my story : bullying and body image

Whenever it gets to this time of year I seem to become extremely reflective and emotional. Don't get me wrong, I love the whole festive period but it drudges up a lot of feelings that I probably haven't quite yet dealt with. But whilst I've been reflecting on this year, I've noticed that how I feel in myself has dramatically changed. I've been wanting to write something like this for a long time now but I've never felt I was the right place with myself to actually be fully open.

There has been a lot of discussion this past year about self love, care and also a huge push addressing bullying both online and offline. Without realising it until now, all the discussion and topics I'm seeing online have helped me turn a corner. Even as I'm writing this I'm feeling overwhelmed because it's the first time I've actually admitted it to myself and reflected on the changes that have been made. With all that being said and knowing how many others are also still struggling daily with body image and bullying, I wanted to share my story.

My first encounter with being unhappy in how I looked came at a very young age. You see articles about children, maybe 7 or 8 years old saying that they recognise characteristics of themselves they don't like. On said articles you get the ignorant people commenting things such as 'nonsense, children are children. they don't even know what it means to not like how they look'.

eight year old me, screams.

I vividly remember being in PE class in primary school, we were all sitting on the field as our teacher was telling us what we were going to do. I was sitting with my knees bent underneath me, which we all know, is probably the most enlarging, unflattering leg position there is. I had on these three quarter length legging type short things and I remember looking at my legs, looking around, and feeling close to tears. Feeling upset by the comparison to the other girls, even the boys. I've never spoken about how I felt then to anyone, it wasn't like I'd go home and tell my mum how I felt as parents will never say anything other 'don't be silly, you're perfect' to their children. So I never said anything, it wasn't like I was getting up and judging myself everyday, but I was definitely aware and in many situations felt uncomfortable.It really breaks my heart now to think back to 8 year old me having those thoughts, because no child should feel that way. I wasn't an overweight or chubby child when I look back at photos now, but in comparison to others around me I clearly felt bigger than I should've been.

I could never tell you where that stemmed from or why that thought occurred but that is the first instance I remember of feeling that way. So when people tell you body hate, body dysmorphia and eating disorders come from main stream media and magazines, don't believe them, it's bullshit.

Beside how I felt about my body, that would come and go, I was also bullied a lot because of my nose. It's still an insecurity to this day but one that I've grown to accept, mainly I think because people don't comment on it anymore. In actual fact I'm normally the one to bring it up and go 'oh, I hate my nose.' and I think this is because I want to be the one to acknowledge it, it's a pre-emptive defence mechanism I guess. It was a lot worse when I was younger because children don't know that words hurt, they don't know the consequences, I couldn't have ever told you at 8 years old that a name I was called would stay with me until now, in my twenties. I don't know how many times I would be crying at school, at home in my bedroom, because of something someones said about me that I couldn't change.

It didn't stop after primary school.

We moved to a different area when I finished primary school, my mum and dad had just gotten divorced and my dad had moved to Spain. There was a hell of a lot going on for an 11 year old but as daunting as it all was, it was also my new beginning at a new school. My first year there was fine, I don't remember the body image thoughts being quite as prominent, there was the odd jab or comment about my nose but I had a good group of friends, so I thought, and I was dealing with it better. Then the first few weeks of year 8, things changed within our friendship group and it all became very bitchy, there was comments made, texts were sent and the atmosphere changed completely.

Do you guys remember the phone you had when you were that age? the more stylish brick phones? I think I had a Motorola L6 at this point, but anyway the vibrate on those phone was killer. Whilst this whole thing with my 'friends' was going on, I start getting texts from unknown numbers, and then one morning I remember waking up seeing my mum had just picked up my phone off my bedside table and was looking at whatever was on it. She'd heard it going off and whatever time in the morning it was and saw a text saying "*so called friend* told me to tell you, you better watch your back tomorrow". I think that was the final straw for my mum,  I don't think I fully understood the gravity of the situation but was scared and upset about it, but to me they were still my friends and it was just going to stop at some point. My mum pulled me out of that school and I chose to go a school in my old area where some of my primary school friends went. But where they were, there was also the people that called me names throughout primary school, more so the guys. Because of the age of us all then and guys being all 'laddish' it would become a laughing point among a big group, with two guys in particular starting it. The names went on for a while, my friends and I would be walking to the cafeteria and you'd hear them shouting stuff across the playground, it eased off but it was still a lingering comment throughout the entirety of school life. The bullying on and off from such a young age really instilled the fact that there was something wrong with me, whether it was comments on my appearance or what happened at my first secondary school, it all resulted it me feeling that way.

The group of friends I made at the second school were amazing, they made any comment that was thrown my way a lot easier to deal with. It happened less as we all got older but at this point I was suffering with my body image a lot more. On the way to school, we all had to walk past the co-op & sweetshops. We'd all buy a lot of cheap food to eat at lunch and on the way home we'd do it again, we'd sit at the train station, eat sugar and probably be a pain in the arse to the train station staff. I have never had a fast metabolism, ever. I was and am fully aware of that and so I put on weight, and I didn't really fully realise until I was looking in the mirror and having pure thoughts of hatred toward myself. I felt disgusting, repulsive. I had cut my hair of short at this point, not for any other reason than the fact I had murdered it with bleach whilst on holiday at my dads. But this left me fully exposed, my hair was short, my face was chubby and I felt worse than I ever had.

This all happened in year 11. At the end of the year we got our results, all of my friends were staying on an sixth form but I was going to college closer to home. Over summer I didn't see them much at all, I don't think it was intentional from either sides, it just didn't happen as I lived a train and bus ride away from all of them and didn't really have the money to get over there to see them, being aged 16 and with no job. If I could pinpoint a time where things really started to go wrong with my body image, it was here. I was bored, I ate, I ate a lot. Come college starting day, I was at my lowest in terms of how I felt. I've always been a super happy, bubbly person and I had learnt how to just shove problems under the rug and get on with the day and go back to it later when I'm alone, so I don't think anybody really knew what was happening.

Whilst I was at college, I landed a part time job. At this job I met a guy, THE guy. The guy that you truly think you will spend your life with because you're extremely naive, very much a "first love" situ, looking back I really don't know if it was just teen delusion, the idea of being love, because there was certainly no love between us. We'd have shifts together, he would drop comments like "hello beautiful" which I had never had before, which obviously left me completely infatuated from the get go. So the perfection mission to 'be a girl he would want to be with' started, it was ultimately fuelled by the fact I was already so unhappy with myself that there was no way he could have ever seen anything good in me, not in my eyes.

Diet pills, fasting, not eating, binge eating, it was a vicious cycle.

We did end up in a relationship, probably the most toxic relationship I will ever have. I had spent so much time trying to better myself than ultimately I created the mindset I wasn't good enough. This was only made worse when messages started popping up on his Mac, I'll give a little background to this. He would get up to shower every morning, we always used to his Mac, you know the actual desktop ones, to watch films in the evening. His iMessages were linked to his Mac and one morning it started going off whilst I was having a lie in and he was showering. Instead of showering he was downstairs messaging a girl the same things he would message me, the girl he was meant to be in a relationship with. This led to a lot of trust issues which then led me to finding even more stuff and why I didn't grab my shit and go at that moment, I'll never know. Anyway, I digress, this only reinforced the fact in my mind I wasn't enough, I was never going to be enough and I needed to change. The diet pills continued, the awful eating habits, the "progress pictures". It was a really dark time. I truly hated myself and was trying to change whatever I could, this wasn't solely down to him, of course his actions didn't help but I should've walked away then. I believe the reason I developed all these habits was because I was finally able to change something I didn't like about myself, I couldn't change my nose, but I could change this. So I did. I had control.

The relationship ended after we'd been together for just over a year. But the eating habits only got worse, I spiralled. I was counting calories and making sure that I wouldn't go over a certain number, calculating how many I needed to burn off. I was eating an extremely low amount everyday, I was working at H&M, constantly on my feet. I would always try to find a way to hide my phone on me at work so I could take note of how many steps I would do and how many extra calories I had burned. How many more could I burn if I walk home. Constant. Draining. Thoughts. I had a friend at this time that had the same mindset as me, we were both in a similar position and it became an extremely toxic friendship. I don't want to go too much in to detail about habits, numbers and how bad it became because there really is simply no reason, and I know all to well how triggering it can be.

That was about a year and a half, maybe 2 years ago now.

I'm not too sure when things started to take a turn for the better, I don't know whether it was the people around me that lessened my focus on appearance, the movement online, the positivity you see from others. I think it was a whole host of things, but it wasn't overnight and it wasn't and isn't even now without its slips.

But I have changed.

People often say that they look in the mirror and they see a different person, it's cliche, but I can't tell you how true it is. The thoughts that used to run through my mind don't even come close to getting a foot in the front door now.

When people say self love is a journey, it really is. It's a path of accepting yourself for just that, yourself. There is a hell of a lot of stuff that triggers us to feel how we do, and we have to work through that, we have to learn and accept things about ourselves that we might not want to. But in doing so, you're opening up a world free of self criticism and hatred. The problems that we leave in the dark, only manifest to be bigger down the road. I don't know if 8 year old me speaking to someone about how much I hated my legs would've changed who I am today, I don't know if those names I was called for my nose hurt me more than they helped me become a stronger person, but I do know that the longer you feel toxic thoughts without dealing with it, the bigger the fall out will be. Body image can only be changed by you and what you see, it's down to the thoughts that rattle around in your mind, not anyone else's, and it's those thoughts we have to work on.

As much as I'd love for none of the bullying to have happened, it did. It resulted me feeling all of the above but there isn't anything I can do about what happened except work on stopping it from affecting me now and in the future. It's all anyone of us can do, we can't change what's happened but we can take control of what we're feeling right now and push ourselves in the right direction toward self love and acceptance.

it's easy to listen to the negatives people have been throwing at you your entire life, or you can choose to see the positives that have also been there, you've just been too beaten down by people to see them.

Be a nice person, choose your words wisely and if you wouldn't want to hear someone say it to you, don't say it to them.

Beth x




the art of gifting with Monsoon

I always wonder how early is too early to start talking about Christmas, I'd quite happily be walking around mid October with the Christmas play lists blasting on Spotify, never too early for Buble IMO. But with it now nearing December, I'm figuring pretty much everyone is at least getting a tad excited for the festive season. I feel as soon as all the festive coffee menus drop, the need to justify playing the Christmas play list in the office, lessens. 

Even though there is always that one person that plays the Grinch role but secretly stashes chocolate coins in their desk - AKA the undercover buddy the elf.

A week or so ago now I went to the Monsoon "Art of Gifting" event, the concept being to make giving gifts more personal by doing something a little out of the ordinary. Obviously with the event being festively themed, we all picked out a outfit to match from Monsoon. For me, fashion at this time of the year means luxury, I don't mean expensive, I mean the designs, the textures and the colours. 


The jacket here was probably the 10/10 piece, the angel on top of the tree, the last mince pie in the box when you thought your sister had finished them. I always find that building an outfit from one statement piece makes it a lot easier, which has always been one of my go to tips when I'm stuck for outfit ideas. 

Find one, build the rest from it.

I actually styled it a little different at the event, I had THIS black top layered underneath but when I went home and started to play around with combinations a little more, I found that a plain tee contrasted so nicely with the lavish embellishment, it also opened my eyes to how I thought such a festive statement piece could only been worn for evening wear, when in fact it actually looked really cute layered with denim jeans and basic pieces.

We spent the evening learning the basics of calligraphy, PSA : it's not as easy as it looks, but oh my goodness the end result is just so damn beautiful. It really showed me how putting a little more of a spin on the decorative part of a present can make it mean so much more. Even the box you see here was hand decorated at the event, not by myself! (I wish.) But by one of the artists at the event, it's safe to say how blown away we would all be to open something like this and to be told it was all done by hand. Even though most of us probably haven't got quite the same artistic hand to be able to do what the artist did here, but just to do something a little different can make the gift mean so much more.

It reminds me of when I was in primary school, during the last few weeks before Christmas holidays we would spend every day doing (v non educational) festive things. Making paper chains, decorations, normally one or two things to give as presents and of course making our own Christmas cards which would normally feature a poorly drawn, lop sided, Christmas tree. I remember that feeling when you would go to give whatever it was you made to someone that you loved, and even if they looked it at it and couldn't tell what it was supposed to be, it would probably still be one of the favourite things they got that year because it was made by you with thought behind it.

I really adored the meaning behind the event, it opened my eyes to how special a gift can be made by small touches. I'll be trying my hand again at calligraphy when it comes to writing the tags for presents this year, even if they don't look perfect, it'll hopefully be an improvement on what I did as a child but I'm not making any promises. 

with festive love and cheer, Beth. 



* this was a sponsored post in collaboration with Monsoon, however as always, all writing, images and opinions are entirely by yours truly. 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig