All my life I hated my body. I hated the fact that i was always bigger than all of my friends and family. That i had to shop in plus size shops or ranges in order to find nice clothes. I hated the fact that my body took up more space than others and felt a need to apologise for this fact.
Now at the age of 31, and a mother to two girls, I feel differently. So differently in fact that i feel I owe an apology to 12 year old me. The thought of my girls hating themselves at 12 years old, the way that I did, fills me with utter dread. And this is why for the first time in my life I utterly refuse to hate my body, and these are the reasons why:
Because I don’t want my girls to think that being Fat is the worst thing a person can be.
When I first began my path to body acceptance, I read a quote from the wonderful J.K. Rowling, and it has resonated with me ever since: “Is fat really the worse thing a human can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil or cruel? Not to me.” I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that reading this quote changed my life. I read this and it all just clicked… you see I am fat, but I am none of those horrid things that Rowling lists. And I want my children to understand this. For some reason, society has demonised fatness, to the point where teenage girls (and younger!), would rather be anything than fat. And that is really sad and scary.
Because I want them to understand that fat is not synonymous with lazy, ugly and unhealthy.
As I delved deeper into the world of body positivity, I began to discover this whole community of beautiful fat women (and men). Entirely different from the way that fat is portrayed in society. In fact, these women are the most hardworking, dedicated and beautiful women that I’ve ever come across. They work tirelessly for the cause of body acceptance – not just for fat people, but for the disabled, ethnic minorities, trans; in fact ALL types of marginalised groups are helped by this wonderful community of #BoPo activists. Social media has given us a voice and a platform from which to shout and right now, we’re roaring!
Oh and while we’re here let’s talk about the myth that fat people are unhealthy. Firstly, you CAN NOT assume someone’s health by looking at their outside appearances. Many fat people are healthy, many thin people are not. It’s quite simple: overweight DOES NOT equal unhealthy. It is another form of societal marginalisation to assume that because someone is fat they are unhealthy. Secondly, and on a personal level, since I discovered fat acceptance and stopped putting my body through the trauma of yo-yo dieting, I feel healthier than ever. The fog has lifted, my mind and focus are clear, my mental health is better than ever! It’s a wonderful feeling.
Because I want them to accept people for WHO they are and not WHAT they are.
It is my role as a mother to teach my girls how to be happy, successful adults, and the sooner they realise the harm in judging people based on appearances (which by the way, they already do realise!) the better they’ll be placed to become happy, healthy and successful members of society.
Furthermore, this attitude works both ways. If they don’t grow up judging others on how they look, then they’ll be free from the constraints of worrying whether their own appearance makes them any less wonderful than they actually are!
Because What is Perfect Anyway?
The problem with ‘perfection’ is that it’s unachievable. This is for two reasons. Firstly, perfection is subjective, so what is perfect to one person is completely different to what is perfect to another. Secondly, as humans, there is no such thing as perfect. We all make mistakes and we all have imperfections. And thank goodness! How boring would the world be if we didn’t? I want my girls to not strive for ‘perfection’ as they’ll always be disappointed, but instead to strive to be better versions of themselves each day. I don’t want them to think that being thin is the only goal in life! I’d much prefer them to strive for strength, happiness, laughter, success… and guess what? It’s possible to strive for all of these things, whether you are fat or thin.
Because I don’t want them to grow up around Diet Culture.
For generations young women have grown up in a world where you can never be thin enough. We watched our mothers and grandmothers on constant diets, hating the way that they look, always wanting to be thinner. This filters through to impressionable young brains, who then become indoctrinated into the culture themselves. When children grow up in an environment of crash dieting, where thin is more important than healthy, then they grow up, not only with poor food education, but also with unrealistic ideas about what signifies health and beauty.
I myself started dieting at the age of around 10 years old. Just think, my 10 year old body hadn’t even finished growing and I was already depriving it of potentially essential nutrients. Not only did I grow up to become obese (a lifetime of forced deprivation and low self esteem will do that to a person) but I also developed a whole selection of mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
As a sufferer of PCOS (a hormonal imbalance) I can’t help but wonder that if my body had been allowed to grow properly during my important teenage years, when hormones begin to surge and develop, whether I could have avoided this lifelong ailment, which by the way, has caused weight and self esteem problems well into adulthood, in some sort of cruel ironic joke.
Additionally, I don’t want my children to grow up into puppets of the multi-billion pound diet industry, one that preys on vulnerable young minds for their own financial gain. As long as I am the main influence on my girls, I will do everything in my power not to allow diet culture to have a place in my household.
Because i want them to know that they don’t have to fit into a small narrow box in order to be worthy of respect.
Every body, every single one, without exception… is worthy of respect. I would hate my girls to think that if they’re not a size zero, hourglass shaped, blonde hair, blue eyed, able bodied, middle class, tall (but not too tall) woman, then in some way they are not ‘correct’ and less worthy of love, respect and kindness. There are a very small minority of women that tick all of these boxes (And by the way, they too are worthy of respect) and yet Hollywood would have us believe that this is how women should be, and if they’re not then in some way they are lacking. Personally, I am a size 22, apple shaped, brown hair (with grey bits) green eyed, able bodied, working class, probably too tall woman… and i absolutely expect respect and kindness from everyone i meet. If i don’t receive respect from others, based on these things, then the problem is absolutely them and not me, and thank goodness I finally realise this!
Because this body gave has so far been the shell from which I’ve lead the most amazingly happy and privileged life.
And when I say privileged I don’t mean rich, just that compared to many people in this world I am extremely lucky. I mean that I’m lucky that I’m able bodied and free from disease. It’s afforded me many many happy opportunities in life that many people don’t get to experience. Sometimes I think a bit of perspective is in order in our social media, skinny obsessed world. Yes my body has ‘too much’ fat according to most people, but I had a childhood where I was free to run, play and climb trees, as an adult I’ve been able to live a healthy and happy life in this body. Why on earth would I hate it when it has been the means through which I have been able to live my life? We should love our bodies for what they allow us to do.
It’s also the body that built and nourished two wonderful little humans. Yes my stomach got fatter, my boobs got saggier and I got stretchmarks…but my body made a fricken human!
Because it makes me happy to love myself and when I am happy I am a better mother and person overall.
Since discovering that you can be both fat and happy (shock horror!) I have realised how much happiness I missed out on when I hated my body. Yes I can aim to lose weight in the future, but while I am fat, I am also entitled to be happy now. I’m no longer going to wait for the perfect moment before I allow myself to be happy. Life is far far too short for that!
Because they love me for what I am. What right do I have to hate myself for what I am not.
My girls love me because I am their mother. I’m a good mother! I am nurturing, caring, loving, encouraging, proud, funny, strict when appropriate, respectful and many other things…
What right do I have to hate myself because I am not thin?
Those are some of the reasons that as a 31 year old woman and mother of two young girls, I absolutely refuse to hate my fat body. I know that everyone has their own opinions on this issue, but when it comes to MY body and MY children, I know I am right.