Name: Janine
Age: 38
Location: Brisbane QLD Australia
Occupation: Nutritionist

Please describe how YOU see your body in general, when you look in the mirror. 

There seems to be this perception that all women hate their bodies and think they’re fat. I think this couldn’t be further from the truth. When I strip off to jump in the shower, I usually catch a glance of myself and think, "Wow I look good". No, I’m not up myself or had plastic surgery, I just think I have great boobs and a great bum. Neither are perky and firm like they once were but that doesn’t mean they're inferior in any way. My curves make me feel like a woman, and that gives me confidence.

Body parts you love least and why?

It’s actually the skin on my face. I have severe rosacea and the stares from strangers is one thing but the fact that makeup, skincare, and even water stings my face – does at times get me down. 

A good day for me, I’m feeling physically strong, definitely sexy and grateful for my curves. A bad day is rare and it will be over my face. I will still go out and I will notice the stares. I will hear the comments and pretend I didn’t. How this makes me feel is ugly, a freak and an embarrassment to anyone who happens to be out with me at the time.

What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?

Beauty is something that glows from the skin. It’s a light in someone’s eyes and a smile that gives the receiver a warm feeling that draws them in. 

What does a healthy body image mean to you?

A healthy body image has meat on their bones. They have boobs and a bum and thighs that are built to carry their weight. Their bodies are strong. 

What do you feel you need to do to achieve this?

I’ve felt this way about myself for quite some time. I guess it’s as I always believed curves = sexy.

Are there any people who inspire you to think differently about your body in a positive way?

My husband. We’ve been together 19 years and all I’ve ever been told is how beautiful I am, what a great bum I have, and a great rack too, hahaha.

My role model growing up wasn’t an actress or model. It was actually Nigella Lawson, who is gorgeous with her curves that she loves to flaunt.

Can you talk about a time in your life when you felt body confident? When you didn’t? What shaped your feelings?

In my early 20’s I suffered with an anxiety disorder which resulted in huge weight loss. I went from 65kgs (143 pounds) to 37kgs (81.5 pounds) in just a few months. I knew I was skinny. I could see my bones protruding. Everyone assumed I had an eating disorder and trying to explain that “No I’m not starving myself because I think I’m fat” just fell on deaf ears. It was a really difficult time as I hated how I looked and wanted my life back.

Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?

Struggling with finding shirts to fit and even bikinis, just leaves me asking what is wrong with designers!! Just because your body is a size 8 or 10 or 12 (4/6/8 US)– does not mean your boobs are also this size!! I’m a size 8, my bikini tops are a size 16 (US 12) and bikini bottoms an 8 (US 4). It’s frustrating. Sexy underwear or swimmers are not made for large sizes. It’s underwire, support, and halter necks. Just a side note – If you’ve got boobs, you can’t wear halter styles for hours on end. Our necks hurt, its uncomfortable and we are constantly adjusting a strap that is digging in. I’ve come to the realization that buying separates is the only option for us big-busted girls, and if I find a style that fits, I will buy a few of that same style.

Does your body image affect how you eat?

The rosacea has never stopped me from going out and I don’t wear makeup regularly as it all stings or will make it worse so I am there, completely red faced, bright sunburn red. I won’t make eye contact and at times will walk with my head down, just so I don’t have to see someone staring back. As a nutritionist I eat really well. I know my skin trigger – dairy; and I avoid it as much as possible. I do give in every now and then and I’m left with skin that is burning, flaking that I can’t even touch.

When do you feel best? 

I definitely feel my best when I have a great outfit on. Something fitted that makes me feel confident.

How has your body image changed over time? 

As I’m in my late 30’’s, I have wondered at what point I will start looking in that mirror and think my body has aged and I am old. We have this notion that as we age, we are no longer attractive, and no one wants to feel that. I have thought about starting an exercise program or getting abs (I don’t have them and I think I’m just too lazy to commit to intense exercise) but for now I will just keep telling myself I look great.

Who do you feel influences your body image most? 

Absolutely my husband. His daily comments of how much he loves me or a body part of mine, definitely boosts my confidence.

 What pressure around body image do you feel? 

I feel there is pressure to look a certain way. Thin, tall, with clothes hanging off the body as they're too big to fit. I look at the younger generation coming through and the celebrities and models they look up to. It is completely unrealistic to think a “Supermodel’s” figure is achievable or even the norm.

What are your thoughts on the media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?

I think that with the following of certain women in the media, they will start a new trend and have girls and women embracing their bodies and loving their curves. Young girls become obsessed with celebrities like Beyonce or Kim Kardashian, and these women have the power to start a new movement.

How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop?

Smooth clear skin, toned and thin, seems to be the accepted view of beauty. Why not show these so-called “perfect women” in their real light, flaws and all so maybe, just maybe, another young girl doesn’t go to bed crying herself to sleep because she hates her thighs.

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for other women who would like to improve their body image?

  • I think if we change our viewpoint and define what healthy, sexy, and confident is to us (and not mainstream media) then more and more women will be able to look in the mirror and love what they see.
  • Surround yourself with people who tell you how great you look. If that friend or partner is someone who criticizes – it’s time to find a new friend – or partner. You’ll find it's because they're so insecure about themselves they feel they have to bring you down to make themselves feel better.