I don’t know about you, but I never feel better about myself physically than when I’m on or just returned from a beach holiday. Shame I’ve only had one then in the last 8 years really, isn’t it?! Seriously though, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s true. It’s odd really, given that I’m a girl with a passion for fancy dresses and high heels, and I actually feel more happy and at ease with myself when I’m wearing hardly any make-up and I haven’t styled my hair for days. Me, a girl who would faint at the idea of going to work without mascara on and can’t remember what her natural hair colour is. Not that I’m a slave to slap, that is. I’m hardly sporting an Essex tan and false eyelashes everyday! But the vast majority of the time I look in the mirror and see nothing but pasty skin, dark circles, split ends in my hair and oddly wonky eyes and eyebrows and I just don’t feel pretty enough to venture out bare-faced. The same goes for the old body too – I’m not one of those girls that believes they’re fat despite being size 8-10, but I am far more conscious these days of how everything is just that little bit less toned and more wobbly these days. I spent the two weeks prior to go away obsessing over my bloated belly and wondering when it was that my butt cheeks started to touch the top of my thighs – last time I’d worn a bikini in public I was 25 and working 80 hour weeks, surviving on red bull and wine, which is not something I’d recommend as a healthy lifestyle, but it did mean everything was a lot slinkier and tighter than it is now, and it was a little shock to the system to be honest.
Funny then, how within not much more than 24 hours of touching down in Crete I felt more beautiful than I had in a really long time. Not movie star beautiful or super model beautiful, but beautiful all the same. I didn’t really care that my mid afternoon bloat makes me look about 6 months pregnant. I stopped being concerned that my hair has literally no shape to it these days, and just hangs there like a limp (but slightly frizzy) mop. I didn’t even stop to examine those wonky eyebrows anxiously even once. How does that work then? Seriously, if they could bottle that feeling Creme de la Mer would go bust! I felt so at ease with how I looked that towards the end of the week I snapped a photo of myself while getting ready, sans make-up and with damp hair, because I wanted to capture it. I had a vague idea that I’d get home, look back at it and realise that I looked just the same as I do when I’m at home and delete it immediately, but do you know what? It’s still there. I don’t know what exactly, but that holiday magic that just makes you feel a million dollars is still there in that photo. I probably don’t look any different, you can probably be a better judge of that than me, but whether it’s the tan, or the lovely lighting or just the happy, relaxed me shining through, I actually feel really beautiful in this picture. That isn’t something I ever thought I’d say (partly because I don’t normally feel it fully made up, never mind au naturale, but also because I’d fear everyone thinking I must think I’m Kate Moss or something and ridicule me forevermore) and I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be posting a bare faced close up of myself on the Internet, but I decided to do it anyway, because how often do we girls feel confident enough to stand up and say, ‘Do you know what I’m actually not hideous!’ to ourselves, never mind a load of strangers? So I thought I’d write this post as a reminder, not just to myself but to anyone else who wakes up and feels like they might frighten children if they ventured out like that, that maybe we should all try to remember how that feels and cut ourselves a bit of slack. If we feel beautiful on a beach with not a scrap of foundation on, we should be able to feel that way here too. After all, I don’t magically look different in these pictures, I’m just happy, at peace and in love, and I have all the tools to feel that way here too, I just need to focus on the right bits of my life. I’m sure the feeling will fade faster than my tan, but anytime I feeling crappy I’m going to read this again and remind myself not to be so down on myself.
And when that doesn’t work I guess I’ll just have to book another holiday!
Be nice to yourselves, ladies!