1. When did you discover the importance of body confidence and positive body image?
“One afternoon backstage during rehearsals, I overheard two girls that I truly admired complaining about their bodies and how they were unhappy with their appearance. This took me by surprise, as I would have given anything to be in their shoes.”
Growing up I felt like I was hit with a double whammy! I was the tallest girl in school and I was blessed with curves, sadly 14-year Daniela thought this was a curse. I stood out like a sore thumb and my classmates believed it was their daily duty to point out my differences. I remember intentionally slouching to make myself appear shorter.
Throughout my late teens and early 20’s, I competed in several beauty pageants. It was in the pageant environment where I started navigating my way through preconceived ideas of beauty and discovered the fine art of comparison.
In the pageant environment I was constantly surrounded by beautiful women who I was technically in “competition” with, and I would often find myself comparing my body shape to the other girls in the pageant. I spent copious amounts of energy and time wishing that my abs were tighter and my hips were smaller, this mindset fuelled my negative relationship with food.
One afternoon backstage during rehearsals, I overheard two girls that I truly admired complaining about their bodies and how they were unhappy with their appearance. This took me by surprise, as I would have given anything to be in their shoes. This insight was a pivotal moment in my journey to body confidence. I realised that there was someone else out there wishing for what I already possessed and I was taking it for granted.
I was fed up with trying to alter my body to fit into a mould that society had constructed on my behalf, so I decided to take back control and start honouring my body. I wanted to lead by example, in the hope that I could be a light in someone else’s life and influence them to start appreciating their body and unique qualities.
I’m not going to sugar coat it; it’s been a confronting and at times uncomfortable journey to get to the point where I am today. A couple of things that have really helped me along the way:
- Understanding that the body you have received is with you for this lifetime. Therefore, you are faced with the choice of accepting it and getting to understand it a little better, or continuing to be at war with it.
- Speaking to a trusted friend, family member or therapist. I was so embarrassed by my thought patterns and mindset surrounding food and my body. Sadly, I waited till I was at breaking point before I opened up to anyone about the matter. As soon as I started speaking about it, I realised two things, one I wasn’t alone and two I felt an immense amount of relief by opening up.
- Acknowledging that it has taken years of conditioning and experience to develop your current mindset and that it will take time and persistence to develop a new way of thinking. There will be good and bad days along the way, but the fact you’ve even acknowledged the matter, is a step in the right direction. Surround yourself with individuals who will support you on your journey and hold you accountable e.g. friends, partner, a new gym buddy, online support group etc.
We are all battling our own internal demons, so more obviously than others. Don’t ever feel like you’re alone!
2. What are your top tips for boosting your body confidence?
Further to the points above, the following has really helped me boost my body confidence:
- Paying attention to what my mind is saying, as most of us are conditioned to fixate on our “flaws”. I take time daily to acknowledge and focus on my strengths and the incredible things my body is capable of achieving, by noting them down in my journal. It gets easier with practice, here are a couple of miracles you could start with:
- Having the ability to walk and explore the world.
- Having the ability to swallow food and the fact that your tummy automatically knows what to do with it.
- Having the ability to see, smell and touch.
Stop the comparison! Comparison is the thief of joy! Recognising you’re your own unique qualities are what set you apart from others. Imagine how boring this world would be if we were all clones. It’s important to realise just how much of an impact social media is having on your self esteem (refer to question 7)
I have implemented a daily routine which helps me navigate my ‘bad days’ with a little more ease and clarity. My daily routine includes meditation, nutritious food, movement, hydration and sufficient sleep.
My mood and overall ability to deal with day to day activities is dramatically impacted by the quality of sleep that I get. To increase my chances of getting a restful night’s sleep, I try to observe the following:
- Cut off stimulants by 3.30pm (e.g. Coffee, green tea and cocoa)
- Limit my phone usage at night and ensure my phone switches to night shift mode at sunset. Blue light from our devices suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms and our ability to sleep.
- I try not to consume food 2 hours before heading to bed, I find that I am restless if I’m still trying to digest food.
There are so many factors that play a part in mental health and I strongly believe in a holistic approach, therefor I aim to achieve balance in all areas of my life. Acknowledging that I am human and that I’m not always going to get it “right” has been transformational. What is “right” for someone else, may not be “right” for you. It’s a whole heap of trial and error! The most important thing is that you consistently show up for yourself and try to put your best foot forward.
4. What do you love most about your body?
My long legs! Hence the nickname Dani long Legs ☺
5. Who are your go-to follows on Instagram for positive body image & feel good vibes:
Rachael Finch - @rachael_finch (Great recipes and health tips)
Sarah Holloway - @spoonful_of_sarah (Love the quote of the day segment & her bloops)
Taryn Brumfitt - @bodyimagemovement (If you haven’t seen the doco, do yourself a favour!)
Zanna van Dijk - @zannavandijk (Absolute boss babe and doing great things for our planet)
Georgia Gibbs - @georgiagibbs_ (G is a ray of sunshine and she shares her health journey openly)
Lola Berry - @yummololaberry (Talk about a woman living in her truth and just going for it!)
6. When do you feel that you are your most confident self?
I was once asked this question on camera during a casting and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “after a good night sleep.” This response still makes me laugh….. but it’s true! I feel most confident when I’m feeling balanced, mentally, physically and spiritually. Sticking to my day to day practices keeps my mood stable and my perspective on things clear.
7. What’s your advice to women these days on becoming “the best versions of themselves” especially with the impact that social media has on us? How do you block out the negative comments and judgement?
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again! Social media is a highlight reel of an individual’s life. (Read that again)
As someone who has been privy to behind the scenes in the fashion world and spent many hours backstage with fellow models and influencers, believe me when I say, that in most cases it’s all smoke and mirrors and even these individuals complain about the fact they feel like their putting up a front for the gram.
Next time you’re on the gram pay attention to how you feel. Are you feeling -Happy? Angry? Anxious? Insecure? By simply recognising just how much of an influence the online world is having on your mental health and self-esteem, you’re then able to take steps to change your experience.
If you find yourself playing the comparison game online, consider the following:
- Unfollow or mute Instagram accounts that are having a negative impact on your mental health.
- Follow accounts that educate and uplift your mind, body and soul.
- Consider social media detox days, or hours. I try to avoid checking my phone for the first waking hour of my day. If I find myself spending too much time on the platform, I delete it off my phone for a period of time and pay attention to how I am behaving.
- Before you open the app ask yourself, “What mindset am I going into this with and am I doing it to avoid something else?” This often impacts the experience we end up having on the platform and just how far down the insta rabbit hole we will go.
Ask yourself, “If Instagram was to come crashing down today, would I be happy with my life outside of the gram?”
Don’t let the fact that you’re going to be judged, or potentially receive negative comments stop you from shining your light and sharing online. Your content won’t relate to everyone and that is ok. As long as you’re not harming anyone by sharing your work or perspective, then the individual/s who are leaving negative comments don’t have a ground to stand on.
In the wise words of Dr Brené Brown, “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
For further tips on how to have a better relationship with the online world follow @mindfullyconnecting
8. If you could tell younger Daniela one piece of advice in regards to becoming the best you can be, what would it be and why?
Slow down and smell the roses, look up and take in the beauty surrounding you, everything is unfolding just the way it should be. Don’t ever second guess your gut feelings, because they’re always right! Your unique qualities are a blessing, so stop wasting energy on wishing them away.
Love your future self!
Find Daniela on Instagram: @danielarose930