Yesterday, I received a few comments on Instagram about my weight. The wonderful person (a stranger, not even a follower) chose this particular photo to abuse me on.
There are plenty of other photos on my social media accounts that show me as I am, less flattering photos that contain double chins, a flabby stomach, and, gasp, even me eating! I’m pretty sure the commenter in question was just trying to get a rise out of me, for no reason other than that they thought they could. They were disappointed.
I am what I like to call a bigger lady. I’m a size 14-16 (UK). I like to wear extra-large men’s shirts over leggings, because I’m short and they fit me how I like. My weight is higher than it should be, for my height, my health. But you know what? I really couldn’t give a shit.
Growing up, I was fat-shamed on an almost daily basis, by an abusive family member. I was not fat, but even if I was, nobody deserves to hear some of the things I had to put up with. And so now, as an adult, I have zero tolerance for people thinking it’s okay to shame others for the way they look.
I discussed my struggle with Perthes Disease in an earlier blog post, and so it should be fairly obvious that living with a chronic illness can make exercise difficult. Hell, standing can be difficult sometimes. Due to my disability, I’ve been focusing on strength for a long time, and consider it more important, for me. It’s been a long road, and I still have a lot of work to do over the course of my life. Because my disability isn’t going away.
I could definitely eat healthier, and I do like to snack, but what I eat on a daily basis isn’t particularly unhealthy, and the amount is hardly excessive. But I enjoy cake. I like pizza, pies, and cauliflower cheese. I eat crisps and drink tea with sugar and often munch my way through a bacon-and-cheeseburger.
I also like fruit and vegetables, I drink several litres of water a day, I cook from scratch a few times a week, and we eat good, wholesome food. I’d never want to promote an unhealthy lifestyle, but I’d also never want to tell someone that the way they live is wrong. You never know what else is going on in a person’s life, so judging them based on one or two factors (or a simple selfie!) is ridiculous, harmful, and just nasty.
I, like many other women, put on weight after taking the wrong birth control. A couple of years of excessive oestrogen can really take its toll on your body. This happened when I was a teenager, and my body hasn’t changed much since. There are parts of me that I can definitely put down to too much cake, but, for the most part, my body just is the way it is. And you know what? That’s okay.
Everyone is different. My partner is one of those awful people who can eat like a horse and stay slim. I eat a fraction of what he does, and his idea of what constitutes a healthy portion size is frightening at times. And yet I’m the one who gets shamed on social media.
As women, we’re told what we can and can’t wear, which hairstyle to have, how to do our make-up, how to behave. We’re treated like dolls, tossed in the bin if we don’t fit the standards society has set for us. And I am bloody sick of it.
I’m surrounded by women who worry constantly about their weight. They go to slimming clubs, and report that they’ve lost 2lbs (smiles, congrats, back pats!) or gained 1lb (comisseration, shoulder pats). Sometimes I want to scream, who cares?! I can’t see that 1lb, you look amazing, don’t let it run your life! I want to ask, are you happy? Because happiness is so important. I’m much more comfortable now than I was when I was younger, even though I’m a lot bigger. It’s probably because I no longer live with an abusive parent who liked to use my apparent weight issue as a weapon, and I’ve changed my attitude towards food and weight and lifestyle. I applaud anyone who is healthy, enjoys going to the gym and genuinely likes eating raw carrots (I joke; but you get the picture). As long as they’re happy. Stop forcing your own issues and judgements on to others. You may want to count every calorie and base your food intake around what the scale says, but I for one do not.
Society and its standards can, quite frankly, fuck off. Who says that bigger women can’t wear leggings? They’re comfortable, and go with pretty much anything. Who says that we always have to wear a bra? Free them if you’re sick of boob jail. And who says that it’s acceptable for people to tell us what to do, for people to make us feel ashamed of our own bodies? It is not acceptable, and, if someone does fat-shame you, you don’t need to feel ashamed. Just because society teaches us that being big (which is subjective at best) is bad, it doesn’t mean we have to agree.
So stand tall. Let’s look these abusers in the face and say, “Eff your beauty standards”.