Podcast: Molly Forbes on Body Confidence and Motherhood

Body confidence is something that gets talked about a lot. “Love your body” people cry! But it’s not always that easy. And it’s not like there’s one issue or problem that everyone with low body confidence has, that can be ‘fixed’ with a few quick confidence tips or hacks. I’ve met people who hate their tummy, their upper arms, their bum, I know people who are a size 8 but hate their boobs, or who have a skin condition and hate wearing clothes that show it – I’m sure you could name people who feel like this too. Maybe you feel like this.

My guest on the podcast this week says it’s a wonder any of us feel OK about our bodies when we are bombarded by unrealistic images of bodies in the media, and on social media, every day. Molly Forbes is a broadcaster, co-host of podcast Body Cons and currently she’s a host on Channel 4 programme Naked Beach, which sees her help different people deal with their body hang ups in each episode. Molly’s also a mum of two and talks to me about how she talks to her kids about bodies in the hope that they grow up to love theirs.

Molly says there’s no right or wrong way to feel about your body, and that coming to terms with it and starting to like it and love it is a process.

Follow Molly on Instagram, listen to Season One of podcast Body Cons and watch Naked Beach.

Click play below to listen, or head over to Acast,Spotify or iTunes where you can rate, review and subscribe. You can read a transcript of the episode below.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

ALISON PERRY
Welcome back to Not Another Mummy Podcast with me, Alison Perry.

Summer is fast approaching and even if you don’t have a holiday booked, you might be heading outdoors with the kids on a hot day and be thinking about swimwear or wearing little vests and shorts. Lots of us have body hang ups. Whether you’re a size 22 and can’t face wearing a bikini, or a size 10 and you hate your stretch marks and small boobs, but my guest on today’s episode thinks that we can all make tracks to accepting and even loving our bodies, no matter what we look like. Molly Forbes is a mum of two, a broadcaster and co host of podcast Body Cons and she’s currently a host on Channel 4 programme Naked Beach where she helps people accept their bodies and even love them, in a bit of a social experiment devised by experts. She spends the whole programme naked apart from beautiful body paint. And she talked to me about what that was like and why she thinks the show is so important.

Welcome, Molly.

MOLLY FORBES
Hello.

ALISON PERRY
So for the purpose of the listener, and we’re obviously sitting here completely naked apart from a bit of Body paint aren’t we?

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, we are.

ALISON PERRY
I want everyone to be able to picture that.

MOLLY FORBES
Yep.

ALISON PERRY
No, not really. We’re fully clothed.

MOLLY FORBES
You know what? We should do. We could do. It’s not too late. I’ve got a bit of Snazaroo in my bag.

ALISON PERRY
I’m not quite pruned. If you give me some warning. I could’ve pruned myself at little bit, this morning in the shower. So welcome. You are a host on Channel 4’s Naked Beach. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, do you want to tell me a little bit about the programme and your role as a host on it.

MOLLY FORBES
There’s nothing like this on telly at the moment. And there has never been anything like this on telly before. So it’s kind of difficult to explain. But the concept is, it’s putting out a message that’s sort of the opposite of the Love Island kind of messages, we’re showing a range of different normal naked bodies on telly. It’s a family friendly show pre-watershed. And we are all in body paint. And the idea is each week, on each episode, we get three different new guests who all have their own body hang ups and don’t feel comfortable in their skin to come out and spend time with eight hosts, who I am one of and we basically over a few days make them feel better during a range of activities and one to one sessions. And it’s all based on this social experiment that’s been devised by a guy called Dr. Keon West from Goldsmiths University, and Natasha Devon MBE who’s a body image campaigner. And they sort of put together this experiment based on lots of different bits of research. And well, you can find out whether it works by watching the show.

ALISON PERRY
It’s brilliant. I mean, I watched the first episode and didn’t really know what to expect. Because with this sort of programming thing, or how much of it is going to be kind of, you know, titillation and a bit kind of ‘Ooh it’s a bum and ooh it’s a boob’ and, you know, a little bit of research kind of thrown in justto legitimise it, but it was, it’s amazing. It’s so good. And you guys are all on an island in Greece, aren’t you in a villa. And so therefore walking around, you know, starkers, it’s fine because it’s warm. And it’s not like here in Bognor Regis, freezing your asses off.

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, it’s um, yeah,It’s a luxury villa in Greece on a Greek island, and it was warm. And some days it was really hot. Some days, it was quite windy, though. To be fair, though it you know, it wasn’t always like boiling hot. But yeah, we’re in body paint. And the idea with the body paint is that, it’s sort of twofold, really. On the one hand, it means that we can show the show before nine o’clock, because it kind of means that all – it’s not about private parts. It’s not about titillation, it’s not filmed in a gratuitous way. It’s about body shapes, and showing a different range of body shapes, and a range of people.

ALISON PERRY
And actually, quite often, is not your private parts always that you are worried about it’s the other stuff. It’s your stomach, it’s your thighs. You know, the state of your skin. It’s, you know, your wobbly arms, upper arms, it’s all that stuff isn’t it?

MOLLY FORBES

Yeah. But I think also the location was important and the body paint was important, both those things because for the guests coming in, they didn’t know what to expect. They just knew that they were on a Greek island, and that they were going to hopefully, be made to feel better about their bodies. And it was some kind of experiment and that they were going to be taking part in it. But they didn’t know what to expect when they walked through the door. So they walked through the door. And it’s this beautiful, gorgeous Villa, which is important because it makes them feel comfortable and special. And it’s a new experience. But they’re also greeted with all this body paint. So it’s bright, and it’s colourful, and it’s cheerful. But also it’s not too intimidating. It’s not like complete nakedness straight away, it kind of eases them into the idea.

ALISON PERRY

I love that moment where they walk in and they just see you guys all like you know, all of you standing there, naked apart from the body paint and their faces are just like ‘what’s going on?’

MOLLY FORBES
I always get really nervous actually, before they walked in, you would have a moment just before they’re about to walk in. And you know, they’re on the other side of the door. And you know that you have no idea what their response is going to be. And because I’m an empath, I really feel other people’s feelings. And I get nervous about other people. So I wasn’t nervous for myself, but it was almost like that excite, you know, that excitement that you get on Christmas Eve when you’re a kid. Before… you know that something really cool is going to happen. But you don’t know what, it was that kind of feeling but also feeling nervous for them.

ALISON PERRY
Also you’re not in control of that situation. You know, anything could happen.

MOLLY FORBES

Exactly. And that was the beauty of it. Because it was… everything that you see on camera happened. It was real life. It’s not scripted. It’s really difficult. Lots of people have referred to it as a reality show. And I suppose in a way it kind of is a reality show, because it’s real life that they’re filming. But it isn’t a reality show like TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. There’s no scripted element to it. It’s more of an experiment really. And like I said, there’s nothing like this on telly at the moment. It’s really difficult to explain, really you have to kind of watch it get it.

ALISON PERRY

And the thing that I love about it and as cheesy as this sounds, but is watching those three guests go on that journey. And it’s the fact I mean, I watched Gogglebox the other night – they had the you know, Gogglebox families watching Naked Beach. And watching them kind of edit it down for Googlebox really, I think. encapsulates the journey that the guests go on, because they start off being like, ‘Oh my god, no, no way. I’m not getting naked. Oh my god’, horrified! Even horrified at the fact they’re being asked to spend 20 minutes a night, looking at themselves naked in a mirror. Quite often all of them are like ‘NO no no, I can’t do that. Oh, I hate it.’ To then see them gradually, very gradually get to the point where they’re wearing body paint. Or completely naked with you guys. It’s just amazing.

MOLLY FORBES

And I think that was the thing for us as well. Because when we went out there, we didn’t know if it was going to work. We all knew that the eight of us hadn’t…. We hadn’t met each other before, you know, we got to the airport, that was the first time I met with the other guys. And, and by the end of the plane journey, by the time we landed, we were all getting on so well. We lived together for you know, over four weeks, we didn’t know if it was going to work. But we knew that we all got on, we knew that we all had, like we’re all really positive, upbeat kind of people, we all felt completely obviously happy and comfortable and good in our skin. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been out there and been picked to be hosts. But we weren’t, we had no idea if that would rub off on the people that we’re spending time with. And also, every guest had a different feeling towards their body, they had their own different hang ups and their own different experiences, like we all do, because we’re all different. So you know, there were different hosts that connected with different people. And, and also you’re connected with them in different ways. But again, we had no idea. You know, you say to someone ‘Oh, in four days, this is going to completely literally change your life’. You kind of like ‘Yeah’, you’re cynical and that came across in the Gogglebox families when they first watched it at the beginning, they were like ‘No way. No way.’ And then as the show goes on, and you kind of see the the change in mindset. And that was all a mixture of the way that the guests were kind of literally exposed to our, our bodies and just getting used to it. And also spending time with their own naked bodies because there was a fear for them. They weren’t just scared of other people’s bodies, they were, they were scared of their own to the point where they couldn’t even look at themselves. And that was just really beautiful to be part of that and to see to witness that gradual change every day, they come down for breakfast, and they might be wearing a little bit more they might be wearing a vest, or they might have arrived only wearing black and they might be wearing like a colourful t shirt. And it was so exciting to see gradually bit by bit. The drip feeding of all these, you know, positive messages counteracting all the other things that they’ve been told all things they’ve told themselves.

ALISON PERRY

It’s that thing, though, isn’t it, that we’re also hard wired to be aiming for this ideal in inverted commas this ideal body where it’s like, slimmer, smaller, tighter, you know, tight, perfect skin, no wobbly bits, you know, this kind of like, who has that body? Hardly anyone has that perfect body. Those of us who do, I say us like I’m one of them…. Those people who do are probably spending so much time and effort, you know, in the gym and eating certain foods, it’s kind of got to be a full time project. But it’s kind of weird that we’re also hard wired to aim for that.

MOLLY FORBES
It is I think that there’s so many different layers to it. Because on the one hand, a lot of the time we’re comparing ourselves to images in magazines, or on telly that have been digitally manipulated. They’re not even real people, they’re not even real images. So there’s that. There’s also the other side of it, that we’re often only seeing one particular type of body. And we are comparing ourselves to that one type that we’re seeing on telly, and in magazines. But actually, when you walk down the street, you see a whole range of different types of people. And then the other part of it is also I think we have this nostalgia thing going on with our own bodies. And we look back to what we used to look like, like five or 10 years ago, before we had kids or, you know, before we were in a relationship or whatever. And we compare ourselves to that former idea of who we were then. And then we think we have to get back to ourselves, we’re actually we are ourselves right now. And our bodies aren’t meant to stay the same throughout our lives. But because we are constantly been bombarded with these images. And we’re not actually seeing the range of beautiful bodies that are around. And we’re told that this narrow idea, this, this this one type of body is what’s beautiful, we’re not able to see the beauty in all the other types of bodies, too. But hopefully this show is counteracting some of those messages. And that’s actually where I think social media is really good as well, because although Instagram comes in for a lot of stick on that side of you know, people filter stuff. But actually, it can be a really good place to see some of the bodies that we see in real life. You know, I think if we, if you go to the beach, and you just go to the beach on a normal day, how many different types of body do you see?

ALISON PERRY
I think I was probably late 20s, early 30s, when I cottoned on to that and I was, you know, I was in that horrible cycle thing of ‘Oh I’ve got a holiday coming up, I need to basically starve myself for the next few weeks, so I can wear a bikini’ Even though I then put the bikini on, and I still wasn’t massively happy. I was probably late 20s, early 30s, when I would be on the beach or the swimming pool and looking around and thinking, ‘They all just looked like me. Like, why am I… who am I wanting to look slim and toned for… like, no one else’s, seems to be bothered. Why am I?’

MOLLY FORBES

I think a lot of the time we have this idea that everyone’s going to judge us and that we’re going to be judged. And actually sometimes we are judged. But I think that often those moments come from people who are judging themselves heavily because they’re so invested in in that kind of narrow idea of what’s beautiful. And yeah, I think it’s really I think that the show kind of really encapsulates all the different types of hangups that people can have. And the different reasons for those hang ups, it might be that someone said something to them as a kid and it stayed with them. Or it might be that their body’s totally changed, and they just not familiar with it. And, or it might be that they are constantly comparing themselves to other people around them or people in magazines. And I think there’s it’s such a multi layered subject. That’s why I’m fascinated by… it’s why I do what I do. Because there is no sort of one particular route, you can easily say, Oh, well, it’s all the media’s fault. It’s magazines fault. But it isn’t just that. It’s not just a case of Oh, stop buying women’s magazines, and you’ll feel better about your body. Because these messages are everywhere. You would literally have to live in a cave on top of a mountain to avoid these messages. With no Wi Fi.

ALISON PERRY

Yeah. Which let’s face it, that sounds like hell. Or heaven actually. But also, I think the really interesting thing about the show is that it’s like, like you say, it’s all different body shapes and sizes and hang ups. You know, it’s not a case of every guest who’s arriving on the show feels that they are fat it’s you know, you’ve had people with skin issues, you’ve had people who’ve got stretch marks, who hate them, you know, and even in terms of like the hosts that are real range of body shapes and sizes, like you yourself, you’re not massively overweight. But I’ve seen quite a bit of criticism online, mostly, from people who kind of feel like somebody perhaps like yourself shouldn’t really be talking about body confidence, or, you know, there’s that kind of body positivity movement that’s going on, because they kind of feel like unless you are very overweight, and have been discriminated against because of your size, you shouldn’t really be talking about this stuff. How do you feel about that?

MOLLY FORBES
I think it’s, I get the point, I think it is a fair point to a certain extent, because there is definitely an element of privilege. You know, I’m a, I’m a thin white woman, I’m a size 12 to 14, I haven’t ever been discriminated, I haven’t ever had someone shout abuse at me in the street, I’ve never missed out on a job interview because of my body shape. And I totally accept that. And I appreciate that it’s hard for all of us to like the skin wearing because we’re all bombarded with these messages and this diet culture stuff. And it’s even harder for people who live in a body that is kind of marginalized body who maybe they are much bigger, or maybe they living with an impairment. And so they’ve been discriminated against. And so I totally get that. But the other side of it is that you can’t ever tell how someone feels about their body just from the way that they look. Just like you can’t tell what someone’s personality is, I think that we have to be really careful not to make judgments about people in all walks of life. And and not ever just assume that we can know everything about someone just from the way they look. And actually, the reality is, is that there’s lots of supermodels who feel awful in their skin who are suffering with eating disorders. And there’s lots of people who do fit that narrow idea of what’s beautiful, and they have a critically low body image. So that’s why I think the show is so great, because it does show a range of different people. And it shows all the different ways that people can feel bad in their skin. And not just, it’s not just about feeling better in yourself, but the way that these people were feeling was affecting their quality of life. You know, they weren’t taking their kids swimming, they weren’t going on holiday with their mate. So some of them, you know, went in going out to the pub with their friends, because they would have a last minute panic about their outfit before they go out. And I think we’ve all been there at some point. So everyone can kind of relate to that. So I think it’s a complicated subject. And with regards to body positivity, I know that that is a massive online movement. And it’s a controversial thing. I don’t have a tag and if my Instagram posts with body positive, because I don’t see myself as part of that movement, as such. I don’t live in a marginalized body. It is a political movement. But body confidence is a separate thing. And body image is an issue that affects any human. You know, we all have bodies. So we all have, yeah, a body, a personal body image.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah. I’ve seen a few articles about how shocking it is that Channel 4 showing naked bodies pre nine o’clock. But you think there’s something that we should be watching with our kids, don’t you?

MOLLY FORBES
For sure. Absolutely. I think like in this country, we have this weird relationship with nudity. It’s either proper, puritanical, kind of Victorian, you know, oh, nakedness. Or it’s Benny Hill saucy, you know Barbara Windsor in her bikini. And actually, we all have bodies underneath our clothes, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of. And if we continue with these ideas of of bodies are something to hide behind. And bodies are to hide away, and bodies are something to be embarrassed about, then what are we passing on to our kids and future generations, you know, teenagers, there’s so much research out at the moment that shows that, particularly in this country, we have a real issue with negative body image. And there are loads of children and teenagers, some girls as young as five years old, who are feeling bad about the way they look. And I think we need to… whatever we’re doing, whatever we have been doing hasn’t worked. Because these figures are getting higher and higher, people are feeling worse and worse. So we need to start changing those conversations. A. we need to start talking about it and not being embarrassed to talk about it and not doing that Brit stiff upper lip thing of like hiding our feelings under the table. But B. we also need to start just getting real about about bodies and about the fact that they’re nothing to be ashamed of, and maybe be a bit more continental about it, you go into the beach in France, and you know, everyone’s kind of topless or in Spain. Whereas you know, here in in Britain, we’re sort of “Ooh”. It isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. It’s not, you know, nakedness doesn’t always have to be to do with sex. The ultimate thing, it doesn’t always have to be about sex and sexiness. And I mean, there’s a lot to be said, For feeling sexually empowered, but it doesn’t always have to be about that. Ultimately, we all everyone has a body, it’s not a big deal. You know,

ALISON PERRY
I think for me, you know, you’re sort of saying, Oh, you know, we should be sweeping it under the carpet, you know, the British thing of pretending that it is not thing. I think for me, then this kind of goes across a lot of areas where it comes to talking to my daughter, I’ve got an eight year old. And I sometimes feel a bit like, I don’t want to talk about that thing. Because if I make it into a thing, that she might go away and start thinking about it, and it might almost like set the cogs in motion in her brain, as she might start looking at her body and thinking oh my, my thighs are a bit fat, or, you know, I’m not happy with this. So I just feel a bit like if I just don’t talk about it? Yeah, then it’ll be fine. But actually, that’s probably the worst thing I could be doing, isn’t it?

MOLLY FORBES
No, I do you know, I don’t talk about it. I don’t talk to my kids all the time about how amazing their bodies are. And we don’t talk about it, we just have a…

ALISON PERRY
“look at your bum! It’s so cute!”

MOLLY FORBES
…We just have a have an open policy, I think that you don’t need to be sitting down and having big, you know, psychoanalysing everything, but it’s about your attitude and about the way that you behave. And it’s about role modeling and children. We all know they copy don’t need a role model behaviour. And so for me at home, I’m often naked around my kids, I don’t jump out the shower and quickly cover myself up, I’ll get out the shower. And, you know, they see me in and out the shower me, we’re not naturists. I don’t cook the Sunday roast in the buff. But we are, we’re open about nudity. And I never want my children to feel shame around their bodies. And I think that starts with myself, I never look in the mirror and pull at my body and thing I say oh, I don’t like this. I don’t like the way I’m looking or, you know, I never do any of that. I just am. I just am open about it. I think he’s really important for children. And for all of us to know that we are more than our bodies. And our bodies are actually a secondary thing. It doesn’t really matter. And I agree that if you start talking about bodies all the time, and our bodies are beautiful, and are constantly going on about, it does become a thing. But actually, if we just had a bit more of an open attitude to it. And we’re just a bit kinder to ourselves in front of our children. Yeah, they might be a bit kinder to themselves, too.

ALISON PERRY
I also think that sometimes making yourself be kind about yourself in front of your children. Kind of just reminds you to do it in general. You should you should be doing it anyway. I found myself the other day, it was one of the first kind of warm days of the year. And last summer, remember we had that massive heat wave. I wore maternity clothes. So I’ve suddenly found myself looking through my wardrobe thinking what did I wear two summers ago, I can’t remember what are all my summer clothes? And pulling out a few things and a few dresses and putting them on and being like, actually, six months after having my babies. I can’t really wear this dress right now. And my daughter was like, ‘Mummy, why aren’t you wearing that dress? Why are you taking it off?’ I was really careful not to say anything like, ‘Oh, I’m too fat for it’. Or I basically just said to her, Oh my stomach is still a bit kind of wobbly and fat after having the babies I kind of like wobbled around in front of her. But that will kind of change again, and it will kind of go back the way it was and actually probably won’t go back the way it was. I was really kind of almost overthinking how I was saying this to her, because I didn’t want to give her a negative message or, you know, be saying to her a fat wobbly, tummies are bad or…it’s a really tricky subject…

MOLLY FORBES
We tie ourselves up in knots can’t we? When you could have just said “it’s not comfortable”.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah. Why didn’t I think of that? When I’m getting dressed every morning. I’m like, ‘Molly, Molly, what should I say?’

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, I mean, I do think we live in a really sort of politically aware age and the internet where we’re often dissecting things and wondering, especially with our kids, you know, what’s the best way to talk about these messages? I think sometimes the best way to be is just to be open and and try not to overcomplicate things. I think often, I mean, I know I’m guilty of this sometimes as well over complicating things. But that’s why I think it’s important to try and get away from this idea that the body is something to be ashamed or embarrassed about, or to cover up… these sort of Victorian ideas, because actually, they’re not and the more open we are about it, the more our children will just see that they’re nothing to be ashamed of to and their own changing bodies and nothing to be ashamed of. And maybe they’ll be more likely to talk to us about those changes when they happen. And that’s why this show is is important. And it’s why it’s a family show, not just the fact that there are lots of children and teenagers who are really suffering with this stuff and feeling bad about their bodies and comparing themselves. But also because it’s a really good way to open up these conversations between families. I’ve had so many messages from mums and dads and grandparents who’ve watched it with their children or their grandchildren. And it’s been a really beautiful way to start a conversation about different body types about their own kids bodies, or about their own Mum, their own mum bodies and the way that their bodies have changed.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah. So in Episode One, you had one guest who really hated her stretch marks, and she really felt like her body had changed so much since having her son, I think she had a son. And that’s something that so many of us, I think, can relate to. And obviously, you know, I’ve just, I’ve just explained to you about how I was there, like trying on summer dresses, and feeling like nothing fits me anymore. It’s fine. I just went out and bought like a few like really cheap, baggy dresses to wear, which they’re basically going to be my summer uniform, and it’s fine. But it’s I think it’s really hard that when we do have, you know, when we have a baby, and our bodies change, and it’s actually something it’s really hard for us to, I think, get used to this new shape and the new way our bodies are isn’t it?

MOLLY FORBES
It is. And I think one of the really difficult things is that we’re almost told that we’re allowed to celebrate our bodies, when we’re growing a baby, we often see lots of really sort of beautiful images of pregnant women with their majestic bumps, you know, think about Beyonce goddess like with her bump and the veil and all of that. But actually, we don’t see that many images of women after they’ve had the baby. So the idea is that we can celebrate them when they’re growing the baby. And then you’ve had the baby and your body’s done this amazing thing. But quickly get back to how you used to be.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah, cover it up. And yeah, as soon as you can get back into the gym, do. And make sure that you’re not eating too many biscuits and cakes, because you need to get back to the way you were.

MOLLY FORBES
And we praise that like it’s a moral thing. So you know, throw shade on Kate Middleton, but she comes out on the steps and, and ‘Oh, she looks amazing’. And that’s like a real thing to praise.

ALISON PERRY
Sorry. Can we just pause there? I still do not understand. I remember that day that day when she had her. Was it her first? I’m sure it was when she had a first, she came onto the steps. I was just like, how is this woman doing it? She looks amazing.

MOLLY FORBES
She had a whole team of people to help her, didn’t she? It was a stage managed event.

ALISON PERRY
But even from like, a mental, emotional point of view. How… I don’t know how you could get yourself from that hospital bed where you’re a bit like sweaty and covered in blood and covered in, you know, bodily fluids and just feeling like ‘I’ve literally just created a human’ to, to even if you did have a team of people like whipping up around you and doing your hair and putting makeup on you. How could you get yourself onto those steps smiling for the World’s cameras?

MOLLY FORBES
Do you know, like the whole Kate Middleton thing was really interesting, because I think that… I agree. I I couldn’t get my head round it. But I looked at her and I didn’t immediately think ‘Oh, she looks amazing.’ I thought ‘Oh, poor love.’ You know, I wanted to just like get her back in a joggers, give her a cup of tea and a biscuit. And just have a sit down and you know, I’ll hold the baby for you while you have a rest. But it’s a different world, isn’t it? They’re different people. And also you don’t know what happened. And it was a few moments you don’t know what happened in the moments before she walked out onto those steps and you don’t know what happened when she got in the car. She might burst into tears.

ALISON PERRY
I’d like to think she burst into… you know, not because I’m being mean, but just because that would that would feel normal. She’d go into the car burst into tears and been like, ‘William that was so hard’. And he was like ‘You did really well. You did really well. Well done. Well done. We’ll get you home’.

MOLLY FORBES
I just think it’s another example of the awful pressure that we put on women though, you know, and and, and the way that the the media, some of the media have come out against Megan for not wanting to do that like almost affronted, like she’s like, letting them down. If anyone who’s had a baby would be understanding that, actually, no one owns that woman’s body, no one has the right to see the baby or the or the Mum, apart from the mum and the baby. Like, ultimately, it’s up to you. And it’s the same with your body, no one has the right to tell you whether you just had a baby or not that your body is somehow wrong. No one has that right. Whether it’s whether it’s your best friend, or your mum, or your gran, or an article in a magazine, no one else has the power or the right to criticise your body or to tell you that you need to change it. And people will try but ultimately, you do have the power to say no, thank you, I’m not gonna I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to listen to that. And I think that the whole thing with new mum new mum bodies is that the best way that you can feel good in your skin after having a baby is to try and see as many as many images of other normal bodies, you know, go to antenatal class and talk to your friends about their stretch marks and be open about it and try and avoid all this diet chat. You know, in this quick, I’m going to snap back. But that said some women do snap back. And that’s fine, too. There’s no right or wrong.

ALISON PERRY
They do. And that’s the thing isn’t it. That is why social media is kind of… is good in this in this sense, because you can go on there and see new mums showing, you know, rolls of flab, stretch marks, you know, typically not “attractive”, you know, views of their body and actually saying this is fine. This is how I look and it’s normal. And it’s it’s okay.

MOLLY FORBES
Do you know… like I’ve gone from thinking not only is it fine and normal, and and it’s okay. And it’s completely, it’s completely how your body you know, should look after you’ve done something so amazing. But I’ve gone to now thinking a step more that she I think those kind of bodies are really beautiful. They really bloody beautiful, like the stretch marks and the silvery. They’re like, you know, a little map and I look at my stretch marks. And I remember the first time I saw that I was getting stretch marks and feeling this sense of dread and quickly like slapping on the oil. Now I look at them. And I think they’re a mark of this beautiful little human that I created. And I know that sounds cheesy, and I know there’ll be people who are listening to this who are like rolling their eyes. But actually, I think that it is possible to get from the mindset where you think actually, it’s totally normal is nothing to worry about. It’s just part of a changing body to actually seeing these different shapes and, and seeing rolls and think actually, they are pretty beautiful.

ALISON PERRY
So how did you how did you get to that point? Because you haven’t… I’ve heard the speaking but this before that you haven’t always, you know, you haven’t kind of been that person who’s woken up every morning, “I love my body!”. You know, skipping around the house naked looking in the mirror? Like winking at yourself. “Looking good, Molly!” So what’s your journey been?

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, I think I think it’s been similar to lots of people in the way that I was very much a part of this whole diet culture idea. So although I never did sort of Weight Watchers or Slimming World, and although I never kind of told myself I was on a diet, I would always be on some kind of diet. So whether that was Oh, I’m not eating carbs today, or whether it was, I’m going to really work out and then I can deserve to go out for dinner and drinks with my friends tonight. Or whether it was you know, bookmarking a holiday or Christmas or any kind of big event with restricting what I was eating or drinking lots of water, there was always something. It was always there in my mind. So while I wouldn’t necessarily be following some kind of food plan or diet, there was always something there. And I think the idea was, ultimately that although I never felt so bad in my body, that I let it stop me from doing things. And I did always feel like it wasn’t quite good enough. And I did always feel like I needed to change it a little bit. So that was a running thread all the way throughout my late teens and 20s. And then when I had my daughter, my first daughter I was 26, nearly 27. And I just thought, I don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t want to pass this on to her. I my body has actually done something amazing but while theoretically, intellectually, I could appreciate that my body had grown a human and done this amazing thing. The reality was, I didn’t feel that in, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t feel this amazing, awe of my body, I just sort of felt the pressure that I needed to get it back to how it is how it had been. The irony being that before I didn’t even appreciate it anyway.

ALISON PERRY
That’s the thing isn’t isn’t quite often, you know, you were saying earlier that we’ve got this nostalgia of wanting to get our bodies back to the way it was before kids or before we were in a relationship. And actually, when you think back to those times, you probably weren’t happy with your body at that point, you were probably even then thinking, Oh, I really need to lose a few pounds or, you know, I really want to tone up my arms a bit. And it’s like, a constant quest for perfection.

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah and you never, you never get there. And even when you do lose the weight or do the thing, you still there’s always something more that you can improve. And I think that really clicked for me after I had my second daughter. After I had Effie, I felt like the change in identity from being a mum of one to a mum of two, we’d also moved to a different area. And my job had kind of changed. So I was presenting a radio show before and then I wasn’t any more. And I was doing more online stuff. And I just felt a little bit at sea. And I think also my baby didn’t sleep. And I breastfed her for three years. And all of that stuff contributed to me sort of just feeling not very confident about myself. And that manifested itself in feelings towards my body. And I think often when we are feeling a bit low at work, or maybe we have a setback with something else in our life, or someone breaks up with us or, you know, a friend ditches us for a night out, we can take that out on our body. And so the easiest thing is, oh, well, if I just looked like this, and that wouldn’t have happened, or, you know, if I can’t be rich, at least I can be thin. Or if I can’t have, you know, if I can’t have the boyfriend, I’ll get the revenge body and I’ll show him. And all of that stuff is ultimately just useless. It doesn’t mean anything because our bodies are still here fighting for us every day showing up doing the things. And I realized there was a moment when I was like weighing spinach and my older daughter was like, ‘Mum, why are you weighing spinach?’ and I like made them like a really nice Spaghetti Bolognese and I wasn’t going to eat it. I was having a spinach salad. And I just thought, actually, there’s no sane answer to this. I don’t know what to tell her. I have no, I have no way to talk about this in a way that I’m feel proud and able to explain. And that was when I really started thinking No I’m not going to do this anymore. And really working on my mind instead of my body. And the irony is, is that once I got to the place where I actually felt really happy and confident and comfortable in my skin, I started treating my body much better. And I started doing things that felt good for my body, not because I wanted to change the shape of it, but because I actually just enjoyed the feeling of it. I used to hate running, absolutely hated it with the passion. But I would go because I would like to have to flog myself and force myself to do it. Now I really like running. I mean, it’s it’s probably more of a shuffle. It’s quite slow. But I like putting my podcasts on and listening to you know, stuff and just getting that headspace. And same with yoga. You know, I used to kind of go to yoga and think it was a bit of a cop out and just go to have the nap at the end. But now I actually really enjoy kind of moving my body. But it’s for that moment of moving it. Because I think oh, it’s a nice thing. It deserves to be looked after a bit.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah, it’s… I think it is about getting to that point where you are and I’m not there, by the way…. where you’re eating healthily, because you want to feel good. And you’re exercising because it because you know it helps your mental wellbeing and it helps you, you know, process the day or that kind of thing. Yeah, I’m definitely not there…

MOLLY FORBES
But do you know, like, I don’t think that’s anything to feel guilty of. Because actually the whole whole idea of like you’re being healthy or not being healthy. I don’t think it is you. This is the whole thing with dieting as well, I was either fully on the diet bandwagon, but I didn’t say I was doing a diet, I would say I’m being healthy.

ALISON PERRY
Yeah, I used to do that all the time, I would always say ‘Oh I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment’. And that was like the socially acceptable way of saying, Yeah, I’m cutting back and trying to lose weight.

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, but actually, it’s not about living one lifestyle or living another. It’s not about making that choice or making that choice. It’s just about living your life. And every day making choices that feel good for you. And and accepting that healthy doesn’t look one way, and accepting that we all have days where you’re going to want to eat chocolate, and that’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. You know, emotional eating is okay. You know, I think like, we’re just really hard on ourselves, aren’t we so much of the time, we are so hard on ourselves. And we have this idea that you have to pick one avenue and stay on that avenue and stay on that street or you’re fully off it and you’re just like sitting around eating crisps all the time. Actually doesn’t have to be like that. There was some weeks when I don’t go for a run at all. I don’t do any yoga, because I’m got time. You know, I don’t just eat kale all the time. I love you know, all different types of food. I don’t even think about it. I literally don’t think about it and I think it that that I don’t have room in my brain. I don’t I don’t want to give room in my brain to things like calories and thinking, Oh, is this a healthy choice? Or not? I just eat what I want to eat.

ALISON PERRY
Do you think we’ve come full circle though? Do you think that there is now some kind of shame attached to admitting that you’re on a diet or, you know, going to Slimming World? You know, or, you know, admitting that I’ve got my my holiday booked for July. So I’m going to go into the gym twice a week between now and then, you know, have we kind of come full circle where people were almost like hiding the fact that they are…

MOLLY FORBES
That… I really hope that we haven’t, I can see how some people might feel like that. And this is something that we talk about… I do podcast about about bodies, Body Cons, you should listen.

ALISON PERRY
Available on the iTunes store!

MOLLY FORBES
But we do talk about this with the guests that we we speak to and I’m often saying, you know there shouldn’t be any judgment there. I have no judgment. If you want to do a diet, do a diet, I don’t care. It’s your body it’s your body it’s your choice. But maybe we need to think about some of the reasons that we’re doing it and some of the the messaging around why we’re treating our bodies in the way that we’re treating them or talking about them in the way we’re talking about them. I don’t think that there is any, there should be no shame about any of this stuff. Whether you feel good in your body or bad in your body. I’m really aware that for some people looking at a picture of a woman on the beach with her stretch marks out or her wobbly tummy and loving life in a bikini might actually be really triggering for them. Because they might think why don’t I feel like that. And actually, that’s a valid feeling. That’s okay, too, we shouldn’t be thinking that your… loving your body is not something that you can fail out. It’s not like you either do it or you don’t, it’s a process. And I don’t wake up every morning and love my body every single day. But the difference is now if I do have these negative feelings I can, I can kind of bounce back from them much quicker. And I don’t let them I don’t let them dictate my feelings or my day, don’t let them decide what I’m going to wear that day or whether I’m going to go out with my friends whether I’m going to go swimming, I do it anyway. And I bounce back from it. I think that’s the trick. But yeah, 100% I don’t think anyone should feel like not loving their body or not accepting their body is something they’re failing at. Because it’s not, it’s a process. And there is no shame in wanting to change your body. Because ultimately look all the messages that we’re constantly getting, I think it’s a wonder that anyone feels good in their skin. When you look at the toxic messages around us all the time that we’re bombarded with, from the moment that we wake up until the moment we go to bed. It is a wonder that anyone feels good about themselves.

ALISON PERRY
So what would you say then to anyone who’s listening, who perhaps they’re watching Naked Beach, and they’re feeling quite empowered, and they’re feeling, You know, you know, like today’s kind of affecting them making them feel like they want to start that process. But they kind of know deep down there, they’re still at that, that beginning of the journey. And they still feel a bit horrified at the prospect of putting on a bikini in a couple of months time on their holiday. What would you say to those people?

MOLLY FORBES
There’s no quick fix with this stuff, I think. And I have had quite a lot of messages actually people saying can you give me a few quick tips for how I can feel good.

ALISON PERRY
Everyone wants a quick hack, don’t they?

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, you want a quick hack to change your body or you want a quick hack to change your mindset. And unfortunately, there is no quick fix, I could give you loads of tips. And things have helped me but ultimately, it’s a process. And we’ve got a lifetime of learned messages, you don’t unlearn those messages overnight. So what you need to do is immerse yourself and do the work unfortunately, it is work. But it it doesn’t have to be a thing. It’s not like a project, it’s not homework project, you know, listen to podcasts about this stuff on your way home from work, you know, while you’re cooking your kids’ tea, spend a bit more time looking in the mirror at yourself. And rather than being critical, look at the things that you like, just spend a bit more time with your body getting to know it again, when you’re in the bath, don’t just cover yourself with bubbles, don’t jump out the shower and immediately reach for a towel. And when you’re looking at your body, don’t pull at it. You know, I think a lot of the time we like pull at our love handles or our thighs and we kind of really get focused on those. Don’t do that, try just sort of touching your body lovingly. Just give it a pat. And the whole thing of clothes as well. Like don’t… get rid of the jeans that don’t fit you. They’re not some kind of thing that you need to strive for. That’s not your friend get rid of those things and put them away and go buy new things that fit you and that feel nice on your body.

ALISON PERRY
Just like I did when I went and got a few baggy summer dresses, that I can wear this summer, rather than kind of agonising over the fact that I can’t wear the ones I were two years ago.

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, 100% get rid of those things. Because you know, your body isn’t if you can’t bear to take them to the charity shop them in the loft or put them under your bed. Because having a constant reminder is like having annoying nan in the corner constantly telling you offering too much chocolate you don’t need that everyday. You don’t need to start your day with that. And diversify your social media feeds, really seek out different accounts. And if there are people or friends on Facebook that make you feel bad or not, I’m not saying no one is going out of their way to deliberately make you feel bad about your body. And I would argue some diet companies are because they want you to buy their products. But you know, none of you know your friend down the road who is on a diet who’s going to Slimming World every week who’s really proud of her weight loss who’s sharing every weekly weigh in result. She’s not doing that to make you feel bad, but that might trigger you to feel bad it might make you think oh you need to do the same. You’re not quite good enough as you are. So maybe just mute her. It doesn’t mean, you don’t have to tell her just mute her.

ALISON PERRY
The mute function is such a beautiful beautiful thing.

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, you have you have control to a certain extent about how much you see and what you see on your social media feeds. That is one element that we can, you know, have a little bit of control over to a certain extent. So really seek out accounts that do make you feel good and listen to podcasts that make you feel good and watch shows like Naked Beach and spend some more time getting to know your own body.

ALISON PERRY
Love it. Right so time to crack out the Snazaroo. Body paint me up. Molly!

MOLLY FORBES
What do you want, a sunflower? Do a sunflower on the bum.

ALISON PERRY
Can I have a sunflower on each boob?

MOLLY FORBES
Yeah, I like that. I like that.

ALISON PERRY
Thank you for being my guest today. It has been marvelous.

MOLLY FORBES
Thanks for having me!

ALISON PERRY
Right I’ve wiped the body paint off now that Molly’s left. Thank you so much for joining me today and for listening. Do subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it please and I shall catch up with you next time!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Chat to me on Instagram: @iamalisonperryor on Twitter: @iamalisonperry

Producer: Imogen Hart, Create Productions

Music: Epidemic Sound

Artwork: Eleanor Bowmer

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