Person sits on steps in summer

Summmmmahhhhh! The days are longer, it’s getting warmer, the winter coats are firmly lodged under the bed and they are not coming out again for a while. But, whilst we cannot wait for the barbeques and the beach, shopping for clothes for summer can be a totally crappy experience. When it seems like the rest of the world is running around in short shorts, t shirts and swimsuits, shopping for summer can be intimidating at best, and panic inducing at its worst. That’s why we want to give you guys a few ideas so that shopping for summer doesn’t have to fill you with dread but might actually be fun. Who knew?!

 

1) Get rid of everything that doesn’t fit anymore

We’ve all done it at some point. Saved a pair of shorts in the hope that one day we might fit into them again, only for them to haunt us through summer after summer. Well no more! Gather up everything from past summers that doesn’t fit and give it to the charity shop, or even sell it online to make a bit of extra cash for your new haul. Trust us – you will feel so much better for it and can start fresh without the ghost of shorts past guilt tripping you for enjoying an ice cream. 

2) Limit yourself to a few things 

Break down what you need to buy for your upcoming holidays and do it a bit at a time. ASOS can be intimidating AF with 1000s of products and waaaaay too much choice, so every time you decide you are going to add to the haul, just focus on one or two things at a time. Plus, shopping IRL is stressful without the added nightmare of having to buy an entire wardrobe worth of clothes in one go. 

 

3) Invest in something that will last 

Try to get one or two things that will last you for a few years. Not only is it waaaay better for the environment and your purse strings, it should make sure there is no way near as much pressure next year as there is this time around. In fact, it will even make this bout of shopping hell easier, knowing that it’s one less thing that future you will not have to worry about. 

4) If in doubt – shop shoes and accessories 

We all have low self-esteem days, and it seems like the great cosmic joke of the universe that these always coincide with when we have to be hitting changing rooms all over town. When you are feeling like this, trying on clothes, especially ones that show a lot of skin, is a total nightmare. Instead of making it worse, try shoes, bags and everything else that you might need without having to get into an actual poorly lit, hot and sweaty changing room. It will save your self esteem and still get stuff done – win win! 

5) Don’t always shop the trend 

It can be really hard to know what your personal style is. But going in for every summer trend will end up giving you a wardrobe that is somehow full neon, wicker, gingham and flowers (not that there is anything wrong with that!) What we mean is that buying what the rest of the world is telling you to buy is a pretty quick way to feel bad about yourself. You are amazing – so shop for what makes you feel comfortable and like you! 

6) Put a time limit on it 

If online shopping is your bag, but you just can’t face the 1000000s of items that you can magically make arrive at your door the next day, put a time limit on your shopping moment. Set your phone timer for half an hour, and use that time to browse just one or two sites. If you haven’t found anything – don’t stress, it wasn’t meant to be this time. Take a step back from it and do something you enjoy instead. 

7) Remember, it’s not the end of the world 

The rest of the world can make us feel like not getting the perfect shorts, t shirt or shoes for the summer is literally the worst thing ever. Combined with the volume of magazines, websites and social media posts dedicated to achieving the ‘perfect summer body’, it can make you feel pretty damn terrible when you can’t achieve it. The thing is though, it isn’t the end of the world. You will still go on that holiday you’ve been excited about for ages, you will still go to your mates barbeque and have a great time – shopping for summer can be stressful, but summer shouldn’t be. 

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about anxiety, or any other issue, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

woman overlooking sea at sunset

You’ve heard people talk about body confidence, body acceptance and self-love, but what does any of it actually mean, like, how does it work?! Do you one day wake up and decide that you will accept every part of your body as beautiful and continue the rest of your life as a body confident god/goddess without any hint of self-doubt? Although we wish that could be true, unfortunately it isn’t that simple. 

Learning to become more comfortable in your own skin can be a long and challenging process, and it most definitely doesn’t happen overnight. To help you begin your journey, we’ve put together a list of 6 practical things you can do that will take you closer to accepting your imperfections and improving that way you feel about your own body. 

1) Practise giving yourself compliments

Sounds weird right? Who compliments themselves? Well, you. This can be anything from telling yourself out loud (yes, out loud) that you really like your hair today, or perhaps that you’re a really kind person. Giving yourself compliments on a daily basis is a fantastic way to reinforce your own self-worth. Trust us, it starts to feel less weird the more you do it.

2) Practise giving other people compliments

Often when we have our own body image hang-ups, we can be unintentionally judgemental of other people’s bodies. It is actually really common to project our own insecurities onto other people, even when we don’t mean to. Next time you’re out and about try to consciously think kind thoughts about other people’s bodies. Again, sounds like a weird one, but give it a go, we guarantee it will make you feel like a great person. 

3) Follow positive accounts, not your dream body account.

Now we know you’ve heard this one before – unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good. Yes, they may have your “dream body” or they may go on the most insane press trips you’ve ever seen, but will following them inspire you, or just make you feel inferior? There is definitely a fine line between accounts that inspire you and make you want to work hard to reach an end goal compared with those that make you feel like crap, but remember that sometimes seeing beautifully sculpted bodies (*cough* that are Photoshopped *cough*) on your timeline can have a negative effect on your own body image. Instead why not take some time to find people who represent YOU better, who teach you new things, who make you feel like you are enough and who bring you joy. 

4) Do something nice for yourself

This can be anything from going for a long walk, having the most relaxing bubble bath with all the fancy sh*t, booking out an evening entirely to yourself or enjoying your favourite meal; as long as it is something that you will enjoy doing. Treating yourself kindly is so important, even when we subconsciously feel like we don’t deserve it. We really do. 

5) Wear clothes that fit and are comfortable

Hands up who has a pair of jeans in their wardrobe that haven’t fit them in at least 2 years but you keep them there just in case one day you might want them? Because us too. Your best bet would be to give them to charity, no one needs a constant reminder lurking in their wardrobe of a size they once were, whether that be bigger or smaller. Why not replace them with something more comfortable that you will get wear out of? Putting on a new outfit that fits and flatters is a pretty amazing feeling, way better than the pain of not fitting in an old one anymore. 

6) Recognise comparison

Ever heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? We really believe that. We are always subconsciously comparing ourselves to other people, whether that be people we walk past on the street, influencers we follow on social media or our friends – we compare our bodies multiple times throughout any given day. This can be a difficult habit to kick, especially as you’ve probably been doing it most of your life, but there are certainly steps you can take to stop. The main one of those being recognition; if you can simply start to notice when you are doing it, then you can stop yourself. 

If you are struggling with body confidence and self image, or there is anything else that is bothering you, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Tell us a bit about yourself 

‘I’m a model and body acceptance activist. I first began using my Instagram in 2017 as a platform to talk about the human body and body acceptance. From this, I was noticed by Leyah Shanks from The Body Confidence Revolution, as well as numerous other influential charities and public figures. I have been working closely with organisations that focus on getting to know the body and understanding its importance, rather than its limitations.

Modelling is a huge passion of mine, but working with women is my purpose. Supplying them with the tools they need to be happy and healthy in their bodies, as well as knowing when to speak up and ask for what they deserve, is very important to me.’

So you’ve always spoken about body acceptance? 

‘Since I was about twenty, I’ve been passionate about the human body. Our bodies are incredible. It’s appalling that we are in 2019 and people are still spending so much time and effort thinking about their bodies, wishing they could change this or that. It’s a scandal perpetuated by a greedy industry. So many strong and powerful women are beating themselves up every day about how they look.

I grew up hating myself and learning other people’s hate for my body, so it has been a long journey, but it had been one of the most powerful experiences. It has set me free.’

How did you grow your confidence in your body? 

‘Strangely, one of the most influential forces came from my dog. The shelter that I rescued him from was closing down and so I decided to run a race to raise money for it. I went from couch to half marathon in 10 weeks. It was through that that I really began to realise the power of my body and what it could do. 

I have recently signed up to run the Vitality 10k in London in May, which I am really excited about, because I get to run in my undies past Big Ben and no one can stop me.’



What do you love about the body positive movement? 

‘I actually use ‘body acceptance’ more than the term ‘body positivity,’ because for me it is coming more from a place of accepting who you are. Body positivity is a movement made by and for fat women, so it’s important to differentiate between the two. Body acceptance is about being happy and learning to love your body. For example, I’m working with women who have breast cancer and finding out how they perform self love and body acceptance even when they feel like their bodies have turned against them.

I love the body acceptance movement because I am part of this amazing group of wonderful, powerful, amazingly supportive women who look out for each other. That’s amazing. They’re amazing.’

You’ve also spoken a lot about online sexual harassment – what have been your experiences? 

‘Online sexual harassment is a form of online bullying, but no one sees it that way. Comments and DMs, unsolicited dick pics, links to porn videos – I receive them all and it is every single day without fail. Sadly, it is so often met with “well you’re asking for it if you post that kind of content.” My stance is this: How I present my body to the world is my choice, and people have no right to force their sexual desires onto me without my consent. It is harassment and it is bullying. 

I tend to decline this kind of stuff straight away. The intention of these messages is to reduce me to a sexual fantasy. It takes me back to when I was a teenager and would get leered at and catcalled in the street by men or the moments in my life where I have been groped and touched without my consent. I find it can be quite triggering, particularly on a bad day.’ 

What do you do to combat this kind of harassment? 

‘There is a lot of deleting and blocking. If someone is following me just to objectify me, I don’t want them on my page. Instagram also doesn’t tend to be very effective at getting rid of cyberbullies. I also get a lot of (guys especially) saying things like “Why do you feel the need to put your body on the internet?” This is frustrating because I can tell they’re trying to psychoanalyse me and get me to admit I have some darker issues that I’m working through. I don’t. I’m very proud of my body and I have no shame in it. We need to normalise nudity because sexualising it has gotten women into a lot of trouble. It’s made us into objects and fantasies, rather than people.

A lot of people would say that I should just ignore them and not let it get to me, but that’s not the point. The point is that calling them out on this kind of thing in a public space could teach them something about respecting women. But perhaps also, a young girl or woman on my page will see me standing up for myself and know that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and that it’s okay to use their voices against bullies who try to diminish them.’



Do you have advice on dealing with online harassment for young girls? 

‘There is always the option to block and ignore it. But I think the focus needs to be on giving them the tools and knowledge in understanding that their bodies are not sexual assets and these things that are being said to them aren’t anything to do with them. Online sexual harassment is a result of how women have been presented to the world, and how that has been absorbed by some of the men in our society. These fantasies and illusions that are projected on you are not your fault. You are allowed to be sexual and enjoy your body without being punished for it. You don’t deserve to be treated badly. Men treat me badly online everyday, I can’t stop them from doing that. But I can arm myself with the understanding that it is not my fault. 

In some cases unfortunately, this won’t work, and it can escalate. Like for me, I have regularly experienced rape and death threats on my page and in my DMs.  There was one occasion when a guy started out with a really harmless message and it escalated really quickly into messages about wanting to kill me, about knowing where I lived and that he was going to kidnap and murder me. When things start to escalate like this, the only thing you can do is call the police, just to be on the safe side.

I would say to anyone experiencing any kind of online harassment is that it is important to find your ‘sisterhood’ or ‘brotherhood’, because they will support you. Whether that means your friends or family or an online community of people – it is important to find those who give you strength. Bullying can make you feel so isolated, so find your army.’

Finally, why did you want to work with us here at Ditch the Label? 

‘Ditch the Label and me work wonderfully as a team because I help highlight all of the root causes of harassment like toxic masculinity, transphobia, homophobia etc. and Ditch the Label helps the victims of those affected by these issues. We can’t solve one without the other. Education is first and foremost. Whilst we have to teach some how to be better people and identify the root causes of their ignorance, we also have to give strength and support to those affected by online bullying. We can do this. We will fight for each other.’

To keep up with Jessica and all of her awesome activism, follow her Instagram @jess_megan_

For hilarious memes, cute pics and inspirational quotes every day, follow us on Instagram @ditchthelabel

Boy sat on concrete wall with black backpack

We’ve all had days when it seems impossible to feel attractive, and days when we feel like the best thing since sliced bread. Research by Lynx found that guys feel and are most attractive when they are comfortable being themselves, and we wanted to find out if you guys feel the same.

On Valentine’s Day, we asked you in an Instagram story how attractive you felt and what you found attractive in others, and we found out that most of you are not feeling too great about yourselves right now. This is something that we want to change and get you guys feeling your very best this time of year, so that you are walking tall like Dwayne Johnson for February and beyond!

We also found that a lot of what you find attractive about yourselves and what you look for in other people doesn’t quite match up. We are here to play attraction detectives and show you that individuality and being comfortable in yourself is what makes you guys most attractive.

Most of you rated yourselves below 50% on a scale of how ‘attractive’ you felt 

It seems we are all in need of a self-love makeover. Confidence is a key element to attraction, and a lot of it comes from being comfortable with who you are. In fact, according to research by Lynx, 9/10 girls find guys most attractive when they’re being themselves. Can’t fight those odds! 

Building self-esteem can be a tricky job, especially when you are feeling low, but there are loads of things you can do. If you need a bit of inspiration on where to start, read our article on building self-esteem here

But nearly all of you found something you loved about yourself 

Yay! See – not everything is that bad! Keep picking out things you love about yourself and tell yourself every time you wake up and every time you go to bed. Soon you will have the kind of confidence that even Kanye would be jealous of. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is giphy.gif

Most responses about what you liked about yourselves were related to physical appearance 

Most of what you guys felt was attractive about yourself was to do with how you look. Of course, it’s great to feel like you have hair on fleek or a strong trainer game when you step out the door but there is so much more to you than simply how you look. Being ‘yourself’ and feeling attractive are pretty much tied together, so we gotta make sure that we are loving every little bit of what makes us ‘us’, from what we love to do, to what we love to wear and beyond. 

But nearly all of you stated that you looked for personality traits and uniqueness in a guy/girl

Even though so many of you felt how you looked was the best thing about you, nearly all of you thought that what made someone uniquely ‘them’ was what really did it for you. Quirky personalities, unique hobbies, a different sense of humour or simple kindness dominated the responses for what you looked for in a guy or a girl. 

So, basically, there is no one version of ‘attractive’ 

So, it seems what we all think is attractive about ourselves begins and ends with the bathroom mirror, but all of us are looking for something more than that in someone else. Kinda seems we need to start thinking that we are all one big beautiful meal deal full of wonderful things, and getting confidence from how we look AND who we are is a sure-fire way to get others looking at us like how we all look at the last slice of pizza in the box.

Eyes, hair, legs, bum, name, humour, music taste, dress sense, kindness, even ability to do long division without breaking a sweat. We had hundreds of submissions that told us one thing above all else; there are no set rules in attraction or what makes us attractive to someone else.


If you feel like you need to talk to someone about relationships, love, or anything that is bothering you, reach out to our support community here.

Want to see more? Follow us on Instagram @ditchthelabel for more as well as our friends over at Lynx @lynx.

kitty, underhill, storms dont last forever, ditch the label, t-shirt, merch, charity, anti-bullying
Categories
Appearance

Body Acceptance Toolkit

Hooray! It’s January! The time of year where everywhere you look, there is the typical ‘new year, new me’ rhetoric, which usually means finding reasons to beat yourself up, and going on a diet. It’s not good for us to repeat these patterns every year. A message like ‘new year new me’ implies that our current selves aren’t enough as they are. That, plus the bombardment of diet talk and weight loss tips around this time of year end up making us feel like our bodies are not good enough either.

So, how can we combat this? How can we stick two fingers up at diet culture, beauty standards, and a society that tells us we’re not good enough? It’s hard work, and can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. So I’ve put together some top tips and reminders to help you beat the January blues.

1. Unfollow people who make you feel bad about yourself.

We spend so many hours a day scrolling through our feeds on Insta, but how often do we actually take note of the people we follow? If you find yourself scrolling down someone’s feed thinking ‘I wish I were as skinny/pretty/cool as them’ or ‘I wish my life was like that’, just unfollow them (or mute their stories/posts, which is just as effective!). If we keep engaging with media that makes us feel bad, that’s only going to make us feel bad too.

Start following people who post things that really help you, or people with a similar body shape to you. I started following body positive activists, fat activists, and therapists on Instagram who have really contributed to helping me heal my relationship with my body. They teach me something new every day!

kitty, underhill, storms dont last forever, ditch the label, t-shirt, merch, charity, anti-bullying

2. Remember: hating our bodies is something we learn.

When I learnt this, my mind was BLOWN. Here’s an example: cellulite. In the 19th century, cellulite was just a general term applied to cells, and had nothing to do with dimpling or fat. In 1933, a magazine called Votre Beauté featured an article which changed the definition to ‘water, residues, toxins, fat, which form a mixture against one is badly armed’.

In 1968, cellulite’s definition was changed forever, thanks to a little ol’ magazine you may have heard of called Vogue. They came out with the headline ‘Cellulite: The Fat You Could Not Lose Before’. It was no coincidence that this came out around the time the diet industry was BOOMING. People were thinking more about weight loss and feeling negative about fatness, and the media had successfully found something for us to feel insecure about.

Now, as a society, we spend millions on anti-cellulite treatments and creams. The media is so good at creating social norms and beauty standards that it makes us not even question where they came from, and why they exist. This is just one example of how the world around us teaches us what to feel insecure about.

When you’re feeling down about your body, remember that it’s not a coincidence that so many of us don’t like our bodies; we’ve all been taught the same thing by the world around us.

3. Remind yourself that negative thoughts are not facts.

I know it is so easy to get caught up in our self-hating thoughts, especially for those of us who struggle with mental health issues. Our minds can be our own worst enemies sometimes, and we can pick ourselves apart better than any bully. However, so many of these thoughts are a product of the nasty things that get said to us, and the horrible things society teaches us about ourselves. The problem is that we don’t think to question these thoughts, take them as a given, and we get so bogged down by them.

When you’re in that negative state, it can be really tough to break, so if you can, try to remind yourself that the horrible things you think about yourself and your body are not facts. Michelle Elman, the creator of the Scarred Not Scared movement, once said to think of negative thoughts as clouds, and try to let them float by rather than focus on analysing them and beating yourself up with them – I always thought that was a really handy tip.

kitty, underhill, ditch the label, t-shirt, merch, charity, anti-bullying, instagram body positive, body positivity

4. Clothing sizes don’t dictate your worth.

Who else has gone to one shop and been able to wear one size, and then went into another shop and that same size doesn’t even go past your legs? This happens to me ALL THE TIME and I know so many other people this happens to as well. I compared two online clothing brands online, and for one brand a size 14 was a 32” waist, and the other said a size 14 was a 30.5” waist!! I can be anything from a 14-18 depending on the shop.

It used to send me down a self-hating spiral if my clothing size went up, but now I remind myself that these numbers don’t mean anything and I buy what fits me, rather than going by what the number on the label says.

Keep an eye out for what sizing charts say if you’re shopping online, because there is no uniformity between brands when it comes to sizes. And most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for whatever clothes size you wear, and whether that number goes up or down. These numbers are arbitrary and don’t define you.

kitty, underhill, ditch the label, t-shirt, merch, charity, anti-bullying, instagram body positive, body positivity

5. It’s natural and ok for your body to fluctuate.

Our bodies are in a constant state of flux. When I was in the worst stage of my body image issues, I would weigh myself multiple times a day, and get so upset when I had gained weight by the end of the day. I would wake up and my weight would be different again. I mean think about it – we bloat after eating, and when bloated our bodies can look totally different.

Our bodies are never going to stay the same, and that’s ok! It’s ok to gain weight. It’s ok for your body to change. It can be scary, and it can unsettle us, but it’s just our bodies doing their thing.

6. Your self worth is non-negotiable.

Your self worth does not depend on your size, your gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. You are ALWAYS enough. And you don’t need to change your outside or try to fit in, in order to be enough either. I promise you that.

This post was written by Kitty Underhill. You can find her Instagram here: www.instagram.com/kittyunderhillx


Join our Community

Got a question about body image? Our community of experts and real people are here to give you advice and support. Sign up for a free anonymous account to post your question now.

Meet Stevie Blaine, the body positive boy who is changing the face of body acceptance on Instagram. Stevie, best know as Bopo Boy, is spreading his message of positivity, self-love and inner strength, one Instagram post at a time.

Why body positivity?

The biggest motivator for me to start my Instagram account about body positivity was because I wanted to create the media that I needed to see as a young boy/teenager. I think growing up I always knew that I looked different to everyone else, so I was always looking for outside validation to make me feel like I belonged somewhere. I looked to media like TV and magazines and when I was growing up there was nothing that represented me, no one looked like me and it was just the same body type everywhere.

That just made me feel even more alone and that my body was the problem, which led to me going through multiple diet cycles which took me down some really dark paths like binge eating and excessive exercise habits, all sorts really.

Instagram used to be my motivation to lose weight. I would follow lots of inspo pages and fitness accounts to try and motivate myself to lose weight. One day I went onto those accounts after I think I failed some sort of Slim Fast shake or other ridiculous diets, I went on the explore feed and instead of the usual fitness models I found a plus sized girl.

At that point I thought holy sh*t, I’ve literally spent the past 6 to 7 years just trying to be skinny and I haven’t done anything other than try to be skinny. That’s when I started Bopo Boy to try and document my journey to self-love. It’s turned into a really great thing that has completely changed my life.

stevie, bopo boy, blaine, body positivity, instagram

Do you think there is enough male representation in the body positive community?

I think we’re the smallest minority of people within an already marginalised group of people which can be really difficult. While you do get plus sized male models, that fit into the body positive community, in terms of people that speak frankly about their journey to self-love and men’s body image and masculinity, I’ve never found another page within the UK.

What were you like when you were younger, and have you always been so body confident?

I was completely different to where I am now. I would wear clothes that were way too big for me so that people would never see me, it got to a point where I would avoid everything, I would never look in the mirror, never try on clothes and generally do all I could to deflect attention away from me. 

I was incredibly insecure about my body. My way of dealing with that was to be that horrible person who would deflect it onto other people, so I was miserable about myself and I would deflect my insecurities onto other people. It was the only way that I knew how to deal with my own issues. 

Another coping mechanism that I had was to make a joke of myself before other people had the chance to, that way when people called me fat it wouldn’t be funny because I had already said it.

It was a really long journey, even when I met my husband I don’t think I took all my clothes off in front of him for a long, long time.  Because I have lost a lot of weight I have had several different body issues, firstly it was my size, then my excess skin and other issues like that, but I can now recognize how far I have come. Sometimes even now I’ll be walking down the street and think, “Wow, 10 years ago I would never have been able to confidently wear this”.

Do you still have ‘meh’/’bleugh’ days, when you don’t feel so confident?

I do still have days like that, not that often to be honest. I’m at a point where I really appreciate everything my body gives to me. When I do have those ‘bleugh’ days I try to think about where that feeling is coming from and why I am feeling like that. Even though I exist primarily online to fight diet culture, these things are still so intrusive and can still affect me.

stevie, bopo boy, blaine, body positivity, instagram, equal rights, coffee, t-shirt

Do you ever get hate comments online?

I do. I have a pretty thick skin and most of the time the comments from trolls don’t bother me at all. My worry is that a lot of people following me are recovering from eating disorders themselves, and they might be a little bit more wobbly in terms of their body image than I am. My worry is that the comments could affect them, that’s why I try to remove any negative comments as quickly as possible.

Recently, there was an article about me in the Daily Mail that went viral, because of that I had loads of nice comments but also lots of hate directed towards me. There were over 4,500 negative comments on that article alone. When I was looking through them my husband said “Why are you reading through them?!”, I just wanted to see what people were saying and see what people who weren’t in the community thought about these sorts of things.  To me, the hate comments I get are usually based around my sexuality rather than my body. It will always be from the same type of men who send me dick pics in my DM’s…

Do you follow any other body positivity based accounts that you love?

I love @bodyposipanda, she is basically my BOPO fairy god-mother. When this whole thing started I made a video about men’s body insecurities and she saw it. She messaged me and asked if I had ever thought about making an Instagram account. At first, I was slightly hesitant but she actually helped me brainstorm the name of the account and everything, so I basically think she is the best thing ever.

In terms of guys, there’s a plus sized male model called Notoriously Dapper, we’ve been on a few panels together and he’s just really sweet. He’s a person of colour and talks about how body image can be a weird subject for straight men.  He’s just really brilliant. There’s also a guy called A Bear Named Troy who’s a plus sized model and he’s also just so great. He gives the middle finger to the typical stereotypes associated with being a man.

stevie, bopo boy, blaine, body positivity, instagram, selfie

How did you discover the BOPO community?

Instagram has definitely been the driving force and I found it through Instagram.  From the bopo community, I found the eating disorder recovery side of Instagram which has really made such a positive impact on my life.

What is your favourite part of your body?

I do genuinely love my whole body but there are still parts that I feel less confident about. I think my favourite part of my body is the part that I was most ashamed of and that’s my torso area. People see photos of me and stop and stare at it, whereas just walking down the street people wouldn’t know because I just wear a size medium. I find it starts a conversation which is amazing, so that’s now my favourite part of my body.


Join our Community

Hit us up in Community to get some advice.

ditch the label, community, anti-bullying, forum

We’re all Looking for Validation but in the Wrong Places

Turn on your TV, open a magazine or refresh your timeline and it’s difficult to hide away from the beauty ideals our society hails as the ultimate. Clear skin, a tiny waist, a stacked chest, zero pores, eyebrows constantly on fleek, designer clothes, big tits and not a hair out of sight. This is the standard we hold ourselves to and benchmark ourselves against and quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

In The Annual Bullying Survey 2017, we found that 1 in 3 would delete a selfie if it didn’t get enough likes and it isn’t surprising when we’re all pitched in a global rat race to be the person with the most followers, the highest engagement and the brand partnerships to match. The reality is, most of us care about how we’re perceived online and about the stats we amass and that’s okay.

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/splash.jpg”]

There’s nothing wrong with posting selfies and caring about your appearance. But it’s important to question the deeper psychology behind what we’re doing online. The chances are, deleting a selfie that didn’t get enough engagement comes from a deeply rooted need to feel validated. We all have a need to feel accepted and liked and when we’re immersed around social media, it’s almost impossible to not compare yourself to others and to want to look like our own edited and filtered selfies. Surgeons are being approached by new patients who are taking in edited photos of themselves as their inspiration for surgery. But can we just take a min to clarify on a few things?

Listen up

  • Everybody has pores
  • We’re all blessed with DNA and genetics that we simply cannot control or ignore
  • Each and every one of us has different proportions and a body shape that is often impossible to change
  • Most of us have problems with our skin – spots are a harsh reality of modern life, hormones, genetics, diet and lifestyle
  • Most of the things you see online are edited. Not just the pics but the lifestyles too
  • Filters are dangerous because they create a new standard that is literally unattainable
  • Everybody likes different things. Some people like big tits, some people like little tits, some people like biceps for the gods and others prefer slender guys
  • Like it or not, social media does affect your mental health and it’s a good idea to take breaks when it gets a bit much
  • We’re all under the same pressures as you
  • Being an influencer is a full-time job, it isn’t as simple as taking a photo, it takes a huge amount of time, talent and money to get the perfect snap. It’s stressful, can get incredibly lonely and isn’t always as glam as it may look from the outside
  • It isn’t in everyone’s interest for you to feel good about yourself and your body
  • Consider unfollowing people on your feed who make you feel crap about yourself
  • Makeup and hair might look on fleek for like 30 minutes but then humidity and sweat happens. For everybody. No exceptions. Absolutely none.
  • You are beautiful, whether you like it or believe it or not
  • It is your responsibility to deal with how you are currently feeling, nobody else will do it for you
  • The validation you receive online is temporary, it will never satisfy your deeper need, so change tactics (more on that below)

Change your tactics

If you’re feeling like crap, know that you aren’t alone and we’ve been there. Some of us are still going through it and we’ve got a ton of amazing things to help you. Check out some of the following:

 

Where it all began

When I was in elementary school, I used to fake being sick. I’d tell the nurse I wasn’t feeling well so I could call my mom and go home. I did this over and over, and no one questioned it.

My teachers didn’t see how I cried in the hallway, they didn’t the girls who would walk behind me in class and snap my training bra through my shirt. They ignored the way other girls would laugh as I tried to answer a question in class, but my stutter kept the words inside me. They didn’t see the time I came back from recess with a bloody nose because one of my classmates had punched me in the face.

Maybe they didn’t see because they weren’t looking, or because they didn’t have the education to be able to identify it as a problem. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t fighting back. I stayed silent. But regardless, I didn’t feel worthy enough to stand up for myself, and so it continued until my parents pulled me out of that school.

…But that wasn’t the end of it.

As I got older, I bullied myself. I told myself I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to everyone else, to strangers on the street, to models in magazines, actresses, to my friends. I compared myself to this fictional perfect version of me, one who was thinner, smarter, more beautiful, better. I bullied myself through high school, through college. I told myself that the boys I liked would never like me back.

“I convinced myself that I had to be someone else, someone different, in order to be interesting. I told myself that who I was was disgusting.”

As my eating disorder began to take form, this internal bully grew stronger and stronger. It burst into a thousand splintered voices hunched at the back of my mind like ghosts. I would see women on the sidewalk and I’d compare their thighs to mine. I body checked everywhere, before I got into the shower each morning; in bathrooms at restaurants; in storefront mirrored windows; in my bed late at night — wrapping my fingers around my upper arms just to check, just to know how big and horrible they were.

These mind ghosts were there whispering in my ear as I tried on lingerie, as I got dressed every day, when I bought my wedding gown. They screamed at me when I ate past my calorie limit, telling me I didn’t have any self control, that I didn’t deserve the luxury of eating, or shopping, or washing my hair. They told me that who I was was less important than following their rules.

Instead of being on the outside, a voice I could rationalize as someone else’s hurt projected onto me, it was internal. My own lack of self worth. My own shame. My mind ghosts were with me all the time, lining my insides like spiked wallpaper, and I couldn’t move without feeling them.

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/in-bed-duvet.jpg”]

You are so much more than your outer packaging

Going to therapy, and finding the body positive and self-love community on Instagram helped me realize: I can tear that wallpaper down. I can exist without it. My mind ghosts may haunt me, but I am real. I am flesh and blood and spirit and soul and love and power, and they are nothing compared to me.

It can be so difficult to see outside of the pain we’re living in, past the weight of others’/society’s expectations of us. But it is possible. Self-love isn’t something you just do. There’s no switch you can flick where suddenly all those years of self-deprecation and criticism just go away. There’s no magic wand you can wave to make the comments and criticisms of others’ disappear.

“You cannot hate yourself into loving yourself. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

It’s a learning process. It’s a journey. It’s recognizing, in small, everyday moments, that the opinions of others don’t change who you are. It’s knowing deep in your heart that who you are is so much more than your outer packaging, and that your soul is beautiful and worthy of love simply because it’s yours.

Being a part of the body love community has taught me so many things, but some of the most life changing are:

You are not alone. No matter how isolated you feel, I promise you that there is someone else out there feeling the same way.

You have the power to change. Every morning that you wake up is a miracle, and whether it’s a small step or a giant leap forward, you have the strength in you to break the cycle.

Talking about the things we’re scared / ashamed of takes the power away. Shame is so often the number one thing holding people back from getting help, and the more we expose the things we feel are so great and so looming, and shine a light on them and really examine them, the smaller they actually become.

Perfection doesn’t exist. Humans are by nature imperfect, and that’s what makes us so interesting. Literally no one is perfect (not even that person you think has it all).

Inside each and every one of us is a spirit waiting to be loved entirely. It knows that what you’ve been through has been hard. It knows that you’re trying. And it’s waiting for you.

Follow Gina on Instagram @nourishandeat

On Christmas Eve 2007, Royal Marines Commando Mark Ormrod was on patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when he stepped on and triggered an Improvised Explosive Device. This resulted in both his legs being amputated above the knee and his right arm amputated above the elbow. Since then, Mark Ormrod has become an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, a sponsored athlete, performance coach, fundraiser for multiple charities and the author of the award-winning autobiography Man Down.

Placed in your circumstances, many would write off ever visiting a gym or participating in sport again. What motivated you to start being active after your accident?

In the beginning, my motivation was driven by both gratitude and curiosity. Before my injuries, working out and staying fit was a huge part of my life. Afterwards, I was acutely aware of how lucky I was to be left with one fully functioning arm. I recognised that it meant the possibility of keeping working out as a big part of my life. Once I healed, I was curious to see what I was still able to do. I decided to find out by visiting the gym and beginning to experiment. Admittedly, the first session was quite frustrating, but afterwards, I experienced the familiar rush of endorphins and realised it was something that I had to persist with.

What advice would you give people feeling anxious about starting the gym?

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to take the plunge and get your foot through the door. For many, this is the often the hardest part due to a fear of judgement. If you do feel judged or unwelcome at your gym, it’s definitely worth having a shop round to find the best one for you. Bring a friend to relieve your anxiety and to have fun with working out.

If you can’t muster the confidence to get to the gym quite yet, why not start out by working out at home? If you’re able-bodied there is no end to the amount of exercises you can do just using your own body weight, all available to find online.

How should first-timers best kick-start their fitness journey?

By having goals! A lot of people quit early on because they have nothing to aim for or work towards and so going to the gym becomes a chore. Before you set out sit down and write out what you want to achieve, then put a quick plan together and then get out there, get stuck in and make it happen.

How can people overcome others’ doubts?

Overcome other’s doubts by using these as fuel to prove them wrong. I have done this throughout my life, particularly when things get tough. It does not matter how the deck may be stacked against you: if you fix your mind on the objective you will achieve. Go under, over or around any obstacles that might be in your way until you get to your destination. Bear in mind that it may take a little longer than anticipated – the key is to be consistent with your actions and keep moving forward.

How did exercise boost your confidence?

The endorphins released during exercise create a natural high which in turn increases confidence. Moreover, once you start seeing and feeling the results this too contributes – my own confidence increased by feeling fitter, stronger, faster and more capable.

Did it have any other psychological benefits?

It made me happier and more pro-active in my daily life. Furthermore, it gave me more energy, allowing me to perform better in my life both physically and mentally. I believe exercise to be the most under-utilised medication we have – it combats such an array of issues, including anxiety and depression.

If you need to talk – sign up to our free community to get answers to your questions from likeminded people and our trained digital mentors.

You can find out more about Mark Ormrod on his website or follow his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/markormrod/

15 Essential Beauty Tips for Teens

Feeling frumpy? Want to lose weight? Do you want better skin? Broader arms? A smaller waist? This article will deliver everything your heart desires, with 15 essential beauty tips that all teens need to know. Utilising industry experts along with tried and tested methods, we’ve painstakingly gone through hundreds of tips and procedures to give you the ultimate roundup. It isn’t an instant fix, mind… If you want to feel beautiful, read on.

1. The pictures are fake
Understand that 98% of images you see of celebrities and models are edited and are not representative. If you don’t believe us, YouTube search “reverse Photoshop” or “models unedited” – it’s okay that they have blemishes and stretch marks because they are human.

2. You make yourself feel bad
Acknowledge that there are things you dislike about yourself but don’t focus on it anymore. Nobody can make you feel bad about yourself, you do that.

3. Acknowledge what you like
Acknowledge that there are things you like about yourself and do focus on them. Even if you don’t feel like there’s anything, there is and as you become more comfortable in your own skin, this list will grow.

4. Mix your friends up
Diversify your friendship circle and hang around with people you wouldn’t otherwise hang around with. This will make you more familiar with different realities of appearances, body shapes and size.

5. Delete Facetune
Stop editing your photos. They are showing a very dangerous and unrealistic view of yourself which will then become your benchmark and will ultimately make you feel crap about yourself.

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/raphael-lovaski-compressor.jpg”]

6. Be selective over who you spend time with
Stop hanging around with people who make negative comments about how you or other people look. It’s likely that they feel bad about their own appearance and are projecting it on to other people.

7. Stop staring in the mirror
Limit the number of times you’re allowing yourself to look in the mirror, it will become obsessive and will make you feel insecure about yourself if you’re unable to see your reflection for a while.

8. Stop putting yourself down
Stop bitching about your appearance to yourself and others. It only makes it okay for other people to do it too and the things you’re saying aren’t true. You’ll end up believing them and it will become an even bigger issue.

9. Replace bitchiness with kindness
Whenever you feel like saying something bad about how other people look, say something good about them too. Eventually, work to stop saying bad things all together. Occasionally we all think negative things about others, that’s normal but it isn’t okay to vocalise them to others or use those opinions to make somebody feel bad about themselves to make yourself feel better.

10. Try to be positive
Remember that your mind is an incredibly powerful tool. Whenever you have a negative thought about yourself, acknowledge it and consciously decide to think of something positive.

11. You probably won’t believe this one, but it’s true
Understand that in 30 years, we guarantee you will look back at photos of yourself now and realise how fabulous you really looked.

12. Define your own beauty
Realise that no two people look the same. Some people have prominent birthmarks, some people have freckles, some people have black hair, some people are tall, broad, skinny, the list is endless. That’s okay. Stop basing your idea of beauty on other people, base it on yourself.

13. Stop living for your diet
Accept the fact that your natural body shape is not really going to change, no matter how much you diet or workout.

14. Supporting somebody else can help you, too
Help somebody else overcome bad feelings they have about themselves and you could find that it also helps you overcome yours too.

15. Cancel your magazine subscriptions
Don’t read beauty magazines, their sole purpose is to make you feel ugly so that you continue to buy the magazine and the products inside it. Take them with a pinch of salt.

There you have it. The 15 beauty tips for teens that the beauty industry doesn’t want you to know.