Every day I get more upset and irate over the way women, in particular, are made to feel for existing. It feels like no matter what we do, or how hard we try, we get it wrong. We are shamed, berated, ridiculed, and undermined. It shouldn’t be revolutionary to be kind to yourself, and try to do what makes you happy in life, and yet, sadly it is.
I have spent my life battling my weight, fighting my size, and feeling worthless and not good enough because I didn’t look or act a certain way. I listened to all the pressures and expectations, and I tried to fulfil them, but instead of the happiness I thought doing that would bring, it just brought me misery. I lost my self-belief, my self-worth, my self-confidence, my self.
Society has lost its way too. Personal traits and qualities have been replaced by labels and judgment. Self-deprecation has become normality, and self-appreciation is alien and scorned upon. It is outdated to only laud one narrow band of body types and attributes on a pedestal. We all have so many differences that should be celebrated, not condemned.
As a short & fat, gay, disabled, mixed race woman, I rarely feel truly represented in society, and especially in the media and fashion industry. The message I hear is that I would be acceptable if I was curvier rather than fat, tall rather than short, heterosexual rather than gay, more able than less, and not quite as dark skinned. But I’m not. This is who I am, and that is okay too. I will no longer have my very core torn to tatters because I don’t match somebody else’s beauty ideal.
I’m just one person, but I am trying to do all I can to make a change, and make a difference. I am pouring my heart and soul into trying to help others feel better about themselves. To reassure people that they are beautiful and worthy, just as they are. But saying it isn’t enough. I want to show it to the world, prove it. As part of my crusade to do this, Body Pride was born.
There are fashion shows and events for all the different types of people out there – alternative, plus size, LGBT etc – but there is nothing that unites everyone under one roof. We all struggle with body image issues at some level, it is not exclusive to any one group. Body Pride aims to change this. It will be a day-long event where anyone who feels in need of a bit of a body confidence boost can come and enjoy a relaxed, judgment free zone. There will be no glitz and glamour, no airs and graces, no pressure, no expectation. This is a day for authenticity and inclusivity. For the you’s and the me’s.
There will be three catwalks on the day, all using everyday models, who will be carefully selected to represent the people on the street. We endeavour to include as much diversity as possible, so that as many people as possible get to see themselves reflected in our models.
In addition to the catwalks there will be speakers sharing their body image stories and journeys, to reassure you that you’re not alone in how you feel, and to give you hope that it is possible to triumph over the negativity.
Finally, there will be an array of stallholders all who will boost your happiness and wellbeing – from fashion & beauty, to food & drink, to yoga & mindfulness.
This is just one event, in one country, but I really do hope that the people who attend leave feeling that little bit more confident and reassured that they are good enough, just as they are. It’s incredibly corny, but maybe if we all feel able to start being a little kinder to ourselves, then eventually the world will become a kinder place to live in.
It’s time for us to be proud of all that makes us who we are.
It’s time for the full spectrum of humanity to be represented.
It’s time for us to be treated as humans, not products.
It’s time for Body Pride 2016.
Body Pride 2016 will take place on Sunday 4th September at The Castlecourt Hotel, Westport, Co. Mayo.