About me, Body positivity, fat acceptance, fat positivity, It me, personal

Body Talk

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A very silly picture of me I took on New Year’s Eve where I looked great and was trying to show off my ‘guns’.

Well, Happy New Year. After the long, hard, emotionally gruelling slog which was 2017, I know that I was not alone in feeling a huge sense of relief when the bells chimed at midnight on New Year’s Eve to let us know that 2018 had arrived. This isn’t to say that this year is guaranteed not to be a stinker – after all, I felt pretty positive about things this time last January too. But so far, I’ve been feeling relatively good about the state of the world and my place in it. I’ve been cooking delicious, plant based meals. I’ve been getting eight hours sleep a night. I’ve finished watching Feud, been to my first spin class of the year, started rewriting the Cattington website and even found the time to read a book. So far, so good.

That is, until it comes to bodies. As anyone with access to social media knows, January is a toxic slush of bad opinions when it comes to diet talk, exercise talk and just general blather from people who tell us that we need to forgo carbs, dairy and booze in order to become a ‘better’ person. Do you know what the first thing I saw on Instagram on Boxing Day was? An advert for a high impact exercise plan (quite offensive when you consider that the only high impact exercise I was conducting at that point was consuming all the cheese in my fridge.) Thankfully, a lot of this discourse is being counteracted by the growing ‘body positivity’ movement. While I have a few issues with ‘body positivity’- mostly because it seems to elevate voices which are white, cis, pretty, middle class and ‘acceptably fat’ – I’m still glad that it’s there fighting the good fight across my social media channels.

But it’s not easy. As someone who has long struggled with their self image, it can sometimes feel like body positivity is a magic trick performed by other people. So much of what I read about it makes it sound like the simplest thing in the world, like there’s a switch I can click in my brain which will allow me to transform all the shame and complex emotions I feel about myself into something wild, beautiful and wonderful. ‘Turn off the guilt!’ ‘Eat what you want!’ ‘Stop hating yourself!’ For those of us who aren’t quite at that point yet, who are taking baby steps towards feeling better about our bodies, this exhortation that if you feel occasionally feel bad about your body, you’re a traitor to the movement can sometimes make it feel like just another thing we’re failing at.

Sometimes I feel like being fat is an intrinsically narcissistic act. You can’t stop thinking about your body – the way it looks, the space it takes up, the clothing that you put on it – because society won’t let you stop thinking about your body. It’s always telling you that in order to fit in, you need to change yourself in some elemental way. And when you’ve been told your whole life that you are wrong, when it feels like diet culture has seeped into every nook and cranny of your being, it can just become exhausting.

I’ve been going back to this piece by Virgie Tovar a lot recently, where she discusses how hard it can be to practice self love. I like how she appreciates that it’s not an overnight process, that it can be difficult and incredibly emotionally gruelling at times. When the narrative about your body has been written by others for so long, it can be difficult to wrest back control of it and sing your own song. Appreciating your body – what it can do, how it feels, how good it looks in clothes – is a process and one which gets easier every day. Just so long as you keep putting the work in.

Because there will be bad days. Days when you go to the doctor and they’ll talk more about your weight than the actual condition you went in with. Days when you see a picture of yourself not looking your best and flinch. Days when someone will shout something abusive at you out of a car window, or snap a picture of you on their phone when all you’re trying to do is go for a fucking run in peace. On days like this, it’s OK to feel disheartened. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to rage against a world which seems to want to do everything in its power to make you feel like shit.

But then you have to pick yourself up, have a word with yourself, keep going. Some of the things which make me feel better when I’m having an off day are to surround myself with the wise, funny and fashionable community of fat babes I follow on Twitter. I might go to the gym and lift some really heavy weights or do an online yoga class (while I realise that this isn’t for everyone, I find that I always feel better about myself when I make the effort to move my body and appreciate the amazing things it can do.) I put on an outfit which I really love and wear an obnoxiously bright lipstick. I fake it – and will continue to fake it – until I make it.

Learning to love yourself isn’t easy. But I want to believe that over time it will become something I don’t even think about, as simple and effortless as putting one foot in front of the other. And on the days where it’s not, I will happy that there’s people around me who will pick me up, dust me down and tell me to keep going. Who will be with me – and you – every step of the way.  

 

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Accessories, dresses, fashion, fat acceptance, fat positivity, Marks and Spencer, Monki, Oliver Bonas, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, personal style, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, plus sized summer dresses, scarves, summer, summer dresses, what i wore

Feeling Myself

Things are still bad. But they are getting better.

I went to my wonderful hairdressers on Tuesday with the intention of getting my roots done. Seven and a half (!!) hours later, I walked out with bright turquoise hair. It is one of most daring, frivolous things I’ve ever done and I absolutely adore it. After a long year which hasn’t had many fun moments in it, doing something completely and utterly ridiculous just for myself feels remarkably liberating. It also happens to really suit me. Which helps.

Tropical

I’ve had a number of people ask me where I bought this (glorious) shirt dress from since posting this selfie. While it looks as though it should come from somewhere like Monki, it’s actually from Marks and Spencer. The print is bold and vibrant, the fit is just on the right side of generous and you’ll always get a compliment when you’re wearing it. It’s still in stock at the moment and worth every single penny of its £39.50 price tag.

Blue hair 1)

HEAD SCARF: Karen Mabon

EARRINGS: Topshop

DRESS: Monki

JACKET: ASOS Curve (old)

NECKLACE: Oliver Bonas

SANDALS: New Look

Speaking of Monki, I am 100% in love with this black t-shirt dress I purchased from them recently. I love really nice, simple, well made, just-on-the-right-side-of-baggy dresses, particularly during the summer when all you want to wear is something which circulates a nice cooling breeze around your intimate parts. I was inspired to get this after seeing it on the always radiant Bethany and listening to an illuminating discussion about sack dresses on the most recent episode of Call Your Girlfriend and wore it to go and see William Basinski when he played at the Manchester International Festival last night. While reapplying my lipstick in the bathroom, I caught sight of myself in the full length mirror and – for the first time in ages – felt 100% comfortable with the way I looked. Which is something I haven’t been able to say for a while.

Blue hair 2)

 

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fat acceptance, fat positivity, personal style, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, tattoos

Sympathetic Ink: On tattoos and fat acceptance

My most recent tattoo. Isn't she gorgeous?

My most recent tattoo. Isn’t she gorgeous?

When I got my first tattoo – a small ‘Love’ symbol on my right wrist – back in 2008, I laughed when people told me that they were addictive. ‘Nope,’ I told everyone. ‘That’s not going to happen to me. I might get one or two, but I’m not going to be one of those people with ink covering both arms.’ Cut to a fortnight ago when I decided that my left arm was ‘looking a bit bare’ and it made sense to get a fantastically fierce (and gigantic) tiger lady tattooed on it. Famous last words and all that.

It’s a massive cliché, but I love my tattoos. I have eight of them (so far) and they are as much a part of me as one of my arms or feet. They’re a map of memories on my skin – markers of my constantly evolving relationship with my body, a process that has been as challenging as it has been rewarding.

Four of my tattoos.

Four of my tattoos.

Like many people, I’ve spent a fair chunk of my life waging a war against my appearance. For most of my 20s I believed I was too unattractive, too weird and too fat for anyone to take me seriously. I will never forget logging on to a forum I frequented in 2005 to discover that some people (who I misguidedly thought were my friends) had uploaded a picture of me and were poking fun at my hair, my clothes and my size. Or the time that my ex asked me what happened to the skinny girl he fell in love with. Little things, but they stick to you like tar, making you feel lumpen and useless.

This isn’t some sob story. I’m sure that everyone reading this will have similar tales to share (after all, we live in a society that encourages us to find fault with ourselves in the smallest things.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve called a truce in the war I’d been constantly waging against myself. I don’t have the time or the energy to invest in trying to take up less space in the world. Instead, I’d much rather work on appreciating the fantastic landscape of my body – belly rolls, double chin and all.

My favourite picture of me with my rolling pin tattoo. You would never know that I'd only had four hours sleep when this picture was taken.

My favourite picture of me with my rolling pin tattoo. You would never know that I’d only had four hours sleep when this picture was taken.

I see getting tattooed as my own form of self care. It shows that I care about my body so much that I want to cover it in beautiful, interesting art that I can show off to the world. That I am proud to show off a fat body, which I am supposed to feel discomforted and shamed by. I’ve written before about my mildly antagonistic relationship with my upper arms, always believing them to be too white and too flabby. Getting them inked gave me the perfect opportunity to flaunt them and their satisfying roundness to the world. I still have days where I feel uncomfortable or anxious about how I look. But I have even more where I look in the mirror and see a super-hot, confident woman looking back at me. A woman who just happens to have a naked pin-up girl decorating her right arm.

I realise that getting tattooed is not for everyone. Good ones done by experienced artists are expensive and I’m exceptionally privileged to be able to afford mine. I am also lucky enough to work in an environment where they have never been an issue (although I do keep them covered when I have to be ‘professional.’) And whenever I’ve shown them to my parents, they’ve been met with a drama-free meh rather than a cry of you’ve brought shame upon this family!  Although my Dad did raise an eyebrow when I got a giant multi-coloured rolling pin on my right arm.

Fat positivity is expressed in a variety of different ways. Mine just happens to come in the form of signs and symbols swirling over my arms. And when people ask me what my various tattoos mean, I tell them that they mean that my body is important. My body is magnificent. My body is beautiful.

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