Leah Light – How I’m Learning To Love My Body

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Welcome to the first post in our exciting new six part Almond Breeze Summer Loving Series. This series is designed to help inspire you to be the healthiest, happiest version of yourself so we’re catching up with six inspirational gals who are all doing exactly that. We’re kicking off this series with New Zealand’s very own celebrity nail stylist and gorgeous friend of mine Leah Light. Leah is not only responsible for creating incredible nail art for the who’s who of the celebrity world (think Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Lorde) but she’s also been on a very public self love, body positivity journey that continues to inspire women around the globe. So today Leah is sharing some of her thoughts on self love and how she came to love the skin’s she in.

What started your self-love, body positivity journey? I’ve been a celebrity manicurist for years and then I went on a trip to Bali last year (2017) and had a life changing week which sparked a huge change. The defining moment of that trip was sitting by the pool with two other “influencers” and being encouraged to post a photo of myself wearing togs on Instagram. I realised I’d never posted a full body shot before, let alone one which showed my rolls and I was terrified. I don’t know why really but I suppose it was because it felt like I was letting go of any control I had over my body and I was scared about being judged. But the response to that photograph was overwhelmingly positive. People were commenting saying they loved the shot and that I looked beautiful but all I could see was my stomach rolls. It was the beginning of my self love journey and the start of sharing the real me on social media.

Would you say you love your body now? Not at all! Self love to me isn’t about loving my body the way it is. It’s actually learning to accept my body for the way it looks – there’s a very big difference. For me it’s trying to be more than just a body. It’s about seeing more than a body when I look at myself in the mirror. It’s about loving myself as a whole. Loving everything about who I am – my quirks and my personality – not just about the physical. I’m trying to accept and love what keeps me alive every day and stop looking at my body as a thing that should look a certain way. And that’s the hard part because we’ve all been conditioned to want to aspire to look a certain way and in my opinion that’s wrong.

What does self love and body positivity mean to you? It’s me trying to reach a higher level of acceptance and love for myself. It’s a journey that’s never going to be easy and never going to stop – it’s terrifying and reassuring at the same time. I know it will always be a constant battle but it’s a battle worth fighting.

Above: The Instagram photo that sparked Leah’s self love journey. The caption read: So here I am … the real me, rolls and all … trying with all my might to embrace my body and journey to #selflove the past 5 years in business and struggle of everyday life has taken a 20kg toll on this body, a toll that I have struggled with more than I can express. This is my moment to #embrace life with a new #bodypositive perspective…. here I go.

 

The self love movement comes under fire for promoting unhealthy lifestyles – what would you say about this? It’s not about that – it’s about acceptance. We all know that being morbidly obese isn’t good for your health but hating yourself for it isn’t the answer either. I’m promoting self love but I’m overweight. I still want to lose weight but that doesn’t mean I don’t love myself. I want to be the healthiest version of myself. I look at the weight I am and the strain that it puts on my body and the aches and pains I feel – my back is worse because of my weight. So I know I need to lose weight but it doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful and worthy and can’t be happy with my body the way it is. In my mind there shouldn’t be any weight or size restrictions on self love and body positivity – it’s a personal journey and we will all want to get something different out of it. As long as the focus is about love an acceptance then that’s all that really matters.

If you could change one thing about the world in relation to how women see their bodies what would it be? It’s a hard one but if there was one thing I could change it would be to stop comparing ourselves with others – comparisons are evil. Comparison truly is the thief of joy and by comparing ourselves with others we suck away any chance we have of happiness.

What’s the most inspiring piece of advice you could share about body love? The best thing I could say is to stop verbalising the negative thoughts you have about your body. The moment you speak it you give it power.

Any tips on how to feel good about your body on day’s when you’re simply not feeling it? Maybe it’s just me but when I have a little bit of a tan I definitely feel better about my body. But tanning comes with it’s own risks and that’s one of the reasons I developed my own self tanning range – Noir Tanning Solutions I basically couldn’t find what I wanted in a self-tanner so I created my own and it’s paraben free, vegan, contains no nasties and gives you a great natural-looking tan.

 

Above: Leah posted this picture of herself on Instagram with the caption: “A few months ago, I would no longer have been photographed in my swimmers than fly to the moon, but look … here I am, taking control of how I see myself 🙌🏼 don’t get me wrong it can still be difficult to switch off the voice in my head saying … no … stop … don’t post that  people will judge you and think less of you but .. screw it! It’s my body and it’s incredible!! It’s seen me through my entire life so far and every day I’m taking a step further in loving every inch of me and becoming happier than I ever thought possible just by letting go of what anyone, anywhere thinks … other than me.

 

What would you tell your 16-year-old self about body-positivity? I never looked at my body or even thought about my body until I was about 23 or 24 after I had my son. I went on the Aitkins diet for the first time in my life and I lost a few kilos and everyone was saying how amazing I looked. It was the beginning of a life-long, love-hate relationship with my body that needed to change. So all I’d say to my 16-year-old self is don’t eat all that shit cause one day it will catch up with you.

What’s the hardest thing about working in social media? The constant comparison – it’s a constant comparison game. I’m always on social media and it’s hard to not compare yourself with others. Social media often only shows everyone’s highlight reels and you can easily fall into the trap of thinking everyone’s life is better than your own. I should know better but sometimes looking from the outside in is very deceptive.

What’s the best thing about working in social media? The people I have met. I would never have met some of the amazing friends I have now and I’ve had some incredible opportunities through social media which I will always be grateful for.

Any exciting projects planned for 2018? I’ve got some really exciting projects on the horizon with both of my nail and beauty studios and my distribution business but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more soon.

 

ALMOND BREEZE POWER SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries; raspberries; or blackberries
  • 1/2 frozen medium banana
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tsp chia seeds for topping; if desired
  1. Place all ingredients besides chia seeds into blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk if smoothie is too thick. Pour into a chilled glass, sprinkle with chia seeds and extra blueberries; enjoy!

Notes

  • Feel free to add 1/2 cup greek yogurt or a scoop of protein powder if you’d like more protein in this recipe.
  • Instead of blueberries, try using raspberries or whatever berry you like best.
 
To help you get your summer glow on, Leah is giving you the chance to win a spray tan at either of her two Auckland-based Leah Light Nails & Beauty studios and a bottle of her new Noir Tanning Solutions tan extender, Enhance – total prize value $84.95.

To enter to win simply tell us in the comments why you’d like to win and click HERE to subscribe to our free Insider newsletter. By the way you can unsubscribe at any time if you change your mind – it just makes it easy for us to contact you if you win. If you’re already a subscriber then great – you only need to comment below.

Everyone who has commented and subscribed automatically goes in the draw to win. A winner will be drawn and announced here on Wednesday Friday 2 February 2018.

Good luck!

 

WINNER ANNOUNCED

Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to enter to win. We’re thrilled to announce the super lucky winner is:

Carol Church

Congrats Carol! Please email your contact details to win@thestyleinsider.co.nz to arrange your prize.

Enjoy!