I’ve always been insecure about my body, and feel uncomfortable when anyone compliments my appearance. It’s always so awkward and I never know what to say. How should I be responding?
We tend to feel uncomfortable with praise that goes against how we see ourselves. To feel more at ease, first try to understand what lies behind your discomfort. Remind yourself that accepting a compliment is a compliment itself. Rehearse a response; a smile and a thank you can suffice. You could also use the compliment to further the conversation: ‘Thanks! Have you ever been to that hairdresser?’. A compliment is someone seeing value in you, and that’s something that you should always strive to see in yourself.
Q: I’ve always had big breasts and, frankly, it’s a struggle. They’re the first thing people notice about me and men feel they can make rude comments. Plus I get treated like a bimbo (who could have these boobs
It’s amazing how people feel it’s okay to pass comments on a woman’s appearance, assuming she’s being sexualised and made the object of desire. But you should bear in mind that how you act, what you say and what you value about yourself will outweigh any first impressions. Speak confidently, hold eye contact and if someone says anything disrespectful, confront them and tell them how it makes you feel. Ensure you’re clear about what you expect from the person you’re interacting with by being who you really are, rather than what someone else expects you to be.
Q: My boyfriend means everything to me and we have a great time together. But over time, he’s gained a lot of weight. While I still love him, now I’m not attracted to him. He’s gone on a couple of diets and exercise regimes, but they never last. I think he should be making more of an effort, because I make an effort for him. A:
The fact that he’s tried diets and exercise regimes suggests he too is probably unhappy with his weight gain— but it isn’t always easy to lose weight. Talk to him about any struggles with managing your own health/weight issues, and frame the conversation in terms of what you can do together to support each other. Don’t make it into an ‘I don’t find you attractive’ issue. Instead, be part of the solution: cook healthier meals and find active habits you can enjoy as a couple.
Q: I’ve just had my first baby and my body has changed so much—my stomach is covered in stretch marks, and I’m so conscious of how I look. A:
Your stretch marks are a common response to pregnancy (which are, incidentally, shared by about 80% of all women who have given birth). There’s a lot you can do from the outside: laser treatments, glycolic acid, dermabrasion, and certain prescription retinoids. But work on the inside too: you’ve earned those stretch marks—they’re a sign of your motherhood. Wear them with a sense of entitlement, not shame, and remember: stretch marks aren’t life-changing; having your baby, however, is.