When you have built a career from writing about body positivity and the importance of loving the body you have, you feel like a fraud when you can't take the advice you so often dish out. For a while now, I have been struggling with my body image, but haven't had the strength to really talk about it in full. Perhaps it's to do with the fact I feel a responsibility to always be on my A- Game, never falling foul to the oppressive beauty standards put on me by society. Or maybe it's that I'm always trying to be the role model I think all my readers deserve and that I will let everyone down if I am truly honest with how I feel. But I am human and right now I am struggling.
I look in the mirror, or at photos, or videos of myself right now and I feel disgusting, and I hate that I feel this way. When you pick apart your wedding video, focusing on the how big your arms and your chin looks, or cry when you stand in front of the mirror naked, it's time to address that there is a problem. These feelings I am having, haven't just come out of nowhere, they have been building up inside me for a long time now and even more so recently since I was subjected to a troll attack online. Getting through that and coming out the other side isn't easy. Imagine for a second, having all your darkest deepest insecurities written down for you to read, for you to savour and mop up like a bad spill on the floor. It is not easy having people tell you to die, or that you should be tied to a car and dragged along a road because of how you look (an actual thing said to me). At least before my hate was internalised and my own, now I have to deal with other people hating me and my body.
My health has been put into question more in these last 5 years of blogging than ever before in my life and after a while you start to think maybe people are right.
Will I get diabetes, will I be able to have children? Will have a heart attack and die so young like my nan did?
It plays over and over in your mind, on loop like a broken record. You can even see the concern in people around you, people who care about you. Yet I'm stuck, I'm stuck living in this body while people pick me apart, while Dr's offer me gastric bands when I say I have anxiety or can't sleep, when I'm dehumanised so much that in a fat hating forum I described as 'It' and not as a person who bleeds, cries, and feels.
This isn't meant to be a sob story, or for you all to tell me that am beautiful, because the issue is so much bigger than beauty. This also isn't, me to ignoring any personal responsibility. I know my own body and right now I don't feel comfortable. I'll be quite frank when I say this, I am unhealthy. I am unfit, my knees ache when I walk for long periods, I do get out of breath and I suffer terribly with IBS and I know exactly why, and that's because I have disordered eating, something that been really hard for me to admit. Eating disorders are presented as something that can only happen to you when you get dangerously thin, but that just isn't the case. People of all sizes suffer with eating disorders and all are deserving of the same kind of support.
I have struggled with eating my whole life, and it's been a really lonely journey. I've been on diets since I was a child, calorie counted since I was 10. I've put my fingers down my throat, taken laxatives, starved, tried every diet there is. I have tried
Throughout all the terribly shitty things that have happened to me, food has been the constant. It's gotten me through grief, abuse, loss, even love. I hate that I am tied to it, that I have an addiction to filling painful voids with food. If I were an alcoholic, as hard as it would be, I could remove alcohol from every aspect of my life, I could cut it out, never allow it in my space but you can't do that with food, it is everywhere, you need it to survive, to literally stay alive.
So what's the answer? Weight loss clubs, dieting aids, extreme exercise? All the backwards things that caused me to have the fraught relationship with my body in the first place?
Sometimes I feel so desperate like I will never fix myself fully, that life would be so much more simple if I had just been thin, not because I want to look smaller, but because of how much easier it is to navigate life. Never having to worry if you are taking up too much space. Never having to try harder to prove your abilities. Never having to constantly justify what you are eating or what you are wearing. Christ, what I would give to never have someone assume the status of my health from just looking at me., life would just be a little easier.
I chose to include photos of me wearing a Superhero tee in this post, not because I love them (because actually all I can see is how much I hate my double chin) but to actually make a statement to say I am not a superhero. I am a complex human being and I will feel up and down for the rest of my life. I will feel pressure and stress and hurt and but I will pick myself up and get on, because I refuse to let what I look like define me. I won't always like myself, and maybe you won't always like yourself but at least we are trying. At least we are trying to minimise the noise that is telling us our bodies are wrong and this goes for people of all sizes. My body may change throughout my lifetime and that is okay, my body is just a vessel. Inside is my heart, my soul, my strength and that is where my real superpowers are so are yours.