Real Talk Series | Body positivity with @jessicalaurel

Welcome to our brand new Real Talk series, a four part exploration into body positivity and embracing your true self. We’ll be having honest conversations with four different content creators each week about body image, diet culture and the truth behind those ‘picture perfect’ Instagram posts. For our third instalment we’re talking all things body positivity with @jessicalaurel. Grab a cuppa and get ready for some feel good real talk with Jessica …

Tell us about your body positivity journey

I used to have much lower body confidence, regardless of my size. Though confidence didn't come overnight, I feel like I had a real turning point a few years ago before I went on holiday. I had decided that I wouldn’t buy any holiday clothes until I reached my goal weight. As the holiday got closer and my weight wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I realised I’d created this looming deadline for something I was supposed to be looking forward to. So, I decided to go ahead and get some new clothes anyway. It might sound like a small act, but making that decision made me feel so confident and brought back my excitement. I think that experience permanently changed the way I thought about clothes and my body. I’ve had little ups and downs since, like anyone else, but I can honestly say I’ve never been as unkind about my body as I was before that moment.

Who are your body positivity role models?

It’s so hard to narrow it down because I follow so many inspiring women on Instagram. I know the platform sometimes gets a bad rap when it comes to body image, but when you follow a diverse range of inspiring people it can have a really positive effect. Some of my OG inspirations were Nadia Aboulhosn, who I’ve actually followed since Tumblr, and Grace F Victory is another super obvious choice for me. There are so many that I couldn’t possibly name them all.

What outfit makes you feel like the most confident, badass version of you?

My favourite outfits change all the time, but I always feel my most stylish in a muted colour palette. Personally, I disagree with the idea that bold colours and patterns are the only way to express confidence. Embracing your style is the biggest key to feeling like a badass! So, I’d have to say, put me in black, white or neutral and give me some gold jewellery, and I’ll be set.

Do you think society has a part to play in our insecurities?

Definitely! Aside from the obvious unrealistic beauty standards we’ve been fed our whole lives, we also live in a society where diet culture is widely accepted as the norm. It’s the little things that slip into daily conversations, like the idea that by eating certain foods you’re “being naughty”. It’s basically inescapable - on tv, at the office, at family gatherings. It all promotes an idea of thinness being the universal goal. The sooner society learns to accept all body shapes, sizes and colours the better.

What are your tips for feeling empowered on social media?

Definitely start by following people that inspire you in some way, whether it’s their confidence, their style or their work ethic. Finding people that empower you to be the best version of yourself is crucial. When it comes to posting, just enjoy it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve let Instagram rules and algorithms get to me in the past. You could spend forever thinking about what you “should” do, but when you’re just sharing things that you’re actually excited about it’s so much more enjoyable.

Has not obsessing over your weight improved your overall sense of self and confidence?

1000%! I remember telling myself, “I’ll do X when I get to Y weight” which was so restricting and unhelpful. The moment I decided to stop making my weight the deciding factor for everything else in my life I let myself truly live. I’m more confident, more myself, and I don’t let fluctuations in my size or shape dictate how I feel about myself anymore.

What advice would you give to someone who is going to the extremes to try and change themselves to fit into the socially constructed idea of beauty?

I would definitely encourage them to stop anything that could cause them any physical, mental or emotional harm. I’d also want them to know that there is more than one version of beauty and you should be open to seeing and appreciating the beauty within you. While everyone’s experience is different, I personally don’t think being body positive and wanting to change something about yourself are necessarily mutually exclusive. So, my advice would be to make sure that whatever you decide to do with your body comes from a place of love otherwise you’ll never have a good relationship with your body. You can’t hate yourself into loving yourself.

How do you improve a bad body image day? 

If my confidence has taken a little dip, the most important thing is to be kind to myself. I try to give myself whatever I need at that particular time. Sometimes that’s a doughnut or making something more nutritious, going for a walk or watching back-to-back Netflix. I try to remind myself that everyone has ups and downs. For me, not practising what I preach can make me feel like a bit of a fraud, so it’s important to remember that not feeling 100% confident 24/7 is completely normal. And if all else fails, I power through! Usually, I prove whatever negative thought I was having wrong and feel ready to take on the world again.

See you next Wednesday for the latest instalment of Real Talk