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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

Shaping Up

I rarely reshoot content - typically happy with an outcome, rarely edit more than the colour or white balance - publishing pictures of my face & body for over six years I have pulled two shoots, maybe three. This set of images you’re seeing today is a reshoot, and it centres on outside factors affecting my vision.

I love this dress, it might be the comfiest thing I own, a warm multicoloured roll neck dress with generous long sleeves to keep your hands cosy. It also marks a new genre of dressing for me, a dress without a waist, or a flowing skirt. This dress is up-and-down dressing, without emphasising one element and hiding another.

I tried it on and LOVED it. I vaguely noticed how it sat on my stomach, highlighting my shape. But I pushed that thought down and figured I just needed shoes and all would be well. So of course as soon as I had the time, I added it to my shoot list.

The shots came back - and I could see all of me in a way I maybe haven’t before. For the first time in a long time, a set of images made me uncomfortable. I didn’t immediately love what I saw, so I cut them.

In the moment this felt like the right thing to do. However, upon reflection, at 3 am, I decided to rethink this. My body, for better or worse, has got me where I am, when I have been mentally spiralling my body has got up and done the work for me - see my Ted talk to see how it carried me through the scariest moment of my career.

I would say my body and I have a happy relationship. We get on well, working together to get the job done. So why would I self-sensor in this way, going against any advice I would give anyone else? The answer is - as it often is - other people.

I can trace this body image wobble to a few things - a tweet that asserted visible stomaches ruin outfits, and some of the personal attacks my image took on Twitter after my Ted Talk. I was and have been in my head about the way I looked. Me - someone who helps people be confident, see their self-worth and unlock joy for them. If I can be tripped up by shit like this, then I know we all can.

So just like Angela Bassett, I did the thing and reshot this dress to reclaim what I think about my body.

Everything was better, it was a glorious spring morning, and the sun bestowed a glow I can’t always capture. The dress sang colour popping, my body filling the material perfectly. I loved the shots, and instinctively knowing I wouldn’t need to work on them one bit, I put my tripod in my boot and drove home.

So here it is, my body, my shape, and my promise to myself that I’ll never self-sensor myself again.

It isn't always a linear path to comfort with how we look - but it is always worth having your own back in a world that is set up to profit on our insecurities - so next time you have the choice to be negative or positive chose the option that makes you feel good.


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