With three new female inspired embroideries being released, all part of The Body Positivity Range, what better way to celebrate than a fantastic interview with 6 wonderful and unique women, chatting all about their bodies, self confidence, challenges, motherhood and much more.
We sat down with these lovely ladies in our London studio with the aim to create a safe space in which we could all talk about our bodies openly and honestly, sharing our personal stories and feelings we have about ourselves, in a positive empowering way.
Jean 76, a mother of 2, Nanna of 6 and Great-Grandmother of 2. She is Anglo-Indian and was born in India.
"Love yourself - everything else will follow." Jean Baldrey
Hi Jean! Let’s get right into it - what do you love about your body?
I am quite happy with my body, I work hard to keep fit. Walking, looking after children… dancing! It helps me, I don’t need to go to the gym, whatever I am doing, it gives me the results I want.
Amazing! What do you think is your body’s greatest achievement?
Well I think having my two boys, those were the best moments in my life, and to see them grow up into men. I am happy that they are happy.
Also, another one of the greatest achievements for me is when I went on holiday to Egypt and I climbed up Mount Sinai, I nearly gave up half way but no I pushed myself and I went as far as I could, and that was a great achievement for me.
Wow, that is incredible, how high is Mount Sinai?
The peak is almost 7500 feet, so it is very far!
Could you finish this sentence, I am…
I am happy with what I see, if there is something I need to change or correct, then I don’t give up, I just keep going and trying. I don’t base myself on anybody else, I just do what I need to do and am happy with the way I look.
Is there anything you are particularly conscious of about your body?
Well I am conscious about my tummy, but I do try my best and it does improve. But also I say to myself make the best of what you have, just be happy. So yes, I am conscious of my tummy, but I am not upset or worried about it.
Did your mum ever say anything empowering to you about your body?
Yes, my mum always said don’t try and imitate others, be happy with what you have and look after yourself. And that’s what I’ve always done.
Beautiful. So I know you have two granddaughters, what would you say to them to empower them about their bodies as they grow up?
I’d say to my granddaughters, love yourself first. That is the most important thing, don’t try to be someone that you are not. Be happy with what you have, your body, your lifestyle, your friends, and if you love yourself - everything else will follow.
Now let’s have a chat with Charlotte, a Marketing Director and a mum of 2 who lives in South-East London.
"My hair is something that I am identified by, a lot of people recognise me by my hair" Charlotte Hillenbrand
What do you love about your body Charlotte?
I guess I quite like my legs as they are strong and I love walking. My hair as well, if that counts as a part of my body? My hair is something that I kind of am identified by, a lot of people recognise me by my hair even when these days I have a mask on. So my hair would definitely be one of my key features.
Everyone loves your hair! So did your mum ever say anything empowering to you about your body growing up or even now?
I think my mum has just always been very supportive, I was trying to think of specific things she has said to me, but we don’t tend to go around doing the whole empowering statement exchange sort of thing! But I can remember some really funny stories when I was younger, like when I was growing when I was about 9 or 10, I had grown a lot through the summer and I tried to put some trousers on and they wouldn’t fit as i’d grown so much, and I remember saying ‘oh no i’ve got fat legs’. My mum thought that was so sweet and was like ‘no that’s because you’ve grown so much!’, but my brothers picked up on that and they were just teasing me relentlessly for years after that for having fat legs! I think with my mum it is more of a background positive reinforcement thing, rather than something specific that I can really remember.
Yes that is exactly the same as what I was going to say with my mum, it is just that constant not just a specific time when something was said. Now, you have a daughter yourself, who is in her early teens which is quite a pivotal time, what do you say to her to keep her grounded? And what advice would you give to other mums who have daughters of a similar age?
With my 13 year old, I just talk to her about being comfortable with who she is now, and that things change over time. How she feels now, may not be the same as how she feels in 6 months time and that’s okay, and just to try and accept that. Particularly when you are going through puberty, I think it can be really scary, you are experiencing all sorts of things that you just haven’t encountered before, and it’s very odd and you can feel quite dissociated from yourself. With her, I just let her know that this is a phase and not to overthink it, as it will pass. Another thing is that her style has changed a lot in the last 2 years and it is quite interesting as she talks about her style in a way that suggests she is quite aware of it, but in a healthy way. However, she is very concerned about others judging her, so that is something to really watch out for with this generation. They seem to have this really overemphasised sense of judgement of others, and I think that is driven by social media so I just try and tell her that everyone is terrified that everyone else is judging them, so if you can understand that then maybe you won’t be so affected by it, as it is the same fear for everyone.
Kate is Head of New Business Operations for a print company who lives between London and Somerset
Hi Kate, thank you so much for sitting down to chat with us today. So first of all, what do you love about your body?
Everything really, it’s strength. If you want to know specific parts of the body, I would say probably my face, but everything really. There could be better things, there could be worse things!
Great, what would you say is your body’s greatest achievement, has your body been physically pushed to any limits?
I would say my body’s greatest achievement is on more of an emotional level, in terms of carrying me through things like grief and heartbreak and knee surgeries. Pushing myself hard and the physicality linked to that. I haven’t run a marathon, nor do I ever want to run a marathon, but it doesn’t dispute the fact that my body has been really strong and supportive and taken me through times that have been really challenging!
Of course, would you be able to talk us through your knee surgery, that sounds incredibly hard?
Yes, so I had 2 knee surgeries last year, so physically my body has had a really tough time, in terms of holding me up and supporting me as I get back on my feet after that surgery, because that’s been really tough.
I can imagine. Can you tell us what is the best thing that someone has said about your body?
The best thing that someone has said about my body is that it is perfect.
Wow, that is so nice! What would you say to your younger self?
I would say to my younger self to not listen to other people, enjoy yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself and to look after your body. I would say to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Be strong, be resilient and don’t take any negativity from anyone else, do what you want to do and have lots of fun.
When you are older, say in your 70s or 80s, and you look back at your body, what do you think you will think of yourself?
Well, I’d like to think that I won’t regret the tattoos that I have, which by that point may be wrinkly and horrible! But I think I will be proud of myself, I’ll be happy. I don’t have any regrets and I don’t expect to have them then either.
Elle is a Community Manager and sewist who loves football and running. She is of mixed Malaysian and English descent.
"I want to teach my daughter that they can be as strong as any man."
Hi Elle, let’s get straight into it! What is the best thing that someone has said about your body?
Ah that is such a weird thing to talk about, but it would probably be that people say I have a smaller waist and a bigger bum, which I always thought was a negative thing. I just wanted to be small all over, but more recently in the media with the Kim Kardashian thing, it seems that having a big bum is actually a good thing and a positive thing. I do thank my Malaysian heritage that I was blessed with something big down there!
What other things have people said about your body?
I actually spoke to my mum about this earlier, when I was told I was going to be doing this interview. I said to her that I felt like I had nothing positive to say and she told me straight away that I was wrong and that she thought my collar bones were amazing and that I had great shoulders and always hold myself up so well and that I can wear any style of dress or shirt and that people would kill for that. So she pretty much nailed that, thank you mum!
Amazing. Okay now what do you think you would say to your younger self about your body?
I would say that your body is capable of doing so many things, as well as being able to stay up all night and not have a hangover, you are also super capable of anything you put your mind to. You are so strong and I think it is so important you focus on not trying to be skinny, but be strong. Keep doing your fitness and dancing and have a strong healthy body rather than the slimmest body you can have.
That is so important. When you are older and look back, how do you think you will see yourself?
It is such a hard one because when you are in the moment you can only focus on the negatives, but when I am older I will probably look back and think I did waste so much time focusing on the negative. I am actually very blessed that I have a body that works and I am a very healthy person, I can get up in the morning and run 10k and I think that is such a blessing to be able to do those things without having to worry. So I think I need to focus more on the positives in the moment.
Does your mum ever say anything empowering about your body?
I would say yes 100%, I spoke earlier about the phone call we had where she told me everything she loved about my body. But I think its not just words, its what she does to show me as her daughter that anything is possible. I grew up watching my mum do triathlons every weekend, races across the desert, climbing mountains like Everest and Kilimanjaro. She was 8 months pregnant with my brother when she was still teaching fitness classes, she is a crazy insane woman! But it made me think, if she can do it, then I can do it as well. I mean she is still doing crazy things now and she's super fit, and I feel just so empowered by what she does.
She sounds amazing! If you had a daughter, what would you say to her? How would you empower her?
I definitely want to be able to empower my daughter, to be so strong. And not to care about anyone else or what they think about how you should look. The main thing I want to teach my daughter is that she can be as strong as any man, i feel like that is such an important thing. I play football, I run, I do all the things that men are supposed to be good at. I just think my daughter is just going to be better than all the boys in her class and she can do whatever she wants to do.
Izzy is 19 and from London. She has recently finished her A Levels and is working at a wedding stationary company.
"I always love it when people compliment my smile"
Izzy, thank you for agreeing to chat with us, we can’t wait to hear your thoughts on body positivity. Let’s get started, what is the best thing that someone has said about your body?
I think the best thing that someone has said would be about my smile, I always love it when people compliment my smile or when i’m looking happy as it feels nice, that people enjoy when you are smiling.
That’s lovely. If you were to be sat next to a 10 year old version of yourself, what would you say to her in terms of empowerment?
I would probably say to just be happy with what you have, because my body gets me through so much everyday, I can walk around and I'm healthy and happy, and to just be grateful for that. I would definitely tell my younger self to stop looking at people on social media, because it did really affect me when I was younger. I think once I learnt to leave that and not judge myself against people online, I became a lot happier, and a lot more confident in myself knowing that i’m nice in how I am.
In terms of online, what were you looking at and how did it make you feel?
I think it was just a lot of influencers, sitting on the beach in their bikinis and I thought oh I wish I could look like that. But I was a 14/15 year old girl, I was never going to look like a grown woman! Also, there are things like filters and people were photoshopping.
It must be so hard growing up in your generation surrounded by all of this. You are just told all the time to look or feel a sort of way, it must be so hard to make a decision for yourself
Yeah, I really felt that - that you have to dress like “this”, look like “this”, have your hair like “this” - and that’s part of why I wasn’t comfortable with their curly hair, because i’d see so many people online with long, straight, blonde hair and I thought well I don’t have that. It did definitely affect my confidence when I was younger but then I think once I learnt that not everyone looks like that and it's a very unrealistic standard of what a woman should be, I became a lot happier in myself.
Hannah Read-Baldrey, mum of 3. Creative Director and Comedy lover.
"My son always points out my big bottom, he thinks it’s really funny!" Hannah Read-Baldrey
Last, but definitely not least, we have MakeBox & Co’s very own Creative Director - Hannah! So I would love to know what is the best thing someone has said about your body?
I think my husband is very sweet and always loves my body and my figure and he likes the fact that I’m curvaceous. So I think having someone that really loves the way you look, that really builds your confidence and makes a big difference. I also think I do have a lot of hair, I used to be a hair model for Vidal Sassoon, my hair has always been a big feature of mine. So my hair has always been something that people have noticed which has been very nice. In terms of my physical body, I just really like the fact that I am married to someone who appreciates someone with curves.
That is so cute. What do other people point out about your body?
Well, my son always points out my big bottom, he thinks it’s really funny! But my hair is generally the thing that people will notice first. Then the bum!
If you could say something to a younger Hannah, what would you say?
When I was 15 or 16, I went to a school where I was under a lot of pressure, so I was very conscious of myself and very aware of other people. It wasn’t necessarily to conform, but I was just very aware. I spent a lot of wasted energy worrying about things that really you shouldn't have bothered worrying about, but of course I now have hindsight. I wasn’t under the pressure that some young people have today, like with social media but I do think that kids can be very cruel to each other. So I would say to my younger self, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you or their opinions. I would say that you are beautiful, you are going to be amazing, you are strong and funny and that you need to have confidence and grow into that person. When I was around 16 years old, I did make a decision to kind of shake off those feelings and not care and that was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
I know I always seem quite confident, a lot more outward than most. My brain is racing a million miles an hour, I'm very creative and I think that is all to do with making that decision quite young - that I just wanted to do what I wanted to do and I knew I wasn't like a lot of the people I went to school with who were very academic.
That is really interesting. Is there anything else you remember from that time?
I remember feeling so fat the whole time as a teenager and of course when I look back at pictures of myself and I was so thin! It just goes to show you as a teenager you're under a lot of pressure, from peers, from studies from family. If I could speak to my younger self I would tell her to relax and have fun. Well I definitely had fun!
Having had three children my body has changed, but I wouldn't change that for the world. This represents the change in me too. Being a mother for me is the most important job in the world.