Welcome to Body Cons! A collection of conversations about bodies. I’m Molly Forbes – broadcaster, campaigner and body image influencer. And I’m Lottie Storey, writer, trainee counsellor, and psychology geek.
Molly: Welcome to episode three of season two. We are romping our way through the season! This week’s episode is all about confidence and the link between self-esteem, mental health and self-care. I’ll tell you what it isn’t an episode about – it’s not just an episode about body confidence!
Even though the person we are interviewing in this episode is a model I think we really kind of get to the heart of the idea of confidence in general, and we really look at how some of the ways that we project ourselves on the outside are a reflection of how we’re feeling on the inside. And how we can fix it if we’re not maybe projecting ourselves with full confidence when we’re going into spaces and we’re feeling less than.
We talk about the link between all of those things and mental health and anxiety, because they’re all linked. I know in my own experience that if I’m feeling anxious or I’m having a bad time, that definitely affects my self-esteem and my confidence, and the way the I kind of manage myself.
So we have a really lovely chat with a Jada Sezer who is a model and a mental health advocates and that is coming up later on in this episode.
Going up / down
Molly: It’s the part of the show where we share what’s going up and going down this week. So if you haven’t listened before, this is where we share something we’ve loved and something that we have hated – or loved less – in the arena of body image, confidence, mental health. It could be something that we’ve seen on the news. It might be a really brilliant Instagram account that we’ve discovered. It could be a TV show that we’ve both loved and watched.
I want to say as well, actually, if you are listening please do share your own going up going down with us at @bodyconspodcast on Instagram and at @bodyconspodcast on Twitter. And you can email us at email@example.com.
Lottie: This week I’ve got a going down! But it does mean you can use your favourite nickname for me Molly – Mrs ITV Two! I’ve been watching trash TV again. WHY do I do it to myself?! I’ve been watching a series on Netflix called Selling Sunset.
It’s kind of like a reality TV show, slash docu-soap. It’s all set in this peculiar real estate office in Hollywood which is a real business run by twin brothers Brad and Jason. And all of the realtors they employ are these beautiful Hollywood women. They are exceptionally beautiful – but they aren’t half horrible to each each other.
It was upsetting that there was so much backstabbing and meanness between the women but also when I watched did I realised how repeated exposure to one very narrow body type really had an impact on me. I think since we’ve been doing this, and just before, I’ve made such a conscious effort to kind of filter out my Instagram feed for example, and have much more diversity being shown to me, so that when I watched this, where it was so little diversity it was really noticeable the impact that it had.
Molly: Was it also because their value seemed to be very aesthetically based? I’m guessing – I have not seen it – but I’m guessing probably the things that they hold up to be revered are fitting that narrow beauty ideal, or having a certain amount of money? Those are the things that I think don’t say anything about your value on this earth as a human – the number on the scale the number in your bank balance. But for these people it really means something? I don’t tend to watch shows like this cos I just find them a bit boring, but if I ever do they make me feel happier and more secure cos I think “Gosh I’m so lucky I don’t live in a world like that, where people around me are aspiring to those kind of values!”
Lottie: Definitely, but your currency is different. You work in Molly pounds, so you don’t have to worry about the Hollywood bucks!
Molly: Ha I love that! OK, so I’ve got a going UP for you this week. I want to share with you a campaign – it’s not a new thing and it was started last year, but I only heard about it recently and I think it’s really important.
So have you heard of Hope Virgo? Hope is a campaigner and an author. She has written about her experience living with Anorexia and she is currently campaigning to ensure that nobody is turned away from treatment for eating disorders purely because of their weight.
The campaign is could Dump The Scales. I was at a kind of a panel event with Hope when it was Mental Health Awareness Week and I heard her speak. She spoke so eloquently about her own experience and her mum’s experience. She read from her book which is kind of written from the perspective of her as well as her mum.
She’s just so vocal in talking about this subject and that when she went to seek treatment she was told “Your weight isn’t low enough to be able to have treatment.”
This could obviously be a triggering subject for those dealing with eating disorders, but Hope is doing a great job of raising awareness about this. She’s constantly calling MP’s to account she’s had lots of them back the campaign. And I just think she’s doing really important work. She puts herself on the line everyday on social media sharing her real vulnerable feelings and thoughts. I just think it’s a really important campaign time for us to talk about on here as it intersects with so many issues we discuss, so I’ll link to the petition in the show notes.
Lottie: So just to clarify, her campaign is around treatment for eating disorders regardless of your weight?
Molly: Yeah. She wants doctors to “dump the scales”. So it’s about getting away from this idea that an eating disorder only looks one way, or that you should only be worthy of treatment if you are a certain size.
Lottie: It’s worth probably signposting people back to our episode with Imogen Fox because I think Imogen’s conversation around her experience of the medical profession and how she was able to interact with them or not based on her weight, is relevant here as well.
Molly: Yes and we do have an upcoming episode as well where we kind of discuss weight stigmatisation in the nutrition and wellness industray. I mean, these topics all intersect but I just wanted to give a little shout-out to Hope.
Lottie: I’m going to go sign right now!
Molly: This episode has been made possible thanks to CurveBalm, a skincare company created by women for women, here in the UK. We’re excited to tell you about this brand new product on the market created to make life a whole lot better for those of us without a thigh gap – and I’m guessing there are quite a few.
Lottie: CurveBalm is an all-natural Vegan friendly anti-chafing balm designed to ease friction between the thighs and combat the dreaded chub rub that so many of us experience particularly during the summer months.
Molly: I could have really done with this on one of our trips to London recently when it was really hot – my thighs were hot and sore by the end of the day! You can say goodbye to cycling shorts under skirts and wearing trousers on a hot day and live a free life with way more summer wardrobe options.
I love how these products been created by two women who saw a need for it based on their own experiences. It truly by women for women! I met one of the women behind this product – she is so passionate about it and basically saw a need for something so created a solution!
They are also committed to recycling with their recycling program so more bonus points from us there as well!
Lottie: Chafing is something so many of us experience and it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. CurveBalm think all women should be able to live freely and comfortably no matter their shape or size and now we have a product to help us do just that.
It’s available for preorder now at www.curvebalm.com and we have a special fifteen percent discount code Body Cons listeners. Check out the code in the show notes or head to our Instagram for more details. Thank you Curve Balm!
This week’s topic
Lottie: This week’s topic is all about confidence. We’ve called this episode “Confidence is a trick” and that’s something we cover with our amazing guest Jada.
Molly: We recorded this interview in Kensington in the agency offices of model and mental health advocate Jada Sezer, and she gave us a really candid beautiful interview. We both came away feeling quite inspired and we know that you’re going to enjoy it. Have a listen.
Jada Sezer: My name is Jada Sezer and I am a content creator and body positive mental health activist. I create content online with the hope of empowering women to embrace that bodies and offer tips on how to do so. I’m also a plus size model and into fitness, and recently ran the marathon last year with my lovey from Bryony Gordon – we created a campaign called the Celebrate You campaign, where we ran with nine hundred other women at 10k run in our underwear.
Molly: It’s fantastic that you use your platform to talk about mental health. As someone working in the fashion industry as well, what’s that like? Do the two gel well?
Jada: My academic background is Psychology. I did an MA in Psychotherapy and I guess I accidentally fell into the fashion industry eight years ago when I was campaigning online for more inclusivity in that space and ironically I got signed. Fashion has given me a platform to talk about other stuff too. For example, I did a billboard campaign with Loreal where we spoke about self worth and changing doubts into self worth. Growing up, I’d never have seen someone who looked like me in those spaces.
I could be working in a therapy room and talking want one to one with clients, working with young people, but working on the front line is also incredible and really beneficial. I believe you have to see it to believe you can be it, which is why I do what I do. The images we see can be so powerful, and this is why diversity and inclusion and representation matter.
Molly: You talk a lot about confidence and self-esteem on your Instagram. Would you say there’s a link between how someone feels mentally and how confident they are inside, and how they project themselves? What does confidence really mean for you?
Jada: I always say confidence is a trick. There is no secret. I think it’s a case of constantly just not talking crap to yourself and being your own best friend. What really helped me was compartmentalising myself – as weird as this may sound – into having this little child inside that you cradle and nurture. When I saw I was able to compartmentalise myself like that I realised I needed to be my own mother my own best friend. And that helped me make decisions in my own best interest, and like I shouldn’t talk crap to myself in the mirror. For example, you have the right to have a shower in the morning and feel fresh and good. You deserve that. Just thinking like this with my own inner child helped give me motivation to place down some boundaries – whether it’s with other people or with myself.
We all suffer from bad days. Even models for supermodels and Victoria’s secret models – they probably have their bad days too. And we are constantly sold the idea that products and clothing and foods and diets and stuff will make us feel better, but actually the secret is within ourselves.
Lottie: I really love that. The inner child stuff is something I’m really interested in. It’s such a good message to pass onto people. Are there any kind of ways that people could kind of develop that within themselves?
Jada: OK, for example, we so often say “I feel fat”. It’s such a great default thing to resort to. So often we don’t have the articulation around how we are actually feeling so we blame it on our body. We’re probably tired from work and that’s why we’re “feeling fat”, or we’re not feeding our bodies the food we need, and so we’re feeling sluggish. Or maybe we’re stressed out.
Whenever I don’t feel confident, I tend to think okay, what’s going on in my life right now? That’s made me get to this position because I know and I have the confidence to know that this isn’t my every day. Something has pushed me off-kilter. So I ask myself, do I have balance? And balancing things is something that’s always a work in progress.
I come from a background where my family – in a good, nurturing way, will push for me to achieve things. They always want me to be the best version of myself, but sometimes I’ll get stressed and think I can’t manage everything. At these moments I just have to breathe and take stock.
Lottie: So it’s kind of like that overwhelm thing isn’t it? And you’re so right, it’s so easy to blame other feelings on our physical bodies when this is often the reverse of what’s happening. We’re sold this idea that to fix our feelings we have to fix our bodies but it’s often the reverse isn’t it?
Jada: I heard a really great quote that was “No amount of self amendment can ever make up for a lack of self worth”. We’re sold these cereal packet families and beautiful beach body ready versions of ourselves, but these things don’t equate to happiness.
Molly: Something I’ve seen recently is people talking about how self-esteem and confidence has almost become like a marketing tool – so rather than selling women their insecurities to fix we’re selling them this idea of confidence that they can buy. And if people don’t feel confident it can feel like something else they’re failing at. What’s your opinion on this?
Jada: It’s hard isn’t it? I mean, I’m a model and I sell product. For example, I’ll talk about a sports bra or whatever, but I genuinely believe that sports bra holds me in and allows me to not think about my boobs flying out everywhere whilst on a run. But on the other side of it you’ve got to have the mental health toolkit to navigate the self-confidence space. It’s not just about product.
So for example, when I was younger my dad enrolled me in a swimming club. It was really rewarding because I could win a game collectively as part of a group, achieve things and improve. That was self-esteem building.
There’s no longevity in buying a foundation that will boost your confidence, because there are always going to be new foundations you’ll think you need. But if you’re feeling low you can always go for a swim. That’s sustainable. It’s about building self-esteem in other ways.
Lottie: Some of our listeners have got kids. I love what you said how about swimming being a good way to build self-esteem. Have you got any other tips for ways younger people could build confidence?
Jada: On my my podcast “Unsubscribe” I explore what the foundation is for self-esteem.We try to get to the crux of what makes good self-esteem, speaking to incredible women who are real trailblazers, whether that’s like an attitude or they’re doing amazing things in their industry. The thing that all these remarkable women have in common is that they say the crux of their self-esteem comes from a support network – whether it’s family if we’re lucky enough well-adjusted and secure mums and dads – or whether it’s a network of great friendships.
So when I was growing up – and I don’t even know how I was able to figure this out – I had different friends from different groups, and they weren’t necessarily the cool ones with the best clothes or whatever. They were good people. So I had my mates that I went swimming with, my friends that were in the orchestra. It was about learning who’s the good people – and the good people will look like the ones that just show up for you. They might not be the most fashionable or the most glamorous, but they’re the people that vibe with you. And I think when you go to school that’s can be really hard to figure out.
But having a good friendship and support group is so important at whatever age you are. So say you’re a new mum and you go to a mummy group – if you don’t necessarily feel like this is the right space and right people for you then you don’t have to be there. Go find another space. We’re sociable animals, we need other people.
I know I do it just like anyone – I can hideaway and hibernate andruminate on issues or problems. Whereas you know sometimes offloading to a friend in a safe space can be really helpful. It’s about connecting and belonging. I like to call these people anchors. So for me my anchors are my family and friends. I’ve been my best friends with some of my friends since I was sixteen – and I’m 30 now.
Something else that’s important is really knowing yourself – and I posted about this the other day. It’s knowing where your happy place is when you’re stressed and knowing what your trigger points are. How many of us give ourselves that time to really connect with ourselves? My biggest fear is knowing somebody knows me better than I know myself. Is Somebody saying they know me better than I know me? Do they know better how I respond to stress? I want to be aware of this. I want to know me!
That self-reflection doesn’t happen overnight and there’s no quick fix. Its a constant thing. And life has all sorts of different triggers. You can be all “Everything’s fine, I’ve got this!” and then you get fired or something and you’re like “This is crazy, I don’t know what to do!”. You con’t know how you’ll respond until it happens. But I want to make sure I’ve got stuff in place so I can prepare myself when I do get face difficult stuff.
Yoga has been a big thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like a Yogi or anything. But I love it! People think self care is selfish but it’s not, it’s about looking after yourself. Yoga’s been like a centring anchor for me. It gives me an hour of calm in the chaos.
Molly: Do you find it hard to switch off? Because obviously you’re a really busy women. You’re in demand. So do you find it difficult to actually make time for yourself amongst all of that? It’s not even like you’re just busy with work – you have a big online platform and you really put yourself out there. I imagine you probably get messages from people – young people and women – who want advice? How do you fit time for you in among all that?
Jada: It’s hard! The way I see life is like it’s just spinning plates all the time. And often some smash to the ground. And then you just kind of get up and get on with it. I live by a moodboard. It’s in my in my room and has all my projects on it – everything I’m doing. So I’ve got my work projects and my hobby projects all on there. In August I’m doing the Serpentine swim which is two hundred laps in a seventeen metre pool – it’s far! So I have to train. I need to see it on my board to make myself train.
I read this really good book called and it teaches you how to choose what you’re going to stress about and what you’re going to leave. So for example say your partner asks what you want for dinner tonight and you’re fed up of always deciding what you have for dinner. You could say, “I don’t know hun – what do you want?” and pass on the responsibility.
Molly: There might be people listening to this who think you sail through this stuff. You’re a model, you ran the marathon in your pants. Confidence must come easy. Do you have moments where you struggle with self-esteem? And how do you deal with those moments?
Jada: I wasn’t always a model. When I first started I had such imposter syndrome. I had bleached blonde hair, tiny thin eyebrows and I was waiting to get found out! But models have some of the lowest self-esteem because you go for jobs and you’re up against Ike the most genetically advanced humans when it comes to look. And you have no control over whether you get booked for a job. And you got to pay rent.
But the thing is everybody has self-doubt – and if you never do you’re probably crazy. It’s totally normal! So when I feel like that I have to give a talk to myself. I kind of have to sit down and say “Is this true? Is this real and if it is – is this relevant?” If that boy ghosted me does it means he doesn’t want to date me because he thinks I’m ugly? And even if he does think that – is it relevant? No.
It can be kind of relentless but you have to protect yourself and make sure you protect yourself from toxic relationships too. Whether it’s your mother, your brother, your sister – you have to really look out for you.
Lottie: Sometimes I imagine I’m wearing riot gear and going into battle. It makes me feel a bit less soft!
Jada: I love that! When I go to the gym I put my music on and have really loud hip hop playing. I go to this quite boujee gym and people can be a bit posey and stuff. I just want to go and run and sweat off my stress. But it can be an intimidating space. So I put my music on and I feel pumped – and I just go for it. And I’m running at like probably like one mile an hour, but I feel like I’m doing a Mo Farah run, Kanye workout video style! And I feel good because everything fits – so it does take a bit of product to be comfortable and know everything is in the right place – but the rest is all me.
Then I’ll walk into the weights section. And it’s full of men. And I only know how to use one weight and it’s not even a weight – it’s just my body weight. So I’ll do these crunches and I’ll still have my hip hop playing. And I’ll think all these guys are looking at me and it’s really intimidating and I feel really self-conscious. And then I’m like, no switch that up. They’re looking at you because you’re doing it right. They’re looking at you because you know what you’re doing – you’re meant to be in this space just like they are.
The other day I was out for lunch – and my one of my best things I’ve recently learned I love is I take yourself out on dates. I’m single so why am I going to wait on somebody else to do the things I wanna do now? If you have the disposable income and time to take yourself on a date then do it. I don’t want to wait on someone else to eat the food I want to eat. So I went to this place I know and I ordered the steak. And what’s going through my head is – everyone is gonna look at me. And I’m a size 16 so the narrative is “Of COURSE she’s eating!”.
But then I thought if I was a man do you think I’d feel like that? No I bloody wouldn’t! I’d eat the steak and not be self-conscious! So I did. And I enjoyed it. And I butted into the conversation the three guys next to me were having cos they were funny and I laughed. And it was really nice!
Molly: I think it’s really reassuring for people to hear that everyone suffers from these moments. How important is it for you that we have this kind of representation that you’re a part of? That other girls can see women like you?
Jada: It’s the only reason I do this. It really really really really is the only reason I do this. Because the fashion industry is wonderful, but it can also be vacuous and pointless standing in front of a camera – and for what reason? To sell product and make someone else money off of consumerism and a woman telling them that they need a product.
But it’s SO important for people to be seen. Representation and diversity is so important. Like I said – you’ve got see it to believe it. When I was growing up I didn’t see those people. We had J-Lo and Beyonce but they were still tiny. But now we’re able to see such diverse body types – it’s almost like we’re not hiding anymore. But we always existed! It’s only that now we’re visible too. And you feel that you’re not “other” anymore. You know you’re not alien.
Molly: And you can run marathons just the same as someone who might have this type of “athlete body”. The health subject is a whole other subject but I think people often have this idea of what healthy looks like don’t they? And you’re proving that actually maybe those ideas wrong. You can’t just assume that you look at someone and you can you know what they’re body can do.
Jada: Exactly. Thankfully with social media and being able talk and use our platforms to tell our stories we’re levelling out the playing field of advertisement. We’re unpicking the tapestry of the stories we’ve been sold and re-stitching it to our real stories. Stories that are true stories that are representative of everybody’s struggle.
Molly: Well Jada we’re both a bit in love with you. Where can people find out more about the work that you’re doing?
Jada: Instagram is the place where it generally gets played out first. I also do a podcast called Unsubscribe and on Twitter I like to share quotes and things I’ve loved too, and re-tweet people with a similar message.
Final part of the show
Lottie: I think it’s really obvious I really – I burst into tears halfway through and she was so lush to me!
Molly: She’s a real shining light. I think the thing that really stood out for me and this is the thing that constantly I’m saying when we’re interviewing people – and something we’ve had experience of as well – is that actually you can never tell what someone’s struggles are or whether they suffer from anxiety or low self-esteem or any kind of mental health issue, or know how they feel about their body, just from looking at them.
Lottie: It’s interesting though isn’t it, because I think especially if you’re a model, I think people project a lot of that stuff on to you. I guess it’s kind of the nature of the beast a little bit if you’re being presented as the face of a campaign, but all of that projection comes from the person who’s doing the projection not not from the model.
Molly: Exactly. I think, also, you just don’t know about what someone’s going through. Even if you are a model or even if you’re a “body image influencer” (I HATE that title but it’s what people keep calling me!) – basically, me being on Instagram in my pants or naked on the telly – people often think I’m always super super confident.
Lottie: Yeah or really thick-skinned.
Molly: Yes! You’re so right. People often equate being confident with being thick-skinned and the truth is I sometimes feel anxious and have moments where things haven’t gone my way and it might be affecting my self-esteem, and I might have a little moment. We all have wobbles, but it’s how you come back from it and how you look after yourself in those moments and feel good again that counts.
Lottie: Well you sent me that podcast between David Tennant and Olivia Coleman didn’t you. And there’s a bit in that where she talks about when she first became sort of recognised in the street, and she likened that to bullying because everyone has an opinion. And she said she really struggled with that. I think that there is just this weird idea that because someone’s in the public high they have this kind of shield around them and peoples’ opinions don’t affect them but it’s not true.
Molly: This relates back to what Jada was saying about the importance of supportive networks. I know in my experience when I went through my real low point of not feeling good enough in my body, a lot of that was linked to all the feelings of inadequacy in other areas of my life. And if you don’t talk about that stuff and share it it can fertilise – like a seed. Things grow in dark places –
Lottie: Like a mushroom!
Molly: Yes! If you don’t talk about it it just grows and grows. You need to like show it to the light and then it doesn’t become such a big thing – and I know that that’s often easier said than done – but that’s where our support networks come in.
Anyway we’d love to know what you thought about it. What did you think about the interview? Send us an email body cons podcast at gmail.com or tweet us or Instagram us at body cons podcast..
Lottie: And you can let us know what you think by rating us and reviewing us on iTunes. That really helps and can help boost us in the charts so other people can find us and join the conversation. And do share with your friends too!
Molly: Next week we’re discussing how to raise intuitive eaters with the anti-diet queen that is Laura Thomas. We’ll see you then, bye!