Accepting Average

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Six weeks ago a friend and I were walking down the main high street in Birmingham, when we were stopped by someone who was promoting a new photography studio that had just opened in the city. After a conversation, we came to a deal that involved a makeover and photography day for us both, complete with champagne and various treatments at an enormous discount. Since then, we’ve had the date firmly booked into our calendars and we’ve been looking forward to it.

Until today, that is.

The shoot is tomorrow. It is rare that I will discuss issues of body confidence unless it focuses on the positive, but today I had to choose a series of outfits to take with me, and the whole process left me feeling totally deflated.

I’m not fashionable or fashion conscious, and never have been. I prefer to spend my time in sweaters and tracksuits bottoms in my spare time, my hair is scraped back on the top of my head and the last time I put any effort into applying make up was in March for my friend’s birthday. My reflection in the mirror today was quite a sorry state – my hair hasn’t been cut for about two years, I have never had a manicure and my eyebrows are beginning to take over my face.

On an average day, this doesn’t necessarily bother me – I have a busy and often stressful life and have better things to worry about than whether my nails are painted. I tell myself that I’m an average woman and I am comfortable with that. However, the process of getting ready today reminded me of how many beautiful clothes I can no longer fit into – my favourite dresses won’t go past my thighs, jackets won’t fit on my arms, and once baggy tops are now tight, revealing the gut that has steadily appeared over the last five years.

It has served as a reminder of just how much I have let myself go. Having to stand in fromt of a camera tomorrow (even when there is champagne involved) is one of the most daunting things I have experienced in a while. It has made me realise that I’m accepting average, and I deserve far more than that.

What about you – do you like what you see in your reflection? Are you open about body confidence issues with your loved ones?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

Want to find out what happened? Click the image below to see the results!

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61 thoughts on “Accepting Average

  1. Susie, Susie, Susie!

    I am hearing you loud and clear! I have such negative feelings about my body…

    I have let myself go so badly over the past year or two and seem to lack any real motivation to change it. I totally understand baggy tops that now are tight. I keep putting off buying new bras because I am still hoping I will drop back to my old size…

    I try to focus on things other than my appearance because I don’t want to be shallow or reduce myself to simply how I look. There is so much more to me than that… so it angers and frustrates me that I still place such importance on it. The OH gets mad at me for the negative things I say about myself. He tells me everyday, sometimes several times, how beautiful he thinks I am, but I can’t see what he sees.

    I can say this to you, even though I can’t say it for myself… Go and enjoy tomorrow. Drink bubbly and laugh with your friend. Focus on being pampered and treated like a VIP. When the shots are developed, look at how good you look in them and celebrate it. Buy a frame and display your favourite photo. Try to see yourself through new, more forgiving eyes.

    I hope you have a great day Susie… Try to not stress about it, ok?

    • I think it’s wonderful that you have such a supportive OH – it’s so difficult to be able to accept compliments from our loved ones, particularly when we don’t feel that way about ourselves! You had brilliant advice – unfortunately, the day didn’t turn out quite as planned. Check out the image at the bottom of the post for the update!

  2. I have had serious image issues in the past few months. Fertility meds made me gain weight on an already obese body and I FREAKED OUT. I don’t like to look in the mirror a whole lot right now. I’ve completely changed our eating habits, but I won’t totally feel better until my reflection doesn’t make me frown. The blessed thing about your photo shoot tomorrow is that most photographers know how to angle you for shots so you will see the end result and love the pictures. It might just be the confidence boost you need. You will SEE yourself above what you consider average.

    • I’m so sorry you feel that way about yourself – my sister had to take a dose of steroids and was horrified by the amount of weight she put on. It’s completely changed the way that she looks after herself – she is extremely healthy and goes to the gym six days a week – she said she never wants to feel that way again! I hope you can feel better about yourself soon too!

      The shoot didn’t exactly go quite as expected… Check out the image at the bottom of the post for the update!

  3. I think that the most important thing is to be able to look into the mirror and say: well, I might not be able to change the way my nose is, but I have great eyes and I think I’m happy like this. At my age, and with the constant onslaught of social media throwing images of toned and slim models in people’s face, it is a constant struggle to ignore all of the influences. Amongst my friends alone, one was seriously anorexic and was admitted to hospital twice, one told me that she often has trouble eating, and two others are getting alarmingly thin and not eating pudding… I know of several other cases in my year group of girls just eating cucumber and celery for lunch, but they’re not happy.
    I a, incredibly fortunate to have a fast metabolism, and so I can eat pretty much whatever I like without gaining shed loads of weight. I never have to be careful about my weight, but I am conscious of my body image, and I go running when I can, and am now eating healthier. I’ll admit it, I’ve seen the images online for pro anorexia, and I’ve thought about skipping dinner, but it’s a really vicious cycle to get into and it’s more of a mental disorder than anything.

    Basically, accepting who you are is hard, but if you can take steps to make yourself feel better about yourself, like exercising and eating well, then that’s the thing that’s going to boost your confidence the most.

    • As a teacher I have worked with so many students that have body confidence issues and the self harm that accompanies it. It’s so difficult to hear young girls and boys talk about hating the way they look, and yet I think exactly the same thing. I was like you as a teen – I was sporty and had a fast metabolism. I have always loved food and never wanted to deprive myself of it, so there hasn’t been a point where I have ever skipped meals (doing that makes you put on weight anyway) and I hope that you never start to do anything like that… It could cause long-term effects on your body.

      The photo shoot didn’t quite go as expected – check out the image of the bottom of the post for the update!

  4. I would argue that you’ve been able to go a few years without really noticing things is actually a positive. That hopefully means you aren’t spending your days fretting over your body.

    Anyone can be fit. But it takes a lot of time, effort and dedication. It’s never a bad thing to achieve a higher level of fitness (especially due to the health benefits), but the question becomes – what do you have to give up?

    When you’re young and don’t have a lot going on it’s relatively easy to take the time required to spend in a gym. As you get older, other things get in the way. It’s easy to use other things as an excuse. But sometimes the reality is, maintaining your body simply isn’t as much of a priority as it once was. There’s only so much time in the day. Can you fit more exercise in? Maybe. Do you want to?

    For some people staying fit is the top priority in thier life, and it comes before almost anything. For others it’s less of a concern. Neither approach is wrong. It’s just a matter of what is important to you.

    • Thanks Drew! I have signed up for a half-marathon in October, to make myself get fit and to raise money for charity. I’ve started training and looking after myself better, and I’m hoping that it will have a positive impact on my physical and mental health…

      • That’s great. There is definitely a link between physical and mental health, and feeling better is always a good thing.

        For most of my life I’ve been in pretty great shape. The last year I have had a job change that doesn’t allow me to get to a gym much anymore, and due to young children my life revolves largely around them.

        For me I know I *can* fit more exercise in, but it’s not as much of a priority as it was. I’m still fairly fit, but I miss the shape I’m used to being in. It definitely takes a toll.

      • I used to be in great shape – I was very sporty and was on several county teams, but going to university changed everything. I’m determined to get back to what I was… I haven’t got children yet so I have more time thank lots of others!

  5. I rarely wear make up and am more comfortable in jeans and t-s…which these days are becoming more uncomfortable due to the expanding waistline… and I often feel ‘lesser’ for not being consumed by my appearance and think I should try harder (horrible word ‘should”) especially as I am getting older and things are starting to give and I don’t really like what I am seeing in the miirror…but it’s just nice to hear from another woman who isn’t consumed by clothes and make up. Makes me feel less weird. Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Claire! I much prefer clothes that I feel comfortable in – I spent lots of time in my 20’s wearing clothes that were so tight that I couldn’t relax for most of the night. Now, a hoodie and jogging bottoms make me feel much better because I can breathe!

      The shoot didn’t quite go as planned – check out the image at the bottom of the post for the follow up!

  6. I’ve struggled with my appearance the last several years, as turning 40 wasn’t good to me. I am most comfortable in my running clothes, lol. I definitely understand, and empathize. I shy away from the camera at all costs.

    • I loved taking pics, just of other people instead haha! I don’t like pics of myself… The shoot didn’t quite go as planned – check out the pic at the bottom of he post for the follow up!

  7. Wasn’t sure about this post at first, thought it was heading towards negativity but I like the turn around at the end and that you are being real. Sure, some people may seem more beautiful, thinner, taller, etc. But if you really think about how there is only one you. Just one. That is beautiful even if is on a bad hair day.

  8. I am right there with you, Suzie! I don’t think that uneasiness ever goes away. Being retired, I live in comfy clothes too. I hope your shoot goes well. I am sending you what little confidence I have for you to get through it! LOL! ❀

  9. Everyone has moments like this hon. I suggest that if you have the time this evening that you have a bath a really pamper your body so youappreciate it more. Think of tommorow as having fun – being silly even, getting pampered and have a drink to loosen yourself up but too much that you get over-emotional. The photo shoot isn’t for the cover of a magazine it’s for some nice memories. Proffessional photographers will know which angles suit and smile! I’d wish you look but you won’t need it πŸ˜ƒ

    • I did just that – had a long hot bath before the shoot and pampered myself… However, it didn’t quite work out quite as expected – check out he image at the bottom of the post for the results!

  10. I’m fine about myself looking in a mirror but hate photos and having them taken. I generally look awful in them. I don’t know if that means I have a positive self-image but the truth is in the lens! Since most people agree with me that I come out hellish in pictures I’d drink the champagne, have a great day and a laugh with my friend, take the pics home. And hide them! Enjoy your day, Suzie. Relax and enjoy.x

    • Thanks my lovely – Ive had so many messages from people who feel the same way! However, the shoot didn’t quite turn out in the way I expected – check out the image of the bottom of the post for the update!

  11. I’m right there with you *sigh* As it gets harder to lose weight I keep trying to accept how a look, even though I don’t like it. My mom and sister are skinny so I can’t rationalize it by saying I look like this b/c of genetics. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits and let the weight creep on and before I know it I don’t recognize who I am and my clothes don’t fit. The only way I seem to get things under control is to start truly hating myself and the way I look. Which is not at all healthy. On a positive note, with the half marathon training you should lose weight. And if you don’t lose weight (doesn’t happen for everyone) the shape of your body will change as you get more muscular.

    • I can relate to everything that you said there… Not recognising ,y own reflection is the biggest thing. I’m excited about the effect that the marathon will hopefully have too! However, the shoot didn’t quite go as planned – check out the image at the bottom of the post for the update!

  12. A good photographer may be able to let you see you in a totally different light.

    As for average, um yea I get you. I could not care less. My colleagues are forever complaining that I don’t dress my age (or go with the newest fashions). There are more important things in life. As for the mirror, I don’t stand there too often. πŸ™‚

    • I agree – I don’t spend time obsessing because I’m busy enough as it is. However, the shoot didn’t quite go as planned – check out the image at the bottom of the post for the update!

  13. I dislike my reflection to the point that I do not own full-length mirrors and avoid the ones in the bathroom mostly on the weekends as well. I’m pretty honest about it online, in my offline life very few people know the extent of my issues other than I don’t like having pictures taken, etc.

    I like makeup just because i like to play with colors, but I usually don’t wear it on my days off at all. At work I am business casual. On weekends, I am jeans and superhero/HelloKitty t-shirts. It’s all about comfort and not standing out as far as what works for me.

    • I’ve read lots of your posts about similar issues and I’ve always admired your honesty about your anxieties – they’ve helped me realise I’m not on my own in the way I feel about myself. I like your hair colours too!

      However, the shoot didn’t go quite as expected – check out the I,age at the bottom of the post for the follow up!

  14. I am so angry at my reflection that I refuse to speak to it any longer. We used to have long, cheerful, one-sided conversations, but now I am so embarrassed by the dork looking back at me. I know I can lose the weight because I’ve done it before, but the motivation is just so not there…

  15. My Nanny Bobbe died last year at 98. She was always immaculately put-together. My Great-Grandma is turning 100 this year. She always looks amazing. Both of these ladies are my role models. πŸ™‚

    • That’s amazing! My mum is nearly 60 and is always immaculate too! She’s lost a tonne of weight recently, but has always looked classy regardless of what size she has been!

  16. Aaaaaah yes! Many years ago I had my “aha” moment where I was, like you said, accepting average. I used to look at other girls and wished I could dress like them and do my makeup etc. Then it hit me, I CAN DO THAT! I don’t have to accept anything less than AH-mazing. Since then I’ve never looked back xo

    • I think you have a brilliant sense of style and after following your blog for a while now I love your OOTD posts… Love your positive attitude too – however, the shoot didn’t quite turn out in the way that I had planned. Check out the image at the bottom of the post for the follow up!

      • I’m so sorry that sucked for you! I’ve heard some real horror stories about these “photographers” & the extortionate prices they charge for very poor photos.
        In saying that I think you look really lovely in them. It’s all about attitude and working it in front of the camera 😘😘😘

  17. Self-image; low self-esteem…hating mirrors and windows that reflect some pudgy older woman following me. Almost as if she is trying to run over me! No..that’s me chasing myself!
    After reading your post and the comments before, it appears we all have a self-image issue with something or all of our body. Nobody ever is happy with what they were given, are they? And, I’m with you on the baggy clothes and t-shirts, no makeup and the unibrow. Hope you have a great time! You know we will all want to see pictures!

    • Totally agree Deb – everyone has issues with themselves! I can totally relate to what you feel too – I feel the same at times! Unfortunately, the shoot didn’t quite work out as expected – check out the I,age at the bottom of the post for the follow up!

  18. I care a little bit about how I look because I work in sales and meet with people sometimes. I have to dress up everyday which is annoying. I used to work out a lot more because diabetes runs in my family and I want to prevent it. I haven’t been working out like I used to but I need to start again. I don’t really like taking pictures though. I make dumb faces or close my eyes. I like getting manicures and pedicures because they help me relax. I especially love pedis.

    • I think we always resent it a little more when we have to dress up for work. I don’t like having pictures taken of myself because I always look drunk – which always confuses me because I don’t drink that often!

      However, the photoshoot didn’t quite work out as planned – check out the image at the bottom of the link for the results!

  19. Suzie, average or not, a day in front of a camera with a good friend and champagne should never be daunted!
    But if you’re not completely confident with what you see in the mirrow (I mean.. who really is??) I can recommend some websites that provide free home workouts! It’ll be healthy for you and intertaining for your cats to watch πŸ™‚
    Maybe you combine some workouts to feel a little better whith you’re new (hopefully) less stressful life after your teaching career..

    • Thanks Sabine! I have signed up to a half-marathon in October so Ive started to train for that. Hopefully the weightless will follow!

      However, the shoot didn’t work out quite as expected – check out the image at the bottom of the post for the follow up!

      • That’s great!! An I’m sure you will lose some weight. I lost like..wait.. more than 3 stones just because one of my friends asked me if I wanted to join some aerobic class. I still ate what I wanted but appearently sports are really good for your shape, who would have thought πŸ™‚

  20. Oh, dear–you were really down on yourself there for a moment! I hope by now you’ve gotten past that, to think about the more important things that make you you!

  21. I have terrible body image. I recently lost loads of weight and now it’s seemed to have stopped. I have finished college and on my summer holidays. Can’t get a job, my friends aren’t round my area anymore or they have jobs so I have been feeling quiet fed up. I still go and work out like four times a week but with me, it’s my eating. I am an emotional eater so it’s stopping me from losing that last stone and a half. But I despise my body. I always wear baggy clothes so I can hide it. It doesn’t help when all of your friends are really slim and wear size 8/10 and eat junk and don’t workout but yet never put weight on. When I was in school I was badly bullied and from then on, I have hated the way I look. I have this lump on my neck. Perfectly fine, not cancerous or anything. I had it when I was born and everyone wanted me to get it removed but it didn’t bother me but one day I was told I need plastic surgery to get rid of it and while I was getting that done to fix my face. Yeah kids can be cruel!!!!! One of my friends has named it Henry. ha!

  22. You raise great issues and these tend to affect women more than men. I blame ad industry for putting impossible standards on every day women. I started wearing a little eye makeup in 7th grade and have been obsesses with looking a certain way. It took until my 50s to stop caring so much. But I care that I am fit and healthy and I workout every day. But when menopause hit me at age 49 all that hard work seemed to go down the drain! The weight will not budge no matter what kind of diet I try. All I can do is continue to be active and get my hair cut every two months. I’m just glad that tunic length blouses came back in style. πŸ™‚

  23. Just read this. Isn’t it weird how I posted a similar type of post yesterday too and I hadn’t even read this yet. Spooky. However all your worrying was for nothing!

  24. Pingback: How Not To Do a Photography Shoot | Suzie81 Speaks

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