CW: Mental health, body image
Mental health is complex and very individual – no two people experience it the same way even if they have the same diagnosis. For me, a lot of my depression and anxiety stems from a poor body image and for World Mental Health Day 2020 I want to talk about how lingerie has been my secret weapon in overcoming this.
Throughout my time in school – from as early as primary school at age 7-10 and through to high school at age 11-16 – I have always found myself comparing myself to others. Constantly catching myself wondering how different things would be if I wasn’t the awkward, geeky, mousy-haired girl with glasses. I always felt like my friends were only pretending to like me, and that it was really one big elaborate joke to make me look silly. My low self-esteem was getting the better of me.
Wearing Curvy Kate Lifestyle X Khaki/Pink
I was always on the slimmer side, but I never felt it. When I sat down, I had rolls on my stomach and my thighs squished outwards – as far as I was concerned back then, that was the worst thing you could have. The media never showed normal, natural bodes and instead we were bombarded with supermodels and celebrities with perfectly toned bodies and washboard abs (and, as we know now, a huge amount of Photoshop) – as an impressionable young girl going through puberty, my mind was frantic. I’d sit and cry in front of my mirror and wish I could just take a pair of scissors to my stomach to cut the ‘fat rolls’ off. In school assemblies I would sit up straight as a rod to avoid any rolling of my stomach, even though nobody could see them under my jumper. On the chairs in the classroom I’d always have my feet on tip toes to hold my thighs up from the chair, so they didn’t spread out as much.
Things got a bit better as I went into college and then moved away to university. I was no longer around the toxic people of my teenage years, and the media was getting better at portraying how bodies really look with less retouching and more reality. My mental health was definitely still wobbly, and I was fighting inner demons constantly, but I felt a little surge of confidence and could see the light at the end of the tunnel. While I was at uni I lost my dad and just didn’t know what to do. I dropped out, started working full time, and then lost my mum a year later. My world crumbled around me and I felt myself falling backwards into a bottomless pit of despair.
Wearing Scantilly Unzipped
Ever since I was a teen, I have always loved pretty underwear – even if I was too ashamed of it to admit it! I used to hide lacy thongs and bras at the back of my drawer and sneak them into the wash without my parents seeing. My mum would buy me lovely matching sets for birthdays and Christmas but being that awkward teen, I’d just say ‘mum, stop embarrassing me!’ – while secretly loving the fact I had more pretties to wear, but I never quite understood the power of lingerie until I hit rock bottom in 2012.
I remember numbly walking around Westfield trying to take my mind off life and stepped into La Senza when it was still a thing on the UK high street. I desperately needed new bras – I didn’t know much about bras and bra fitting at that time, but I did know that my worn out 36Bs just weren’t cutting it anymore! The fitter put me in a 32DD (which I know now was WAY off) and I felt a little fire ignite in me. For the first time in a while I felt good about myself. I walked out of there with two everyday bras, and three beautiful ‘sexier’ styles.
Lingerie became a way for me to stand up tall and take on the day. It became my superpower, my suit of armour under my clothes. The right bra and knicker set put a pep in my step, but this was just the beginning. After my rent and bills came out, I’d try and treat myself to a new set every month - some people would buy bags or shoes, but I was all about the bras. I was starting to discover this world of beautiful styles and I couldn’t help myself.
Wearing Rougette by Tutti Rouge Isla
Then I found Brastop. I shopped here a couple of times before I ended up getting a job with the company in 2016, but little did I know my mind was about to be totally BLOWN. I was thrown headfirst into the lingerie world and discovered I was, at the time, not the 32DD I’d been fitted at 4-5 years prior but actually a 28FF. I was amazed by the different brands available, not just the high street brands. I learnt all about bra fitting, the different styles and shapes, and most of all: I learnt the true power of a well-fitting bra. Even though my body image was improving, I didn’t realise just how good the right fit made me feel about myself until I tried it on for the first time.
I wanted to harness that power and use it to overcome my demons, so I set myself up a little Instagram page – private and anonymous at first, as I was so shy – which started as a way to document my journey to self-love. I posted photos in the most beautiful lingerie sets that I owned and let myself appreciate what I saw when I looked at the images. I filled my feed with people of all shapes and sizes who were loving themselves without shame and realised this could be me too.
When I say that lingerie helps my mental health, I am being deadly serious. There is definitely a psychological aspect of lingerie whether it comes down to the colour or style that impacts your mood. With the right set of lingerie, I feel like I can take on anything the world throws at me. If I’m having a bad day with my mental health, my self-care is putting on a cute set to perk me up. Is it a cure-all that fixes everything? No, certainly not, but it is a steppingstone that helps me get there by reminding me how fierce and fabulous I really am!
Wearing Freya Wild Black Zebra
I have seen a proper bra fitting transform 100s of women’s lives, including my own. Giving them a new lease of life, a reason to stand up a little taller and be a little more confident. No more discomfort from an uncomfortable fitting bra, and instead being proud to show off their curves. I've comforted women in the changing rooms when they burst into tears of joy after being fitted into a 32FF after years of wearing ill-fitting 38Cs, and realising how beautiful they really are - giving them confidence to go out and buy their first bikini in 15 years to wear on their next holiday. When people ask me how I’m so confident I tell them it’s down to my underwear. My number one tip for learning to love your body is get a proper bra fit, and the rest will come in time.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We’ve previously compiled a list of resources to help you through difficult times, which you can read here on our blog.
Do you have a favourite set of lingerie that makes you feel unstoppable? If you’re not sure of your size, fill out the bra fit consultation form or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a free virtual bra fitting with me.