Zoe, 43, never used to struggle with low body image until she got married. Surviving an abusive marriage where she was emotionally and physically abused, Zoe lost all the body confidence she had. After breaking free about a year ago, Zoe is still on a journey to rebuild her life and self-confidence and has joined the Be Real Campaign as an Ambassador to empower women with her story and help change people’s perceptions of what is beautiful.
“My body image struggles started when I was 37 years-old and I’d just had a baby. My husband at the time used to make negative comments about my looks, told me that my belly was fat and that I was looking old. He made me feel worthless and that no one would want me or find me attractive. I ended up believing what he said and that I deserved everything he did to me and because I was so ugly, it didn’t matter.
“I hated how I looked, I felt ugly and unattractive. I used to love going shopping but I stopped buying clothes as I felt nothing looked nice. I became highly critical of my body. I would only wear leggings and long baggy tops. I covered everything up as I tried to hide myself away. If I did go out, I would wear underwear that held me in, I would hold my stomach in all the time. When I sat down I would use my arms to cover myself and once I even used parcel tape to tape down my belly to try and make it look flat.
“Even though I escaped my marriage I still struggle with low self-confidence, being told over six years, nearly every day, that I was worthless takes its toll.
“But I have worked really hard and I’m determined that he will not be the negative voice I hear in my head. When I look at myself in the mirror, instead of hearing his voice and believing what he used to say, I tell myself the opposite as I know that he was lying. I push myself to wear clothes that reveal my shape and I don’t hide away what is perceived as flaws.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey for me and I had to take some practical steps to help change the way I felt about my body. I read self-help books about building confidence and every day I don’t feel body confident I just fake it until I believe it myself.
“Last year, I did a boudoir style photo shoot, this was really out of my comfort zone, but I really wanted to see pictures of myself that looked like art, and that I was proud of, instead of always avoiding the camera.
“I have a six year old daughter and I don’t want her to ever feel negatively about her body. I challenge myself to be positive and body confident for her.”
Do you feel inspired by Zoe? Find out how you can become a Be Real Ambassador.