Model, mother and empowerment coach - Ashley James - is working with George at Asda to promote body confidence and empower women with their ‘Back to Basics’ lingerie range.
The campaign aims to encourage women to embrace their bodies, femininity and introduce body language expert’s – Adrianne Carter’s - three poses, created as a reminder to be fearless and powerful with an empowering kick-start to the day.
Ashley chats to Female First on loving herself, motherhood and embracing body changes.
You have teamed up with George at Asda’s ‘Anything but Basic’ lingerie campaign. Can you tell us a little more about this?
The campaign aim is to empower women by providing lingerie that allows 100 mph women to feel anything but basic, in their basic lingerie. By introducing new ‘Empower Poses’ we’re encouraging women to feel unapologetically confident by taking a moment in front of the mirror as an empowering kick-start to the day. Created by body language expert Adrianne Carter, the poses are designed to embrace femininity and act as a reminder to be fearless and powerful.
Being a mum has given me a greater appreciation of my body and I want to give it the love and respect it deserves. I want my child to grow up hearing only positive things about the female body. It’s hard sometimes to accept how much my body has changed through motherhood, and one thing that helps with my confidence is bright and beautiful lingerie. So, I loved the idea of being a part of an inspiring campaign, helping women come together to celebrate our femininity and bodies.
How does George at Asda’s lingerie range promote body confidence? / Does the lingerie range cater to all different shapes and sizes? And what makes this brand of underwear stand out from the crowd?
George at Asda’s lingerie range is available in sizes from 6 – 22, and bra sizes from 32B - 42F. Not only does the product range reflect the brand’s inclusivity offer, but they also constantly celebrate unfiltered bodies through their campaigns. I always see them spreading the love with fun body confident messaging across their social media channels. Getting the right fit in lingerie is so important as each body is unique, you have to find a bra that fits your body and boobs perfectly. Starting the day by putting on a nice lingerie set, can make you feel so much more confident and empowered – I don’t care if no one else see it - it gives me more of a strut in myself as I go about my day!
The campaign is also working with body language expert, Adrianne Carter, and she has created three poses to encourage body confidence. Can you tell us a little more about this?
The three poses were created by Adrianne to encourage women to incorporate them into their morning ritual as part of a simple new ‘routine’. They are based on a TED Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy about how standing or sitting in a certain way for a few minutes can give you a major uplift, which I think we all need sometimes. So, Adrianne has created these poses to help us to manifest the feelings we’d like to possess, rather than the feelings you might currently have.
The poses are:
The Flamingo - A confident pose that requires standing tall with shoulders back and the chin facing upwards, with a subtle and gentle smile. One hand is in the air making a fist, and the sole of the opposite foot is placed on the side of the knee of the other leg.
The Peacock - A pose that must have a genuine smile, where the face is closer to the camera than the body. For the body shape, one leg should be raised and curled behind the body, with the foot being held by one hand. This is a body language movement that demonstrates you are engaged and paying attention and establishes a ready-to-take-action mindset.
The Eagle - A ‘smile with your eyes’ facial expression, where the mouth is slightly open and eyes are playful. The person is turned around and looking backwards over their shoulder, with one hand on their hip. The Eagle is incredibly engaging and helps you to feel more confident and cheerful.
I posted a picture on my Instagram this week doing ‘The Flamingo’, a confident pose that shows you’re unafraid to be totally seen.
Why do you think some women feel less confident in their underwear as well as their own body?
Because we live in a world that profits from our insecurities - we always see unrealistic beauty standards and are sold a lie that happiness lies in altering your physical appearance. Feeling confident in underwear has never been encouraged as being an empowering thing to do, it’s often portrayed as ‘showing off’ or something we do ‘for men’. I don’t think we are encouraged to embrace our femininity enough in that way. Being confident in our own bodies is brave, and extremely empowering - learning to love myself and embracing my femininity allowed me to make healthier choices which had a positive impact on my work, my friendships, my relationships. I’m a better mum when I feel confident.
You are a big advocate for body confidence and portray this through social media. Why do you feel this is important to share with your audience?
I first started openly talking about body confidence when I was struggling with my own body image. I had been a model for a long time and my images would always be photoshopped to make my waist a bit smaller etc. It was having an impact on my self-esteem as it made me feel like my natural body wasn’t good enough. It also dawned on me that I was a model, and even I wanted to look like the model! We were being sold a lie. So, I made a point to ban photographers from editing my body.
Then, I developed adult acne in 2015. I’d always been praised for having good skin and it had such an impact on my self-esteem. I started using filters to cover up my blemishes, and I realised that the more I used filters and hid my perceived flaws, the more unhappy it was making me with my reality. I was paranoid about people seeing me in real life. That is when I decided enough was enough and I no longer wanted to hide and let my insecurities control me. I wanted to help other people embrace who they are. To realise that our flaws aren’t even flaws, and confidence and happiness does not come from shrinking ourselves. Especially in the postnatal months - we need to drop the narrative around weight loss. It took me a long time to realise that health and happiness has nothing to do with weight loss.
As a mother, did you struggle with body changes during and after pregnancy? If so, what did you do to overcome this?
The things I struggled with weren’t to do with the changes from an aesthetic point of view - but more from a functional point of view, and I think it really simplifies what we go through by reducing our bodies down to their weight. I struggled with confidence due to not being able to wear clothes that I liked or heels when my pelvic girdle. I struggled with confidence when my body was healing from childbirth and I was dealing with stitches, prolapse, and incontinence.
As for my body, it looked different. Almost like I was looking at someone else body. But I was proud of it and in awe of it. And whilst I had to relearn to love it and how to dress it, I realised my happiness and my worth was not dependent on the way it looked and external validation. I know from looking around that there are confident and beautiful women of all shapes and sizes. I respect my body, and I know I am worthy of love.
As women, the moment we have a baby, we are conditioned to fixate on changes to our body, rather than celebrate what our body has done. It’s funny because the truth is that I was my most unhappy when I was shrinking myself. Happiness and confidence and beauty is not a size. It's a mindset. Our ‘flaws’ aren't even flaws, it's just that society has made us believe perfectly normal things need fixing.
What advice do you have for mums, mums-to-be and women in general who may be having a hard time loving their own body or lacking self-esteem?
Don’t be so hard on yourself! We don't judge others the way we judge ourselves. I could name many sexy and confident women who are bigger than me, and many who are smaller than me. It doesn't matter what size they are. Also be patient and kind to your body. It took 9 months to grow a baby, and it takes over a year for your body to recover. My bones took a year to move back into place. Just try to recover and nourish your body with goodness and know that it’s done something amazing.
Happiness does not come from dieting - and it always sets you up to feel like a failure. Try to enjoy those precious moments. The best thing I did was put all my old clothes into storage. You don’t need to go to your wardrobe every day and be faced with clothes that don’t fit. Clothes are meant to fit your body, not the other way round. Buy some clothes that make you feel good.
I like to look at my reflection and pretend I have a magic mirror. Any negative thoughts I have, my reflection counteracts it with something positive. And, on the days my mind and my reflection bullies my body, I like to imagine what advice I would give to a friend. We wouldn’t let a friend talk to us the way we talk to ourselves. Postpartum recovery is so much more than weight loss and weight gain. Beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes lots of exciting things. I feel now that Alf is getting older and is less dependent on me, I am able to focus more on other work opportunities. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the decks and in front of your tv screens more and more now that lockdown is over, and Alf is thriving at childcare. Watch this space!
George at Asda ‘Back to Basics’ range is available now.
Written by Laura, who you can follow at @LauraJadeC20