I was always uncomfortable with showing off my body. Even now I struggle with it, but I am beginning to become more comfortable, stereotypically, as I enter my late 20s. Things like having hair on my legs and wearing ankle pants no longer bother me as it used to when I was a teenager.
Being body conscious included finding clothing styles that hid certain parts of my body, meaning that I would wear over-sized and loose-fitting clothes that did nothing for my body-shape except make me look larger and broader (I have really broad shoulders, am curvy and 5'8"). Its not that I hated my body shape or that I hated the parts of the body I would try to hide, it was that I was not comfortable with showing my body and its curves. In comparison to my other 3 sisters, I am also the most conservative with my clothing choices in terms of showing off skin or body-shape.
This included not wearing shorts, or showing my legs even when I wore dresses, not wearing tank-tops or low-cut necks or fitted tops and I definitely never showed my butt or my inner-thighs. Spring was difficult but Summer was worse. To make things even worse I also get really bad in-grown hairs on my legs which cause scarring, so when I got comfortable with the idea of showing off my bare legs I was (and sometimes still am) conscious about the scars on my legs.
I guess the big missing piece is how did I become so body conscious? The first, is understanding that even though I am born and raised in Canada to very liberal and forward-thinking parents I remain to participate and be shaped by the South Asian diaspora, meaning that I am a supposed "Third Culture Kid" (the first culture being the one from my parent's country of origin, in this case India, the second culture being the one I am born in, in this case Canada, and the third culture being an amalgamation of the two). Like I stated before and I reiterate again, my parents are very liberal, but the term "liberal" is subjective. It took them a while to get used to a lot of concepts and to let go of a lot of cultural things that did not make sense for us to uphold. While my parents have never told me what I could and could not wear, we still operated in a micro-community of South Asians that held certain beliefs regarding the female body and "appropriate" clothing and body language. So although this messaging did not occur in my own household, it happened at the temple, in the films, at family gatherings and other modes. This made me very conscious about my body. This was all on top of the unrealistic body expectations placed on girls and women by western media.
The second is understanding how my teenage years shaped my body confidence. When I was in grade 8 I was 5'6" and weighed 100 pounds. I was very skinny but I had always been so. That summer after a trip in India I contracted parasites, which meant that my body got used to eating large amounts without having any of it stick. Once I sorted it out my body wanted to continue eating at the same amounts, however, my metabolism wasn't fast enough. This meant that I gained around 10 pounds every year of high school ending up at 5'8" and 145 pounds. This is by no means an un-healthy weight but it was not something I was comfortable with. This is where I developed the ways in which to hide my body shape and parts of my I was uncomfortable with.
Fast forward about 10 years and I can say that I am finally getting to be comfortable with my body. I can now change in front of my sisters (something I never did even when they did), I have even started wearing more fitted clothes including crop tops and shorts. It was a matter of finding my own comfort level. I always feel good in knowing that I dress up for myself and this included makeup and everything else and if I am still not comfortable with it I am not going to be wearing it no matter how many people and who tells me that I look good in it. Getting comfortable in your own skin is a struggle for some, but once you get there for yourself and for the right reasons it doesn't matter what your body looks like because its about what you feel.
Jean top: Forever 21, similar here
Crop top: Forever 21, similar here
Trousers: H&M, similar here
Shoes: Urban Outfitters, similar here