Photo-shoots, body con dresses + re-defining self-love

photoshootSo, I went to a Cosmopolitan magazine photo shoot yesterday. The feature is about women who have ditched the diets and love their body - big high fives to Cosmo for that, and they asked three awesome women - check out my girls Becky and Jen - to tell their story. They put us in glam-girl make up, they did our hair all purrity, they then put three size 18+ girls in black body-con dresses. This pushed every button for me. I am a size 20 at the moment - it fluctuates between 16 and 24 - and I've got used to getting creative when dressing this body. I’ve had a lot of practice, I’ve been in a big girl body since I was 10 years old, so I know what works for it and what doesn’t. I know that because I have a tilted pelvis, my ass sticks out ala Kim K which can often make my tummy look like I’m 6 months pregnant, which is a prom dress and empire line are my friends. It’s why I DO NOT rock a figure-hugging, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination, might-as-well-be-naked body-con dress. Ever.

I have mad love for the girls I follow on Instagram who really flaunt their curves in skin tight clothes with their #effyoubodystandards attitude, yet there I was, when faced with absolutely every  pronounced, look-at-me, rise and fall of body flesh on show, desperately wanting the art department at Cosmo to use every photoshop tool I’ve spent so long teaching teen girls is a weapon used against our body reality to shape up my chub.

Way to go self-esteem and body-confidence expert.

On the train home, I journaled the shit out of this realisation.

The one in which I realised my self-love was conditional.

The one in which I realise I love my tummy and ass if I’m wearing a prom dress, I love it slightly less however if it is in a super-tight, show-what-yo-mumma-gave-you dress that it about to go national.

The one in which I realise that since starting this #INbodyment self-exploration, the one that’s supposed to have me digging on my sweet self x1000, I just feel like a big fucking fraud because I don't love on myself ALL the time.

The one in which, after an hour o' journalling, I realise this is nothing to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with my menstrual cycle. 

I am day 24 and if you’ve participated in the Explore Your Lady Landscape programme or Crack Your Lady Code classes, you’ll know that day 24, for me, is the day when my inner critic dons black rubber, cracks her whip and does everything she can to become the dominatrix o’ me. Basically she tries to make me her bitch.

As I begin to get really familiar with my body in each phase of my cycle each month - how it feels physically and how I feel about it -  I’m super aware that I'm experiencing my body through the lens of the current phase I'm in, so basically, how I perceive my body, changes from week to week as I travel through the cycle.

At each phase of my cycle, I show up to life as a different woman and what I eat, how I feel, what I crave, what I need, how I want to spend my time is totally dependent on where I'm at in my cycle. In pre-ovulation I’m spring-like, ready for anything, I just want to get shit done. In ovulation I’m summer-like, full with potential and become a manifesting maven. In pre-menstruation I’m autumn-like, I retreat inwards, I become an editrix o’ my life and get super critical. In menstruation, I’m winter-like, and I am in my cave, potentising.

Can you see how knowing this information about your cycle can help you to get to know yourself and your body better? Most importantly, it can help you to realize that you’re not crazy, and that you DO experience your body differently from week to week, you’re a woman, it’s what we do, we're cyclic, baby!

By choosing #INbodyment, I’m re-defining self-love. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, 'I love myself unconditionally’ concept. That’s just another example of an impossible ideal that we can beat ourselves up for when we can’t figure out why we DON’T love ourselves unconditionally. As women, our bodies have been labelled and defined by society, dudekind, editorial meetings, family members, personal experiences and sadly, ourselves. So, this is an open invite as part o' #INbodyment to re-define self-love - to experience it, feel it, live in it and explore it as it is for you. In YOUR body.

What's your definition of self-love? Do you feel a pressure to love on your sweet self ALL the time? Is it possible? Or do you struggle with self-love as an idea? I'd LOVE for you to share your thoughts either in the comments below or over at the facebook page. Be sure to head it up with the hashtag #inbodyment