Being Fat Isn’t the Worst Thing a Person Can Be, Y’unno | #ThisGirlEats

There’s a disturbing narrative that exists today, and we just can’t seem to shake it. It’s simple, really: Fat = Bad. It’s everywhere; we see with advertising selling us slimming products, the press fat-shaming celebrities, and people bombarding social media with before vs. after photos. No matter where we might find it, the message is always the same – being fat is the worst thing you can be.

And I’m so sick of it.

My most recent encounter with this was watching the latest TV ad for Weight Watchers. I can’t remember the exact words and, annoyingly, can’t find the advert anywhere online, but I distinctly remember the spokeswoman telling people to sign up on the basis that it will make them a “better version of themselves” – come to think of it, she might’ve even said the best version of yourself.

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Weight Watchers: Wellness that Works (umm…)

Because apparently, thinner ALWAYS equals better.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, especially when it’s affecting your health and you think you could be in better shape; hell, I could stand to lose a few pounds myself! But the idea that being slimmer automatically makes you a better person – and, in turn, being bigger somehow detracts from you as an overall human being – is total bullshit.

Not only is it a load of rubbish, but it’s incredibly damaging. Pushing the “fat = bad, thin = good” narrative is bound to have a negative impact, particularly where eating disorders and mental health are concerned. Imagine telling someone with anorexia, for example, that being the thinnest version of themselves makes them the best version of themselves. Or how this could easily recycle that feeling of guilt in someone with bulimia to the point that they experience dangerous symptoms such as binging and purging. It seems so obviously dangerous to me in this context, I’m amazed we allow it to continue.

It’s clearly designed to make us feel terrible about ourselves. Telling us that we’re better when we’re thinner makes those of us whose bodies don’t fit these very particular – and sometimes unobtainable – specifications feel worthless, unattractive and uncomfortable in our own skin. It also strips us of our identities as people; it ignores all other aspects of our personalities and achievements, reducing how we measure up on the “good vs. bad scale” to nothing more than our weight.

I look at photos of myself from a few years back, before I gained the weight I now carry around with me (mostly in my lil’ tummy pooch), and sometimes I’m swept up in that narrative. I look at photos like the one below and think, “Wow, how did I let this version of myself slip away?!” And literally the ONLY reason I think that is because I’m thinner in those photos. That’s it. It’s not based on where I was at that point in my life, or how happy I was, or what I’d achieved. It’s because I was thinner – so I must’ve been better, right?

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NO, SAM! Of course not! That’s just such a ridiculous notion, I can’t believe I bought it for even a second! I look at what’s happened in my life since those photos and almost laugh at how absurd I’m being when I think I’m worse off now simply because of my weight. I’ve achieved bucket loads since then; I’m in a happy, committed relationship, moved out, learnt to drive, started (and ended!) my own music publication, created my blog and worked my way up to my dream job. I’m more accomplished, level-headed, hard-working, ambitious, sociable and confident than the person in that photo. I’m more comfortable with my body and appearance than I’ve ever been, regardless of my size.

I’m a better person for so, so many reasons right now, and it all has absolutely zilch to do with my weight.

I’m lucky enough that I can see that, despite falling down the rabbit hole every now and again. But all the while we give into this narrative that being fat is the worst thing you can be, and the only way to make yourself a better person is to lose weight, then this narrative will continue to win and companies like Weight Watchers will keep making these shitty adverts.

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5 Things I Do Every Day to Help Me Love Myself | #ThisGirlEats

It might not look like much, but I try my best to do these five things every day because they genuinely push me to bring out my positive side.

We all know that learning to love yourself is a tough journey, but doing just a lil’ something every day towards achieving that is a step in the right direction.

1. Reflect – literally!

It’s not always fun, but I make sure I look in the mirror every damn day. I stand there, even if it’s just for a few seconds before bed or a quick check before I rush out of the house before work, and look at myself.

I do it because it’s a practise. It takes discipline, after years of abusively picking apart my reflection, to stand in front of the mirror and appreciate what is staring back at me. I might not be head over heels in love with it every day – let’s be real, who is?! – but I always take a moment to look at every lump and bump, every freckle, every stretch mark, think positive thoughts and shove that inner saboteur (thanks RuPaul 😉) out of my mind.

2. Tidy space, tidy mind.

If you’ve ever surprised me with an unexpected visit to my flat, you might not believe this next one. But I genuinely do feel that – when I’ve got the time! – having a neat, clean, tidy environment helps me thrive creatively and keep a clear head.

It’s hard to keep on top of chores and no-one wants to waste their free time doing housework, myself included. But I do make a conscious effort to do some kind of tidying up every day. Even something simple like finally getting to the bottom of the washing up, clearing away long-lost clutter, putting laundry away instead of just letting it pile up.. the list is, unfortunately, endless. But just doing a little something to organise my home really feels like I’ve got my shit together.

3. Make a list, check it twice.

I find lists incredibly therapeutic. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I always write down whatever’s on my mind in a list that I can tackle bit by bit. It makes things feel more manageable and gives me a chance to stop suffocating and start breathing again.

The one list I check every single day is my ‘2019 GOALS’ list. It’s got several broad, open-ended goals – “Improve blog content and engagement”, “Learn to love yourself and your body” and “Save money and get out of your overdraft“, for example – to achieve this year. Every night, before bed, I ask myself what I’ve done that day to help towards any one of those bullet points. As long as I’ve helped myself get one step – even a teeny tiny baby step – closer to any one of those goals, I feel like I’ve done a good job for the day.

My '2019 GOALS' list
My ‘2019 GOALS’ list

4. Smile for the camera.

It sounds very stereotypical of the social media selfie generation but I do try, as much as possible, to take photos of myself. I know that makes me sound very “millennial” but it’s really not ’bout that – it ain’t all full face paint and insta model, let me tell ya!

The reason for this is to make sure I step up and be seen every day. It’s easy to let yourself fade into the background and shy away, especially if you’re introverted like me. But if you force yourself to point the camera in front of your face every day it means you have no choice but to really look at yourself. I don’t often do anything with these photos, they’re not necessarily for anyone else to see, but I can flick back through them anytime as a reminder of each day. I try to take photos of me, for me, as much as I can.

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5. Make friends with food.

Girl, if I could count the hours I wasted stressing over what I ate… Well, I can’t find a funny way to finish that sentence but, trust me, it’s A LOT.

It’s been a long, long, loooong process, but these days I try to make food my friend instead of my enemy. It’s not always easy, and I definitely hear that lil’ devil creeping up on my shoulder trying to dupe me into feeling guilty, worried or anxious when I’m eating – that bitch just won’t back off! But I can honestly say that forcing my negative thoughts to change track when it comes to food has brought me closer than I’ve ever been to loving and accepting myself. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

 

 

Healing My Unhealthy Relationship with Food | #ThisGirlEats

Me and food, we’ve got a love-hate relationship. Sometimes it’s my best friend, sometimes it’s my enemy. The problem is, no matter how unhealthy my relationship with food might be, I need it to, y’unno, stay alive. That’s the bottom line, right?

I’ve got an ongoing battle between my love of food and the issues it causes me when it comes to weight, body image and self-consciousness. It’s something I’ve never known how to overcome and, truthfully, never thought I could.

But lately something has changed. I don’t know if it’s the conscious effort I’ve been spending on positive self-image, the incredible body positive women I follow online, or just the fact that I’ve coloured my hair recently and it looks great (not even gonna lie). We all know that when a gal changes her hair some serious shit is going down!

Pink and purple hair

Point is, even though I’m probably at my biggest right now, have stretch marks all over my body and took an incredibly lax approach to shaving my legs this winter, I have been feeling so much more positive about myself, my body and my relationship with food. My mind is like a sat nav, healing my deep-rooted problems with food and rerouting itself down a much better path.

I think this revelation started when I read Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Eat Up’ last summer. It made me start to listen to my body and really enjoy food instead of always fighting against it – you can read more about my thoughts on the book here.

Since then, I’ve definitely realised how negative it is to think some foods are “bad” and that I should feel “guilty” for eating, and that really made a difference.

For example, when me and my boyfriend go out to eat now it’s not about feeling bad for the three-course meal we’ve devoured and how we have to pop open the top button on our jeans on the car ride home. It’s about the quality time we spent together; the laughs we had trying to order items from the menu we couldn’t pronounce, the ideas we came up with for the future while dipping dough balls into garlic butter, the holiday we planned over a margherita pizza, the content quiet between us as we savoured delectable, sweet spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream.

Pizza Express margherita pizza
Pizza Express margherita pizza

It’s about getting out of the house and enjoying what life has to offer. It’s about loving food and company and conversation. It’s about caring for ourselves and nourishing our bodies, minds and souls. It’s about looking after relationships with each other, with ourselves, with food.

I currently have the healthiest view of food and myself that I’ve had in a long, long time. I don’t really know how it happened, or why it’s happening right now. But it is, and I’m happy.

Cosmo’s Plus-Sized Cover Doesn’t Glorify Obesity | #ThisGirlEats

The latest issue of women’s magazine Cosmopolitan UK has been causing quite a stir, with plus-sized model Tess Holliday storming the cover in a gorgeous emerald body suit, sultry auburn hair and kick-ass tattoos. She looks fantastic, but the main talking point of her photoshoot has, of course, been her size.

That’s not unexpected; this month’s Cosmo is deliberately provocative, to show that a plus-sized model has as much a place in our fashion mags as anyone else and to get us talking about it. But what has really sparked a social media storm is this: do models like Tess are glorify obesity? Take this tweet from the infuriating obnoxious irritating television presenter Piers Morgan:

Let’s get one thing straight: magazine covers like this won’t make anyone want to be obese. Sure, Tess looks freakin’ incredible but, even so, this is highly unlikely to make anyone think, “oh gosh, I’d really LOVE to be overweight!

And there’s a very simple reason for that. We, as a society, totally snub plus-sized women. The name calling and bullying, the feeling of shame, the being looked down upon, the assumptions (lazy, greedy, poor hygiene, etc.), being deemed unattractive, unwanted and undesirable… who in their right mind would voluntarily sign up for all that?!

As Stephanie Yeboah and Jameela Jamil both point out, larger men with “plus-sized” figures have been featured time and time again on magazine covers, but not once is that up for discussion. No-one questions if they’re unhealthy role models for young people, people aren’t up in arms about them glorying obesity. Is it only women for whom being overweight is bad? Are obese men somehow exempt from the obesity crisis? Once again, we’re left with one rule for men and another for women.

Tess’ Cosmo cover isn’t telling people to go put on weight, or that being overweight is aspirational. It’s showing the world that other bodies do exist, and they deserve love and attention too. It doesn’t say that anyone should be this weight, it just says that every body is beautiful. It’s meant to make us feel good, feel like we can love ourselves instead of putting ourselves – and our bodies – down. It’s body positivity, and lord knows we could do with more of that!