Recently I got involved with the Before or After? Who Cares! with Simply Be campaign. Myself and some other beautiful ladies each talked about what we liked about our figures. I think too often we try and concentrate too much on the Before and After thing, especially if we are trying to achieve a certain look whether that be weight loss, hair or even make up. This was a campaign I felt strongly about and I’m hoping that my post and also all the other lovely ladies who took part in the SB Edit will maybe help others out there to get some body confidence too and stop focusing on the negative.

Like many people out there (As its really not just us ladies, but also the guys too) I’ve struggled with my weight and body confidence. As a ‘womanly’ teenager, I had hips before my friends even knew what hips were. I remember in Textiles at the age of 12 making a skirt (It looked awful in the end and was totally unwearable!) and all my friends were making size 6 things, mine was a size 10/12 and I felt like a heffa! Even as a teen I couldn’t get that I had a more rounded, hourglass shape and because my friends didn’t, I felt huge! I had boobs before I was in senior school and hips from the age of 11. I often put a lot of this down to a family member who would constantly tell me I was too big as a child but then give me sweets, crisps and cakes in the next moment. When I lost weight they would then tell me I was so skinny I’d godown the plug hole – yes I’m being totally serious and as a child I would scream if my Mum pulled the plug out the bath! Move forward in time and my weight would go up and down for various reasons (Surgery, illness, sports etc). Looking back I know I was never over weight then. I was just a different shape to my friends and I really was ‘fine’ and ok.

1991/92 Size 12 and curvy yet I just wanted to be the same shape as my friends.

1991/92 (Age 15/16) Size 12 and curvy yet I just wanted to be the same shape as my friends, who were thin and waif like.

In my late teens and early twenties I lost a lot of weight. Not healthily either may I add. I started to have severe anxiety which gave me an (I really don’t like to label things, but at best I would call it) eating disorder. I literally lived off of mash and gravy or cup a soups and anything with lumps wasn’t happening, its what I referred to at the time as a liquid diet as I just couldn’t take anything that wasn’t mush! Although the weight fell off and I went from a rounded size 16 to a size 8/10 in the space of just under 3 months (I dropped over 4 stone) I still felt rubbish about myself. I felt huge and my confidence was at an all time low even if I was attracting a lot of attention.

1997/1998 (Age 21/22) slim and curvy but I felt the size 10/12 was still big. All I saw was lumps and bumps

1997/1998 (Age 21/22) slim and curvy but I felt the size 10/12 was still big. All I saw was lumps and bumps

1998 - (Age 22) At my lowest weight and looking awful. Yet still I wasn't happy with how I looked

1998 – (Age 22) At my lowest weight and looking awful. Yet still I wasn’t happy with how I looked

Around 1999 before I fell pregnant, this was me with no confidence at all

Around 1999 (Age 23) before I fell pregnant, this was me with no confidence at all

I think what changed for me and my opinion of myself was having children. Seeing my body change and grow with a life inside me, changed how I looked at myself. The stretch marks I already had before children, didn’t bother me anymore. That extra weight I was carrying on my hips? Who gives a crap?! It wasn’t that I didn’t care about how I looked anymore, in fact I think I cared more. It was more to do with the fact I learned to love and appreciate ‘me’.

Looking back on my ‘before’ pictures above now of the past when I was super slim and super unhappy, with no confidence what so ever in myself, I know that some will say, “But you looked amazing then” which in some ways, my figure did look good and probably conformed more to how many magazines say we should look these days. But in myself, I know I was at my most miserable then too. I look at my ‘after’ pictures 15 even 20 years later and know those pictures are much better in my eyes.

After... 40 and fabulous! I love my curves!

After… 40 and fabulous! I love my curves!

Now I have curves, I have that classic hourglass shape still and I love it! I’m not saying I love all my wobbly bits, I think my mind will always have that little voice inside that says, “You are fat” and it will make no difference if I am a size 8 (At a size 8 I would like to add I look ill! Like I should be in an hospital, I wasn’t far off in one of the pictures above) or a size 18/20 like I am now. I’ve learnt to love ‘me’ and I hope many other people out there can get past the judgemental thoughts they may have on themselves and others and see, we should love ourselves, for if we can’t, how will others love us?

So, like I said in my quote on the SB Edit, shape and size doesn’t make the person at all. But when someone meets you for the first time it is always the first thing they will often judge you on – what you look like. So, next time you meet someone, rather than having that instant negative thought about them, why not try and think something nice instead? Like my Mum always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then just say nothing!

The reason this whole post is important to me is because I like many others out there do have children. I have 3 beautiful daughters and a son. I would never want my children to feel the way I did growing up with my ever changing body (Or like they were going to go down the plug hole! I know I can joke about it now, but I was traumatised as a child). I tell them they are beautiful, because they are. I tell them they are perfect as they are. They are all different, all personalities, different shapes and sizes but what’s the most important, is what’s inside! I would never want them to go through everything I have and hope I’ve installed enough confidence in them to love themselves and not care what everyone else thinks!

My 4 gorgeous children

My 4 gorgeous children

If I can learn to love my curves, lumps, bumps, scars (Both physical and mental), then I’m sure many others out there can because that’s what true body confidence is, loving yourself! So put those shoulders back, pop that booty out and what what you’ve got girl (And guys)!

If you would like to read about the Before or After? Who Cares! post and see the other ladies who got involved, then please click here – http://www.simplybe.co.uk/sb-edit/why-do-people-take-before-and-after-photos/

For more information on Simply be, why not check out their Website, Facebook or Twitter?

Lots of Love,

Mel xxxx