We took this photo of me wearing lingerie and nightwear especially for this post (always tricky). My immediate reaction on seeing the very first shot on the screen of the camera?
“Oh god, let’s take THAT again.”
[Reading time: 5 minutes]
My kneejerk reaction was to focus on all the things “wrong” with me in the picture. Wrinkles and rolls on my tummy. Looking extremely booby. Hair not brushed properly. The light on my face not showing my face as particularly smooth. However…
I didn’t reshoot.
I went with the one shot – it was the first and only one we took. I took a deep breath and thought: if I’m writing a post about the ageing process and how I’ve become more accepting of my body, why am I taking the photo again to make my tummy look flatter and less wrinkled?
Why am I trying to look less booby? (I have boobs!)
Why do I need to change the lighting so that my skin looks smoother and wrinkle-free? (I’m nearly 48. I have lines.)
Disclosure: This post is a paid partnership with Fantasie (all words and opinions are my own) and may feature gifted items*. This blog sometimes uses affiliate links at no cost to you. Full disclosure
In other words, I’m getting in a tizz about the fact that we took a photo that shows all those things – and my fear of that makes no sense. If I’m talking about acceptance – and the theme of this post, “It’s who I am” – then I really had to just GO WITH IT.
The lead image is the one and only image we shot of me for this post. No 100+ shots to choose from, no countless poses to get the right angle and lighting, no “perfect” final image. I decided that the readers of this post would have to take me as they saw me. I mentioned this to Keith (who was taking the photos) and he agreed… it was a real, less staged photo. Still posed to some extent, but not showing some unrealistic portrayal of what I want to look like in a perfect world.
It is, undoubtedly, “who I am”.
Fantasie’s #ItsWhoIAm campaign
This month’s Woman & Home magazine (June edition) has just hit the shelves and I’m super proud to tell you that I’m on the inside front cover(!) as part of the #ItsWhoIAm campaign from Fantasie Lingerie. A group of five women – including myself – were invited to talk openly about their journeys to self-acceptance and becoming who they are. It ties in with lingerie because if you’ve ever experienced the revelation of being properly fitted for a bra, it makes a WORLD of difference to your confidence, especially if you’re on the boobylicious side.
For me, accepting my big boobs was just one part of my own journey to self-acceptance. Properly fitting, flattering bras certainly contributed to that.
Fantasie wanted to produce a campaign that didn’t follow the traditional “here are some women in their underwear” format. The right underwear – which is the foundation of any outfit – gives you confidence beyond measure when you’re wearing the right size. This campaign, therefore, had a simple design in beautiful black and white, with five women sharing their (very different!) stories of self-acceptance.
We didn’t show our Fantasie underwear if we didn’t want to. The campaign celebrates our differences, our freedom of choice, and the message that who YOU are isn’t the same as anyone else. Who YOU are is what matters.
I had myself properly measured in my late 30s, and I can’t tell you how different I looked and felt. I’d look at how clothes fit me before and after and the difference was incredible. It probably contributed to me having the confidence to start my blog at the age of 39 as I felt that bit happier about myself.
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Having a more relaxed mindset as you get older is key to your journey of self-acceptance. Multi award-winning blogger @notlamb says she isn’t fighting the ageing process but she’s doing what she can to look after herself in terms of keeping fit and being healthy. #ItsWhoIAm
My thoughts on my own self-image
For me, my self-image is now linked to my health. If gain a few pounds or my skin isn’t as glowy or my hair isn’t as shiny as it should be, I see it as a sign that I should be taking better care of myself. If I look healthier, I know it’s because I am healthier. And therefore I feel better about myself. LONG gone are the days when I would “just want to be thin”, to conform to some ideal that I, unfortunately like a lot of us, felt pressured into believing was the way I had to be.
In terms of how I feel about my body, I’m a lot more relaxed about it than I was when I was in my 20s (or even 30s). I’m definitely not fighting the ageing process, but I’m doing what I can to keep myself as fit and healthy as possible. That’s maybe gone a bit slack lately with the whole lockdown situation (and having had a severely injured arm for the past month or so!), but I’m far from complacent about my health.
I still have some pounds to shift in order to feel at my healthiest and stop the headaches and general lethargy. I’m not, however, berating or punishing myself for it. During lockdown, a lot of people have joked about how they’re often still in their pyjamas at noon or haven’t worn makeup for weeks or are eating an awful lot more due to being inside all day long. All of this is perfectly okay. As long as we practise self-care, give ourselves a break – and know that we don’t have to be perfect – then that’s what matters.
My self-image experience at the Fantasie shoot
I’ve also learnt to love the parts that, in the past, I’ve not liked about myself. Learning to love the parts you hate can be truly liberating and is part of self-acceptance. Remember, others are rarely bothered about – or notice – the bits you’re hung up on.
A classic example happened at the shoot for this campaign. I’d lost my voice following a chest infection I’d had the week before. I was totally croaky and could barely get a few words out before coughing (don’t worry, this was pre-Covid).
At the shoot I was CONSTANTLY apologising for my awful voice. To me it sounded dreadful, and I was so worried that I’d ruin the video part of the shoot due to me rasping my words. Even though the (absolutely wonderful) director kept telling me I sounded fine, I of course thought she was just being nice to make me feel better.
When the video clips were finally released a few months later, I got ready to watch what I thought would be a horrendous few seconds of me not sounding at all like myself… WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT – I sounded totally normal. No croaks or rasping whatsoever. All that panic about me ruining the video and sounding stupid was all for nothing.
I know my croaky voice was temporary, but the sentiment is still the same: if you’re hung up about something to do with your appearance – the size of your bum, the shape of your nose or what your voice sounds like – REMEMBER, NO ONE ELSE NOTICES THESE THINGS.
It’s Who. You. Are.
And all those things are what make you truly unique and, therefore, pretty bloody amazing.
Tell me in the comments about you deal with your hang ups, and how you’re getting on on your journey to self-acceptance… how accepting are YOU about the person you are/have become?
Stay home, stay safe XOXO
Here are the new Fantasie styles for SS20: if you’ve never tried Fantasie before – and especially if you’re on the boobylicious side like me – I can’t recommend their lingerie enough. It’s as pretty as it is functional as it is comfortable. The majority of the bras I own are by Fantasie and they are always my favourites. They cater for my awkward small-back-large-cup size of 30G, and thank god, because where would my boobs be (literally and figuratively…) without them?!
You’ll feel secure and you’ll feel (and look) fabulous. That is all.
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