As the upbeat music bounced around the mirror clad walls of the dance studio, my eyes drank in the rainbow of colours reflecting back at me. A dozen young girls, moving our bodies in a practised routine, wearing shiny leotards in all manner of cheery colours. Once again, my attention and thoughts focus on the silver sequinned, elasticated belts we all wore. The symbol that united us as a team.

I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.

That question back in my head AGAIN.

Why does everyone else look so good in their sequin belts? Why do I look different? Everyone else has a space for their belt to rest. Mine just clings, cutting me in half.

I look dumpy.

I feel dumpy.

My rational brain knows that I am not overweight – the leotard is fine. But as soon as that shiny belt goes on, I feel SO self-conscious. It’s a mystery to me. My body, so wrong.

Twenty-something years later, I am standing in front of a full-length mirror with Carol, my Image Training mentor. I’m learning about body shapes and the lines that our clothes make that can make all the difference to how our clothes fit and feel.

As Carol runs her wise hands down the sides of my body to demonstrate a ‘straight’ figure type, it’s like all the light bulbs in the world have lit up.

Breaking up the line of my torso with a belt will NEVER make me feel confident. Without a belt, I’m longer and leaner. A belt cuts me in two, making me appear shorter and wider.

I finally had permission to never wear a belt, ever again.

In that moment, I ditched both the belts and the ‘I’m not good enough’ story that I’d been carrying around like a dead weight since I was 12.

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