March 3, 2014 by jeliwobble
I have been thinking a lot about body confidence this last week or two, sparked off from a conversation at play group and reading this piece on how French women treat themselves. Chatting about confidence and how we feel, the ladies were very much of the opinion that they felt much more confident when they were nicely dressed and made up. Without really thinking about it very much, I said out loud that I didn’t really feel any different whether I dressed up nicely and put make up on or not.
And that is the truth, the more I think about it. My confidence doesn’t come from my clothes or my body. I have been too fat and too unpretty for most of my life to trust in the confidence of what is on the outside. I have had to find my confidence elsewhere.
For me, it’s not about other people’s judgement of my weight, or my looks, or my clothes. I will never have the money to wear designer clothes, I will never have the body to make high street clothes look designer no matter how thin I am, and I will never have the carriage and poise to wear alternative clothes with the panache of a true acolyte of the vintage. So, instead, I have tried to cultivate something else about me that trumps all the outside things. I have tried to cultivate my brain instead.
I place my trust, and therefore the large majority of my *self*, in my knowledge. I thirst for it, I hunger for it. I have a deep desire to read about interesting new things that I can talk about and make sure it is up to date. If someone happens to know something more about stuff that I am interested in than I do, then I will go out of my way to learn all they know and more. If I am in a position where I can talk about Stuff I Know, my confidence knows no bounds.
I can be dressed in jeans and a jumper, with tatty trainers on and my hair scragged back, but I will feel better than a supermodel in the moment where I am just waffling on about the myriad trivial but interesting nuggets that are in my head.
I had an argument with my baby sister not long after her daughter was born. No real need to go into the whys and wherefores, just that the upshot of it was that she essentially shot my ‘knowledge’ out from under me. And, there, in that moment, I ceased having any kind of real confidence in myself. I went into some kind of meltdowny shock, where I said some things and she said some things and, quite honestly, if she hadn’t been the bigger person and partially apologised, I’m not sure our relationship would be the same as it is today. Because, in doing what she did, she shattered my self confidence in a way that only perhaps four or five other people in the entire world have the power of doing. A similar snide aside made by my brother to me in front of other members of our extended family had, sometime before, destroyed any residual ability I had to hold a civil conversation with him. I am eternally grateful, therefore, that this didn’t happen between my sister and I.
This is why weight, for me, will never be an issue. That’s why make up and pretty nails and nice clothes don’t give me the confidence boost that they seem to give others. It doesn’t matter if I’m a size 8 or a size 24, scruffy or made up, so long as I know stuff and can talk about it in an interesting way that other people seem interested in listening to or reading about, then I am as confident as a king.
I feel my least confident when my mind is dealing with too much of the mundane and when I am in the depths of my occasional mid-winter slump. If I can summon the energy to actually get out of the house and be with people whom I enjoy having conversation with, then my confidence springs joyously forth and I can literally take on the world.
The worry of ageing for me does not lie in wrinkles and sagging and spread, but in loss of mental acuity, cognition and memory. God help me if I ever suffer from Alzheimer’s. I will be off to Dignitas faster than you can say ‘assisted suicide’…