When I was younger there were 3 items of clothing I believed I could not wear until I had earned my body:
- A Leather Jacket
- A Bikini
Not only did I believe that I didn’t deserve to wear these clothes, as a teenager I had to shop in plus size stores.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to lose weight so that I could fit into this perfect body image. It was never about my health.
During my teens my weight fluctuated, I lost weight at sixteen – enough to fit into a Topshop size 12 – and then after my Dad passed away I slowly gained weight again. Not only could I not fit into the clothes I liked, I resented having to shop in a plus size store. For so many years I had been told “your size is unacceptable” so I just didn’t bother trying to fit in. I pretty much lived in Juicy Couture sweatpants for three years because it was as close to fashionable as I was going to get.
After having Greyson my body had gone from being slim and lean, to overweight and very undefined. I felt horrendous. That summer I had to buy some clothing which would keep me cooler, and palazzo pants were everywhere so I spent the summer wearing them. I felt miserable that just 12 months ago I had been my slimmest, wearing denim shorts and a bikini.
Once again, I stood in the changing rooms of a store struggling to squeeze into the biggest size. Feeling frustrated and angry at myself, I stood in front of the mirrors in the poor lighting crying.
It’s not the first time I had cried in the changing rooms, feeling unworthy and disgusted by my body and when I reached out to a group of women about their struggles I received some heart wrenching stories of their clothes shopping experiences:
“I did feel like I was missing out. I hated the idea of going to high school dances because I couldn’t find anything that fit me. When I did I wore it to multiple dances which led to nasty jokes and I would stuff myself into undergarments for shaping that made the whole night miserable.”
“Yes it contributed to an eating disorder because not being able to buy clothes in a store like your peers tells me that Im not good enough and need to be different.”
“…there is something very alienating about being stuck with stores like Evans when everyone else was going to the high street and buying nicer clothes much cheaper than the things I could have…”
“Its still a daunting thing to have to shop as a plus sized person.”
The label affects your mindset.
I try to avoid labelling my diet or body, and yet I noticed I kept using “air quotes” when I talked about buying a plus size bikini. I had to stop and question why I was using air quotes, is that I still don’t want to be labelled as different?
Yes, this is the exact problem – when we are labelled as plus size we are also labelled as DIFFERENT.
Here’s the thing, I could shop in a regular store, but I wanted something flattering that would ACTUALLY fit me. Realistically I knew this would mean going back to the fear of my teens and buying from a plus size store.
Please don’t think I’m being arrogant, I know at a size 16 I’m a small plus size woman, but just like you I deserve to feel comfortable in the clothes I wear.
I shouldn’t have to have a waistband digging into my stomach so that it causes imprints on my skin, or bruising.
I shouldn’t have to choose between covering my body head to toe or squeeze into a unflattering swimsuit because designers don’t want to be associated with bigger women.
I shouldn’t have to hate my body after having a child.
And Neither should you.
Fast forward seven years and I weigh sixty pounds less, I’m sitting at 200lbs exactly and at 5’3 I’m overweight on the BMI scale…I might even be OBESE. *gasp*
I told you at the beginning of this blog that I believed there were THREE pieces of clothing which were off limits to me until I’d earned my body – can you remember?
- Leather Jacket
Have I earned my body?
Honestly, I could not give any less fucks about whether this body was earned or not, because it’s mine. It has been put through a lot.
I’ve physically and mentally tortured myself just so I could be thinner, so that I could look like the model who doesn’t even look like the model, so that I could wear clothing I’ve been told isn’t designed for me [why are you making it then?!] so that I could adhere to someone else’s standards because my body might offend them.
My body is not offensive.
I’m offended that if I want to find a flattering bikini I have to search a really limited collection.
I’m offended that it is presumed I want to hide myself.
I’m offended that in 2017 designers want to be disassociated with plus size models.
No, my body is not offensive and I believe labelling ourselves and others as plus size has caused all kinds of mind fucks. What if there were just sizes in ALL stores which catered for ALL of us? What if at the age of thirteen I could have bought a party dress which actually flattered me and my changing body shape? What if we were able to shop as teens in the same shops as our peers who happened to have smaller body’s?
Maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t have started to believe that we are unworthy or unacceptable. Perhaps we wouldn’t have started restricting our calories, suffered from eating disorders or self harmed.
Being a plus size woman is a reality, but the label creates a mindset, a stigma that I’m not allowed to wear nice clothes, show skin or love my body – that I am indeed different.
What I’ve learnt is that whether I weigh 200lbs or 145lbs I will always be different because I am uniquely myself.
As a fat loss coach, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning whether you can want to lose weight and still love your body. The reality is that I eat a healthy and balanced diet, and I workout – my weight is an irrelevant part of this process.
When we can approach the way we eat and move from a place of love instead of anger and hate we can actually achieve results we didn’t even know were possible. It’s actually easier to eat MORE of the right stuff for our body’s when we love ourselves, because it becomes non-negotiable.
Consider someone you love, you want the best for them, right? Now imagine that relationship with your body – I know!!
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