Mel Ciavucco grew up in the Midlands and now mostly resides in Bristol. She has been writing since she was a child to find her escape from this crazy world.
In January 2018, Mel headed off to Thailand to take part in a writing residency on Koh Samui, at The Content Castle. While there, she wrote a lot, edited a lot and built on her digital marketing and social media skills. It was there that she decided to take the plunge and quit her job to live her dream as a freelance writer. Alongside writing, Mel also loves yoga, pizza and kindness.
I totally support body positivity and think we should all love our bodies, but loving my body just feels like a BIG ask. It’s hard enough just to say ‘it’s okay.’ I feel like a massive hypocrite because I make body image and self-esteem YouTube videos. Every video I make, I cringe as I watch it back thinking about how my face looks too fat, how I gesticulate too much and how everything wobbles. But I keep doing it because body positivity takes practice.
My mind is a noisy place to be – one side of me says ‘you’ve got to love your body’ but the other side says ‘you’re fat and stupid.’ This battle in my head can be exhausting. I’ve had this anxiety for so many years, I just presumed everyone had it. I thought it was normal.
When I was a kid I used to wear a T-shirt over my swimsuit when I was on holiday and refused to take it off. I used to wear baggy t-shirts most of the time, trying to hide and shrink away. I used to sit with my arms folded across my belly, constantly thinking that people around me were judging me. Every woman I’d ever known was always on a diet. Every film I watched told me that I’d only be happy if I found a man, and to find a man I’d have to be thin.
Body positivity is primarily about questioning and changing your thoughts, not your body. Changing the negative thoughts about your body can help you feel confident in other aspects of your life. Feeling bad about my appearance made me want to hide from people. I wanted to shrink away until I didn’t exist anymore. I was shy and timid, scared of everyone and the world. Body positivity is a journey. We can’t all love our bodies right now and we all have a different path to take. The important part is knowing that we’re on that path. You might take a few steps forward and then a few steps back. You might be right at the very start just looking at the path. It’s all okay. Wherever you are, it’s okay.
I first had counselling when I was about 19. I had a few sessions but I couldn’t really engage with it, I just wasn’t ready. It took me ten more years before I could try again. I just wasn’t able to open those doors before, it would have been too painful. I’ve learnt that overcoming my body image issues, anxieties and my low confidence is going to take a long time, but I’m on that journey now, which feels positive.
For me, going travelling was my big step forward. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to go but my family and friends were very encouraging. I knew I had to confront my fears and push myself out of my comfort zone otherwise nothing would ever change. Not everyone can travel, but you can still do something to start changing the way you think and take steps out of your comfort zone.
Learning about gender equality really helped me too. I learnt about objectification and the patriarchal systems that kept women quiet. For me, it linked it all together. It seems like women have to be in constant dissatisfaction, always striving to change themselves to gain the attention of men. There was always a pressure on me to look sexy for men – I knew this from when I was a child.
Yoga has also really helped. It helps me appreciate what my body can do instead of just focussing on what it looks like. It makes me more in tune with how I’m feeling, emotionally and physically.
Having a creative outlet is so important. Mine is writing, yours could be art or music. You don’t even need to try to create something based on your emotions, just create whatever comes naturally to you and enjoy it!
So if I feel like a hypocrite when I write things or make videos about body positivity, I choose not to listen to those thoughts. I try to remember that every day is different. When you’re in the middle of a bad day, it can seem like it will never pass – but it will. Reach out and talk to somebody. Know that other people understand how you’re feeling, and that you’re not alone.
Thanks for reading. Be kind to yourself.
If you liked this, check out my body image and self-esteem videos on YouTube!
If you’re feeling down, reach out and speak to someone now:
Samaritans: 116 123
Mind info line: 0300 123 3393