Welcome to this week’s guest post from Libby Rochester, a 21 year old Theatre Graduate and soon-to-be Creative Writing Masters Student from London.

Body positivity and beauty standards are ever changing as society grows as a whole. In 2010 you had to have thigh gaps and perfect eyebrows, in the 2000s you needed to have an hourglass figure and now in 2022 Brazilian butt lifts and lip fillers seem to be the way forward.

Confidence with my body was something I never really had. From the age as young as eleven, I knew my body type wasn’t the same as everyone else’s and growing up in the early 2000s, you never really saw my body type in magazines or on TV.

As I reached age sixteen I started to see more of my body type in the public eye, but not for positive reasons. “Lose 2 Stone in 60 days”, “Weight Lose Tricks For A Summer Body”, “Go From This to This with these Diet Changes”—only some of what was being associated with the body that I had.

That is when I started on my weight loss journey that I felt was being pushed in my face by society’s beauty standards at that moment in time.

I lost almost three stone in six months, which looking back now doesn’t seem that healthy compared to the view I had when I was on my “Journey to an Hour Glass Figure”. And that is when my life changed.

I started becoming addicted to losing weight.

Punishing myself if I didn’t lose weight one week from the next and joining the social hype of Slimming World to see if anything would actually change became my entire world. At this point I was seventeen years old and in sixth form (or a senior at high school, for those in America), constantly checking what I ate, how I ate it and the pace that I ate at. Telling myself that if people saw me eating fast, they will only think, “Well, with her body type, you wouldn’t expect anything else—would you?” and the same for what I ate. 

I started cutting back on everything and replacing it with water, because that was a trick mentioned in a magazine, and all editors are health doctors right? I was gullible and just wanted to fit society’s beauty—ignoring the health warnings and the alarm bells. I started to notice myself feel tired all the time, I was pale, if I stood up I felt like I was going to pass out. But beauty was worth the pain, in my eyes.

Fast forward to me being twenty one, just coming out of nine months in body dysmorphia therapy learning how to re-love my body like I once did when there was no pressure. When I was a kid starting my journey of life, not my journey of weight loss.

Learning to re-love myself was a difficult process and honestly, I’m still not fully there. I’ve always been afraid to wear certain clothes, eat certain foods in front of my friends—sometimes to even eat in front of them at all because the fear of judgement was something I did not want to risk. But now after my therapy and learning what body dysmorphia actually was, I’ve come to terms with my body, and the way it looks.

I’m no longer afraid to wear certain clothes but still am afraid to eat certain foods when in the company of friends—which just proves how much the viewing of beauty standards when you are younger can affect you later on in life, if not throughout your whole life.

It sums up the twenty-first century, doesn’t it? Gen Z women and their worry over looks. Not for them personally, but a worry of outsider opinions. Not having a big enough bum, not having full lips, not having a skinny waist but thick thighs ratio—it must stem from what has been advertised to us growing up, right?

Magazine with the entice of fake makeup—or sometimes even real—teaching girls from a young age that makeup must become a daily routine, concealing your “flaws”. Diet ideas tied in more mature magazines. Face tune apps downloaded on most phones.

Body positivity has become such a big movement, giving the least of confident people, i.e. me, a voice and ability to be comfortable in the body they have—not changing to meet standards that, in reality, do not even matter.

Chances to remove those rose tinted glasses given by social media and showcase their body to their hearts content instead. And if that means being a size bigger that 0 and wearing a bikini, then so be it.

Body positivity is giving people a voice to say no to societies constricting idea of what is flawed and what is beautiful—and I for one am here for it.

So if you see me wearing a crop top and shorts in this baking heat this summer? Just know I’m done hiding who I am, hiding how beautiful I deserve to feel, letting body dysmorphia take over my life and I’m stepping into my new reality of loving who I am.

Thank you so much, Libby, for this vulnerable and powerful guest blog! You can follow Libby on Instagram @libby_rochester_

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