May 13th - 19th is #MentalHealthAwareness week and this year, the theme is body image. This week we're posting stories from our Brastop Babes, and today you can read all about Charley's story:

When I’m not nothingbutcharley on Instagram, I’m Charley, a 26 year old trying to navigate life, living in Bristol and working in a busy harbourside restaurant. I have a dog that I love more than life and have so much underwear that I think I need an entire chest of drawers for it. I’m a size 14 and a 34G which makes any kind of shopping on the high street an almost impossible task.

Wearing lingerie makes me feel powerful.

I’ve always had difficulty with my weight, my body is constantly changing, getting bigger or smaller, more lumps, less bumps. Since I was young, I’d had a bit of a fascination with lingerie. It was so impressive that such a small amount of fabric could have so much detail. Little did I know that as I got older, my fascination would turn into this. Wearing lingerie makes me feel powerful, the qualms I have about my body are no longer there and for a moment, there is silence.

flirtelle alice burgundy nothingbutcharley
Charley wears Flirtelle Alice Burgundy

After years spent hiding my body to finally be unafraid of showing it off feels so liberating.

Seeing myself in the mirror in a set that looks like it was made for me... there’s no better feeling. I think the word “Damn” has been through my head a few times and I feel like a queen. Growing up my boobs were much bigger than those the same age as me, it was something I was hugely embarrassed and ashamed of. I was even blessed with the nickname Boing Boing by some pleasant guys in school. After years spent hiding my body to finally be unafraid of showing it off feels so liberating. It sounds silly really but lingerie has lifted so much guilt and shame that was weighing me down. A few years ago, I’d have refused to buy a size bigger than I “was”, despite knowing that no two shops could possibly be the same. Who doesn’t love a game of high street roulette? If they didn’t fit, they’d be in a drawer for years “just in case” and I’d have probably starved myself for days after. Recently, I sized up and bought a size 16 in a pair of trousers, they weren’t super comfortable so without thinking I confidently exchanged them for an 18. A huge win. But even better, in fact, the best is when someone messages me and tells me how comfortable my posts make them feel in their own skin. Knowing that learning to love my body has helped someone else is incredible. It makes all the hard work that’s gone into myself and my page worth it.

nothingbutcharley scantilly lingerie
Charley wears Scantilly Peek a Boo Lace Black

Wear the dress, buy the trousers, post the damn lingerie picture.

If I could give advice to anyone struggling, it would be that no matter your weight, your size, your body shape. Your body is your home and know that you are worthy. You’re worthy of respect. You’re worthy of love. You are enough just as you are. No one can take that away from you. Those who will put you down are not worth your time and energy. Trust yourself and your judgement. The moment you start listening to yourself and not to others, you’ve freed yourself from the box you feel limited to. Wear the dress, buy the trousers, post the damn lingerie picture. There will be good and bad days. You don’t have to love every single thing about your body and there will be days you don’t love anything at all but remember that this is a journey you’ll probably be on for the rest of your life. You’re doing great.

Off the top of my head, some of my favourite accounts for body love are @navigating.neeka, @madetobebee, @selfloveliv, @fullerfigurefullerbust for that fuller bust inspo, @thelingerieprincess, @allykatswonderland, @sonnyturner___, @kateshappinessjourney, @spreadingunicornlove, @binkylastrange.

Honestly I wish I could just name everyone I follow because they’re all incredible. I feel so damn lucky to be surrounded by amazing people in the Instagram community. I’m inspired by them everyday.

Charley x

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