I SAW AN OLD PHOTO
And It Got Me Thinking
The image on the left popped up in my “Facebook Memories” from 4 years ago and this thought crossed my mind: “I wish I still looked like that”. We tend to do this, don’t we… at least once you’re past the age of 18! But yes, even me, the BoPo Queen that I am, allowed that thought to flit across my mind, momentarily. But fear not – that did not last for long…
Yes it’s true, I was slimmer at this particular moment in life. A UK size 12 (although still dreamt of being a size 10). My hair had really grown long and because I was a smaller shape I was ok with not having as much volume on top and was wearing a sleeker style (my hair size has always had an intentional, proportional relationship to the size of my butt – anyone relate?) And of course there’s always the “angles”! Cassius, the photographer would probably agree that many of the shots we took that day were “unflattering”.
Back then, even though I was very much preaching that all bodies are good bodies and expressing my love for curves via my sassy dance classes, I still had a beautifully well heeled foot secretly in the “smaller bodies must be better, though” camp, after all, look at all the social prize smaller bodies get. I experience it first hand, even with slight differences in body weight, I get more attention (much of it unwanted) in a smaller body. I get more compliments, I get to feel as though I’m more visible in a smaller body, as counterintuitive as that seems.
Shonda Rimes (who wrote Grey’s Anatomy and several other tv series) said “After I lost weight, I discovered that people found me valuable. Worthy of conversation. A person one could look at. A person one could compliment. A person one could admire.” She had achieved so much before weight loss but it was only then that she felt valued.
The Image On The Right
Fast forward 4 years and this is the image on the right. I’ve learned so much about the Body Positivity movement, fat acceptance, the plight of the more marginalised bodies, privilege and intersectional feminism in the last couple of years.
My eyes have been opened to fear of fat in our society and that I too was once fat phobic, especially in myself. Internalised fat phobia is the sneakiest monster. I’ve learned that it’s not enough to pay lip service to Body Positivity in one breath and then push healthism in the next: “Well, it’s ok to be curvy as long as you’re healthy!” (Body Positivity shouldn’t exclude anyone even if they are “unhealthy”.)
I’ve learned that nothing gets my goat more than diet talk: talk of calories in vs calories out; demonising food groups; berating yourself when you fail to resist eating something wonderfully yummy. I’ve learned how messed up and how pervasive diet culture is and how normalised dangerous eating patterns have become (cheat meal, anyone?) I’ve realised that on the whole, when people say they do certain things for “health benefits” really they mean for aesthetics – would they still engage in these “healthy” activities if weight gain (fat) was a given? I’ve learned that there are many many reasons why people put on weight: depression, medication, chronic illness, socioeconomic conditions, inflammation in the body and the stress of living in a society which oppresses larger bodies… not just gluttony as many believe.
Then I Remembered
All of these things I’ve learned flooded my mind in one moment, immediately after my initial “knee-jerk” thought. I remembered that I had already mourned the thin ideal. Since this photo was taken I’ve put on weight and I’m ok with that. The reasons don’t matter.
I’m in a bigger body.
It does not mean I’m any less of a human for not taking up less space (is that a quadruple negative?).
The point of me telling you this and showing you my photos is because you reading this may have also been in a similar situation where you’re now bigger than you were and you berate yourself for it, because what will people think? You’re not alone. You might currently be on a diet (or having made some “healthy lifestyle changes” which you’re struggling to maintain – because in reality it’s still a diet) trying to shift those stubborn last 20lbs!
(Incidentally, if this is the case you may have found your current set point weight – a range of about 10lbs in either direction where the body likes to be, determined by hormones, hunger, behavior changes, and other physiological mechanisms which “defend” this certain range of body weight. Why fight your body hen it’s happy where it is?)
Join Me For Social Change
If anything I have said resonates with you please know t’s not me, or you, or him, or her who needs to change, it’s society: the society which we all contribute to (sociologically). It’s time to stop contributing to the negative aspects. It’s time for us, for society to change. Be a part of that change and say “no more” to Diet Culture.
Oh and join me for some sassy, empowering dance classes designed to help you feel fabulous (because you already are fabulous) and which have no sneaky ulterior motives such as calorie burning or step accumulation, just pure, unadulterated joy in the movement… Shameless plug:
STRUT STRIPPED BACK
This Saturday (17th Feb), Jacksons Lane, Highgate, 1-4pm
It’s the Alternative “Love Yo’Self” Valentine’s Edition so give yourself the gift of self acceptance this February.STRUT STRIPPED BACK TICKETS
WATCH THE ADVERT: