When this photo was taken three months ago, I thought I would be writing a different story to the one you’re about to read.
I thought it would be a story about how I had come to the end of my journey to body positivity.
I thought I would describe to you the anger that consumed me about society’s expectations of my body for 15 years, and about how a single moment with my then three-year-old son healed me of it.
I thought I would tell you about how he reached out to pat my pregnant body and said, without intention or malice, “you have a big tummy, mummy,” and that this was when I realised that the word fat simply describes a body shape. A toddler can’t pack complex moral structures into words like fat and thin. All they can do is describe the world around them. In that moment, he took all the power out of the word ‘fat’ for me.
Don’t get me wrong, that was absolutely a moment of healing. But, it turns out, it was most definitely not the end of my positivity journey.
I have still not yet reached the nirvana of body acceptance and self love.
No. Instead, the clock struck 12 at midnight on 31 December and I found myself counting my way to 1000 calories a day for the first week of January.
Me. Smart, articulate, educated, well-versed in advertising and marketing techniques, and yet I fell for the oldest trick in the book.
“New year, new you!!”
I was caught, hook line and sinker, tricked into believing yet again that my self worth would be measured by my appearance.
Once again, I found myself howling in the shower, full of self loathing and hatred and wishing that I could be someone else or at least that I could look like someone else.
When these photos of me were taken in October, I was calm and thoughtful and filled with a sense of the beauty of all women. There was no anger in me; there hadn’t been for years.
But I’m back to anger now. I’m filled with fury. Body shaming is so insidious in our culture that I was tricked into hating myself again and that this hatred of myself was used as a tool to manipulate me into buying into diet culture.
Once again I am trying to teach myself the essential truth I’ve been writing about for years.
Fat is not bad. Thin is not good. Fat is not lazy. Thin is not industrious. Fat is not sick. Thin is not healthy.
Fat is a body shape.
Thin is a body shape.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Women are being taught to hate themselves. All of us. The fattest of us and the thinnest of us. We are fat shamed and in the next breath we are skinny-shamed.
Look at my body. Really look at it. And then sit with the knowledge that my body can not tell you my hopes or my dreams. It can not tell you what I’ve already achieved in my life and it can not tell you what lies before me.
All it can do is remind you and the world that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And if you find beauty in this photo of my body that’s because there is even greater beauty inside of you.