InBody Positivity, Real Life

Real Life Convos – Aisha AlKhaja

I am so excited to start this feature! I speak a lot about body image, body positivity, self love, and how these have all made big changes in my life. So I thought it would be great to reach out to some of the awesome women I know and get their views on the subject, too.

My first Real Life Convo is super important to me, because it’s with one of my favorite people in the world. You’ve probably seen her and her gorgeous family (fur babies included) on my instagram, and now’s your chance to meet her!

Aisha and I met when we were in our mid-twenties and since then she’s been a constant support in my life, and is always there for me, no matter what is going on in her own life. Our lives are a bit different now, (she has a family, I have plants, lol), but we still chat on a daily basis and she’s one of the first people I go to with everything. You guys are just going to LOVE her 🙂

Hi Aisha! *Waves* Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I’m a 35-year-old Emirati-British, wife and mother of a two year old boy and four fur-babies. I founded  Little Wren, a luxury online store for modern families. We launched in in September 2017, on my son’s birthday, and we moved operations to Dubai in August 2018. I’m currently balancing day-to-day life of raising a toddler and running a business.

What does body positivity mean to you?
To me, it is being comfortable within yourself and not allowing others to impact how you view yourself. Being comfortable in your own skin, basically.

I am not sure I would say that I’m totally body positive – yet. I would say that I’m more conscious of how important it is since having Lawrence, because my body changed so much. My body and metabolism changed around my mid-twenties, but having a kid really changed my body. That’s when I started to get more self-conscious and aware of the changes. I am trying to embrace them and maybe some days I do more than others, but it can be quite difficult.

Do you feel a little more pressure to look good because of social media?
Definitely. You see celebs who bounce back within a week or whatever, when in reality it’s not that easy. If you’ve grown a child in nine months, how can you expect to bounce back right away? I understand that some people do, there’s a blogger I follow called Mimi Ikonn, who exercised before and during her pregnancy. She didn’t bounce back right away, but her body went back to what it was a lot sooner than most because she was already quite fit. I wonder if all of the moms out there would admit that social media puts pressure on them to look good, and I’m sure a lot of moms out there are killing themselves to live up to the standards of social media, which is not healthy at all.

Are there many mom bloggers out there who are showing the ‘real’ side of motherhood, rather than the edited, filtered life?
I follow a few bloggers who are, like Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka. We actually stock her book and I love it. She’s posted bikini pictures where you can see that she’s got a bit of a tummy on her and she still looks amazing. I think that it is way sexier when you are true to yourself rather than standing at angles to hide your flaws. There are a few others who will be honest, admit they have stretch marks, and talk about the struggle, but I think probably 80% of them don’t, you don’t see that side of them because they don’t talk about it or what they do show you is very curated.

Did you find that growing up in a place like Dubai affected your self-esteem?
I was very skinny growing up and until my early twenties, I actually struggled to gain weight. When I was younger, it was more ‘why are you so skinny? Isn’t your mom feeding you?’. I do think there’s a lot of pressure to look good, especially in Dubai. You do grow up being told ‘You can wear whatever you want because you’re skinny,’ or ‘you shouldn’t wear that because you’re overweight’ and I do think a lot of it is to do with culture and appearance.  I think when I got to my teens, I grew very conscious of my body. My mom at one point sat me down and spoke to me about anorexia, and showed me articles in magazines about it. So it did make me very conscious because I couldn’t understand why I was unable to gain weight.

How did having Lawrence make you feel about your body?
After I gave birth, I thought ‘Oh my God, women and our bodies are incredible!’. Because it is such a trauma to go through, the pressure and strain that’s put on your body is insane. We really are amazing! But then there are days where you think ‘oh well these jeans don’t fit right, my stomach doesn’t look the same, this part of my body doesn’t look like it used to’. I always had a very flat stomach, but having a child changed that and if I’m honest, it is something that I do struggle with. I’ve got very bad stretch marks and that affects my confidence. I don’t think I’ll ever wear a bikini. Maybe in three years, I will look back and think ‘I can’t believe I said I would never wear a bikini again!’ – that’s the goal! (Aseya: Aisha and I have already decided that when I get married it will be on a beach and she will wear a bikini 🙂 )

Does you think that self esteem can impact your daily life?
Yes, I think it can, because obviously if you’re not confident in yourself it affects the clothes you wear and how you feel. I do tend to wear baggier t-shirts, which I never used to do. I’m quite self conscious about my arms, so I tend to wear longer sleeves. When I was younger, a friend of mine pointed out what he thought was loose skin on the back of my arms. I was on steroid tablets and undergoing several health tests at the time, so I had put on a bit of weight when he said that, but since then, it’s affected me, so that’s something I’m trying to work on now.

Women get pressure about their bodies from men as well as other women, and then you have celebrities like Kim Kardashian who look a certain way after two births, or Kylie Jenner, and it almost sets an impossible standard. Sometimes I wonder if this is what we are teaching men is normal for women to look like. My husband John is so supportive and he loves my body as it is, he always says ‘you’ve had a child and you’ve been through so much’. I think more men need to embrace women’s bodies in all shapes and sizes. At the end of a day, I think the sexiest thing in a man or a women is confidence and if you don’t have that, everyone’s going to pick up on that and rip you to pieces, which a lot of people are more than willing to do.

What does self care or self love look like to you? Do you have any routines or rituals?
Being a mom, I don’t have a ton of time for self care. The only thing that I kind of do for ‘me time’ where I look after myself is have a bath, put on a face mask, and just pamper myself. Which I don’t get to do very often because of Lawrence.

What about self love?
Believing in myself, not letting other’s negative views of themselves, of me, or of the world affect me. Probably trying to push away negative thoughts that stem from childhood and probably affect my confidence a lot, things I was told growing up. We tend to cling to things we’re told when we grow up. Let’s say you’re told ‘don’t wear that top because your chest is too flat’, if you’re constantly told that it becomes ingrained in you and it can be very hard to tune that out. Obviously, I have worked very hard on it in therapy and I do try to continuously work on it.

 

So, because Aisha and I are good friends, we can talk and talk and talk. This is part one of her interview, and I’ll have part two up soon! In the meantime, you can check out her store Little Wren and follow her on Instagram!

 

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