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body acceptance

It’s a few days into January and a familiar, unwelcome feeling is looming in the back of my mind. It’s a specific type of dread, regret and panic all at the same time. I dare to glance at myself in the mirror beside my bed. This is a bad idea, but I force my eyes towards the reflection… I feel sick.

I thought I had come far this year. They say you gain confidence as you get older. That the latter part of your twenties herald a time when you no longer gasp at the sight of your own body. 2019 gave us movement and space to say no to the one-size-fits-all narrative we’d been fed since the beginning. I thought I was there. I was done with the self-criticism and had accepted my body for what it is: a body.

January 2020 has proven me wrong. Just like every January, I am in a state of disgust at my own body- and I’m not the only one.

This time of year is one of the worst for those struggling with their body image- and by ‘those’, I mean most people. We have let our guard down these past few weeks, clinging to the holiday season as an excuse to… to what? To pack on a few extra layers maybe? It’s been a cold winter to be fair. To change our relationship status with food from, ‘it’s complicated’ to ‘In love’ for five minutes? To take a break from punishing ourselves when we ‘lose control’?

Whatever way we toxically justify the winter weight gain, the question remains: why? Why do we do it?

Those of us who preach body positivity delight in the fat rolls of others but still cringe at our own. We are so proud of friends when they appear to achieve body acceptance. We would never use ‘fat’ as an insult… but we pull angrily at the rolls on our tummies and double chins when we see ourselves in the gaps between fog on the mirror.

Before I disappoint, I have not come up with an answer as to why we can’t achieve full-body acceptance. However, it would help if we all admitted to having days… or months when our membership to the body positive club was revoked temporarily. Being semi-okay with your own body is EXHAUSTING. It is so much easier to adore someone else’s being, body and mind.

Maybe simply achieving that is a steppingstone: to celebrate all bodies, but our own. This could eventually lead to a relationship with our earthly vessel that is deemed ‘not as complicated as before, but not yet perfect’.

So, this January, let us not to be so hard on ourselves if we are not yet OKAY with our outer shells. It is just as toxic to hate our thoughts as it is to hate our bodies. We cannot expect a year of Internet movement to undo a lifetime of damage done by unrealistic standards and fatphobic culture.  Cut your mind some slack… even if you can’t do the same for your body, just yet.

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Your body goes through some of the most overwhelming changes during and after pregnancy. It can be extremely daunting, especially for new mums like Brooke Vincent, who are experiencing these changes for the first time.

The Coronation Street star welcomed her first child, a boy named Mexx, last month. In a powerful open letter, the actress admitted that she felt ashamed for not being able to pick up where she left off.

She explained that she was supposed to get dressed up for the evening but struggled to find something that made her feel beautiful.

“Tonight I was supposed to look completely different, I was supposed to be dressed up, hair and make up done. ready to eat some nice food and maybe have my first cocktail in 11 months with Kean, our first time away from Mexx for an hour or two, instead I look like this,” she wrote alongside a photo of her in her pyjamas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Brooke Levi Vincent  (@brookelevivincent) on

Brooke continued, “I look like this because I naively thought that 4 weeks after my baby I would be in all my old clothes looking exactly like I did before I got pregnant. I thought my jeans would instantly fit and I would just be my “old self” only with my new beautiful baby. 

“How wrong I was, I tried 23 outfits on at least, nothing looked right, nothing looked like me and I felt like I was looking at a completely different person, I suppose to a certain extent I now am, I am Mexx’s mum,” Brooke reflected.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Brooke Levi Vincent  (@brookelevivincent) on

The soap star said she sobbed after trying on the bundle of different outfits.

“I sat and cried and felt ashamed that I haven't been able to pick up where I left off like people seem to do here on Instagram! The reason for this post is that even when you’re in this bizarre industry you still get sucked in, you still feel a certain way when you see others posts. So this was so important for me to say, for all the women who think they should look, act or feel a certain way after a baby DONT! Don’t beat yourself up,” the new mum pleaded.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Brooke Levi Vincent  (@brookelevivincent) on

"Do you and if 4/6/8weeks or even a year after giving birth you don’t fit in your old clothes don’t worry, you can always join my club. It’s important to be honest because being a new mummy is daunting enough! The most important thing is me & Mexx are healthy & happy and as soon as my baby boy looked at me, I realised he doesn’t care if I fit in my old jeans or not .. So I guess creased watermelon PJs & slippers for now it is,” Brooke added.

Preach it, Brooke!

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The pressure to have a perfect ‘beach body’ still lingers despite waves of body positive movements. The fear of not looking good enough still hangs over so many women, but people like Stacey Solomon are reminding us to embrace our bodies, just as they are.

The mum-of-three is currently on holiday with her darling family and has been sharing their adventures with her Instagram followers.

Stacey showed off her post-baby body in a series of beach snaps and we can’t get over how content she looks.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stacey Solomon (@staceysolomon) on

The mum posed with her little boy, Rex in the photos, who may be the happiest baby we have ever seen.

She captioned the snap: ‘Beach babies. I’m determined to get a picture of all of us while we are here but for now it’s just me, Rexy and Leightons butt.

‘The boys are having far too much fun for pictures. Feeling so lucky to spend precious time in, what I can only describe as paradise, with them making memories.’

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stacey Solomon (@staceysolomon) on

The presenter added a message for her beau Joe Swash, ‘Hurry up and get here Joe Joe we miss you.’

Fans of the Loose Women star were quick to comment on how stunning she looked.

One wrote, ‘Amazing. You look beautiful and so real. My little boy is nearly 4 months old so I love watching the journey you and Rex have.’

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stacey Solomon (@staceysolomon) on

Another wrote, ‘You seriously are an amazing example to young mums or any mums for that matter! Beautiful girl with a beautiful life.’

‘So beautiful @staceysolomon. I love that you’re not afraid to be who you are’ another gushed.

We couldn’t agree more. Stacey’s body confidence is so empowering.

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Vogue Williams has shared the most encouraging message to women who are trying to be more active this year.

Many of us have vowed to join the gym, cut down on junk food and eat more greens this year, but it isn’t always easy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by voguewilliams (@voguewilliams) on

Vogue, who is a fitness fanatic, admitted that even she can struggle with staying focused on working out and eating well.

She posted a bikini photo to Instagram alongside the most honest message: “It’s January so I know lots of people will be starting at the gym. Firstly the fact you’ve even started is unreal, don’t feel intimidated in there.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by voguewilliams (@voguewilliams) on

She told her followers to go to classes, get the odd PT and you’ll be flying in no time.

The DJ explained that she adores going to the gym, especially because of the impact it has on both her physical and mental health.

“It’s great for my body but even better for my mind. Women are hard on themselves, I’m hard on myself too but I’m happy with my body now,” she wrote.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by voguewilliams (@voguewilliams) on

Vogue may have a figure to die for, but the mum said being slim isn’t the be all and end all.

“It made a baby, that’s what impresses me most,” the mum gushed.

“I get asked a lot about what I do to stay in shape. I’m consistent in the gym and I eat healthy ISH. I never say no to things I want but eat them in moderation,” Vogue revealed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by voguewilliams (@voguewilliams) on

She begged her followers not to fall for ‘ridiculous flat tummy shakes or diet suppressants’ that are constantly promoted by celebrities and influencers around this time of the year.

“If you want to tone up and lose weight, move more and eat healthily. It’s a slower process than a full-on diet but the results show and last longer,” she added.

We love how honest Vogue is.

Our Instagram feeds have been flooded with posts about shedding the Christmas weight and the Kardashian clan are forever promoting diet shakes so there’s no doubt Vogue’s honest and positive post has made us and a lot of other women feel far better.

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The body positivity movement has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years.

In an effort to shut down unrealistic beauty expectations, more and more bloggers are ditching the filters and face-tuning apps and are instead choosing to embrace their true selves, flaws and all.

Ariella Nyssa, a body positive influencer, has always been vocal about her journey to self acceptance, and a recent post about embracing her cellulite was both relatable and powerful.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ariella Nyssa (@_aariellanyssa) on

'Cellulite, fat, uneven skin. This is me,' she wrote. 

'There was a time in my life where I HATED these things. I wanted to cut them off my body, I wanted to be someone else.'

'It’s only this last year that I have realised the beauty in each and every one of these things. My cellulite is BEAUTIFUL. My fat and rolls, still BEAUTIFUL. And my uneven tan, STILL BEAUTIFUL.'

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ariella Nyssa (@_aariellanyssa) on

'It’s about time we all learnt to love ourselves at every stage of our lives. Don’t let the number on the scales define you.'

'Observe and identify the beautiful qualities you possess and praise them! Love them! Embrace them! For they are they make you YOU!'

Ariella has also discussed the impact and comparisons that come with having an online presence. 

'I’ve seen so many of my beautiful friends leaving social media because they aren’t happy. I can completely see why that is! I have down days about instagram all the time. It’s extremely hard not to compare yourself to every other influencer there is,' she said. 

It's about time influencers were giving us some realness. 

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