On Confidence & Body Positivity
Confidence is not something that you can lose and gain back. Confidence is something that, once you possess it, either continues to act as a layer around you, an armor of sorts, or, for one reason or another, temporarily shrinks back inside you, hiding, waiting to be coaxed back out.
I’ve been run through this cycle numerous times in my life. I’m 24 in 4 days, and in this time, I’ve gone through this cycle enough to be an expert on it. This summer, I found my way back into the confident area of the circle, and once again, I find myself and others questioning how I could have ever let my confidence slip through my grasp yet again. After all, I wield it so loftily, as my weapon against the world, boldly apparent in my garb, and the way I show my skin.
People ask me a lot, “How are you so confident?” Well, the answer is simple. It’s because I can look in the mirror and like what I see reflected back at me. It has taken time, and practice, and lots of effort to re-learn self-love. But it has always been there, nestled deep down inside me, waiting for me to coax it back out when it’s safe.
Being confident is you knowing that you look good. It’s being unconcerned if other people think you look good, because their opinion is irrelevant–the simple fact of the universe is that you do look good. It’s not vanity, it’s stating a simple truth, one that hurts no one, but perhaps bolsters your own self-image.
When I looked in the mirror, I used to hate what I saw staring back at me. Now, I love it. Is it perfect? No. Do I wish a few things were a bit different? Of course, and I can’t wait to be able to afford to get a boob reduction, for example. But overall, when I pass by a mirror, I thoroughly enjoy the reflection. I don’t consider this vanity. I think that, if you haven’t known what it’s like to absolutely abhor your own reflection, your own body, your own inescapable self, you cannot speak on vanity. Recovering from self-hate is not vanity.
When I posted these above images ^ to Instagram, I got a troll comment from a fake, troll account:
“You’re too fat to be wearing this. You look like a ham stuffed in a sock.”
It wasn’t really hurtful and it didn’t really get to me. I was expecting comments on my frequently disgustingly dirty mirror, not this comment. I thought it was funny, actually…A really clever comment that made me chuckle. I read it over and over again before reporting, deleting, and blocking. Then I stared and stared at the photos over and over again but no matter how hard I tried, no matter how long I gazed at the pictures, examined them…I couldn’t see it. I just couldn’t see a ham stuffed in a sock. I couldn’t! And I still can’t. Can you? On second thought, I don’t care. But, I could see where he was coming from, which is why it was so funny in the first place, but I literally could not visualize this.
Nor could I see myself as fat in it. I tried this bodysuit on before I bought it, considered my figure in a full-length mirror in the changing rooms, considered buying a size L. In the end, I decided a size M fit fine, and if I lost weight, all the better because I could still wear it as a skin-tight undergarment for quite some time, in that case.
Looking at the photo after the troll’s comment, I thought that perhaps I could’ve stood to go with the size L but goddammit I fit fine into this size M. I look fine. And the 105 likes it is currently sitting at on my Instagram feed just encourages me…although I’d be just as satisfied with it even if the likes sat at 50, or 15, or 0. I gotta say, one thing that has helped my confidence in spades is my very recent liberation from giving a hoot or holler about likes on Instagram. Besides, the damn platform has had me shadowbanned for the past few months because of my very vocal…uh…ahem–calling out of their sexist and racist moderation and reporting policies. Eh, all this Instagram talk is best saved for another day.
Recently, when lost in my own head, or when scrolling through the ‘gram, I’ve found myself thinking:
“No one can hurt me with their hate because no one hates me as much as I hate myself.”
And I nearly always have a chuckle at that thought, but sometimes I catch myself. After all, this seems like a rather toxic and harmful thought to have. It does contain the phrase “I hate myself” and that’s never a good phrase to utter unless the circumstances call for it, like you just switched lanes without using your turn signal.
Why is disregarding other people’s opinions admirable when it is under the guise of self confidence, (“They can’t hurt me because I know for a fact I look good”), but when it is presented with the express reason of hating oneself, (“They can’t hate me more than I hate me”), it is cause for concern?
I still find it funny, and I realize that this is separate from my parlance about self-confidence. Self confidence has a lot to do with my outward appearance and how the world perceives me. My self confidence indeed does falter sometimes in other events, perhaps I failed at something physical or mental, but the hating of myself seems to stem more from my own feelings. Do I hate myself, or the way I feel? Either way, the energy does wonders to shield me from the daggers of others’ opinions of me, which now have about the same effect as toothpicks flung half-heartedly in my general direction from across the road.
Self-hate is a struggle. It’s a vice that I’ve grappled with most of my life, and probably will continue to do so. There’s so much hate in the world, and when the hate is coming from and trapped within your own head, it can make you feel entirely alone. But if your brain is capable of making you feel so bad, then it stands to reason that you possess all of the tools needed to turn it around, too. You can make self-love up in your head, because that’s all it is.
Self-love ties very closely in to confidence. If love for yourself is in your mind, it projects outward. That’s why confidence is an energy so easily perceived by those around us. Should we assume the girl in the pink latex bodysuit has confidence and loves herself? No, probably not…but it’s a pretty fair bet, isn’t it?
People have made assumptions about me and my self confidence and my body positivity, without lending a single thought or care to the self-hate that may lie beneath it, or be the cause of it, this I know for a fact, and I can’t be convinced otherwise. I can’t really blame them, I guess. I mean, I made the jump from only posting neck-up selfies to posting full body shots in panties and bra in less than a year, without much of a bridge between the two extremes. I had a lot of people like “???” and it annoyed me, it still kinda does, but I get it, to a point.
Past that point, I’m like, “Well, can’t anyone ever change? Grow? Evolve?”
But then I remember that nobody gives a fuck about where you been, or your struggles, ’til you’ve made it, and until then it’s nothing but a bunch of judgments and criticisms. It’s your duty to ignore them, and keep pushing on toward your own goals, and in the meantime, keep loving and finding the value in yourself.
It’s hard to see value in myself, at times. As I said, self-hate is a demon that I’ve striven to keep off my back, and some days it just comes scrambling back up there, kicking the anxiety and depression demons out of the way and wiggling its butt firmly in its spot on my shoulders, whispering in my ear how I’m ugly and worthless and the only people who want anything to do with me just want to stick their dick in me.
Okay that’s extremely vulgar, I apologize, and it’s also not true. It’s not a true sentiment, obviously, and it’s a thought I usually only have when I’m at my lowest. It’s fueled by other people saying that to me, and that’s not really a surprise. I am a firm believer in the whole kooky hippie-dippie “energy of the universe” thing, and I am firmly in the camp of “words have power”. You speak something and it shall be. You speak negativity and it breeds it all around you, implants it in all you do. That’s why goddamn p o s i t i v i t y is so damn powerful, as well. Perhaps less so, if you’re feeling pessimistic.
So yeah, I’ve had this thought, perhaps planted in my brain garden by a troll’s comment or an acquaintance’s sly offhanded remark, watered and sowed by my own negativity and lingering self-worth problems. When I’m having this or any number of other recurring bad thoughts about myself, I try to remember what I’ve learned and already experienced from the power of positive thinking. It sounds like…gag me…I know but it’s true. You can weed your brain garden with tools such as the Hoe of Not Giving a Fuck or…a better analogy featuring gardening tools.
But anyways, it’s one of the many hateful thoughts I’ve had about myself, and it’s necessary to share some examples so you get the full picture. The picture that confidence and body positivity aren’t just hashtags you stick to the bottom of your Instagram posts, they aren’t just buzzwords you tack on when you’re justifying a sultry pose, a seductive gaze, a sexy outfit. Remember, confidence is simple. It’s the simple notion that you look damn good right now.
Body positivity is simple, too. It’s the wonderful thought that your body is a powerhouse. It has carried and protected, nurtured and represented your spirit for your entire life, and it’s gonna keep hauling ass with you til you die. It’s realizing that things that make you beautiful and unique completely overshadow your perceived flaws, if it doesn’t completely conceal them. Body positivity isn’t just a seemingly perfect thin white girl posting a topless professional photo of her three whole stretch marks talking about how much courage it took to post that…although it probably did, and that’s fine, and it’s her version of body positivity, and it’s perfectly fine. That should not be the image of the movement, however, and neither should I. No one person or group of people or image or ideal should be. We are too varying a species for that, but this social media age has almost made us forget that.
We have to find our own confidence, and our own body positivity, just like we have to find our own ways to show self-love to ourselves. It’s gonna vary from person to person, that’s why when people ask me how I get my confidence, how I feel okay in my own skin and my revealing wardrobe, the answer is nearly always unsatisfying or downright angering to them.
I have confidence because I know I look good. I have body positivity because I’m happy about what my body does for me, and how it looks right now. It’s not a final, finished product, and I know it’ll continue to change in ways that are good and bad. But I don’t think I could ever go back to hating it. It’s too damaging, too poisonous, far too painful, to go that route willingly ever again.
There might’ve been a time where the slight sag to my boobs or the thickness of my upper arms or the pudgy in my tummy would’ve made me recoil at my own reflection. There might’ve been a time where I never would’ve posted a picture in my underwear, where you can clearly see my stretch marks, my thighs touching, my broad shoulders, the extra skin on my upper arms, my clear absence of abs. Now, I don’t care. I literally don’t. I never claimed to be a fitness diva, an underwear model, or a svelte vixen with perfect boobs and perky ass and flat tummy, (although I do have a very nice ass and nobody can tell me otherwise).
Right there is a prime example, an Exhibit A, if you will. If I know that I’ve spent hours on the stairmaster, that I’ve done kettlebell squats and walked my happy ass up the hill next to my house, if I know I’ve worked for that shapely cute butt of mine, why would I ever feel self conscious about posting an ass pic? Why would anyone’s silly trolling comments change my mind about how rad I know I look? It’d be like me yelling at the sun for being too fucking hot. It ain’t gonna do a damn thing to change the temperature. Trolls or anyone really trying to make me feel bad about how I look, or the clothes I wear, or the photos I post to my own page and site, is just as futile, if not more so, than that ridiculous endeavor.
You have to go about it like that, and approach it with that mindset. Look, if you put on a bold lip color or a short skirt and you’re instantly conscious of every look every passing person gives you, so much so that you eventually wipe off the lipstick or change into pants, what are you really doing except giving in to your own self-doubt? You’ve gotta look in the mirror before you go on about your day, look yourself in the eyes, really regard your reflection, and if you have to, tell yourself,
“I look damn good today.”
When I was younger, even up to my senior year in high school, shitty kids could be very shitty. I would think I’m looking cute in an outfit, with an accessory, with a pair of shoes, with my hair or makeup done a certain way, and the looks and barely concealed guffaws or even the pissy inquiries of, “What are you wearing?” would be enough to send me hurtling to tears. But now, I can’t think of a more droll, yet annoying, question.
“What are you wearing?“
“Clothes. As in, close your eyes if my appearance is that offensive to you, pussy. Mind your own business.”
Or something to that effect. That’s more descriptive of my overall attitude on the subject rather than a direct quote of something I’ve actually said to someone, but you guys should know I’d have no problem saying this exact thing if the need arose. Usually it’s some slightly more polite version of this, dripping in sickly sweet sarcasm.
I personally see nothing wrong with this particular outfit. But if I had dared to dress this way to, say, a high school summer party at one of the Popular Kids’ houses, I would’ve gotten giggles and side glances and shitty comments all to hell. I know, because I dared to show my style a few times in this exact same scenario, and what do you know…I got teased. But fuck those shitty kids. ‘Cause now they’re shitty adults and I never have to see any of them ever again, but I can still dress how I want.
Body positivity and confidence go the other way, too. Maybe you know you look good, and instead of worrying about negative comments, you’re worried about “positive” ones, mainly harassment. I’ve had someone (rather transparently) ask me, “So how do you deal with men leering at you and thinking of you like that?”
Quite easily actually. All trolling, harassment, and disgusting comments online are reported and blocked. In real life, well they are ignored, though they are far less prevalent than online ones.
As for how I deal with how people think of me…Hm…Wow…Do you–are you hearing yourself right now? Are you listening to yourself? Is this a prank? Are you pranking me right now? Go back over what you just said. Think about it again. Now again. One more time. Got it yet? You know what I’m going to say…?
It’s none of my goddamn business what people think of me, and I honestly don’t give one singular fuck what anyone thinks of me. I care what I think of me, and I think I’m great.
There. Short, straight, and to the point. I honestly don’t want my “reputation” mentioned to me again. I’ve had a surprising and blood-curdling number of people ask me how I felt about my “reputation” being changed from posting more revealing photos and content and I’m just like…“Uhh, what the hell?”
I can’t think of something more embarrassingly pathetic to spend time fretting over. I mean, I’m posting pictures of my hot bod on Instagram, I’m not murdering puppies. Safe to say my reputation remains unharmed by my choice of selfie wardrobe.
Beyond that, I, or no one, really, can change what people think of you, nor can you usually even tell.
Unless…did they invent a mind-reading helmet that’s released for public use? No? Then why the fuck am I worried about what Sally Whats-her-nuts or Gavin Next-Guy thinks of me? Fuck them.
Joking aside, (I was not joking), I simply can’t stress this last point enough, and I think that’ll be the end-all, be-all thesis statement of my whole addition to the confidence and body positivity discussion.
Confidence resides within you, and if it’s supposedly gone, look deep within. Body positivity is recognizing and appreciating your amazing body and unique aspects of your own beauty, whatever that may be. It doesn’t matter if you’re large or skinny, abled or disabled, covered up or titties out. If you’re doing you and not hurting anyone, you’re golden.