Yup, you guessed it, it’s my obligatory ‘you’re body is ok’ post. With diet ads hounding every platform & the industry hacks espousing all the usual lies & misinformation. Just in case you don’t hear it anywhere else, I want to say it loud and clear; YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT.
You don’t have to work off any festive indulgence. Your liver & kidneys do all the detoxing your body requires. You can move your body in ways that you enjoy with no reference to size reduction. You don’t need an app, course or gym bro to monitor what you eat or how you live. You are wonderful and capable. Your body is incredible.
If the yearly onslaught is inducing a wobble or you are new to body acceptance here are a few basic, but effective tips.
Stop consuming anything that makes you feel bad. No, I do not mean food. You eat whatever your body needs. What you must cut is magazines, social media, films etc that give you the idea that you’re not enough. A little trickier, but important is to include people in this step. Create boundaries around weight loss/body critical talk. Enforce them. I cannot articulate how big a difference this made to my self esteem. When you are constantly bombarded with the message that there is something wrong with your size, it sinks in.
Replace all that negative chatter with joyful body positive content. Fill your feeds with happy fat people living their lives to the max. Educate yourself on fat politics. Learning how wrong the things we’re taught about fat bodies is a revelation. As is witnessing people with bodies like yours succeeding.
Explore your body. Look at yourself. Discover how you look in different clothes, in your undies, naked. Let yourself see what you like. Question what bothers you about the parts that you don’t. Practise being kind to yourself. Appreciate the magic of all that your body allows you to do. Touch yourself. Get comfortable with your softness. You will be amazed at how many aspects of your body you already already value.
Of course unlearning a lifetime of conditioning will take time & work, but these are tried & tested first steps. You are more than enough. Go forth & love yourself.
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I got an email from photobucket. Actually, I got several that I had ignore because I had more pressing issues. I should have continued pressing because opening the 12th email and clicking that link was a mistake.
Amongst page after page of self harm photos I found pictures of a girl I don’t fully remember. I don’t know why I say a girl, I was a woman. I seem more like a lost girl, though. I look like someone who wants to disappear. I was someone in the process of vanishing. Looking at those photos hurt. It’s painful to see how desperately Ill and unhappy I was. Even more agonising to realise how much the world approves of that version of me. A person who hated themselves so much they wouldn’t eat properly & spilling their blood felt reasonable. But hey, look how I thin I was.
I lost ridiculous amounts of weight in a very short time. I started with what I believed to be a very reasonable calorie restriction. A nice round number that I saw in magazines & tv shows. The weight came off quickly. People around me were pleased. I enjoyed the positive reinforcement. Everything else in my life was a disaster, I liked doing something that everyone was happy about. I also liked my discipline; how strict I could be. I began to relish the hunger pangs and how good I was at ignoring them. When the weight loss slowed I reduced the calories. I limited how many each meal could contain. I couldn’t eat before or after certain times. I filled up on Diet Coke. I had ‘fast’ days and just eat veg days. Rules piled up and weight fell off.
I did this more than once. The weight loss was never maintainable. Each time I started again I believed I would just follow a ‘healthy’ diet. Every attempt at lifestyle change descended into extreme behaviour. The only people who questioned this were the few who’d had their own food issues. I assured them I was ok. This weight loss was good for me. I wasn’t doing anything crazy, in fact I felt so much healthier. I’m sure the believed (or almost did) me because I didn’t think I was lying. I honestly thought the means justified the ends. Being fat was horrible. I was disgusting, I ate too much and it was terrible for me. Having some restraint was improving my body inside and out. I knew I was fudging the details a little, but I really didn’t think I was doing anything dangerous. I did eat. I very rarely threw up. The things left in my diet were all ‘good’ foods. The congratulations rolled in. Besides, I wasn’t even very thin.
I don’t even blame the people who did all the high fiving. They knew I had been unhappy with my bigger body. Those close to me knew how appalling my mental health was. It looked to the outside world like I was doing something good for myself. I seemed more confident, more at peace with my body. Of course we all live in diet culture. Thinner bodies are better. I understand why my weight loss was something to celebrate.
The professionals are another story. They should have known better. I was so very Ill. I was in regular contact with all manner of Drs. My self harm was out of control. I was getting stitched up multiple times a week. The blood loss was wreaking havoc. I had angina attacks, constantly passed out. No sooner was a blood transfusion in than I was working on getting it back out. I had already started to experience the problems that led to pancreatitis. They watched my weight rapidly drop. Climb back up. Then fall off again. Not a single medical professional ever thought to question that. They were the opposite of worried. I was praised. They loved seeing the change on the scale. I was explicitly told how good this shrinking was for me. I didn’t even lie about how I was doing it. I’d joke with nurses about ‘just not eating’. I explained my calorie restrictions and the extent of my diet to Drs. It was all excellent. Keep up the good work. Well, done you!
Even the mental health teams I was working with didn’t raise any alarms. We only ever talked about my weight loss in positive terms. They were glad it was helping my self esteem. There was never any in depth conversation about how I really felt, what I was doing or why. There should have been. They knew my history and my problems. There are so many links between self harm & disordered eating. Control being the most obvious. The triggers for the behaviours can be the same; shame, self hatred, feeling a failure, punishment. They can achieve similar results like a feeling of release or a sense of achievement. My self harm was compulsive and so was the weight loss. I was atoning and deleting the parts of me I despised. The only real difference between the two was how acceptable it was to want to be thin.
As I write this I recognise all the signs of an eating disorder. Yet I cannot accept that diagnosis fits. I can admit I had an unhealthy relationship with food. I know I used extreme methods to lose weight, but disordered eating is as far as I can allow myself to go. Intellectually I know why. I was never dangerously thin. In the midst of it I didn’t ever believe I was thin at all. Those old pictures were shocking because I have no recollection of being as slim as that person. I began my diets fat. Eventually I always returned to fat. That’s why no one ever considered an ED a possibility. It remains why I could never accept the label. For all my learning and activism there is an internalised fat phobia that I’m not sure I will ever shake.
I have compassion for my former self. I am angry at the people who should have helped me. I am happier in my fat body than I ever could have dreamed of in my dieting days. I don’t want to go back. Nor do I want to be smaller. I do however still hold this feeling that I have no right to talk about myself in certain ways. I feel fake. Despite knowing all that I know, I still can’t change the feeling that it wasn’t bad enough for an official title.
That realisation is painful. It hurts to know that nothing has really changed. There are people in the same situation right now. The medical community is still exceptionally fat phobic. If you are fat, disordered eating is encouraged. Prescribed, even. We’re still insisting people fall below a certain BMI before they can be referred for treatment. The fact that Drs are even using BMI is in itself horrendous. People are hurting themselves and the world loves it.
This is why body liberation is essential. It is so much deeper than loving one’s body. Weight stigma is systemic. Built right into the places we are supposed to turn to for help. Fat phobia is in us all. It is insidious and deadly. We all deserve better.
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Yesterday I did a thing that I thought I could no longer do. Let me tell you, it felt fucking awesome. For the first time in more than a decade I hit a festival and I am going to tell you all about it.
Trnsmt Festival takes place on Glasgow Green in the centre of my dear home town. Back in my day the Glasgow fest to be at was Gig on the Green. In my youth I saw Feeder, Pulp, the Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Travis and so many more on this big patch of green in the middle of the city. I loved those days of dancing, drinking and screaming out lyrics. Unfortunately, festivals had been added to the list of the things chronic illness made impossible.
Then came Trnsmt with its excellent accesible facilities and my beautiful sister with her VIP tickets. All of a sudden 41yr old, mobility impaired and pain inflicted me is back with the band(s). They put the effort in to make the festival as accessible as possible. With accommodations for hearing & sight impaired customers. Disabled viewing platforms with amazing views, accessible toilets that catered to all needs, free water taps to fill up and no queue sections at bars/vendors. There was an area for guide dogs to relax as well as a cool chill out zone for people who needed it. Blue badge parking & disabled entrance which cut the trek to the action was also available on request. Of course their were first aiders and medical assistance points. The accessible passes were easy to apply for. A quick online form, proof of PIP (if in receipt, passes were available with a short explanation of your needs without evidence) and Blue Badge number for parking were all that was required. Free companion tickets were available via the same process. I was able to enjoy the full festival experience whilst also having all my needs met. I can’t speak for everyone, but the organisers get a big round of applause from me.
As good as the accessibility was I was still grateful to have those VIP bands. The VIP area was a great staging ground for our day. We were able to sit down, eat and plan in comfort. The toilets in this area were also a huge step up from any porto loo. Extra bonus of separate VIP entrance & exit to avoid the crowds. All considered, the ticket prices aren’t that much more, I would definitely recommend. With the sun shining, music in the air and our free Prosecco in hand we headed into a day to remember.
First on our list was Wet Leg; a band my sis was dying to see. I thought I didn’t know them, but turns out they are big on Tik Tok and I already loved a few of their songs. My bestie and I thought they sounded a lot like the Riot Grrrls of our youth, but the kids were still loving them. After a cider on the grass and a lot of help getting back up again we headed to the King Tut’s stage. Comfortably seated on the viewing platform we bopped to CMAT and Self Esteem. Self Esteem was bloody good, definitely added to my Spotify likes. We could see the crowd demographic shifting to our age group as Maximo Park hit the stage for an energetic set. The cider continued to flow as we enjoyed Jimmy Eat world and then headed back to the main stage for the headliner.
The Strokes were superb. Classics mixed with newer stuff. An amusing jam whilst an amp was fixed. Some slightly odd banter and even a nod to Monty Python. I had missed the feeling of partying in a field with thousands of other people more than I knew. Watching the sun go down as your favs blast out songs you love is quite the buzz. I have so many amazing memories set to The Strokes, most of them with my sis and Pam. It was incredible to be making more with them.
The vibe at Trnsmt was just like the old days. Friendly, drunk and pleasantly raucous. I particularly loved all the body liberation on show. Folks of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages rocking whatever they wanted. All looking fabulous and giving zero fucks. I was also chuffed to discover that I haven’t lost all my party girl credentials. I can still guzzle the cider without embarrassing myself. Even better several pints and a tonne of water in, I was still able to go the entire day with visiting a loo. Anyone who has ever been to a festival (or whose every step hurts) knows that is the ultimate skill.
The day was all the better for being with my sister and best friend. They always help me without making me feel like a horrible burden. Plus of course, they are the fucking best fun ever. Here’s to accessibility and good times!
Were you taught to forgive & forget? I think forgiveness is a virtue that most children are encouraged to embrace. If like me you went to a Catholic (or any domination) school you likely had whole lessons on it. Parables, examples of Jesus forgiving all sorts of bad behaviour and even the big man himself wiping the slate clean a plenty. Forgiveness was a given.
That all feels fairly reasonable as a kid. I bought into forgiveness being the decent thing. Then of course you get older. The stakes get a little higher. The religious teaching no longer hold sway and the concept of forgiving becomes very different. It is much harder to offer absolution to people who do terrible things & cause real harm. It gets complicated. Do we forgive people who never genuinely apologise? What about those who repeat the bad? And what about the whole forgetting part? Is it wise to wipe our memories of knowledge that may well protect us in the future?
Then there are the people who will tell you that forgiveness is solely about you. You forgive the trespasses, no matter how bad because it’s how you heal. Not forgiving is carrying the toxicity with you. Many times I hear supposedly wise folk advise that forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did was ok. We do it for our own health. We can forgive and walk away. The key to our own peace is in the forgiveness.
None of that has ever made sense to me. If you remove the ‘what would Jesus do’ element (which I very much do), surely we offer pardons voluntarily? If we don’t feel remotely forgiving, why should we force it? To me, forgiveness is a two person activity. First of all, someone has to be sorry to even qualify. Secondly, they have to actually take steps to do better. Without these factors forgiveness is meaningless.
I don’t buy the forgiveness is for me spin either. It’s entirely possible to remove someone from your life without forgiving them. A person can move on without forgiving. People who hurt us don’t necessarily have to play a part in our healing journey. They don’t have to factor in our future lives at all. I do not believe that forcing myself to absolve a person I do not consider deserving of that mercy will bring anyone peace. If it feels right, it’s probably right. On the other hand, there are things in life that are unforgivable. That’s ok.
You don’t need my (or anyone else’s) permission, but if no one else has ever said it, please know you do not have to forgive. You can carry on, fix anything that person damaged, learn whatever lessons the issue presents and live a lovely life. I’ve done it. I have judged the actions of someone I once loved unforgivable. I won’t ever forgive that person. They did a heinous thing. They never offered me a satisfactory apology. Never made any effort to correct their behaviour. My refusal to discharge their wrongs hasn’t hampered me in any way. I removed them from my life. I had therapy. I had time. I took note of the signs I missed, the acts I accepted and I moved on. I don’t feel anything at all about that person now. I rarely think of them. When they occasionally come up in conjunction with other things I am unbothered. I’m good.
Forgiveness is optional. It can’t be demanded or guilted from you. Choosing not to forgive is valid. It won’t make you bitter or stunt your healing. You are allowed to build a healthy and happy life on your terms. Never mind JC. Ask yourself what you want and do that.
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What do I do when I feel crap all the time? My nails!
Absolutely love this deep red colour. I fell in love with Chanel Rouge Noir many years ago, but now go for the more ethical Barry M vegan polish. I love a bit of negative space on a manicure; it’s an easy way to accomplish a cool effect.
Last week I fancied some really bright cheery colours. This mani was fitting for Pride month. Unfortunately they didn’t survive long after a trip to the pool. Good whilst it lasted.
Finally, my attempt at impressionist type floral design. I don’t think I quite hit the water lily look, but they are lovely.
And talking of that trip to the pool, it was wonderful. My sister, my bestie and I took the little ones swimming. I am much more mobile in the water. I love being able to chase them and have a proper carry on. This time I was a shark, kraken and an octopus. Much fun was had. Outfit wise I went for cute and comfy. My beloved Pockets and Sedition palazzo pants*, slouchy tee and ‘sorry not sorry’ my old saggy boobs sans underwiring.
* Brand Ambassador. Not gifted or sponsored.
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Like many any other people I have been trying to cut down on my shopping. We’re all very aware of the impact fast fashion has on the environment. Paired with ethical issues and the fact that I simply have too many clothes it was just logical.
So, my plan was just to resist the urge to buy every cute thing I see and then leave many of them sitting in my spare room. Instead, I have been going through my multiple wardrobes & pulling out all the cool things that don’t see enough light. The things I have been buying have been from small ethical brands. These are of course more expensive, but they are also much more special.
All which brings me to Pockets and Sedition*. A small brand that creates handmade items with pockets! Their fabrics are amazing, they support worthy causes and the fit is perfect. My first order arrived this week and I am ecstatic.
This marble print is the epic and these delights go with everything. I feel amazing in these palazzo pants. Plus, I can actually fit my essentials in these pockets! I am living the dream.
I expect I will be wearing these trousers a lot. I also suspect I will be purchasing more from this brand.
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I am attempting to have a rest day, but my head is doing the anxious ‘doing nothing is not ok’ thing. So, in attempt to both rest my body and ease my mind I thought I’d do one of silly little blog rants. Come along if you fancy a vent.
Oh I know they have job a to do, but why do they need to be so troublesome? They always want to be making an appearance when I want them hidden. Constantly busying themselves with getting clogged. Try to take care of your skin with spf or a nice deep moisturiser and they will suck it up & make a big blemish. I just want soft smooth skin. Why must my pores always try to ruin it?
They’re all about ghost or too disturbing to watch. Where are all the good old fashioned crazy killer films? Or even a well made creepy monster would do. Maybe I am just old, but it feels like the only scary movies I enjoy are from the 90’s. Is this how it starts? One day pop culture is annoying me and then next I’m saying ‘in my day’ to kids on the bus? Oh god, I hope not.
I’m always complaining about this. However, this week I’m pissed off about a particular kind of fat phobia. If you’ve seen that Tik Tok clip of Bethenny Frankel saying she hates plus sizes, you might get what I’m on about. She’s not saying she hates that brands are making xl, xxl and so on. What disturbs her is what they’re named. Why can’t we name them something nicer, she posits while entirely missing the point. The issue isn’t that fat people clothes come in extra, extra large; the problem is the that people still shy away from those terms. Large isn’t bad. Super large isn’t bad. No one is suggesting we find a cuter name for XS. Continuing in the belief that accepting fat people are fat is hurtful is not ‘body positive’. It’s just entrenching the stigma. Our bodies are bigger and that is ok. Everyone can see that I’m fat whether my label says 2xl or ‘bad bitch’. I will face the same stigma & barriers regardless. The point is, the size on your clothes doesn’t matter. It gives no information about a person other than the circumference of body parts. You’re not a fat ally of you don’t understand that.
Not all of them obviously. Just the ones who think is it Tinder. Every day I get messages from men I do not know who think I exist for them to chat up. Or worse send repulsive, grammatically incorrect filth to. I honestly do not understand why they think it is ok. Nor why they think any woman is going to respond positively. There are sites designed for that shit. If you want to meet someone to date, download a dating app. The folk on there are interested in getting to know strangers. If you want to exchange explicit messages there are sites for that too. Having an Instagram account is not an invitation for any random man to crawl into my dm’s. If I don’t know you, leave me alone!
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If you’ve been with me a while you will know that I love original art on my walls. In recent weeks I have hung some magnificent additions.
My living room has gained this beautiful sketch by Robyn Boyle. It’s my nephew and I when he was still tiny. I adore everything about this. It’s so soft and perfectly captures the tenderness I felt. I particularly love that Robyn got the shape of his wee baby skull exactly right. I spent lots of time stroking that tiny head and I love having this permanent reminder.
My sexy self love wall in the bedroom has also welcomed a new portrait. It is of course my fat and lovely self. This digital sketch is by Abbie Illustrates. I’m in love with the chaos & curves of this one.
Of late I have been bothered by much of the therapy speak I see cropping up everywhere. I’ve always been slightly irritated by the therapy buzz words, but it used be reserved to certain arenas. Now it feels impossible to get away from it. Some are impenetrable, some misapplied and some a little stupid. So, come with me in a little therapy rant.
Sit with it.
The ‘it’ being emotions. I doubt there is anyone who has ever sought mental health treatment who is unfamiliar with this phrase. I have been advised to ‘sit with’ all manner of feelings. I’ve never been entirely sure what this means. Nor has any explanation ever satisfied me. Let yourself feel it makes sense if you are actively avoiding emotions. I used self harm, disordered eating and occasionally alcohol to block emotions that I wasn’t able to deal with. However, when I moved past avoidance it was still the guidance I was given. When I was ready to acknowledge and tackle those feelings I needed more. ‘Let yourself feel it’ is redundant. I am feeling it; that is the problem.
Once you are sitting in all that emotion you will often be advised ‘not to judge it’. Just feel it, they’ll say. Well, I’m sorry, that’s impossible. I have already judged it. Judging is a prerequisite for finding something problematic. The judgement is automatic. More than that, it’s involuntary. The minute I find the emotion unpalatable it has been judged. I came to the (sometimes correct) conclusion that perhaps what these therapist meant was don’t judge yourself for having that emotion. That makes sense, I can work on not attaching negative connotation to what I feel or how uncomfortable that makes me. I can even get on board with attempting not to label specific emotions intrinsically negative. I’m not convinced, but I do see how in some cases that could be fruitful. However, removing the intuitive I DO NOT LIKE THIS just doesn’t strike me as a realistic goal. If I were able to control my brain in that way, I wouldn’t have a problem.
Let it go.
Feel it and then let it go is definitely the aim. I’m not sure it actually counts as advice though. I know that getting stuck in difficult emotions is not good for me. What I need is help learning the way out if that. Restating what I should do is not helpful. I know the problem, I am here because I am looking for answers.
Many years ago when I first experienced therapy the inner child thing was kind of a joke. It never came up. Of course therapists talked about childhood experiences & being compassionate to past versions of yourself. However, a psychologist would never say the words ‘inner child’. Now it is everywhere; from woo woo spiritual healers to actual trained therapists. I’m sure it applies to some people, but it’s just not relevant to me. My inner child is a ok. I had a remarkably lovely childhood. I was loved, appreciated, supported, safe and very well taken care of. My ‘inner child’ is probably the healthiest part of me. I’m not carrying any painful scars from childhood. So, I have found it incredibly frustrating that everyone and their granny wants me to get in touch with my inner child and heal her. Even when I proffer my history and explain that my upbringing is not a problem area, I am still pressed to explore it. I don’t know how or why this happened, but I really don’t love it.
This is another one that totally has merit in the right situation. There have been times when I have been scared of touching memories and emotions that made me feel vulnerable. I did need to work through that. Being vulnerable can be frightening, but it is also necessary. I would argue that engaging in therapy is already submitting to vulnerability in many ways. The showing up is a great first step. However, the canonisation of vulnerability has gone too far. There is definitely a time and a place for vulnerability. We can’t and shouldn’t always expose weak spots. We live in a fairly brutal capitalist society and being completely honest about your vulnerabilities will not serve you in many situations. People will take advantage, they will bypass you based on their perception of that vulnerability and many folk will judge you. Still I hear professionals who really should know better urge everyone to embrace their vulnerability throughout their life. It drives me crazy; we need to protect ourselves. Let yourself be vulnerable in safe spaces only.
Am I just jaded? Or do you feel frustrated by these therapy catchphrases? Maybe you have your own therapy pet hates. I would love to know your takes.
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