Trigger warning: This post mentions previous issues around food, diet and body image. It also has a plethora of positive parts and it has a VERY happy ending and this is what I want you to take away with you. However, there are also elements which may be where you're at now, or bring up tough memories so please take care of yourself above all else and remember that you are entirely not alone, not at all, there are people (myself included) ready to listen to you should you want, need or think you could do with it.
It's been a funny year for me and my body image.
2015 has been the first year of my adult life (I'm gonna count that as thirteen years although I've probably only been effectively adulting for two of those....) where I haven't done any of the following:
> Followed a fad diet
> Actively deprived myself of food
> Skipped meals
> Taken supplements/weight loss aids/diet pills (with a view to changing how my body looks)
> Joined a gym only to leave three months later
This year has also been the first year where the following things haven't happened:
> There have been no pre-night out "NOTHING FITS ME I LOOK TERRIBLE" palavas (I've still had the odd huff because I HAVE NO CLOTHES*) *blatant lie, my apologies.
> I haven't stayed in rather than go out for fear of negative repercussions.
> I have not once physically compared myself to another woman. I have, however, admired many a banging babe without bringing myself down.
> I've eaten food with people I don't know, real food, not ordered a side dish because I worry what they think of me.
> I've looked at every photograph of myself and my first thought has been how much fun I was having at the time, rather than picking on my arms/dad chin/wonky nose.
I've felt carefree, strong and downright glorious. I took the decision to like myself and I'm so bloody glad I did.
Sadly, this is where the story takes a bit of a twist....
I took the decision to like myself.
Unfortunately, not everyone else has to.
There's a bit of an assumption that fat women are ok to be fat if they are actively trying NOT to be fat. Perverse isn't it? When you let the world know that you are confident, strong and happy just exactly how you are (Because THAT IS WHO YOU ARE) it also opens the floor for people,to be confident, strong and happy in telling you why you shouldn't be those exact things.
DISCLAIMER: This is not ALL people, MOST people have perspective, they have a recognition that your life is none of their damn business. They probably also think you're pretty hot. Because you are.
In the past when I've received criticism from people around my appearance and (heeeeeere comes the world's stupidest thing ever.....) my "health" (I live at the doctors, I'm the worlds healthiest hypochondriac, plus, ironically, any recent issues have been due to me taking slimming pills in my youth...) I've been able to respond with "Yeah, but I'm going to the gym and have eaten like seventy salads in the last hour" whilst justifying it all to myself with the knowledge that I'm also actively destroying my insides with drugs from so called "slimming clinics". Then these people go away, happy that I'm aware I don't please them and that I'm going to do something about it. ISN'T THIS ALL LAUGHABLE?!?!
Now, when faced with criticism, I merely say "I'm happy. Thank you for your concern". It feels good. It feels honest. This has really baffled some people. Women who have spent their entire lives dieting have thought twice about it, it all seems a bit silly when I'm doing everything they want to do AND having fish and chips for lunch. Friends have been overjoyed that I'm finally just being me, not a watered down me. For other people it's harder for them to get their heads round, they were happy with the watered down me, it fit in with their ideas of what "healthy" looked like and what "confident" should be.
Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
I'm staying true to myself, this is not an experiment, I am not playing at being fat and confident to upset people, I AM fat and I AM confident.
Picture c/o the glorious Murder of Goths
I can't tell anyone what to do and how to live their lives, nor would I want to (I've got all on just looking after my own life....) I'm the least "together" person I've ever met but I can tell you now, freeing up the space in my mind that pleasing other people took up has given me space for infinitely better things. Infinitely better things which you'll all know all about soon.