Today we're speaking with empowerment coach, Laura at the Space, about the ways in which she is empowering women and creating a safe space where people feel seen and heard. As part of our conversation, we discuss some of the body confidence challenges she faced growing up, and Laura explains how a complete change in outlook has helped her feel positive about her body for the first time in years!
Britain Uncovered: Hi Laura! It's been a little over six months since you launched your Instagram account, and in that time you've built up a really wonderful community; and you're even now hosting your own masterclass sessions for your followers via Zoom!
Before we get into that, can we please start by asking what prompted you to launch the account, along with some of your initial goals and aspirations for the channel?
Laura: I found myself at a low point in my life last year. I was continuing cycles of self-sabotage and my relationship with my body was at its worst. I made the choice to get a life coach and in the space of a few weeks I had started to really invest in working on my thoughts and understanding my mind. It changed my life in the space of a few months.
The reason behind the name was because I really wanted to create a safe space where people felt heard, seen and less alone. I realised that if I can get from hating my body and pleasing others before myself (to the point I was unhappy most days), then I wanted to help others know they can live their lives empowered and unapologetically too!
Britain Uncovered: You provide a really varied array of content that offers advice and motivation on many different aspects of people's lives – but initially, the account seemed to have a very strong slant towards body positivity matters. How important is this as a topic to you, and would you say that body confidence is the topic your followers are most interested in?
Laura: I started the account with no real plan for the specific content I wanted to create; I just wanted it to be a space where people knew that they weren’t alone and that they can find freedom from negative thoughts. So much of what I post is relating to our thoughts and how we can change our thoughts, and that links so heavily into how we think and feel about our body. Body confidence is still something I plan to create content around and I know that for my followers it is an important topic.
Britain Uncovered: Last summer, you posted a video with the caption, “Just me in a bikini at the start of lockdown after 27 years of being conditioned to believe I couldn’t enjoy life because being in a bikini was too scary.” Would you be able to elaborate on some of your body confidence challenges over the years, and the ways in which these may have had an adverse effect on your mental health levels and/or other areas of your life?
Laura: Since I was around 14 years old, I had tried every ‘diet’ there was and struggled with how my body looked. I never felt comfortable or confident in my body. I continuously went through cycles of over exercising, undereating and shrinking my body, to then binging and back into a cycle of shaming my body.
When my son was born in 2017, I developed post-partum PTSD and it really triggered my disordered eating habits. I used food as a form of control and would stop myself from eating all day. I was really struggling as a new mum and with my PTSD symptoms getting worse, I felt like if I lost all the weight I put on during pregnancy, people would think I was okay. I, like many other women, felt that my worth was measured by how my body met desirability standards. I was completely disconnected from my body and I had absolutely no love for it and the things it was providing me.
Britain Uncovered: How you were gradually able to overcome these challenges and begin to feel more confident in your own skin again?
Laura: The first thing I did was begin therapy for six months to focus on my PTSD, and from there, I started to educate myself around my relationship with food and my body. I started to remove people from my Instagram that made me feel bad about my body. I replaced them with influencers that promote body confidence and are anti-diet culture.
I really started to change my language towards my body. Instead of saying negative things about how it looked, I practiced gratitude for how it was keeping me alive. I focused heavily on understanding my thoughts and the beliefs I had around my body. I began intuitive eating and after spending years feeling guilt and shame around food, I no longer feel that way.
I also recognise that it's okay for me to have days where I don’t ‘love’ my body. We are still so heavily fed that we need to shrink down and diet culture still exists so I forgive myself for the days that I don’t feel confident.
Britain Uncovered: The team at Britain Uncovered were really pleased to see plus-size models featured on the cover of the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, and this decision has been met with so much positive feedback from its readers. Do you think this type of approach will prove helpful in normalising body perceptions, and what else do you think the mainstream media could be doing to promote bodies of all shapes and sizes?
Laura: I loved seeing all the incredible women on the Cosmopolitan cover. They are women who I have been following on Instagram and have impacted my relationship with my body and educating me in diet culture, so it's amazing to see that they will reach more people through the magazine too.
I truly believe it should be the attitude and approach of all magazines. As well as within the media, we should be working on normalising all bodies; so that our children do not grow up in a world that makes them feel the way so many of us have felt. As a parent, the one place I hope to see more of this normalisation is in what children and teenagers are consuming through the media. I still think there is a lot of work to be done but there are so many amazing people working on normalising all bodies that I do believe we will get there.
Britain Uncovered: Over the past several months, our website has investigated the ways in which social nudity experiences can help improve people's body confidence levels. What are your views on these types of events, and do you think that being brave enough to bare all in public can prove liberating and empowering?
Laura: I would absolutely love to participate in an experience like this and I do fully believe that these sorts of events would be both empowering and liberating. I think it would also help to normalise all bodies and help us to see real bodies like our own, opposed to airbrushed and filtered bodies we are looking at through social media and other media outlets so often.
Britain Uncovered: Right after New Year, you hosted an online masterclass that was all about self love and empowering yourself, and you discussed many of the mind management tools that have got you from "playing small to playing big". Can you tell us a little more about what the event entailed, along with some of the feedback you've received from attendees?
Laura: I absolutely loved running the masterclass and having all the amazing women who attended, it was a real honour and pleasure.
It is impossible for me to give people everything I have learnt in the last year in 90 minutes, so I focused on understanding what ‘self-love’ truly is and how we can start to practice it in our daily lives. We had four exercises including visualisations to help understand what we want, who we truly are and how we can show up as our authentic self with no apologies.
I received the most amazing feedback from the masterclass and one of the women came back to me to tell me after using the worksheets and journal prompts she has seen a real shift in her language and how much love she is showing herself.
Britain Uncovered: If any of our readers would like to join you for a future session, what can they expect, and what’s the best way they can find out more?
Laura: I will be opening up 1-1 coaching as an empowerment and self love coach in March and will be running another masterclass around then too, so if anyone would like more information you can find me on Instagram.
In addition, the previous masterclass is available as a replay with all the resources, and the details are all in my highlights on Instagram.