Ah, body confidence. I never understood how I could put on red lipstick/bomb af eyeliner/heels/a combination of all three and feel like a force to be reckoned with, but I never felt the same wearing a bikini/crop top/anything that showed off my stomach. I can’t even describe how I got myself from a state of hating my body to actually liking it, but it happened.

 I’m just going to say it, I’m what you would class as ‘skinny’ – I don’t do a lot of vigorous exercise, I don’t eat particularly well, but I have always been petite. (Not in height though, I’m 5’6” which is taller than the national average, so there you go). To a lot of people, I have been blessed. But that’s not always how I felt. From the ages of 13-16 (coinciding with the years I became super-aware of myself, also known as puberty) I wouldn’t show off my stomach, I hated my legs (the one thing I have always liked is that they’re long), and if I could spend the rest of my life in jeans and a t-shirt, I would.

I think of my body like a baby sparrow: I’m quite thin, but tall (the main difference myself and sparrows have is that I carry a lot of weight in my thighs, and I am also a girl whereas a sparrow is a bird). I also don’t have hips. AT ALL. I hated this when I was younger. When I started to develop (I’m not going to say it because it makes me squirm, but you know what I mean), I was so upset that my hips never sprouted too. I felt like if I cut my hair short and wore baggy clothes, I could probably be mistaken for a boy. I would look at women (namely my mum) who had hips and I felt like I was letting women everywhere down. 

I have now since learned that the little pouch of fat at the bottom of your stomach is completely normal, but 14-year-old Ashleigh didn’t know that, and this resulted in me thinking I was fat as “my stomach should be flat”. This was due to a complete lack of awareness, but it didn’t help that when I googled it I was hit with methods of how to remove it.

I don’t want to blame all of this on the media, as I am sure I would have felt the same if I was a teenager in the Stone Age. Puberty is a time where you will feel more self-conscious than usual, but this is exacerbated by the media. It’s not healthy to grow up in a society where all women in adverts are hairless, wearing “natural makeup” (which is really just a full face but toned down) and are the slimmest creatures you have ever witnessed. I’m so glad things are changing, as my sisters and my cousins and every other teenage girl out there won’t have the same feelings on their body as I did. Their are more models who don’t look “perfect” out there, and this is amazing. How amazing would it have been to see a model who looked like you when you were thirteen?

Looking back on how self-conscious I was, I can see how idiotic and stupid I was. Yeah, I may not have hips but that doesn’t mean anything. I love who I am, I love that not having hips means that I can still buy skirts from the kid’s section and I love how I look. It’s taken me almost seven years to get to this point, and there are days where I look at myself and think I look terrible and fat, and that I hate my legs and my arms, but confidence shines through. As long as you are happy with yourself, then who really cares what anyone else thinks?! 

*This post wasn’t a way for me to brag about how I have a “good body”, it’s simply a way for me to highlight the struggles I went through growing up. Especially at this time of year it is so important to let people know that they are not alone and that everyone feels the same. I actually wrote a post this time last year where I discussed hating my body. I want to let you all know I do feel like that occasionally, but things have got a lot better and I've learned to love myself and how I look. I feel so blessed that I have a platform – no matter how small – to talk about things that are important to me and that other people may be able to resonate with. Thank you so much for reading, I hope you’re all having a great day 😊

Ashleigh xxx