I’ve been blown away by the number of women who have messaged and spoken to me about how much my story with body confidence, self-esteem and weight loss has resonated with them and how highlighting it has made them start to question if there is a different choice for them.
My main motivation aside from changing the world for my kids to have a better future for their mental health is “imagine what you could achieve in the time you spend worrying about what you look like.” When we add up time retaking selfies, editing photos, fussing over outfit changes, shopping for sucky in underwear, beauty treatments to fix stuff, diets to make us thinner because life will be better then, it’s a scary amount of time that we could actually spend enjoying the life we have.
I get the ladies I work with to start by reflecting on where their body image issues have originated from so they can have a better understanding of where to begin. When I did this work myself, it became clear that there were three areas of my life that had a huge impact on how I have felt about my body. They are being a bobby (police officer), having my babies and the beauty industry I’ve been working in for the last ten years. My particular body image issues have been with my size and weight. I have not had to deal with body image issues that come from having different colour skin, disabilities or LGBTQ+ to name a few and they come with their own levels of lack of acceptance and representation.
So, let’s start with the police. First things first, they like a person to fit a certain mould. In an organisation that has rank, discipline and structures its much easier for that to work when people fall in line. For as long as I can remember I have had a personality that questioned why things are done the way they are and that challenged things that weren’t right. It didn’t fit well and very quickly I rubbed people and supervisors up the wrong way and developed a reputation as a kid who had too much to say for herself. I was 19 and naive. Being somewhere you don’t fit goes one of two ways: – you either change to fit or you feel like you are wrong for being you.
I attended a medical a few months into joining and when they weighed and measured me the nurse kindly told me I was obese. At the age of 19, a size 12 and having not long passed a police entrance fitness test that sentence seemed absolutely ridiculous. But the reality is in a fatphobic world it stuck like glue. I was already “counting syns” and points after being on a diet to try and obtain a weight that was similar to my mom’s. During my teens, I had flown past her average weight without realising she maintained that through her own restrictive eating and that it is not an issue to be different. One specific incident that has stuck to that same glue was being stuck on a cordon during a bomb scare for 10 hours without anything to eat. It made me feel unwell and anxious when it came to eating or more so worrying I might not get food. From then on, anytime I heard a call on the radio that suggested there could be a major incident I would head straight to the newsagents next door to stuff my uniform with biscuits and crisps to make sure I didn’t get caught without food again. And to finish off that section of my life I got myself a policeman boyfriend who broke my heart in two and I learned about the breakup weight loss system! It was magical living on Farley’s Rusks and a bit of fresh pasta for four weeks! So, if I’ve managed to restrict and drop weight rapidly once before, why can’t I manage it now??? (Make sure you always sense the sarcasm in my writing!)

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You will be pleased to know after working out ten years later that the world of policing was not the world for me, I made the brave decision to leave and start my own business and walked my ass into the world of the beauty industry. And, well that opened up a whole new can of worms. It is full of extremely glamourous people, a constant striving for perfectly formed bodies and faces and treatments to fix everything and anything that you feel is wrong with your body. Its living in a world of constant comparison which is one of the devils of self esteem and body confidence. There is a pressure to look good for clients, like nobody wants to walk in and see their beauty therapist looking like a sack of sh*t. How can you sell what you do if you don’t live and breathe it? Whilst I consider myself very privileged to have a special relationship with my clients, it does mean that I spent a lot of time talking about flaws and insecurities. Its like a daily reminder that I had to check in with my own standards. And finally, its an industry filled with before and after images to constantly remind you that you could look better.
Last but by no means least, in fact it’s probably the biggest reason I developed issues of my own, is becoming a mom! My kids are nine and six now and being a mom is something I have wanted since I was 19 and it didn’t disappoint! But holy sh*t, it changed my body more than I could have ever prepared for. I gained 4 stone gained both times. The first time I was quite poorly towards the end with pre-eclampsia and ballooned with water retention. A friend of a friend commented on some photos of me at a friend’s birthday night out saying “god, how fat has Amy got?” That particular night I had a last-minute change of outfit because the shoes I had planned to wear wouldn’t fit my swollen feet and I had to go out in a pair of wedges that had an adjustable strap. So, the comments were a bit more painful because I was very aware about my size already and conscious of it. After my son was born in 2013, I lost most of that four stone over two years after restricting my carbohydrate intake. To be honest that was pretty remarkable because I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression after having him and I have been a massive emotional eater. Two years later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The nausea was unbearable for nearly twenty weeks, so any plans of healthy eating went out the window.
If you have had a baby and are one of the people who posted on social media “I’m back in my size 8s two weeks after giving birth” then no offence is meant to you when I talk about how hard it is to see other people having success in an area I have felt like a constant failure in for years. I had a horrible birth with her but after six weeks was back to Joe Wickes (who I love btw) workout plan doing mountain climbers and couldn’t walk afterwards for weeks because I hurt my hips so much. In an attempt to avoid post-natal depression again I threw myself into work and opened a busy salon. It was exhausting and stressful and I struggled to fit in exercise or establish a healthy eating routine around clients so survived on sugar for energy.
I’d like to throw in an extra B for good measure – Being a bridesmaid. The fun of dress shopping and declaring your post baby sizing to the saleswoman was a lovely little treat. And my favourite part was them insisting they buy the dress 3 sizes bigger to fit my one biggest measurement to highlight to all my friends what my body now looked like!
Now it’s important to stress that the main reason all this became such an issue is because we live in a society that is scared of fat, being fat, fat people are stigmatised, and it basically made me very scared of being fat. It called Fatphobia and it is not ok.
I know Ive grown up being fatphobic because I’ve been on a diet since age 16 trying to weigh the same as my mom who lovingly told me my whole life, I am just big boned. My thighs touch at the top and rub when I wear dresses which I thought was a weight problem! It is not! I could write an entire book on dieting, I’ve tried them all: Slimming world, Weight watchers, Atkins, Keto, 5:2, Overnight fasting, I even became a Certaslim rep which is a diet plan like Cambridge because I lost so much weight on that plan. I’ve bought Colon cleanse powder, weight loss tablets, appetite suppressants, a smelling stick that you sniff when you feel hungry to stop you eating. I’ve done juice diets, no carbs, Herbalife, Juice plus all of which tell you different “good” and “bad” foods you can and can’t eat. I’ve weighed myself daily, weekly, hourly! I’m exhausted just writing this out! Pop it in a bowl and mix it all together and I was left with bingeing, secret eating, guilt, emotional eating, stress eating, wishing I could make myself sick and not being able to! And finally, to a point of not actually being able to eat a meal without criticising myself because it was full of bad food or berating myself that if I can eat clean now then why couldn’t I do it all the time. I sought help from a therapist and started a new life making peace with food and rebuilding my relationship with it and myself through intuitive eating. Its ongoing and always will be but for the peace and quiet I have in my head now when it comes to my body and food, its worth the effort.

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Available on Amazon – click to buy
I’ve retrained an drepositioned myself as a positive body image educator to help women understand what goes on around them and know how to take control of it so that they can lead happy lives with themselves in the body they have. And to drive change in the service based beauty industry so that it can have an impact on clients body confidence and self-esteem.
 
Check out The Body Confidence Masterplan at www.beautyrebellion.co.uk if you want to start living a life that isn’t consumed by what you look like. It will be worth it, I promise.
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