Tag Archives: self-esteem

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams – A Love Letter Shaped Review

19 Jun

I realised writing a review for Becoming by Laura Jane Williams* wasn’t going to be easy very early on when reading it. I have had such an emotional reaction to this book, writing the kind of review you may be used to on my book blog Once Upon a Bookcase just isn’t going to cut it. So, instead, this is part review, part love letter to Williams, and part a post about me and my hurts. (This is pretty long. You have been warned.)

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams

Dear Laura,

It’s difficult for me to find the words to explain how much Becoming meant to me. I’m a huge fan of your blog Superlatively Rude, and admire you so much as a writer, so Becoming was always on my wishlist – to read more of your words, to hear more of your story. But it ended up affecting me on such a deeply emotional level. You’ve changed the way I think, you’ve made me want to be braver, and you’ve made me face and accept parts of myself I had always turned away from and ignored. Continue reading

On Children & Body Image

11 May
On Children & Body Image

I was at a barbeque at the weekend, and got talking with my cousin. We were talking about various things, and body image came up.

“Look at my fat thumbs!” She said. “My friends are always teasing me about my fat thumbs,” she laughed. There is nothing wrong with her thumbs. Her thumbs are fine.

Later on, she moved on to leg hair grooming. “I used wax strips. You should use an epilator or wax, because shaving makes the hair grow back thicker and longer, like a beard,” she informed me. “I hate my gorilla legs!” she added.

My cousin is 11-years-old. Continue reading

Music Made the Girl

10 Apr
Music Made the Music

Music is such an every day part of our lives that I think we can sometimes take it for granted. Music isn’t just entertainment, it’s an art form, but also a means of expression that can really mean something to the listener. We can be touched by the lyrics or the melody, or felt understood when a songwriter somehow managed to put into words what you have always felt or thought. Music can mean so much.

When I was a teenager, the British pop punk band Busted meant a huge deal to me. To many, Busted would be considered a guilty pleasure, but I could never feel guilty for loving a band that did so much for me. Continue reading

#BeYourOwnValentine: A Love Letter to Myself

14 Feb
A Love Letter to Myself

Dear Jo,

I haven’t always been kind to you. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been mean and hurtful. I have said awful things about who you are, and about how you look. It’s not ok, and I’m really sorry for treating you so badly.

We get on so well today, so much better today than we used to. You’ve forgiven my harsh treatment of you, and we’ve grown close. So on this Valentine’s Day, I thought I would write to tell you just how awesome you are.

I love your silly sense of humour, and your willingness to make a fool of yourself for a laugh. You find the most unfunny jokes absolutely hilarious, and it’s hilarious in itself that once you start laughing, you just can’t stop. Your screeching seagull-come-witch’s-cackle laugh is unbelievable, and when it goes on and on, with you struggling to breath… well, it’s infectious, and everyone will join in and laugh, too. Granted, they’re laughing at you and your over the top non-stop laugh, but they’re laughing. I love how you don’t care about how stupid your laugh is, and how you just enjoy the moment. Continue reading

We’re Real Women, Too: On Sizeism & Skinny Shaming

16 Jul
We're Real Women, Too

Several weeks back, I was having a quiet drink down the pub. It was kind of warm, so I took off my cardigan, leaving my arms bare in my strappy vest. A man in his 40s decided to sit himself down next to me, and tell me, “You need to put on some weight, girl!”

This kind of comment is nothing new to me. I have always been very slim – depending on the shop, a UK size 6 or 8 (European size 34 or 36 / US size 2 or 4) – and people have always felt the need to tell me so, or talk about my size behind my back. There’s nothing like having old women in the chip shop discuss my figure; “She’s so skinny!” stage whispered with revulsion, a look of disgust on their faces.

People have accused me of having an eating disorder. People have told me that I need more meat on my bones. People have always made it clear that my body isn’t beautiful. Despite these comments being something I’ve grown up with, they’re still hurtful. Sizeism is rife, and a problem. We all know it’s not on to be body shaming bigger people; it’s rude, it’s disgusting, and it’s offensive. But when it comes to those of us who are slimmer, nobody seems to see anything wrong with sharing their opinion of our bodies.

Caoimhe Tracey has had similar experiences. “I’m 27 years old, work in the area of special needs, am a bit too emotionally attached to fictional characters, and happen to be a UK size 4 [US size 1 / European size 32]. For some reason, to a lot of the public, this last bit of information about me is sickening. I am often classified as unhealthy or can be talked about – to my face – as if I have some sort of disease that affects other peoples’ lives.”

Sarah Key* reports the same. “I have had the same weight since I was in my late teens, and I have been a regular European size 36 / UK size 8 [US size 4] since I was 16, so not exactly unusually thin. I have, however, been suspected of having eating disorders, or starving myself, due to my size. This was especially true when I was younger, and with people I didn’t know that well.”

And it can be surprising where some of the comments come from. “I’m petite, as many would say, being only 4’10, but that means I am very slim and always have been,” said Nichola Vo. “As a result, people tend to remark that I should eat more, or that I’m lucky. It’s strange because when I think about it, it’s come from mainly family. Like, the ‘Put on some weight,’ or ‘You’re too skinny,’ comments.” Continue reading

Give Yourself the Chance

26 Jun
Give Yourself the Chance

A few weeks back, I made my first tentative steps to having my words published on other platforms. There was a call on Twitter for writers to get in contact to be added to the contributors list for The Coven, a website for and by women. On a nervous whim, I got in contact. I put myself out there, with the risk of rejection, and it scared me. I didn’t really think I would get anywhere. Sure, I have a degree in Journalism and run a fairly successful book blog, but I don’t really have the right kind of experience. I was sure I would get a “Thank you, but no thank you.” I would anxiously open my email, dreading the “no” I was sure would come.

It didn’t. After reading the information about myself I provided, the editor was happy to add me to the Contributors list, and soon after I received an email for content submissions for the next month. I couldn’t believe it. I was sure I’d get a no.

I pitched an idea inspired by the theme, but again expecting a no. But the editor liked my pitch, and made some suggestions. It was accepted! I really was surprised by the good luck seeming to be coming my way. I thought about what I wanted to say, I made a lot of notes, and I wrote my piece. Once I was happy with it, I sent it off, hopeful and excited.

I got a response within a day or two, and my heart sank. The editor felt it needed “a bit of a rewrite”. My self-doubt that left me anxious before was nothing compared to how my low self-esteem in regards to my abilities treated me.

My piece was crap. Of course, it was. Why did I think I could do this? Why did I even bother? There were suggestions, but there’s no way I could do what they were asking. I knew it all along. I wasn’t good enough.

Except… that wasn’t true. I wallowed in my dejection for a while, and then re-read the email. There were some positive points! And the criticism I received was constructive, of course; indicators of how to refocus my writing, rework it, and improve.

Over the next few days, I thought about the points made. Brainstormed where I could take it, coming up with discarding ideas, thinking about word count and what ideas would help me meet it. I worked on it. I took advantage of the tools I had available. I rewrote it. And I submitted it.

I don’t know if it’ll will be fine this time round, if I’ll still need to work on it, or if they decide not to go with it. The point is I’m still giving it a go.

Don’t give in to self-doubt.

Be brave, and take that first step to moving towards what you want.

It might not be easy: there might be obstacles along the way, and it’s possible you might stumble at the first hurdle, but don’t give up.

Keep going, keep trying.

You deserve to give yourself the chance.


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The Cosmetic Surgery/Role Model Argument

3 Feb

There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and feel the need to discuss. On Celebrity Big Brother recently, the housemates were asked, during to ask, to discuss whether or not people who have cosmetic surgery are good role models or not.

I object to this question. I think it’s the wrong thing to ask. Of course, it’s Celebrity Big Brother, so with housemates such as Alicia Douvall, Katie Price, Michelle Visage and Cami Li, who have all had cosmetic surgery, and Katie Hopkins who had previously made comments about Alicia’s appearance, it was all to cause arguments and TV. A good debate is not what they were after, but instead for people to get wound up.

But who says a person who has cosmetic surgery – whether they are in the public eye or not – should be a role model at all? I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure when a person decides to have surgery to change their appearance, whatever their reasons, they’re not really thinking about whether they’ll be a good  or bad role model. It’s a personal choice. It’s their choice, and I don’t think we should be laying blame at their doors for low self-esteem and self-confidence in some young men and women, or whatever it is we’re blaming them for by considering them bad role models.

For context’s sake, I have not had cosmetic surgery, nor do I imagine I will, unless it was for medical reasons. As far as I’m aware, nor do I know anyone who has had plastic surgery. So I’m not coming at this as someone who is a fan or for cosmetic surgery, I’m kind of neutral on the topic. My only thoughts are worries about the possible self-esteem issues of those who have surgery, but that’s a conversation to have with individuals who would allow me, rather than a “preachy” blog post.

I just think it’s wrong that we think it’s any of our business to comment one way or the other on what a person chooses to do with their bodies. Look how we all started criticising Renée Zellweger when those photos appeared last year and people were talking about her alleged surgery. I’ll put my hands up and say I myself made some comments I shouldn’t have, until I saw a Tweet that has made me view those who choose to have surgery differently.

At the end of the day, I know that how I look, how I present myself and what I choose to do with my body was my business alone. That’s what we all think, right? Maybe we should start thinking the same about others, as well as ourselves.

Cosmetic surgery is a personal choice, and it’s not our business or place to comment on other people’s bodies.


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