The body beautiful. A pressure from society, and from ourselves, to look perfect. Be perfect.
We have told ourselves that beauty is toned muscle, clear skin, glossy long hair, a sharp bone structure that was seemingly crafted by the Gods. But it isn’t.
This fictional image, distorted by media, movies, Instagram and magazines that tell us what it is to be a woman has caused too many of us to shy away from looking at our body in the mirror and feeling good. We do not see the stretch marks for what they are; a result of a natural stretch that allowed us to grow and for some hold another human being inside of us.
To literally carry another life. We do not look at our scars and recognise them as our bodies healing themselves, and us rising up from battles we have fought and won. Physical reminders that YOU are strong. Too many times have women, real women, who will share love and encouragement for all others but not themselves. Real women who are just trying to find that inner love that will give them the ability to accept and enjoy their body. Because that’s just it....this vessel, this structure of bone, muscle and tissue is a fascinating and marvellous creation, and it is yours. No one else’s.
The shape of your body, whether it is curvy, lean, thin, tall or short is stunning. Yes. You heard me. What your body is, so long as it is your choice, is right. Now this post is not to discredit or to tell those wonderful women who have the confidence to post their bodies that they do not have a right to also feel conscious. Believe it or not even those models you see walking down a runway, or perfectly posed on the front page of a glossy magazine have anxieties and things they don’t like about themselves.
Often, we find ourselves looking at other people, whether this is scrolling through social media or simply being out at the shops, and we say ‘i wish I looked like that’ or ‘i wish I had the confidence to wear this’ ...well, guess what. We are here to help!
When you hear about spray tanning you most likely find yourself conjuring up an image of a twenty something year old woman, without a single mark, scar, wrinkle or hair out of place. She is most likely laid back upon golden sand, her skin glowing radiantly. She is looking right into the camera, right at you and you feel you need to look away or push that image from your mind because you feel that can never be you.
But that’s where you are wrong. Photoshop is the assisting hand in a westernised deal that ensures you are surrounded by an unattainable and false body type. Editing body shape, hue, saturation, contour the abs, necks, arms and thighs. You will never look like that model on the front page because even she doesn’t look like that. But for some reason we torture ourselves and put ourselves down because through some type of twisted miscommunication we have grown up and continue to exist in a time where loving yourself is not normal.
Want to know how we know this?
You wake up and look in the mirror...what do you notice first?
The twinkle in your eye? The bed head and imprint of your duvet that tells you that you had a good sleep? Do you see your smile and think it lights up a to? ....
We often look in the mirror and we see our ‘faults’ ... But these are not faults they are normal bodies.
They are scars, stretch marks, cellulite, bottoms that haven’t been made to squat in years and arms that have not been lifting weights but instead been holding up the weight of the world.
They are beautiful.
You are woman and that single fact alone should empower you to feel good...great even. Throughout history the female body has mesmerised and captured attention. From the paintings of Botticelli to the Sculpture of Aphrodite of Knidos from around 4th century BC, the female body is something to behold in awe and wonder.
Do not look to your body and feel disheartened. Look to your body and think “wow, I look beautiful” because you are. Embrace every inch, every mark, every single thing that you have because no one else has what you have. That’s right.
Did you know the odds of you being born are about 1 in 400 trillion.
Those are some pretty small odds and yet here you are, reading this post that’s here to tell you that you are special. You are you, and no matter if that means you’re a size six or a size 24, your body is stunning. But when we lack that confidence, things such as tanning do not appeal because that means facing your body, embracing your body and so many women out there just do not feel they can do this.
Alas! There is hope and a new bright light at the end of the tunnel.... This light is a lady named Helen Wood from Bee bronzed with Hels @ Queen Bee's https://m.facebook.com/Queenbeeslonglevens/ https://m.facebook.com/helen.wood.5437
She decided that she wanted to create a space that normalised real bodies. No Photoshop, no hiding the tummy rolls, scars, cellulite or stretch marks. Oh no, this woman said no to reinforcing a toxic body ideal and said enough is enough. Your body is a real body and that is so wonderful. Helen took real people who have real anxieties or insecurities and with their permission gave them an opportunity that has made them grow in confidence. Oh and one more thing she has been using and chose Sunless Solutions Spray Tan as the Spray Tan to use for her photoshoot
By tanning these people and showing them how good they look with or without the tan Helen has kick started a wave of modern-day body positivity and is showing people that tanning is not just for models, it’s for everyone.
You want that tan you go and get it, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed because all bodies are welcome and praised here.
What a week!
I have totally exhausted myself, but the outcome has been incredible
So many years ago when I first started my spray tan business, I had a vision.
A vision of finally breaking the stereotypical image of spray tans and the industry around them.....
The only adverts you get to see are highly edited and photoshopped young ladies covered in bronzer by the beach.
These are not real.
These are not natural images of the women in them, nor are they real images of the spray tans either.
My vision was to one day make my own advertising campaign using real women, real tans and an amazing photographer to capture the women as naturally as possible.
Fast forward 8 years and here we are.
I have done it.
With the help of some amazing, strong, beautiful and brave women (and one equally brave man)
I have made my vision a reality ❤
I asked for some volunteers and was astounded at the response.
I didn't think I would get enough people to do the shoot at all, but I had over 30 women contact me to say they were interested in helping me achieve my vision.
Lots of them unfortunately couldn't make the photoshoot times as they were during the day, but I was amazed at the amount of people willing to put themselves out for me and my campaign.
Every single one of us that took part in this campaign has body hang ups.
We have all looked at the images and praised each other for how beautiful they are, then looked at ourselves and seen only the bad bits!
This needs to change, I am a nightmare for doing this to myself, and for what?
I want to love the skin I'm in and just enjoy life.
Our bodies tell a story, they are a map of our lives.
The wobbly bits, show we have food
The stretch marks show we have grown
The baby bellies show we have grown lives inside us
The wrinkles on our faces show we have cried and laughed and lived
The cellulite shows us we are human
The scars are our battle scars, they show we are strong and we will overcome what is thrown our way.
Every single person deserves to love themselves, I don't mean in an arrogant way, I mean in a way where when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror you see the amazing person you are.
I want to wake up and see what others see, not what my daft brain decides I'm going to dislike about myself today!
I want my children to grow up and be positive. Positive about themselves and positive about what they can achieve in life.
So much on social media is fake. We have images thrown in our faces day in, day out of 'Perfection'... this isn't real life, we know this, but unfortunately it doesn't make it any easier to see.
I'm sure we would all have much preferred to have been airbrushed and edited in these photos, but you are all so brave and you all shared my vison to show us as we really are.
How beautiful we really are. Scars, wobbly bits, marks and everything in between.
Now is the time for some self love!
I am going to focus on one positive thing about my physical self, each morning, and remind myself about this everyday until I believe it.
I hope you will all join me in this idea too?
When people come to me for a tan, I know they are nervous, self conscious and probably petrified of getting semi naked in front of a stranger, but do you want to know what I see?
I see a body, I see skin to spray. That's it really.
I see the person, I talk to the person, I try my very best to make them feel at ease, and I think I do ok with that, as you seem to come back to me 🥰
When I see your beauty, I tell you. Not in a creepy way 😆 but in a way that maybe someone has never noticed you before.
Your skin, you natural complexion, your beautiful curves that I'm jealous of.
I love to tell you the bits I see, that you probably have never noticed about yourself, and I hope you go out of the salon beaming, not only because you have an amazing glow, but because someone has noticed you, in a positive way and told you about it.
If you see someone wearing something and you think they look amazing, tell them!
Yes, it feels weird doing it at first, but the more you do it the easier it gets.
Who knows you could be the difference in that persons day, that takes them from a crappy day to a day where they actually feel amazing about themselves.
I could go on for hours on this post, I think I have already 😆 so before you all stop reading I think I should stop talking!
Be kind to yourselves, then to others.
We cannot give from an empty cup.
I have really struggled this last year, and I am now starting to feel a little better and I know I'm not the only one.
So lets all share a little love and make this world a better place, one positive comment at a time ❤️
Here are a few of the images from my campaign.
I was lucky enough to get in with the amazing Sheryl Oobaloos at Oobaloos Photography studio for my vision, and I couldn't be happier with the results.
Every one of us felt relaxed and she captured the natural beauty that I so desperately wanted to see.
I cannot recommend her highly enough for all you photography needs.
She is a wonder woman in herself, who has overcome a year of crap along with a lot of us, but what did she do??
She designed and built her photography studio over lockdown and adapted her business for the future. That takes balls, and I am so proud to be able to call her my friend too ❤️
To all my beautiful models, I couldn't have done this without you. I appreciate you all so much, and can never thank you enough for trusting me and allowing my vision to become a reality.
I think this may be the start of a new wine night 😜
To my business partner Kelly, thank you!
Thank you for supporting me all the way, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking part.
I know how hard that was for you, but I hope you now can see a little of what I see when I look at you 🥰 you are a beautiful person inside and out. Here is to our future 🥂
Lots of Love
A little about me.
I am 37, mum of 4 natural children and foster mum to 1 foster daughter, and I have a dog called Bella who has honestly helped me so much over lockdown!
We have 3 cats, a snake and a gecko too!
I run my salon from home and have done since 2013, but in April me and my friend Kelly decided to take an offer that was given to us to hire out a local salon. We jumped at the chance.
Since moving our eldest into my old salon at home, to make space for fostering, I had to stop tanning, as I no longer had the space.
I was devastated as tanning is my favourite thing to do in the salon ❤
Then Covid hit, and we all had to shut.
So when this salon opportunity came up, Kelly and I were so excited to work together and to get me back tanning!! As this is how I met Kelly in the 1st place, she came to me for a tan many moons ago and we have been firm friends ever since.
The idea for my tanning campaign came to me really early on in my career. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to do anything about it at the time and if I’m totally honest, I lacked the confidence in myself that anyone would actually take part.
Fast forward to now and I thought, do you know what? Life is too short, bite the bullet and see if anyone will do it!
The rest, as they say is history (be it very recent history 😊
I have 3 girls under my roof and I hate the idea that they are growing up with totally unrealistic body images plastered all over the internet and social media. I want them to be confident and comfortable in their own skin, no matter what. So this also pushed me to finally make my vision a reality.
I look at myself and don’t like what I see, but I am trying really hard to change that view of myself, and I want to help others to see the true beauty in themselves too.
I have always loved making people feel better, and although beauty is a long way from the nursing carer I was planning on, do you know what, I still get to help people. The bonus now is, I get to see them regularly and feel a part of their lives, good times and bad.
They don’t call us beauty therapists for nothing ❤
So how did this experience make Helen's Model Feel?
Naomi: I volunteered at first to help out a small local business, and secondly because I have really struggled to accept my curves, even though I have worked out religiously for my entire adult life, and strived to look slimmer. I have come to realise that we are all different shapes and sizes and really though this would help my confidence, which it has.
The spray tan that Hels did is the best tan I have ever had and was the icing on the cake.
Taking part in the shoot was nerve wracking, but the experience with all the other positive women and one guy was amazing and one I will never forget.
Julie: Helen has talked about this campaign for numerous years and I said back thin I would help her if she needed.
Fast forward to 2021 and I am now 52, struggling to love my body, the stretch marks from 2 children, cellulite and a life’s worth of aging.
I opted for the dark tan and absolutely loved it. The photoshoot was totally out of my comfort zone but we were all put at ease by Sheryl and Hels. Everyone was so positive and I soon forgot about my nerves as I was having fun, forgetting that we were all in a state of undress.
Seeing the final pictures made me emotional as all I could see was beautiful women.
Charlotte: I joined Hels’ campaign not really knowing what to expect, never having met any of the other ladies involved. I knew that this was something that Hels had wanted to do for a very long time and I was so excited to be a part of it! From the moment we met each other we all just clicked, we all had something in common which was wanting to help normalise every body type and for women (and men) to feel amazing in their own skin.
With the help of Hels amazing tanning skills and her super talented photographer we were all able to feel the most comfortable we ever have with our own bodies, it was truly empowering. Thank you to Hels and the team at the salon and to Sheryl for being so accommodating with all the photos. I feel fabulous.
Kelly: Soo after me and Hels became business partners this year, she told me all about her vision for her real body spray tan campaign. I was all for this, as being a plus size woman myself I know how much I love a good spray tan (they always make me feel amazing) but how I and many others only ever see photoshopped and false advertising of spray tans NOT real women.
At the photoshoot none of the ladies knew each other but their energy, body love and confidence shone through, I wasn’t keen to join at the start as I saw myself as much bigger than the other ladies. I just had to be a part of it tho to support Hels and also to do this for all the body conscious ladies out there. I wanted to share my rolls, my dimples and my stretch marks.... to show how spray tans can be for everyone and show how amazing they look too!
Afterwards I felt incredible and wanted to scream from the rooftops what I had just done. I felt very special being part of such an amazing and inspiring campaign.