Today we have the first of our guest blogs on boding Image from Gabi Cox, heres what she had to say . . .
If I think back to a time that I felt truly gorgeous, I picture myself, 14 and standing in the middle of the shop floor in Debenhams. I had just put on a beautiful red coat and felt amazing. It is one of the only times in my life where I truly loved what I saw in the mirror. I hadn’t suddenly shed 10lbs, dyed my hair or put on a face of make up, all I had done is shrug on one piece of clothing; but I instantly felt a million dollars. I went home that day feeling brilliant about myself, with that image of how I looked still in my head. I dreamed about that coat and when I eventually did open it up on Christmas Day I was ecstatic. This is the first time I realised how the clothes you wear can have an instant effect on your self esteem, whether that be good, or bad.
As I have grown up, clothes have become even more key to my confidence and body image, especially since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Aged 16, I went from being a typical teenage girl to having to battle a chronic bowel disease. I had to spend a considerable time off school, was in a huge amount of pain on a daily basis and became exhausted and malnourished. On top of that the medication I was on caused me to gain two and half stone and lose a lot of my hair. Immediately, my confidence crashed and I rarely felt that I looked good, I constantly compared myself to my peers. It was my belief in fashion and clothes which massively got me through this awful time. I was determined to find clothing which made me feel good and after many tearful afternoons in changing rooms, with my mum, I started to develop my own style. When all the girls around me were squeezing in to body-con dresses, I chose to wear skater style, feminine pieces; my temperamental tummy would never be comfortable in such tight clothing. With my stomach bloating to a crazy extent, I chose to abandon jeans which cut me in half and went for leggings, skirts and dresses. I found my own way of dressing, which made me feel good – despite what my friends and the celebrity world were wearing.
As I finished school and started my degree in Fashion Promotion and Imaging, the way I felt in clothes became even more important. Suddenly I was being judged for what I wore by an industry which actually knew what they were talking about. I remember feeling a great deal of pressure, on my first day, to look and feel great! This worry continued when I began completing internships at some of the countries best fashion magazines. Surrounded by beautiful women in beautiful clothes, most of which I couldn’t afford, I felt very insecure.
It was during one particular day, during my time at a magazine over Fashion Week, that my attitude changed. One lady who worked there had tickets to an event and was in a panic about what to wear and how she looked; when she eventually found something to wear, her face lit up, her posture changed and she became a different woman.
It was then that it clicked, this successful woman with a great body and a wardrobe to die for, was feeling the exact same as way as me. All women have this battle with their body image and confidence and we all feel that relief of finding the outfit that is ‘the one’.
Recently my body image has taken on a whole new dimension. Three weeks ago I had an ileostomy; surgery which involves having a stoma and a bag fitted. This of course has changed my life forever, I now have to adjust the clothes, underwear and swimwear that I wear to hide a bag. With it being the middle for Summer, swimwear is the biggest issue for me. It has played on my mind a lot how I am going to sunbathe and swim like everyone else. Again I found myself in Debenhams, this time in the changing room with my Mum, trying on whole range of different swimwear. I had my heart set on finding a bikini, it was then that I put on a bright blue swimming costume with small white flowers, it was a halter neck with a skirt like bottom. As soon as I put it on I felt great, I realised that even though I now had a bag I could still feel amazing.
It is still early days and I know it will be a huge adjustment for me but after everything I have gone through I have a level of in built confidence and know that I will again feel a million dollars.
I blog about my living with Crohn’s Disease, my life after surgery and my journey as a fashion student and intern at www.giftofthegab1.blogspot.co.uk