"If all women had true confidence, we would be unstoppable" - Abby Russell
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing confidence curve queen and gorgeous human Abby Russell on all things body image. Abby is a curve model, confidence advocator, co-founder of @beyondbodyconfidence and stylist. Enjoy!
What does positive body image mean to you?
It means acceptance of your body, in my opinion you don’t have to love your body just accepting it is a step in the right direction. Body neutrality is a goal to work towards, which is essentially looking at your naked self in the mirror and not thinking "I hate what I see" but equally not thinking "I love what I see" just feeling at peace with yourself.
You regularly talk about always being confident within yourself and your body. What do you think the biggest contributors to this have been?
I would put this down hugely to my parents, they are fantastic role models. My mum is a plus size woman, I have never seen her talk badly about her body or go on a diet. My parents never made comments about my body other than positive ones. They taught me to look beyond looks and look at the good impact I can make generally instead. Something that was instilled in me was "As long as I could put my head on the pillow at night with a good conscience then I was in a good place" This of course included talking negatively about other people. Thanks to my parents I feel really connected with who I am and strong in my morals.
What do you think could be helpful to people who struggle with their body image?
Social media is obviously a big thing, ensure you are diversifying your feed. We look at our phones on average 28 times a day, that is 28 opportunities to questions ourselves or compare so make sure who you are following is having a positive impact on you. Unfollow anyone that doesn't make you feel good! The mute button is great if you have family & friends who have a negative effect on you but you don't want to unfollow.
Learn & research more about diet culture and fat phobia, call out people who make comments about yourself or others that makes you feel uncomfortable, generally this comes down to someones internalised fat phobia.
What do you think the biggest contributors to negative body image are?
Social media as touched on before, diet culture- for example slimming world/weightwatchers adverts make us feel that we have to shrink ourselves to be happy, that is simply not true.
What can we do as a generation to change this?
Opening up the conversation, we are definitely moving in the right direction with accounts of large followings spreading the message but this really needs to be reflected in mainstream media to make an everlasting impact. When obesity is being spoke about on TV there should always be a HAES practitioner present to give another opinion. Do your research and share your findings with family and friends that are fat phobic or shame other people for their looks, make them realise that it's not good to do so, you can call people out in a nice way especially if it's backed with research.
As Co Founder of Beyond Body Confidence, what is your mission for the brand?
We want to get out there and speak to as many women as possible and instil that confidence is beyond asthetics. We are so much more then what we look like. Women need to take back that power from the male patriarchy. for too long we have been made to place emphasis on our looks when we are so much more than that. If all women had true confidence, we would be unstoppable.
Are there any resources you would recommend that could help the readers of this interview discover more about positive body image?
Body respect - Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor
Body Positive Power - Megan Crabbe
Happy Fat - Sofie Hagan
Just Eat It - Laura Thomas
Naked Beach Program on Channel 4
Embrace, The Documentary available on Itunes