To the Wee Girl I used to be...
To the wee girl I used to be:
you’re not too fat for Topshop
the alarms will not go off when you’re slightly larger body walks in to a shop
larger ladies showing their skin are not giving other large people a bad reputation.
you are not too big for a bikini.
you do not have to wear black to slim down.
you do not have to wear something that’s always flattering.
you don’t have to hide your appetite.
you don’t have to be small to be beautiful.
you don’t have to be small to be loved, worthy or valuable.
I heard all of these from the age of about, furthermore I believed them and still have them haunt me now at 28.
Growing up in the nineties the “fashionable body” was super model skinny. Now don’t get me wrong, models like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell are fecking beautiful but let’s be serious, their shape is not what the other 99% of women are going to have, is it?
What’s your point Andi…
The Body Positivity Movement.
It’s become a bit of a bone of contention recently with there being some clashing opinions at both sides of the argument. Remember when Tess Halliday was the cover girl of Cosmopolitan (https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/fashion/a22872539/tess-holliday-cosmopolitan-magazine-cover-uk/) or when Nike introduced plus size models (https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/london-nike-mannequins-scli-intl/index.html)
There were famous names like Piers Morgan, and others (White, middle aged men mainly - but we’ll leave that for another day shall we?!) claiming it was promoting obesity. But then on the other side there were women ALL OVER THE WORLD cheering!
And here’s why they were cheering. For, what felt like, the first time being a larger lady was socially accepted. It was okay to be bigger and feel like a goddess - because do you know what all women are bloody goddess’ no matter their size! Yes there had been bigger women on the telly or even winning competitions like Michelle McManus, but they were very token and their weight was ALWAYS discussed.
So when Tess Halliday was on the front cover of a huge magazine it was almost like a lightbulb went off and women realised that it was okay to be bigger, as long as you liked yourself nothing else mattered. When Nike used plus sized mannequins it was like, a LONG awaited, “come in to this store, you’re welcome too”.
HALLE- FUCKING -LUJAH!
So why do I care ?
Having been obese most of my life (thanks BMI *rolls eyes*) all of those statements above have been ingrained into my psyche FROM ALL ANGLES.
From the strong, beautiful women I grew up around believing and repeating them, the magazines and the books I read, the films and TV I watched (remember biggest loser?!) and the general attitude to being fat (especially in the nineties!). I was taught to quite literally HATE MY BODY because it wasn’t small and didn’t meet some made up body ideal.
This hatred has followed me into my adult life and has restricted it, framed my thinking and quite frankly haunted me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know the risks of obesity. I’ve been told every time I go to the doctors that I’m at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, dodgy joints, cancer the list goes on! I understand completely that my food choices can negatively impact my health overall.
HOWEVER, having been on the diet industry wheel for the best part of 24 years (yes my first diet, or recollection of dieting was at 4 years old!) Do you know what else is bad for me?
The mental pressure of losing weight, the guilt when I have a slice of cake instead of a bloody peach, the social phobia of walking into a place because I may be slightly overweight, the anxiety of trying to count calories, syns and points, the fear of not being accepted because I’m not a size 6 (I don’t even think a singular thigh is a size 6!).
So this is why the body positivity movement is NEEDED in our society. It isn’t about being anti health or eating cake in spite of someone telling me it will take me over my calories, it isn’t about being anti weight loss.
It is about loving yourself - from the inside out! Accepting yourself and realising you are much more than the sack of skin that hangs around your organs no matter how large or small that sack is!
It is about learning to forget about those statements, above, and learning that you can be beautiful no matter what shape you are and protecting yourself from other people’s preconceived ideas about what looks good.
And this, this is health!
When our body and our brains are working in sync with each other. That will look different for every person, some people love to get hench and when they’re at their peak they feel best, for others it’s when they’re a bit more cuddly and curvy. That is what body positivity is - choosing where you feel best about yourself. When your brain and body are at a happy equilibrium.
For me? I’m not at the body positivity place yet, I am very much at the bottom of the body acceptance mountain, taking baby steps everyday. I’m, also, not sure where my equilibrium is, but do you know what I am sure about?
The wee girl from the nineties, she’s beginning to heal. She’s beginning to forget the “rules” she learned as a youngster and that is thanks to the body positivity movement.
So here’s to all of us who are healing, those who are healed and those of us who aren’t ready to get off the diet wheel yet - we’ll get there and the world will keep getting better too.
If you’re looking for some STAND OUT women to follow, who are much more eloquent and well read when it comes to body positivity I recommend you follow these queens on Instagram, @selfloveliv @fullerfigurefullerbust @emilyclarkson @lottiedrynan @thebaglifeofbeck
Stand tall you absolute queens!