What red face? Battling insecurities and barriers to being active

Date: 25 June 2020   Author: Energise Me

Insecurities can stop us doing all kinds of things. For many women, fear of judgement is the biggest barrier to being active. So when Charlotte, our Project Support Intern, told us her story we asked if we could share it because we’re pretty sure she’s not alone.

I was a very active child. I did swimming lessons, karate, golf lessons and went on hikes and activity holidays. I spent lots of my spare time riding my bike, kicking a ball around or playing frisbee with my brother. I didn’t have a care in the world.


Becoming self-conscious

Around the time I moved to high school, I started becoming more self-conscious. For me, my insecurity was my face. I have a naturally very red face. When I laugh too hard, I go red. When I’m hot or too much attention is on me, I go red. And, when I do even the slightest amount of exercise, I go very, very RED!

As I became more aware of it, and more kids at school pointed it out and laughed, I felt more and more ashamed. I gradually stopped doing all the sports and activities that I loved because I was too embarrassed. It made me feel so miserable, but I just didn’t want anyone to see me.

I started getting a bit more active again when I discovered that covering my face with foundation would conceal the colour, but that was only a temporary solution. It actually made matters worse because it made my skin really unhealthy and I became insecure about that too! In the end, I was much less active and unlikely to even leave the house without wearing my foundation armour.

Nobody commented on my redness and I have never felt prouder than when I walked out of that room. At each personal landmark, I would tell those few incredible friends about my achievements, and they would tell me about theirs.

Making a (very slow and steady) change...

I spent so much of my time wishing that I was just ‘normal’ like everyone else. It took me years to realise I was being ridiculous; what’s the point in wishing for change without even trying to do something about it?

It was my friends that eventually sparked my drive for action. I finally opened up to a few close friends about my insecurities and they told me about theirs. They taught me that it is ‘normal’ to be insecure about things, and most of the time nobody else even notices them! This was my internal battle, and only I could fight it.

I gradually started to wear thinner layers of makeup. I got back into swimming regularly because my face was mostly in the water, and went to a lot of spin classes where the instructors turned the lights down. Eventually, I went to my first ever bright, mirror-walled gym class without any makeup on. Nobody commented on my redness and I have never felt prouder than when I walked out of that room. At each personal landmark, I would tell those few incredible friends about my achievements, and they would tell me about theirs.

I have found every step really difficult and frankly terrifying. I am definitely still fighting my internal battle. I’m still conscious of my face, and don’t enjoy feeling looked at, but I try to no longer let it stand in the way of doing the things I love. I hope that one day, with continued determination, openness and support, I’ll yet again not have a care in the world.


Defeating your barriers to physical activity


  • If you want to do something but feel you can’t, identify what’s stopping you!
  • If you feel comfortable, tell someone about it. They can act as a support or a sounding board, and may even need help to battle their own demons.
  • Be strong and open to new ways YOU can take action! Taking the first step is the hardest and, while others can support you, only you can make the change.
  • Find a process that works for you. Some of my friends preferred the ‘cold turkey’ approach, made changes immediately and coped with the outcome. I’m taking a slow and steady approach. Take steps you feel comfortable with.
  • Stick with it! At times it can feel like you’re going backwards; be persistent and believe in yourself!

Take a look at the This Girl Can website for more inspiration on tackling the fear of judgement.

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