Welcome to Body Stories. In this blog series we speak with different D&B customers about their relationship with their body and body image. We ask them how their relationship with their body has changed over time, the influences and pressures, and what they love about their bodies today.
Each conversation was candid and thought-provoking - reminding us how universal a complicated relationship with body image can be. The conversations were honest, poignant and surprising. We left each one feeling inspired by their story - and hope you do too.
In today's feature we talk with Brighton-based yoga teacher and body positivity advocate, Sophie.
Tell us a bit about you.
I’m Sophie, I’m a yoga teacher and have a yoga studio in Berkshire. I teach different types of yoga and I’m a real proponent for body positivity and women’s empowerment. I live in Brighton near the beach and swim in the sea regularly.
What is the earliest memory you have of your body image?
I was a dancer when I was growing up and, as a result, I always had a positive connection to my body as something that I could use to move and feel good in. I’m really thankful for this. In my late teens and early 20s I stopped dancing and seemed to lose the connection to my body. Then, in my late 20s, I started exploring yoga and slowly my appreciation of my body came back to me. In my early 30s I started to feel much more confident and content with myself.
What have been some of the biggest influences on your body image and body confidence?
Yoga and dancing have been key influences for me of course. They help you to appreciate how your body can make you feel, as opposed to what your body looks like or whether it fits society’s expectations of “how a woman should look”. We can be so consumed with being “too this” or “too that”. Instead I move and it feels good. I enjoy finding something I can’t do with my body, thinking “this is challenging” and then learning to do it. I find any kind of movement practice, if done with a sense of awareness and care for yourself, can be incredibly powerful. That’s why so many people love to practice yoga, go running, dance and so on.
Menstrual cycle awareness has also been a huge influence on how I’ve felt about my body. It’s helped me to realise how amazing my body is, to understand the ebbs and flows of my hormones and how they can affect my mood. The yoga came first: this was my entry into really starting to understand and appreciate my body. Menstrual cycle awareness then allowed me to take it to the next level. And finally, more recently, I’ve been working with conscious sexuality: making sure that I am respecting my body, appreciating its power and learning how we can give ourselves pleasure.
Conscious sexuality is about looking inward, learning and appreciating what we have and what is innately within us without looking externally for validation, for the perspective of others to make us feel whole. To know that this feeling and power is fundamentally within us.
I think my body is incredible. But of course, like others, I still struggle and take issue with it. I’m currently going through perimenopause: the next transition. More change. You get to one point and feel okay and then it shifts again and again. This seems to happen for women more than men as we journey through these new thresholds.
We err away from talking about these key thresholds in a woman’s life and they have become taboos: coming into womanhood, having periods, woman’s sexuality and then of course, menopause, the last hurdle. It’s interesting how these milestones for women have been squashed, made invisible. Understanding these helped me to harness the power associated with them and they have become really important pieces for understanding myself.
What do you love about your body today?
I love that I feel strong in my body. And I love that it is still adapting and changing. For example, I learned to swim a year and half ago, having been unable to do so before. Since then I’ve spent so much time swimming and even swam around the pier a few times last summer. I realise you can do more than you think you can. You might think ‘I can’t do a handstand today’ but that doesn’t mean, if you put the work in, that you can’t do it in the future. It’s empowering to realise you can practice and learn to do new things. I don’t think of it as improvement, but of expanding my abilities.
What makes you feel amazing in your body?
Swimming in the sea is one of my top things for helping me to shift my energy. If I’m feeling a bit down or low energy, then jumping in the sea short circuits that spiral. Otherwise, moving my body in some way – whether it’s a yoga practice, some other kind of movement practice or even just putting some good music on and dancing or shaking or moving.
And any selfcare also helps me to feel good in myself. One of my favourite things is to make an oil and salt scrub, draw a bath and really pamper and scrub myself. Taking care of myself always makes me feel amazing. I think it’s important to do something non-negotiable for yourself at the beginning of every day, if you can. Fill your own cup, then you have something to give others, and the ability to give it.
What advice would you give to another woman or your younger self to help her develop a positive relationship with her body?
I would recommend two main things: firstly, get in touch with your menstrual cycle. Learn it, journal it, start to understand how your cycle affects you and your energy levels, your emotional state, your physiology. This can be so powerful.
And secondly, I would recommend anyone learn conscious sexuality – I wish I had discovered this sooner and I think we should be teaching it in schools. It’s all about boundaries, consent and how amazing our bodies are. It sometimes feels like we’re the first generation really talking about this and I wish I’d known these concepts as a kid.
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Step One: Pick your usual UK dress size from 8-20.
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|BRA CUP SIZE||AA - B||C - E||F - HH|
So if you typically wear a UK size 14 and wear a 34A bra, you’d order a 14 Hepburn. Likewise if you’re a UK size 10 and wear a 30F bra, you’d order a 10 Hendricks.
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|BIKINI TOP SIZING||Cup Size|
Band Size (inches)
|26-28||8 Hepburn||8 Monroe||8 Hendricks|
|28-30||10 Hepburn||10 Monroe||10 Hendricks|
|30-32||12 Hepburn||12 Monroe||12 Hendricks|
|34-36||14 Hepburn||14 Monroe||14 Hendricks|
|38-40||16 Hepburn||16 Monroe||16 Hendricks|
|42-44||18 Hepburn||18 Monroe||18 Hendricks|
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