My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Self-Acceptance #ItsWhoIAm

My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Other Thoughts #ItsWhoIAm | Not Dressed As Lamb
Not Dressed As Lamb

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”.

In the main image I’m wearing Fantasie’s “Memoir” moulded bra* [and these pyjamas*]

 

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.

My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Other Self-Acceptance Thoughts | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Fashion and Beauty Blog

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.

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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.

 

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).

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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

Catherine signature

Fantasie SS20

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.

Fantasie SS20 Bras: My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Other Self-Acceptance Thoughts | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Fashion and Beauty Blog

From top, L-R: Tamara / Frances / Impression White / Memoir / Ana / Impression Black

Fantasie SS20 #ItsWhoIAm Campaign: My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Other Self-Acceptance Thoughts | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Fashion and Beauty Blog

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My Body, Not Fighting the Ageing Process and Other Self-Acceptance Thoughts | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Fashion and Beauty Blog

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41 Comments

  1. May 16, 2020 / 11:30 pm

    I am a huge fan of Fantasie underwear Catherine and I think this post is brilliant. There have been many times I have been amazed at the fit of their bras (they transform my boobs!) I’ve wanted to post but have shied away. I admire your bravery and I think you look fabulous xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:32 pm

      Oh gosh thank you Laurie, glad you enjoyed it! Fantasie’s bras are DEFINITELY transformative… I wear them as everyday bras as well as for “best”, they’re that comfy. x

  2. Sue Dunlop
    May 14, 2020 / 4:37 pm

    Once again, you are breaking barriers and leading the way for women. Thank you, as always, for your refreshing viewpoint, courage and willingness to take on stereotypes. I, just like others, think you look great in your strong, healthy body and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:33 pm

      Aww Sue thank you, that’s such a kind thing to say!! Really glad you liked the post 🙂

  3. May 13, 2020 / 6:09 pm

    First, many congrats on being on the inside cover of Woman & Home magazine!

    Your lingerie photo is very pretty. And I didn’t even notice the tummy wrinkles until you mentioned them. Ha! You are beautiful at 48!

    It’s a hard process to self acceptance. When I was younger, even though I looked fine, I always felt like I wanted to lose 10 more pounds. I was never satisfied. I saw a picture of myself awhile back from when I was around 30 (I’m 56 now). And thought, “Wow! I looked freaking awesome!” I wish I could have appreciated it at the time. Now, health issues – hypothyroidism / fibromyalgia / CSF – have made exercise very difficult and weight gain so easy. I am definitely fluffy! But I have finally learned to love myself flaws and all. I am not my illnesses or my body weight.

    Excellent post, Catherine!

    Michelle,
    https://mybijoulifeonline.com

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:34 pm

      Michelle thank you, I knew the ad was coming up in the June issue but it was a special treat to be on the inside front cover!!

      Self-acceptance IS a hard one, I totally hear you. ” I am not my illnesses or my body weight”… never a truer word said 😀 #thumbsup

  4. May 13, 2020 / 9:09 am

    Absolutely love this, Catherine! I did a lingerie ‘shoot’ a few years ago and I was a bit worried about it at first but in the end, like you, I just accepted that I’m in my 40s and it’s ok to have a healthy body that shows that! You do look beautiful though. And I LOVE the little video of you!
    Hugs
    Suzy xxx
    P.S We also have a mustard yellow velvet sofa! 😉

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:36 pm

      When you’re doing the shoot it’s so easy to be self-critical, isn’t it Suzy? That kneejerk reaction of “oh god what do I LOOK like…”?!! Why do we do it though, it’s a hard habit to break. I’m glad I went with that first photo and left it at that though, otherwise I might have been there forever fiddling with the pose and my underwear and =ughhhh=

      Thank you my lovely, so glad you enjoyed the post x

      P.S. YAY for mustard yellow velvet!!!!! I love ours [armchair]

  5. Sue
    May 13, 2020 / 7:57 am

    Well done you, fab and honest photo of a beautiful woman, and honesty takes courage in this day and age. Well done Fantasie too for using real women. As someone who has the same challenge as you, I’m a 32J it is great to see more of companies who see and make for real women. Thank you.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:39 pm

      Thank you Sue – yes I hear you on the small back/large cup size woes! But then I have to remind myself… my woes are someone else’s dream. I wonder why we automatically criticise ourselves rather than see our self-perceived “flaws” as positive assets. None so strange as folk women, lol 😉

  6. May 11, 2020 / 4:29 pm

    You look fabulous! So natural and at ease in the picture and the
    video. So true, that being healthy is the most important aspect to us all…. this is
    such an inspiring read as we all have our hang ups and we are probably our own worst
    critics – it’s time to cut ourselves some slack!
    let’s hope more companies are inspired and take Fantasies lead by starting to
    use mature, normal women – I know that I for one will be more likely to buy
    from them.
    Alison xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:42 pm

      Thank you Alison – I was SO pleased with the look and feel of the shoot, I think Fantasie did a great job with the style of the campaign. It really did a lot to enhance the self-acceptance message!

      And yes, I’d love to see more companies using regular women, those that do receive nothing but praise and positive reviews (maybe lockdown will encourage this more as large-scale professional photoshoots may not be possible for a VERY long time…?!!)

  7. May 8, 2020 / 9:35 pm

    My previous comment seems to have not gone through so I’ll repeat some of it: firstly, lovely photo actually. And oh, to have boobs instead of a wide back and small breasts (sigh). And how fabulous to have been one of the (real) women chosen for this ad. I love the way that you have promoted and stayed true to being oneself, Catherine. It’s very inspiring. In this world of plastic surgery, fillers, airbrushing, etc, it’s given me hope as a blogger, and I’m quite sure that so many others feel the same way. When I do some self care, I notice that I accept myself with all of my physical imperfections, and I focus on enjoying my life more. When I’m slack, and also dress sloppy, all of my insecurities come up, and they feel crippling. I focus on that rather than my life. I mostly accept that I am older (much!), and that my face and body definitely show signs of it. But I know that’s not all of me. I also never felt that one had to “be old”, that we could be youthful and vital and have a life, as the years came and went.

    • May 8, 2020 / 9:37 pm

      Catherine, I did this second post as only 6 comments showed up for me when I reread your post, apologies

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:50 pm

      All your comments came through my lovely, I’m not sure why they didn’t show up for you first time…? Sorry you had to type it all over again!

      Interesting to hear you mention my small back/large cups… crazy how what we despair over is what someone else desires. I always thought how much easier it would be to have smaller boobs. But since getting measured properly in my late 30s as I mentioned I somehow realised that my main problem wasn’t the size of my boobs, but the way I was dressing them (i.e. not properly). Our insecurities are greatly helped by effort and self-care, when we make the most of a particular feature, by giving them the attention they deserve. Not sure what I’m trying to get at here, I’m kinda rambling now… I’m sure you know what I’m getting at though.

      Thank you for the lovely comments as always. And as you said in your first comment, ” I’m alive and having a good life so that’s good” – that’s definitely the most important thing! x

  8. Diane B
    May 8, 2020 / 5:51 pm

    You look perfectly lovely. Those are not little rolls, they are the skin that allow us to move and bend. I wish I had bras like that when I was younger and pre reduction. That is where they are supposed to sit, not on the ribcage..haha. I love the beautiful robe and bottoms. Here in Canada, I cannot get the Woman and Home until 2 months later, just got the April one, so will eagerly wait for your campaign and hope that this lockdown still allows us to get the wonderful British magazines that I love. Thanks for this in this time and always.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:51 pm

      Diane that’s a lovely way to describe them… you’re so right! Thank you, it’s wonderful to know you’ll be looking out for this issue in a few weeks! x

  9. Erika
    May 8, 2020 / 11:37 am

    Well, I think that’s one of the nicest photos of you…. you look lovely in your normality, which is refreshing when much of social media seems to be selling a lie. Bodies do change with age, but we’re so often expected to resist that change.
    And as for what we think of as our ‘imperfections’, as you say other people don’t notice anyway as they’re so hung up on their own. A bit of glamour is attainable, perfection….not so much.
    I decided to ditch the hair dye a couple of years ago and with my daughter’s encouragement, go grey. I love it but boy, does it divide opinion among my friends! Most like it but for a couple it’ s like a memento mori !! Husband commented “Oh, you’ve dyed your hair grey. Nice.” ((sigh))
    As ever, a lovely post.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:55 pm

      Gosh Erika thank you! And ugh it’s true about others no noticing our “imperfections”. So often I hear women mention something they’re hung on and I think to myself that I’ve NEVER noticed that about them. You tend to see their beautiful features/characteristics far more often (or, unfortunately, “ugly” characteristics if they’re not a nice person… doesn’t matter how “beautiful” they are, their awful personality is all you see) 🙁

      I think it’s lovely to hear you’ve ditched the hair dye – I’m still dyeing mine but more for the fact that I’m not ready to give up being a (albeit faux) redhead just yet. I’m thinking I’ll try to grow it out when I’m 50 and see how grey I am… I’m looking forward to when it’s beautifully grey enough to ditch the dye altogether!

  10. May 8, 2020 / 9:41 am

    Now that’s how we want to see it! Real women! When I look at my photos, especially now without tights, I am thinking: gosh what a old legs and arms. But it’s me! I don’t photoshop. I don’t want to. Good for you that you stayed with this photo. There is nothing wrong with it! You still are beautiful!

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:56 pm

      Aww Nancy thank you! So glad you liked the campaign 🙂

  11. Marie
    May 8, 2020 / 8:25 am

    Wow Catherine you look amazing !! You do know you are much more than a fashion blogger, you are empowering women in so many ways so well done you for being a beautiful, warm ,kind authentic ambassador for all of us xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:57 pm

      Oh Marie that is SO kind of you to say – thank you ever so much ♥♥♥

  12. May 8, 2020 / 12:42 am

    Amazing to be part of that ad, Catherine. Especially as, whether you know it, or not, you’ve been making it ok to be female and not fitting in with the stereotypes, all along. And, having read so much of your blog, it has been a consistent message. Most of us are not going to get plastic surgery, fillers, be glamorous, be perfect, look 25 when we are 50 (which to me is so spooky), but we do want to look good, we do know that self care matters. And I do so love reading these posts which reinforce all of this xxxxxxxxxx How do I deal with my hang-ups? On a good day I just accept them, when I don’t do self care I obsess about every darn thing wrong with me, including ageing. Apparently I look years younger than my age, but I do wonder if people have just forgotten their glasses when they say that as I definitely do show the ravages of time and life. I know that I am now an Oldie. Tant pis. I’m alive and having a good life so that’s good.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:57 pm

      Reply to your second comment is above!! x

  13. May 7, 2020 / 10:38 pm

    Catherine you are so hot in that bod !
    You rightly should be proud and you know what? a confident woman is very sexy !
    Love ya
    Ashley xxxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:57 pm

      Bless you lovely Ashley… thank you, love you too! x

  14. Heide
    May 7, 2020 / 7:55 pm

    You look fabulous in that pic, classy sexy, the confidence you have in who you are comes through beautifully 🙂 Thanks for another brilliant post

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:58 pm

      Awww Heide thank you so much! That’s a lovely thing to say x

  15. May 7, 2020 / 7:54 pm

    Loving this pic and the idea with it Catherine. Thank you for sharing and all the best to you! xo Sabina

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 20, 2020 / 4:58 pm

      Sabina thank you, really glad you liked the campaign x

  16. May 7, 2020 / 5:13 pm

    Well done Catherine. I wish I’d been as brave when I did a solo home shoot for Playtex. I took dozens of photos and rejected 99% because I was looking wrinkly, wobbly or showing back fat /bingo wings. It must be very liberating to say this is who I am, with just 1 photo. Intellectually I want to do it but there’s still so much pressure in society for women not to look old.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 7, 2020 / 5:32 pm

      Thanks Gail – I will admit that that’s normally how I take photos for shoots… I don’t think I’ve ever taken just one before! Luckily we got a pretty good photo to begin with (it wasn’t exactly a blooper – if I’d been pulling a dopey face then yes, I would have taken it again) so I thought I had to go with it. It’s one of those things that the more you do it, the easier it becomes…

  17. Pilar Collignon
    May 7, 2020 / 5:10 pm

    Well, the first thing I noticed was: nice rack hahaha since I don’t have much boobs I notice them hahaha second was the robe!! Loved it!!! Then I read the article and noticed the little rolls. Everything else you talked about I didn’t really saw. You are beautiful.

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 7, 2020 / 5:35 pm

      Hmm I can’t remember whether I saw the cleavage(!!) or the rolls first Pilar, but I was a bit shocked by both! But I have both, and I had to practise what I was about to preach [with regards to the subject of the post] and just… “let them be” 😉

      Thank you so much, you’re a love xx

  18. May 7, 2020 / 3:58 pm

    What a WONDERFUL post today! This is just the message I needed to hear, especially sitting here at my laptop in farm jeans, no makeup, crazy-woman hair, and depressed from getting on the scale this morning. You have been leading this charge for a long time, and that’s one reason you are so respected by so many. Keep up the great work, lady!

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 7, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      Oh bless you Mary Katherine, thank you! Believe me I’ve looked pretty shocking throughout most of lockdown so far… today I put makeup on but didn;t get round to washing my hair. It’s okay. I’ll do it tomorrow!

      Take the scales thing as a positive thing – don’t get depressed about it. See it as an incentive to get fit and then just work on that rather than the number on the scales. Even doing a little something towards your diet & fitness will make you feel better, better than any number can! x

  19. May 7, 2020 / 2:21 pm

    Oh Ms. Catherine! I am your age-equal…It’s been a challenge on so many fronts for me, thankfully those age feelings are fleeting, but nonetheless experienced…but when i realize there’s nothing i can do about the ageing process except be the best me, somehow the anxiety lessens to almost dissipation, until it surfaces again and the mental process starts…but it’s getting easier…there’s so many things i love about being 48–full womanly confidence, complete resolve in my beliefs, and not worrying about what others think…..
    xo,
    your fellow 48 year old
    Eva

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 7, 2020 / 5:40 pm

      Being the best you is EXACTLY what we should all be doing Eva… because really, what other alternative do we have?!! I love hearing that you love being 48. I do too. I also love hearing that you don’t worry about what others think about you. It’s all part of the process of self-acceptance and letting go of our hangups. Ultimately that makes us happier – or at least less stressed! Thank you x

  20. Caroline Roberts
    May 7, 2020 / 1:46 pm

    You look and are amazing! A lovely read xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 7, 2020 / 5:40 pm

      Oh Caroline thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it x

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