Looking Back At My Bikini Body Timeline


Facebook decided to add some memories to my timeline this week, which was awfully, awfully sweet of it.

Especially sweet of it given that one of the photos was of me in a bikini.

CHRIST ALMIGHTY. Like, there should be a warning for that kind of thing.

The photo had been taken four years ago and in it I’m posing on a beach in Crete in a little H&M bandeau bikini set with the turquoise waves lapping at my ankles like Rudey when she’s in a hell of a mood and wants nothing more than to turn my ankles to shreds of gleaming red ribbon. She’s cute like that.

I remember this photo being taken so vividly because I remember feeling ridiculously self-conscious. I wondered if people would watch me pose by the sea, wondering why I – with all my rolls and tree trunk thighs, would want a bikini snap of me looking like this to look back on.

I’m posing with both hands on my hips, desperate to hide any signs of back fat snaking its way round to my sides – to flatten down my muffin top, to hide any evidence that my body was anything less than 102% toned.

I look back at that girl and all I feel is overwhelming regret.

Because when I look back at her now all I see is a smokin’ hot babe. I think I look great. In fact I look the best I’ve probably ever looked as an adult and yet I had no idea.

I was so completely absorbed in the fact I no longer weighed nine stone the way 15-year-old me had weighed nine stone that I couldn’t see myself as anything but hideously obese unless I weighed that end target.

I’d just started my job at LOOK and was commuting from my dad’s house in Sussex. This was during the time he was ill and my life had become a repetitive circle day in and day out. I’d wake up at 6am for the 6.40am train from Angmering station. I’d roll in on the 6.30pm train and head straight to Virgin Active for a swim and then I’d have a small dinner and bulk cook enough pasta with vegetables and chorizo to last me several days worth of lunches.

When this photo crept onto my timeline it made me question how I’d looked on previous holidays – had I always looked like this and always hated myself for no reason?

I found another photo of me in a bright blue size 12 Topshop bikini from the summer before, when I’d jetted off to Magaluf on a post-graduation holiday with my uni pals.

I’d been dieting for 6 months prior to the trip, I’d been running a lot. I’d been eating a LOT of melon and grape salads from Tesco Express for dinner, paired with a packet of Chicken Fridge Raiders (FML, I’m so mortified – who actually eats those? *enters 64275746352 of the laugh-cry emoji).

I’m posing on that island in the middle of the sea just off the Magaluf beach – y’know, the one you can just about pedalo out to?

I remember posting this photo to Facebook too. I in no way felt good about myself in the photo, but wanted to show off the fact I’d just been on a beach holiday because isn’t that basically what we all use Facebook for, anyway?

My best friend had commented ‘Cracking body HG’ and I’d been pleased that it’d had some pity attention. That she was trying to build my confidence up. But i was so overly aware that I was so much bigger than all the other girls who uploaded bikini snaps to social media.

But now? Now I look at this photo and think how utterly and unbelievably stupid 21-year-old me was.

How blinded by a need to be a size 8 I was. How sure I was that I’d find true happiness, true successes, that boys would flock to me, that everyone would love me, if only I was slimmer and hotter and sexier.

Granted, I’m not toned, but there’s so many wonderful things about my body that I totally ignored at the time – my tiny waist, the way my body had that 1960s siren curve to it and the fact I was always smiling, always happy and beaming confidence even if it was fake.

Some days I still feel like that insecure, body-conscious. That blogging would be easier if I was less of an in-between of classic Missguided model and plus-size.

And a lot of the time I find it mortifying to look back on recent photos of myself in bikinis, especially ones that I haven’t known have been taken. I’m not proud of my body and when I’m on a beach on a press trip with fellow journalists and bloggers, it DOES embarrass me. I do feel self-conscious and I beat myself up for not having the will power other people must have to look after their incredible bodies.

I don’t laze around the house surrounded by piles of rotting pizza and overturned tubs of pick ‘n’ mix, for the most part I’m a healthy eater, but not an extreme healthy eater. Sometimes I eat pasta, sometimes I eat salad, sometimes I eat granola and sometimes I go out for brunch and order all the bacon. I eat in moderation.

But then I remember something I hear time and time again – that losing weight doesn’t bring happiness. And that’s from people who’ve beaten the main hurdle, they’ve stuck to their diets and exhausting exercise regimes and they’ve whittled themselves down to a smaller number on the scales and then they’ve reflected back and realised they were happier before.

That actually, happiness has nothing to do with our body shape.

As we get older our bodies and our faces get further and further away from the way the media and society deems us to be beautiful.

I read somewhere that someone’s main piece of advice to their younger self was to take more selfies because you will regret not making the most of looking as beautiful as you do before age gets you.

And, as scary as that sounds, that one day we will look back at all the photos we have stored up on iPhoto and iCloud and Instagram and whatever the future invents and feel waves of sadness that we no longer look the way we once looked, it’s motivation to love ourselves now.

We need to stop looking for flaws. Stop trying to bring ourselves down by concentrating on all the things we hate – the lack of thigh gap, the flat chest, the oily t-zones and the little roll of belly fat that appears when we sit down – and learn to appreciate how hot we are.

To see how amazing we are, even if we don’t look like we were born to a human and a Photoshop update.

We need to love ourselves and the way we look because otherwise in a few years or a few decades we will look back and wonder why we didn’t wear the damn mini skirt whilst we could. Why we didn’t wear thong bikini bottoms whilst our bums were still the right side of our knees. Why there’s no photos of us on that beautiful beach to prove we were there.

But most of all,we’ll wonder why we spent so long whirling up negative thoughts about ourselves in our heads when there was nothing negative about us. Why we wasted so much time and energy on hating ourselves instead of being the happiest, best versions of ourselves.

Our bodies represent such a tiny part of who we are, and I think sometimes, amidst all of the Mail Online’s ‘flaunting her curves’ and the ‘beach body ready’ ideas floating around in lame advertising, we forget that.

So, here’s to being proud of everything that we have. Even if you’re lumpy or bumpy or small or big, you’re pretty damn ace.

No really, you are.


  • Katie-Leanne Parry

    My fave blog post, well done HG <3

  • Lauren

    You look great just as you are! Lovely post x


  • Really needed this today, going on a beach holiday in 3 days and had already decided that there will be NO photos taken of me because I feel fat, now I’m going to take loads to remind me of what a fabulous time I’m going to have. Ta.

  • This has really come at such a perfect time considering that I’m off on holiday in 10 days. I convinced myself that I would’t even wear a bikini, let alone take photos in one but now that I’ve read this and thanks to you, I’m now gonna wear a bikini. THANK YOU HANNAH XXX

  • This was EXACTLY what I needed to read today – I moved house this weekend and ate all the takeaways and ice cream and very nearly wept when I stood on the scales this morning. I’ve spent the last 4 hours beating myself up about it and feeling like shit but this totally just changed my persepective. I may weigh a few pounds heavier today but REALLY, who is going to notice? And does it mean that I’m a bad person? NO. I should be embracing the fact that I’ve just moved into a lovely new house with my fab boyfriend who doesn’t care whether I’m 5lbs heavier or not, rather than trying to devise a new plan to drop the weight quickly.

    It’s such a load of crap that we all feel we need to spend our whole lives striving for some impossible and making ourselves miserable in the meantime. Thank you for making me realise that at JUST the right time!!!

    Sophie Cliff

  • It took a 4 stone weight loss for me to realise that no matter what size you are, you are never going to be the “perfect” you want to be. The only thing that keeps me sane is the thought that I’m not as hideous as I think I am, or as I could be.

    You are gorgeous lady, bumpy bits or not. In fact, yes to the bumpy bits.

    Brilliant post!

    B x

  • Yet again, another AWESOME post Hannah! I struggled with my weight and appearance for years – I’ve been a size 12 to 6 and back to a 10 and I wasn’t happy because I had all this expectation on me but I never valued myself as I should have. We’re all different but we are all beautiful, and we need to teach more people to see themselves that way <3

    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Food Beauty

  • Beautiful post you always have such interesting, unique post ideas,
    I love that line – ‘losing weight doesnโ€™t bring happiness.’ (amen!)

    xx Beth | BethStumbles

  • My favourite post ever…. I am just in the middle of writing a post about reaching my ‘goal weight’ destination & how it was not all I dreamt it would be & it was not the be all & end all to my happiness!

  • In a huge laptop clear out I recently found myself looking at Freshers pictures and thinking exactly the same thing. Knowing that at the time I wasn’t pleased with the way I looked but now comparatively I should have been on the cover of FHM. I’ve resolved to be less harsh on myself (easier said than done)…. And to keep eating that stack of pancakes. Sophie xxx

  • This was a blog post that I really needed to read today, thank you.

    Beka. xo

  • this rings true for me in so many ways. I AM 21, and I have days where I have such little body confidence ifs crippling, and I genuinely want to stay in bed all day. This was a real reminder for me that us girls should celebrate our bodies and who we are, and learn to be confident and comfortable in our own skin.
    If the photos you’ve shared are the photos you’re taking about, girl you look great!
    Thank you for such an honest post, really has made me think xx

  • I’ve been having a really hard time, because my first year living away from home I gained around 11 pounds. 11!! And then I look back at the photos from last year, the ones I felt fat in, and just think, wow, that girl looks amazing. We need to learn to appreciate ourselves in the moment!



  • Aww such an inspiring post! I’ve been having major body issues the last few days so I really needed this. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Laura / Middle of Adventure

  • Well said Hannah! I can really relate to this and have often looked back on photos to wonder why I had thought I was so fat then. We should be happy with what we look like and not care about anyone else’s opinion.

  • Laura G

    Fantastic post Hannah, thank you. I’ve been having major issues with my weight over the last couple months since putting on a stone and a half after starting certain medication, it’s been really getting me down and been beating myself up if I have too much too eat and all that so this post was very much appreciated. ?

    And girl, you look amazing ? xx

  • Anna

    This ? I love this. This is exactly what I need to remember. I should actually print this out and stick it next to my mirror for the next time I try on my swimwear or anything else and think why am I not the size 8 I was 5 years ago. Life happens, age happens, but we are still young and beautiful now and we need to remember that. Thank you for writing this. It’s amazing โ˜บ

  • Amazing blog post! It’s these kinda posts that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I sit and actually think about life. It’s makes me want to stop fussing about what I wear on holiday and spend more time ENJOYING the holiday. That’s what it’s for, right?


  • Love this post! All anyone needs to look beautiful is a big old smile on their face!

  • Lush post and couldn’t be more accurate.

    We all need reminding of this sometimes / most of the time!

  • I love this. Seriously love this! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Han

    and this is why I love you and your blog. I’m sure this will help so many people. I’m literally on my way home from a holiday in Sardinia as I write this, and I must say for once in my life I feel confident enough in a bikini. You’re right, as you get older you finally start to realise the unimportance of how you perceive your body. And yes you look damn hot in that bikini! X


  • This is such a great post! I’m heading on a beach vacation in a few days and have been feeling nervous about the “beach” part. Thanks for helping me put things in perspective!


  • Ciara

    I’m on my period today so I’ve literally sat under the duvet with my laptop plopped on top of me reading this weeping to myself with a hot water bottle hahaha. It made me so happy. THANKYOU HANNAH, YOU ARE AN AWESOME HUMAN BEING XXXX

  • Well isn’t this just the best god damned blog post I’ve read in ages.
    Well put, Hannah.
    Gillian xx EyelinerFlicks

  • Such an amazing post! I have been in a similar situation and I was totally nodding whilst reading this. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pingback: Battling with body confidence and telling diets to sod off()

  • I was reading this post and saying to myself: Yeah, I remember feeling EXACTLY like that! I remember being 21 and meeting my first long term boyfriend and feeling so self conscious about my body, feeling fat and ugly and all that jazz, and when I look back at the photos I looked so gorgeous! And then I remember when I was my thinnest, which was during my break up with said boyfriend, 8 years later, and I was so sad and my face looked deprived of life. Still working on the loving the body at the moment, but as crazy as it sounds, sometimes I just look at myself in the mirror before going in the shower and take a good look and think to myself: Do you know what? I actually look bloody great!
    My favourite post of yours (I think that about once a month!) but this one really spoke to my heart. I always think you’re a brilliant role model for the girls who read your blog, because you are so honest and positive but brutally honest and don’t paint a picture perfect version of your life, and that’s what we need more of online. Seriously. My heart is bursting at the moment,

    Inma x

  • This is such a great post!
    I just finished one of those full body self criticising sessions infront of the mirror :/
    I really needed to read something like this!
    Thank you hannah, such an unexpected but awesome post!

  • laura

    This resonates so much with me. Currently about a size 10-12 (but I am very short, so this doesn’t translate to being particularly skinny), I am just reentering taking care of myself after having found a great guy – and eating lots of cute date night food, and drinking vats of wine, and just generally enjoying life!

    After being overweight to some degree for most of my adult life, I stared working out like crazy and eating very healthily, no booze, and I dropped to a size 8 and loved it, even though I still wanted to go further. I felt good, but not as good as I should have felt, you know?

    I have finally got my career on track, and am commuting into manchester, and feel awful every day because I don’t have a thigh gap, and I have a muffin top again, and I can’t just throw on a bin bag and look fabulous like it feels everyone else can.

    So all of this is just a preamble to say that it is so good to hear other peoples’ thoughts and feelings on this. You look great, and better, you look HAPPY, and it’s nice to know that everyone else is just trying to figure out a balance too, rather than having everything stitched up perfectly. Cheers, Hannah!

  • I’m 16 and although I’m a lot less worried about my weight because am just naturally slim, I beat myself up about the way my face looks. Why my eyes are too small, my skin too oily and spotty. Being a teenager is not fun and I don’t think being young really means you are any prettier. I know I’m not.

  • Possibly my favourite blog post you have ever written.
    Well done Hannah!

  • I love this post so much! its so true I know there is thousands of photo opportunities I’ve missed out on because I didn’t feel comfortable enough in my own body,

    Aimee x

  • Pingback: What Do We All Think We’ve Got And Then Lose In A Sudden Breakdown? Oh Yeah, Body Confidence! | Mixolydian Musings()

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