just totally ignorant, they can make you feel super insecure and defeated just by looking at you.
It’s a test in perseverance as you try to pull some confidence out your ass and stand up for yourself. Our health is worth fighting for, but sometimes it can really knock our self-belief.
10. Give Someone A Piece Of Beauty Advice In One Emoji.
^ Nope, wrong one.
^ This one. A smile and a good attitude with gratitude and compassion can radiate beauty from the inside out. It’s cheesy but it’s true.
11. Where Would You Go If You Felt All-Confident? Be As Honest As You Can!
To see my ex from years ago, the one I was madly in love with and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was an unfinished kind of break-up. I always thought I could get my tummy issues sorted then I’d try to meet up with him again. The years went by and my health just got worse. I’ve not seen him since we broke up when I was 19, and I’m 32 now. In that time I’ve had numerous surgeries and my body continues to fall apart, whereas he’s moved again (even further away) and also got married.
I would love to feel a bit better and more confident so I could see him again, even if it’s just to rule a line under it all and not live with so many regrets.
12. What Is Your Recurring Confidence Daydream?
Either a scenario with the above, meeting up with my long-lost-ex while the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack plays in the background, or me kicking ass in a high school reunion. When I was younger, I was the geek chic chick that actually enjoyed homework, worked extra hard to get decent grades, and always came home with the words “she has so much potential” at least three times in the teacher reports each year. I’d love to know where that potential went. As my health went downhill, so did everything else. I feel like I’ve got nothing to show for my life and it’s pretty disheartening sometimes.
One thing I’d love to do is write a book, though I’ve never even written the first page. I’d love to be super confident walking into a room with the bullies that made my life a living hell in school, head held high feeling happy, loved and content with myself and my life. I would answer the obligatory “what do you do?” question with, “I’m an author, freelance writer & blogger”.
I know that being a good person is more valuable than anything you do for a living or the sum of the things you’ve achieved, but I’m only human and I would feel good knowing I could say something like that.
13. When Do You Feel Most Confident?
When I share my brutally honest feelings and experiences with others, such as on my blog. It’s excruciatingly difficult to sometimes, especially if it’s embarrassing or you’re having to show the negative realities in life. There can be pressure as a blogger to always be positive and uplifting, but sharing the truth, no matter how unpopular sometimes, is so important because I know there will be people out there that get it.
Sharing our stories will help us to realise we’re perhaps not as alone as we may feel. There will be people that relate to your struggles, your down days, your embarrassing stories and your health challenges. I feel powerful when I overcome the fear of speaking out and do it anyway.
14. What Memory Makes You Feel Powerful About Yourself?
When I accepted the offer to work in Indianapolis for 6 weeks with the airplane company I worked for when I was 19. I’d never been abroad before, I’d never flown in a plane, and I’d never been away from home for longer than a couple of days. I was still very shy back then too, and it would take a few more years to grow more confident and assertive. It was terrifying, it was exciting and I loved it.
I had just developed the start of tummy issues back then though, so I was very close to pulling out of going. I’m glad I didn’t. It was a learning curve and a huge achievement for me.
15. What Does Pretty Feel Like To You?
My interpretation of pretty or beauty is not the story that mass media tend to push. I’m not a big fan of trowelled-on make-up, three-inch deep pencilled-on eyebrows, plastic surgery and fake teeth picked out of a catalogue (although I wouldn’t say no to that last one). I’m not in favour of any particular size, shape or body decor. Everyone is beautiful and there’s no such thing as perfection or the ‘ideal’ look for which we should be falling over ourselves trying to attain.
I’m all for making yourself look how you want and doing what makes you feel confident, but that’s the issue: it should be about what you want, how you want to look. It shouldn’t be about following the unwritten rules of society, about fitting in or about emulating what you see on social media. Nor should it be about creating someone completely different each morning because you’re ashamed or embarrassed about who you really are underneath. There’s a big difference between enhancing, having fun and perking ourselves up, and hiding behind layers so as to show the world a different person.
Pretty is accepting and loving ourselves as we are first and foremost, forgetting the goals and expectations that we feel pushed towards. Beauty is subjective. Write your own rules about how that looks.
16. How Much Does Body Image Affect What You Create?
In a way, low confidence squashes my ability to update Insta with selfies galore or post more shots of myself on my blog. It’s held me back from giving my content a greater personal edge or giving YouTube creations a go. However, my experiences with low confidence and body image concerns have also made me more aware of their importance and their potential for damage in our lives.
My experiences, good and bad, make me more passionate and opinionated, driven to raising awareness, tackling eating disorders, and promoting self-care. I take photos for my blog without make-up and I don’t use Photoshop. Perfection and the idealised notions of how we should look are elusive and dangerous.
Perfection is merely a concept, not a reality.
Over To You – What’re your three most favourite features, or what are the things you’re most insecure about?