Guest Post: Body Confidence in the Pin Up Scene by Carrie-Ann

Hello! I’m Carrie-Ann from Something Definitely Happened, and I’ve recently started a new project on my blog, the A-Z of vintage girl in a modern world. As part of this, a few weeks ago I wrote about body confidence and body positivity, and a big thank you to the lovely Jessica for inviting me to talk to you about it!

As I get a bit older (I’ve reached the grand old age of 30. I feel wise), I realize how important it is to be comfortable with who you are.

30thbirthdayWhen I was younger, I had very low self-esteem. I spent hours considering what I’d change about myself if I could (everything, from the shape of my ears to my sticky-out little toes), and wished I looked like all my friends, whether it was their long legs, swishy hair or piercing eyes. I’d also sycophantic-ally agree with everything they said, terrified that if they found out I liked reading, writing, and history, they’d stop talking to me.

CarrieAnnyoungerOf course, now I realize that was all nonsense (because they’ve told me so. And because I now talk about reading, writing and history all the freaking time while wearing giant petticoats, and they tell me they’re proud of me). I hid my feelings by being outwardly confident, loud and – I’ll be honest – a bit of a pain sometimes. And once I took up drama classes, I spent my lunchtimes onstage, making up scenes and the like (giving me a cast-iron excuse not to eat my lunch).

Too CoolThen, I got a bit older, got spooked after meeting some incredibly talented actors, and decided not to do that anymore, either.

So, with a lot more time to consider my failings, my self-esteem shrank to almost nothing. I felt like people would like me more if I was a bit taller, a bit thinner, a bit quieter/louder/funnier/more sensible…basically, a little bit less me.

They didn’t of course, and I became a lesser person for it. Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting, like being some sort of sham chameleon, constantly changing yourself depending on who you’re with, and my friends around me at the time were at a loss as to what to do or say to snap me out of it.

I finished university, moved home, and carried on wearing the same clothes as my friends, not quite liking what I saw in the mirror, and wondering why I continued to wear jeans that were so long they covered my shoes, without actually doing anything about it.

jeansandjacketBut, a few years ago (six and a bit, to be precise), a few things happened. First, I met The Boy – now my husband – and he gently encouraged me to embrace the things I love, to love the bits about me that others might find a bit odd, and, most importantly, not to give two figs either way if people do think I’m odd.

I also started burlesque lessons, where I had the most wonderful teacher. She focused on teaching us to be confident, because that’s what comes across on stage. Oddly, that stuck with me outside of the classes too, and I started to hold my head a little higher.

And, finally, I discovered the Twinwood Festival, a 1920s-1960s music festival, held in the U.K. I started volunteering in the museum with my lovely granddad, and, because everyone used to come in dressed up, I started wondering if I should try it too. (The poster of Rita Hayworth featured strongly in those wonderings).

“I’ll do that next year.” I promised myself, and Grandad.

I did. And it felt awesome. So I started doing it a bit more, then a lot more, and now I do it every day.

I’ve been a few different sizes since I started dressing in 1940s and 1950s inspired outfits – none of them as small as when I wished I was thinner – and I’ve never felt more confident or beautiful. I pop on a petticoat and pearls, and feel like I can take on the world. I can’t explain why, and it’s not for me to tell other ladies and gents how to dress, but I’ve found my style, and every time someone tells me that “it looks great, but it would never suit me”, I trip over myself to tell them to give it a try, because you shouldn’t let fear hold you back from anything, certainly not slinging on a dress and smearing on some red lipstick.

missvintageAs I’ve alluded to, I recently got married. Which could quite easily have had my self-esteem slithering back towards the floor (and I have to admit, during an epic search for a wedding dress, it was touch and go for a short while). But, I came through it feeling pretty darn good about myself. I had the best day, surrounded by friends and family, and got a pretty awesome husband at the end of it (well, actually, at the beginning of it). I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come, from that painfully unhappy girl, who wanted to change everything about herself, to being comfortable in my own skin on what was possibly the most photographed day of my life. This includes leaving in one of the most unflattering photos of my face I’ve ever seen. Because it made me laugh, and reminds me exactly what I was thinking at that moment (“Oh cripes, I’m literally minutes away from getting married. And I think I’ve just broken my dress.”).

weddingkiss weddingpinewood weddingdayWhether dressing in vintage is your thing, you rock a modern minimalist look, or you’re a jeans and a sweatshirt sort of a person (or anything in between), know that you and your style are awesome. The size of your waist defines the clothes size you wear in a particular store; it shouldn’t define who you are. Clichés, perhaps, but that’s only because they’re true.

Do you guys have a happy outfit? This is mine. I wore it on at my hen party (bachelorette party, for you Stateside lovelies) and it makes me smile. Firstly, because it’s a gorgeous dress, but secondly, because it has exploding TARDISes (TARDISi?) all over it, and proudly proclaims that I’m a Doctor Who fan – not something I would have admitted just a few years ago.

tardisdress 017I have six tattoos, piercings all the way up my ears, I’m short, chubby and have a giant scar across my side (from a kidney operation when I was younger, although I used to tell the kids I babysat that I’d had a fight with a shark and won), and it took me almost 30 years to love my body.

I’m so glad I did.

Carrie-Ann

http://www.somethingdefinitelyhappened.com

Guest Post: A Fit Pinup’s Journey to Self-Love by Samantha

Hello lovely Pin Up Persuasion readers! I’m Samantha, and I run a fairly new blog called The Healthy Betty. It’s a fitness and lifestyle blog with a retro twist. I’m a historian (yes, that is a real career!) with an obsession with flamingos, kitsch, and all things rockabilly. I also run my own health and wellness business. I want to thank Jessica for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest writer on her wonderful blog! Living in a small town in upstate NY, there aren’t many gals like me around here. The internet has been a blessing when it comes to finding others with similar hobbies and styles as mine, and Jessica always inspires me with her beautiful sense of style and radiant personality that just shines through in her posts. Of course, you’re all here reading her blog, so you already know that!

Today I want to talk (write?) a little bit about something very important to me, in hopes that others may relate and be inspired: my journey to self-love and my road to a healthier lifestyle.

I’m part of a team of wonderful, like-minded ladies (and a few men!) called the Fit Pinups. Being a Fit Pinup isn’t about a specific look or style; it’s about a mindset. It’s about loving yourself no matter what. Maybe you want to build muscle, maybe you want to lose weight, or gain some, or just eat better and exercise. But you gotta know that you need to love the body you have right now, because it’s the only one you’ve got. And this has taken me a long, long time to learn.

fit pinupI was very athletic growing up. I played sports – soccer, mostly – year round. I also played lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and ran around outside with friends, well into my teenage years. Despite my athleticism, I was never happy with my body. In fact, I hated it. I had a terrible relationship with food. I saw it as evil. But I also felt I had no self-control. I thought about food all the time: about how I didn’t want to eat, about how I wanted to eat an entire pizza. I would binge, and then I would feel terrible about myself, because I felt I was doing something wrong and should punish myself for it. I don’t think I need to tell you that these are very unhealthy thoughts.

FullSizeRender_5 FullSizeRender_1In college, it escalated. I wasn’t working out or active at all – I didn’t continue to play sports – and I spent most of my time sleeping, doing homework, or drinking at parties with friends. I gained weight quickly, which only fueled my loathing of myself. I hated that I couldn’t look like my friends, who I thought were the epitome of beautiful. I assigned myself the role of “ugly friend.” No one made me feel that way but my own damn self.

Fast forward to grad school. I was miserable. I moved to a new state where I didn’t know anybody except my fiancé. I made friends, of course, but I was terribly unhappy. I never wanted to go out with them because I was so ashamed of how I looked. I made excuses not to go. Not only that, but we were struggling financially as I couldn’t work full time due to school and our relationship was suffering from all of these issues. When things went wrong or I was upset, I would go to a fast-food joint and get something to make me feel better, or I would go to the grocery store and buy an equally disappointing option to make at home. I used food to try and make my problems go away. Again, not good at all!

36776_519747445817_2626871_nI want to take this moment to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with how I looked. There was nothing wrong with the fact that I gained weight. There is nothing wrong with anyone’s size or shape; every body is beautiful! But at that moment in my life, I had not learned to love myself, and I equated my body with my self-worth, which is so not right. That was what was wrong.

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One day, finally, I decided I was tired of feeling like crap all the time. I began a new job at a sportswear retail outlet and my co-workers were active people who were also super supportive and encouraging. Two of them in particular would go running with me and would even run slower than their normal pace so I could keep up with them without stopping. I began to go to the gym in our apartment complex, and I started to change the way I ate. And I began to lose weight. I started to get some of my confidence back. I ran my first 5K. I’m sure some of this newfound happiness was from exercising in general – there’s that line from Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphin. Endorphin make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t!”

But I still didn’t love myself.

I still felt that food was the enemy. I would eat something “off plan” and felt I needed to punish myself for it. I would say, “Oh well,” and give up on my goals. I would start and quit and start and quit over and over and over again. For five years. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have the support I needed. I went to a nutritionist, but I found it unhelpful. I was lost.

bloody muddy warrior dashLast September I made a choice. I joined the Fit Pinups and started a workout program called the 21 Day Fix. It’s based on the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit. The workouts were done at home, and it also came with a meal plan and portion control containers. Not only that, but I also had my very own personal support coach and a group of like-minded individuals who were going along on this journey with me. Those first three weeks were amazing. Not only did I start to notice myself becoming stronger, but I also learned about eating healthy, whole foods, and how I should be fueling my body. I loved the program so much that I became a coach myself only two months later, because I wanted to share this amazing thing with others.

transformationI wanted other women to feel empowered and badass and beautiful, too, because as women, we’re often told that we should look a certain way, act a certain way. We have to be the nurturer but also have a successful career while looking like we’ve walked off a designer runway. It’s all too much, and it’s no wonder why so many of us out there struggle. That’s why it was so important for me to surround myself with these other people who fill me with love and light, who cheer me on and celebrate successes. When women build each other up, AMAZING things happen.

fitpinupOf course, I still eat pizza, chocolate, cheese, and drink wine and beer. That’s my favorite thing about this plan: it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s built to leave you room to live. I go out with friends and I don’t feel guilty for having a beer and wings. I have learned to love my body for what it CAN do, not what it CAN’T do. It can carry me through my day, chase my 2 ½ year old niece, run outside with my dog, and hug my loved ones. I might not have a six pack (yet!), but my body is mine, and I love it.

I still struggle some days. I still have those nagging thoughts once in a while, but I’ve learned to recognize them for what they are and change my mind-set. That’s been another huge thing for me: changing the way I think. That’s HARD to do. Any therapist will tell you that. And it’s definitely harder to do alone.

fit pinupsBut I’m happy to report that today, I’m happier. It’s amazing how many other areas of my life have changed since I decided to take control. I still get scared about big changes or decisions, but I try to embrace them. I do things that frighten me because I know wonderful things can happen when I do.

I want to tell you all that you’re beautiful, no matter what. You want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. You want to wear short skirts, high heels, jeans, sweatpants, baggy hoodies, be covered from head to toe, bare your midriff, etc.? WEAR IT. And rock it with confidence! You are the only you there is, and the world would not be the same without you. Love yourself like your best friend loves you. Love yourself for all of the amazing things you ARE and stop worrying about what you AREN’T. I promise you will be so much happier!

If you’re interested in learning more about what I do as a personal health and wellness coach, or want information about changing your diet, starting a new workout program, want to send me pics of your adorable pets, or just need someone to talk to about any little thing, I’m your gal. Please feel free to reach out to me on my blog, Facebook (facebook.com/bombshellbetty6), Instagram (@thehealthybetty), or email (shallsaladino@gmail). Be kind to yourself. Do something nice for you today, and every day. You SO deserve it.

Samantha

thehealthybetty.wordpress.com