2015 was my first year of my foray into the plus size modelling and body positivity world. There have been so many incredible moments, and by being dedicated to shunning all the negative thoughts and messages relating to my size and weight, I have blossomed.
I’m pouring my heart and soul into this. I’m so passionate about making a change. The body shaming has to stop and I want to be part of putting it to an end. I lie awake at night thinking of ways to tackle it, I write notes for future blog posts on my phone when I stir in the night, I’m forever hassling the OH about another brilliant idea I think I’ve had. It’s become my world, my life.
There is a huge plus size online community and an equally large body positivity/confidence movement. Social media is awash with colourful characters, awe-inspiring activists, and mind-blowing bloggers, all shouting loud and proud on body shaming, body positivity, and the plus size world. I have done my best to jump in with both feet, but I have felt my voice has been lost in the vastness. I don’t want to compete with anyone – I mean, the more people speaking on these topics, the better – but I feel I have some valid, and even powerful, input to contribute, so I want to be heard, and I’ve felt mostly unheard.
This is a pattern that has existed throughout my lifetime. I always used to think that it was because I wasn’t assertive enough and that I didn’t make enough noise, but now I am a lot braver, and a lot more determined, so it has hurt to end up feeling like it must just be me – that what I’m saying and how I’m saying it simply isn’t good enough. I know that might sound very pitiful, but… I’m mixed race, I’m queer, I’m fat, and, due to chronic illness I’m disabled and unemployed. Some of these variables have been lifelong, others more recent; some are becoming more accepted, others are still heavily prejudiced. But one way or the other all I’ve ever known is being rejected, ridiculed, and reprimanded, simply for being me, simply for existing.
So when you have had years of being made to feel worthless, it’s hard not to let new real/perceived rejections reinforce those thoughts and feelings.
When you’ve spent most of your life ostracised, it’s hard not to feel shut out when you try to become part of a new community.
When you’re used to not being taken seriously it’s hard not to feel mocked or silenced when you speak out.
There have been many times that I have felt like giving up, but I refuse to be beaten. I’ve come too far just to give up. I have reminded myself that I’m doing this for me and my daughter first and foremost. I don’t want to simply tell her that it’s okay to be whoever you are, I want to show her. I want to free and validate myself from all the judgment and negativity I’ve absorbed over the years. I want to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see and to see me through my eyes, not society’s.
So this year I’m doing things my way, on my terms, at my pace. If that means next to no-one takes any notice of what I say and do, then so be it. Maybe I’ll make a difference in this world, maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter. Every day I feel stronger and am able to hold my head that little bit higher. I have changed my world, and that is invaluable.