Are We Allowed To Be Body Confident?

Woman on the beach in clothes smiling

Are we ever going to be body confident? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really possible. Does anyone else feel like that?

We try so hard to feel good about ourselves, to have body confidence, and yet we have a million messages coming to us daily telling us otherwise. We’re inundated with images telling us how we should look and what the “ideal” is. Obviously, there’s no ideal. It’s a bit like perfectionism – an impossible aim.

Woman standing on rocks looking confident.


Recently, Me and the Moo wrote a couple of pieces about her body. They’re honest posts, revealing her feelings and experiences, including the bullying she’s endured whilst biking.

It’s just horrible.

But the reality is there are people out there who see it as their right to comment on someone’s else’s body, derogatory or not. When I read these posts, I felt sad. Sad for her, because she’s lovely and gorgeous. I felt angry too. We are more than our bodies or our clothes size. I wondered too, why some feel it’s their right to body shame others, and attack someone else’s confidence. Perhaps they were trying to boost their own?

Reading her posts made me consider how I feel about my body. It’s fair to say, at best, I’m ambivalent.

My Personal Dilemma

Now for those of you who follow me on Insta, it’s clear I’m not shy about posting pics of me running. I have outfit posts too which I’m quite self-conscious of even though I’m the one putting them out there. I sometimes wonder what others think about these pictures (does anyone actually care?), especially those who know me. It would be easy to assume the following:

  • I’m body confident, or at least, comfortable with my body
  • I’m happy with my body
  • I think I look good

We’re talking about body confidence here. Just to add some context, I had some swimwear shots done for this very post but don’t feel confident enough to use them.

Woman Leaping on the Beach

How do I feel about my body? I certainly like it more than I did, say, 18 months ago. This annoys me though because I’m saying my body confidence has increased with becoming fitter and leaner, and I don’t want that to be the case.

Is body confidence just about how we look? My body functions well. I’ve given birth, I’ve trained it to run many miles. I’m physically well. I have nothing to grumble about. When I look in the mirror, I’m relatively happy with what comes back at me because I feel fit, healthy and strong. I’m also in my 40s, and I think with age comes a more carefree attitude. But that doesn’t mean I think I look great and it certainly doesn’t mean I feel confident.

There’s part of me though that finds it hard to accept that my body *might* look good (or that someone else may think so). It’s like I’m not giving myself permission to be body confident. Does anyone else feel like that?

My lifestyle, including running, has led to physical changes. This has improved my body confidence but this shouldn’t necessarily come from making changes (unless you want to, of course). While I prefer my body now, I’m no different to anyone else. There are bits I’m not so keen on, and I don’t think that will ever change.

Woman on the beach, looking at the camera

When Did This All Start?

My body image/perception is strongly linked to childhood experiences (whose isn’t?). Mine includes the male primary school teacher (yes, you read that correctly) who used to call me “Penny Big Bum” (I was about 9 years old, ffs). There was also the male holiday rep (who wasn’t a stupid 18 year old but a 30 something man with a full-on porn tache), who thought it was appropriate to point out that I have a “Big Bum” at the ripe old age of 12. This happened during a holiday we took as a family to offer some relief from my dad dying.

Nice one.

I was also the sister to a beautiful, lithe, skinny sibling who could basically eat what she wanted. I couldn’t. Apparently I did my best to keep up. Therefore the big bottomed girl who’s “well covered” is my default perception. Yet, I know those things aren’t true.

Confident woman smiling on rocks

When It Comes to Being Body Confident, Are We All In The Same Boat?

I don’t think it’s just women who feel this either. There’s considerable pressure on men too. And, what for? What’s the point of it all? It doesn’t make anyone happy and it’s not particularly fulfilling.

Surely it’s more important to be happy and grateful for other things, like our health, our family and friends. They’re the things that matter. But most of all, and I’ve said this before, we need to cut ourselves some slack.

So to answer my own question, are we allowed to be body confident? Yes, if we give ourselves permission.

And I think we should.


Woman leaping off a rock on the beach.

Photos – Lisa Sherwood (

T-shirt – Topshop (here), Denim mini (Vero Moda at ASOS, old) (similar here), Sandals (here).

Cover Photo – Bikini Pour Moi (past season)

Author: plbedford

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  • I must say that you’re looking absolutely fantastic, Penny! I was really shocked to read about the comments you received as a child and from a primary school teacher no less! I think that a lot of people can make these throw-away comments without stopping to think about what impact their words will have on the person they’re talking to, which is really very sad. I couldn’t agree more that there is also a great deal of pressure on men these days to look a certain way – nobody can escape, it seems. Giving yourself permission to feel happy just the way you are is a powerful thing indeed! Great post!

    Abbey ?