This week marks 1 year since Debz from Not So Secret Wannabe Princess started the #wearethethey hashtag in response to some moronic pop star’s body shaming remarks and (with the help of some amazing ladies and gents of all shapes and sizes) managed to get the body positivity agenda trending on Twitter and reported in the press! I like to think Debz’s campaign managed to reach some people who may have been feeling crap about their bodies and showed them beautiful, confident bodies that looked a bit like theirs.
So to celebrate and remember the success of #wearethethey we’re sharing some of the amazing stuff from the last 12 months. I haven’t really been blogging long enough to have any of my own successes or to have inspired anyone (except myself!) so I decided to share my story about life before body positivity, the impact reading body positive and plus size blogs had on my life and why I’ve tentatively decided to write my own.
As a slightly overweight child and a fat teenager I was influenced by the world around me – people I knew in real life, things I read in magazines or watched on TV. There were very few fat role models or celebrities and literally no fashion lines for anyone under the age of 30 in plus sizes. I was frequently told (both directly and indirectly) that being fat was a bad thing and by being fat I assumed I was a bad thing! I truly believed my fatness made me unattractive and less likely to find love (due to the shape of my body and the unfashionable clothes I was obliged to wear). I tried to hide my fatness from the world for as long as I could and I was devastated when someone finally noticed. My self-esteem plummeted and I began to feel worthless. I didn’t enjoy exercise (because I was berated by the teacher), I was embarrassed by my body and I found comfort in food. There will be people who know me in real life that may have thought I was confident and outgoing growing up, but most of the time I felt I was playing the part of the funny fat side-kick in order to hide the truth.
Being repeatedly told that fat=unhealthy or fat=unhappy or fat=unattractive didn’t motivate me to lose weight, it reinforced my belief that I was a failure. That I was a bad person for being fat. That my fatness would hold me back. I don’t think that kind of mindset is helpful to anyone.
Fast forward to my late 20s and early 30s – as I became a parent, I realised didn’t want my kids to grow up with the self-doubt and self-loathing I had for my body. I wanted them to love and care for their body no matter its size. I started to see women on Twitter who were fat, confident and beautiful, wearing clothes I wanted to have the confidence to wear. I then bought a dress or two that I’d seen some of these ladies wearing and then a few more (if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know how that quickly spiralled out of control!). I experimented with vintage inspired make-up and hair. I basically found a place in the world where I felt happy and confident in my own skin!
I feel so incredibly lucky to have stumbled upon so many incredible inspirational women through Twitter, Instagram and reading blogs who promote body positivity, self-love and the ability to feel worthy, beautiful and happy in a plus size body. Their presence online has been life changing for me. I suspect without finding them I’d still be looking for the miracle diet rather than actually caring for my body – and I wouldn’t own a single dress! (I shudder at the thought!). There are so many ladies who have inspired me on my own body positivity journey (some in real life or online interactions and some just through me admiring their work). In order to give them the thanks they deserve I plan to write more about them in future posts. But for now here’s a few that have really helped me – thank you, ladies!
There are literally loads of others – I could go on all day!
The obsession with fat=bad is such a damaging one. When I hear someone say “eugh, I feel so fat” I wonder what they really mean. I assume they’re talking about feeling unhappy in their skin, maybe feeling unhealthy or unfit?! Well I am fat and for the first time in my life I’m thankful that I don’t feel any of those things! I’ve ditched the diets after nearly 20 years of feeling like a failure and joined a gym in order to improve my general health, fitness, strength and wellbeing. I’ve joined gyms before and felt embarrassed about going so my attendance has dwindled. But this time around I’ve managed to sustain regular, high intensity exercise (now 3 times a week) for about 2 years – and I think it’s partly down to finding exercise I really enjoy and because for the first time I have a bit of self-love and body confidence so I’m much less self- conscious. (Read more about my exercise regime here). And guess what – I’m fitter, stronger, healthier and I’m STILL fat!!
I feel that it is so important to spread the word that all bodies are good bodies, to show that fat bodies can be happy, healthy, fit bodies and to help make bodies like mine more visible – that’s why I decided to start writing a blog about my own journey to body acceptance. Even if I’m the only person who reads my posts – they mark my own personal journey and constantly remind me that it’s OK to be me.
If you’re reading this, so are you! If sharing my story, posting pictures of pretty dresses and accepting my wavy hair helps even one person to begin to change the way they feel about themselves then it will be worthwhile. Reading blogs was enough to help me. You only get one body in this life. Look after it the best way you can – by showering it with love.
Fat does not equal bad. Fat does not equal ugly. Fat is just fat.
We are the They and we want to be heard!