Image Credit: Cara Alwill Leyba
This is the first book I’ve read by Cara Alwill Leyba, who has seven other titles to her name. “Like She Owns the Place” is her offering on unlocking the secret of lasting confidence.
What does it mean to accept yourself?
I have often grappled with this question and Cara herself admits “I used to think accepting myself was a form of giving up. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that if I accepted my body, it meant giving up on being healthy. I thought if I accepted my personal best rather than frantically striving for perfection, I would no longer produce quality work. I thought if I owned my flaws, I would somehow let myself go” Sound familiar? I can really relate to this conflict. She continues; “I did not understand that I could truly love and embrace myself, and be confident, while simultaneously building a better version of myself.”
I suspect this internal conflict is born from a place of fear. Fear of failure and not being accepted. Many of us have been conditioned by fear, socially and culturally. From a young age, women especially, receive constant messages that we are not enough. And as much as we are now waking up to these messages (aka bullshit) we have been fed, we are left confused when we want to better ourselves. Fear may have caused us to stay in a shitty job/relationship or (fill in your own blank) but when we make a concerted effort to stop making our choices based on fear, confusion can swoop in to take its place. Ultimately that is what this book is about; moving you away from fear based decision making and more towards decisions that are in tune with who you are and then owning those choices.
Rather than a 'how to' guide on gaining confidence, Cara appreciates that true acceptance and confidence comes from within and so her personal journey to lasting confidence might not work for you.
A poignant move for Cara in what she describes as “showing up as her true self” was dying her hair bubblegum pink. It was about making a bold choice that felt right to her. Does this mean we should all endeavour to do something equally bold? Absolutely not, and Cara doesn’t want you to imitate her or anyone else’s version of “uncorking your truest self”. It must work for YOU. I think this is an important point to remember as body positivity means we thankfully are seeing more diversity across the media we consume. This obviously is a welcome move and there is no denying seeing truer representation can serve as a vital catalyst to loving and accepting yourself. It can be a source of admiration and inspiration. But does it provide you with an automatic gateway to loving yourself? Not necessarily. Lasting confidence is all about the internal work and this book offers some interesting ways of accessing that. They include throwing away your work goals by making your overall wellbeing a priority. Swapping your vision board for a “happiness board” and to stop apologising. Even for the mindless, apparently inconsequential apologies. ESPECIALLY those ones. So, for those who do this too often and for EVERY British reader I offer the following excerpt:
“Here are a few scenarios where you can use a new phrase rather than “I’m sorry”.
If you accidentally bump into someone. Rather than say “I’m sorry,” say “Pardon me.”
When responding late to an email. Rather than say “I’m sorry for taking so long,” say “Thanks for your patience while I took a few days to respond.”
When you’re following up with someone. Rather than say “I’m sorry for following up,” simply say, “I’m following up.”
When you’re expressing how you feel. Rather than say “I’m sorry, but this is how I feel,” drop the sorry and simply say, “I feel…”
The main message from this book is not relying on anything outside of yourself to give you that sense of confidence. Anything. Even your career. As someone who habitually attaches their worth to their career this is something I am personally working on.
And perhaps that’s why I find her Instagram page to be problematic and at odds with her message. Her Instagram is heavily focused on exercise and weight loss. Cara is very honest about her difficult relationship with food and eating, so on one hand, fair play. The book is all about “the ability to expose yourself, flaws and all” but her message is also about loving yourself internally and embracing every aspect of yourself. So I question that. I don’t think this is about there being a right or wrong answer. Burgeoning female empowerment is asking questions of us all, but I wonder how much are you really loving every aspect of yourself if you are on an endless pursuit to change your outer shell? How empowered can you be if you are putting so much emphasis on changing your appearance. Laura Thomas PhD quotes Beauty Redefined in her book “Just Eat It.”
"If your idea of empowerment is indistinguishable from the sexist objectification that has always been used to devalue and degrade women, it might not be all that revolutionary"
I respect that it’s a personal choice but for me the jury is still out.
Meet Our Contributor
Tuesday Hope is an actress and writer.
Her first short film Same Mistakes, is about a woman confronting her anxiety issues for the first time, whilst also dealing with the intricacies of modern day booty calls. Tuesday starred in it along with actress Kelby Keenan. The short is currently in post production.
Originally from Yorkshire, Tuesday moved to London after gaining a place at The Arts Educational School of Acting and has been working across commercials and voiceovers since graduating.
Newcastle United supporter, semi-dedicated book club attendee, occasional brow model, currently living in East London contemplating the commitments that come with adopting a house rabbit.