Showing posts with label Five Minutes On. Show all posts

Five Minutes on Small Fat Privilege

I’ve touched on the topic of small fat privilege before on both this blog and in this article for Bustle but one of the predominant reasons I've decided to write this post is in the hope it answers some of the questions I'm most frequently asked by other smaller fats. 

'When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression' 

The quote above is one I think about often in all elements of my life, I'm sure many of you have completed training around bias, diversity and inclusivity but privilege is something which (particularly amongst the privileged) goes unchecked.

There’s a truly brilliant comic strip by Toby Morris called “On a plate” which I’ve been able to use to illustrate the idea on many occasions where I’m getting nowhere with words. Privilege is rampant in so many areas; gender, race, ableism, age, class but I’m going to focus on small fat privilege in the fat community (because it’s what I know innit?). I’m also going to be using the terminology “Small/er fats” and “large/r fats” – If this offends in any way I’m sorry but this is the language I’m comfortable with and put frankly; it’s fact.

The “But my life hasn’t been easy, I’m the fattest of all my friends and not everything in Topshop fits me” conversation, simply doesn't cut it with me any more. This doesn't mean that I would EVER want to minimise your feelings because I genuinely know that it's not fun. We are, as humans, by nature, conditioned to “Fit in”, to not take up space and the funny fat friend trope is exhausting.  But unless you’re at the top end of the fat scale or a smaller fat with a non-normative figure, I hate to say it, but we’ve had it easy pal. In no way am I saying that I'm apologetic for who I am and what I look like, that makes absolutely no sense BUT the occasions of fatphobia and micro aggressions I've encountered as a smaller fat boil down to around ten in my whole entire life. Other than the very occasional issue, I'm allowed to just live – This is my privilege.

When you get to a certain point of the fat scale, or when you’re a smaller fat with non-normative body, you are systemically assaulted by every element of society. It's not only clothes that don't fit your body, it's knee braces, seatbelts and chairs. It's people making assumptions about your health based on nothing beyond your physical appearance. It's being afraid to eat in public for fear of abuse. It's doctors waving off genuine health concerns as being weight related. It's being deemed unsuitable to raise a child due to nothing but your BMI. It's knowing that every woman on the TV who looks like you is either there to laugh at or as the "before" picture. It's every time you try to love yourself someone tells you not to. Please don't take my word for it, listen to the words of people who experience this on a daily basis here. These are just some of the experiences that set the ends of the scale apart and I want you to remember this. 

Here are some of things I've done and will continue to do in examining my privilege: 

If you dont know what the difference in experience between you and someone at the larger end of the fat scale is; Listen. There are people out there talking about it, be this on twitter, in forums or events. Listen to what they're saying whilst remembering that it is not someone's job to educate you on why you have offended them. Also, it's a tough lesson, but don't get butthurt if someone calls out your privilege.

The following articles have helped me to understand small fat privilege:
I know there are plenty more articles out there so if you can think of something else, please let me know and I'll add a link.

Think about your own Fatphobia
I get the feeling that this is the toughest thing to do, it's certainly the issue I encounter the most in other people. Identifying as fat doesn't automatically rid you of a lifetime of fatphobic views, in the same way that being a woman doesn't automatically make you a feminist. If your version of fat acceptance focuses on your view of "health" or what's deemed as a socially acceptable version of fat, then it isn't fat acceptance. 
Step Back
As a plus size woman of any size, you will find a space on the internet where you can be be supported and loved. Not a day goes by where I don't thank my lucky stars that such a huge group of incredible, intelligent women have accepted me into their lives and are willing to tolerate my nonsense. My only words of advice would be, chill it with the “It’s not fair that smaller fats have a lesser voice”. Our voice is out there, we are represented, we are visible. We are in every plus size advert going, we are the "acceptable face of being fat". 

Never erase or quieten the voices of women larger than yourself. Recognise that fatphobia is much bigger than not being able to buy clothes on the high street. It's about poor medical care, abuse, poverty and discrimination. Support larger fat women as dominant voices in the fat acceptance conversation and recognise your privilege. 
Em x

Five Minutes On Being Too Much

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I don't know why, it's just one of those things that happens every now and then, but lying awake at 3am this morning I started thinking bad thoughts. You will know the ones, the ones where you remember every negative thing said to or about you from the age of two onwards... One thing each of these thoughts have in common for me is the word "Too"; You're too big, too lazy, too nice, too clever (The latter is less of an issue for me personally...). but it's incredible how putting this one word in front of another can turn it into an immediate negative. Try it: think of the adjective you'd most like to be described as and put the word "Too" in front of it - Weird isn't it? This word is used by other people to take away any control we have over ourselves and how we present to other people. GRIM. 
I quickly came to realise that I'm not alone in this, everyone has experienced the dreaded "Too", and in most cases it causes more self-loathing than anything else we store in our noggins - Possibly because we're brought up to believe that nothing is more important than pleasing the people around us...? I don't know. Which is why I put the call out to my fellow humans - I asked them what they've been told they're too much of, how this has impacted them and finally how they have combatted or managed these feelings. 
My friends, this is a long post - The longest post ever published on this blog, BUT: Every. Word. Means. Something. The people who have shared their thoughts here have actively tapped into those 3am horrors we all have and are willing to share them with you - Be this as a way of catharsis or be this a way of letting you know that you are not alone. So I ask that, if you are able, you please read what they're saying, think about what this may mean to you and maybe show them some love (Links are available through photos where available)

As one to always offer an opinion... I often feel, and have been told, I'm too upfront and honest. I'm an open book and am happy to share my sexual experiences, my mental health experiences and parenting experiences being just a few to mention. I'm often told I'm very honest, or make people gasp/laugh in embarrassment. I guess I don't mean to shock people, I just talk about real stuff that I don't think people should be embarrassed about, but apparently they are. 
I have bipolar disorder and anxiety so how I handle this would really depend what kind of day you catch me on. If I am feeling particularly vulnerable, I would and still do run over the details of the comment and situation . Wondering what I could have done different to prevent the situation arising. How I should have reigned it in, and that plays into my insecurities of not being good enough and a failure.  
If I'm having an 'up' day, I won't give a flying fig, in fact I'll find it amusing and enjoy the attention. It feels unnatural not to talk about the things that are so important to me.

I've been told by every boyfriend I've had that I'm too opinionated. It's stopped me in my tracks every time. My initial feelings have always been shame and regret, I want the people I care about to like me, and being told I'm 'too much' is as hurtful as 'not enough'. In negotiating our interactions with our lovers and significant others, we're inclined to keep to the middle of the road with regards to managing their feelings towards us, we don't want their affections to veer too far one way or the other. Being told I was too opinionated were the moments I ended up in the gutter. 
My secondary feelings are those of injustice. Being opinionated, especially too opinionated, isn't an expression we associate with men. Men get to be assertive and show leadership, I'm just angry and bossy. Intellectual provocation isn't allowed, just sexual, yeah? 
Hindsight, being the beautiful bastard it is, has taught me that these moments have said more about the people telling me I'm too opinionated than the expression itself. It exposes their insecurities, not mine. It shows where my power lies. Of course, how we deliver a message is just as important as the message itself, and perhaps I need to take more care in how I express my opinions regardless of who I'm talking to, boyfriend or otherwise. My opinions need to be expressed in a smarter way... and I AM smart (IMO).

I was recently chatting with friends in a bar about relationships; a mixed group and one of our male friends  mentioned that I was "too independent" and that that would put prospective men off. Apparently there's a certain level of neediness, which men find attractive and too much independence "shows that you don't need a man" and "can be intimidating". (A bit of background; about a year ago, I left a 10 year relationship, and I've spent the past year or so dating a little, but mostly getting back on my feet and finding out who I am and what I want, which sounds daft maybe.) 
It's hard to be too offended by being told that you're independent, as I see that as "having your shit together", but it's weird to think that you can be "too" anything in terms of your attributes. I felt a little sad that my friends were suggesting that independence would equal being unapproachable. 
It made me start to compare where I am in my life with other people, and left me feeling as though by my age I should have accomplished more or different things which seem to constitute life goals and social norms in today's society. (Marriage, children, etc).

I have a PhD and I am well known in my field of work. I am an expert, but I'm apparently too opinionated, too passionate (about my work), too assertive/aggressive, too "scary" (like WTF - I'm threatening to men?), too loud. It's almost always men who say this.  I have been laughed at or silenced in meetings for having strong opinions. 
I usually know more than most of the people who put me down, but because I'm small, fat and female, my knowledge doesn't count for anything. When I ask questions I often get eyerolls, like "oh no, not her asking questions *again*".  
I will not be silenced and I will have my voice heard because I know my stuff. I'm lucky that I was brought up by parents who encouraged me to speak out, but it's still hard even with my level of knowledge, experience in my field and expertise, I'm still belittled and they try to silence me. 

It always starts with "I've never met a girl like you before". This makes you feel special and exotic. Of course not, I'm SUPER. There's never a hard line, but more of a small drift into criticism that you don't notice at first.  "You're quite loud" because you laugh at your own jokes and don't speak in a coquettish whisper. "I love that you're interested in different things" becomes "but Eastenders is on, why would you want to watch a documentary on trains, you're really odd".  "It's great you love watching sport" becomes "You only do that to be 'different'". Like if you enjoy anything it has to be for an outside audience and not for your own pleasure.  "You've ALWAYS got an opinion haven't you". Yes. And it can change over time and sometimes it's not as informed as it could be but I do actually think things. 
Even on the occasions where these things are said with fondness, the meaning is clear. You should not have opinions.  
And you start to think maybe you SHOULD be more 'girlie'. Maybe don't talk so much. Maybe be gentler. 
And then you realise that you are fucking miserable because you're pretending the core of your person doesn't exist. Yes you can soften your edges if you realise sometimes you can be too sharp, but not to please someone else's version of you. 
And then you find more of your crew. Women who are brave funny honest talented adventurous loud and also LAUGH AT THEIR OWN JOKES. And they are a fucking joy. And they recognise you so you gain sisters. And you know that if you think they are amazing, why are you trying to make yourself smaller and less. And you get your AWESOME back.

I've been told I'm too loud and loquacious, and too brash, sexual and opinionated. Several hilarious occasions where I have been totally belittled and shut down were by people of authority who, you would think, would understand my young age and why I might be very chatty, but actually revelled in telling me off. 
One police officer told me off for being upset when my student house got robbed and trashed. He was quite rude to me, it was weird because he was asking ME questions and not listening and telling me to be quiet!? They smashed our bathroom window and trashed our house in a rather violent manner. I was 20, and in tears when I came home to see everything this fucked up. A time one might allow a young lady to be upset about, and not a time to tell said young lady to shut up and listen. Another funny occasion was when I was having my dyslexia tested at my university campus. While the lady asked me confusing and personal questions, about my way of living, my thought process etc. She snapped and said she doesn't have time for long answers. Again, I was there to get help, at a vulnerable level where I already felt small already. 
My tutor at university, whom I studied contextual studies with, gave me a massive telling off, in front of my whole class. The reason being we were put into groups to discuss old magazines and how the adverts made women out to be house maids (they were 1950's magazines) and the three girls I was paired with were not interested AT ALL. And were on their phones, which they hid under the desks. So when it came to discuss what we thought to the class, one girl said she couldn't get a word in because I wouldn't stop talking. Which was totally untrue, these girls had NOTHING to say, and were not interested in the slightest. I asked them questions and they didn't care. I then got a telling off for dominating the group, like a child at secondary school, no a woman at university. 
I've been told off by an older nurse lady, who said very loudly and angrily that I was obese and needed to lose weight. Another doctor I spoke to had a massive go at me, as if he were my father?! Because I had unprotected sex and admitted to using the "pulling out technique" one or twice. Again, I was not being honest to a professional with the view I would be told off? Or put down, or told to be quiet. 
The impact of these people, telling me off and telling me to be quiet, made me feel ashamed to have feelings and to ask for help. I went through life feeling as though it was pointless to be honest, to ask for help, to be myself. 
I do talk a lot, I am loud at times. I've learnt to curb this all, to be more succinct and tactful. But as a young lady I felt these professionals were very unprofessional towards me. I think it's stopped me making friends, because I feel scared to be told off or shut down.  I combatted this by learning to chose when to be open, who is worth being honest to, who I can be myself around. It's a never ending guessing game, I have to shut myself down in most cases to avoid being told I'm too loud or chatty or whatever. Just in case. I now attend counselling (not for this precise reason but it helps a lot). 

I have been told, on many occasions, that I am too opinionated.  I do have a lot of opinions about a lot of things, which you probably see on my social feed haha!  I know some friends purposely avoid subjects that I am passionate about, which makes me sad, but on the other hand, I won't apologise for being passionate about my beliefs and causes I think needs publicising. It makes me sad, and frustrated.  Because up until the past few years, I did not have the confidence to speak out.  To say what I really wanted to.  
I was always the silent one in a conversation, I did not speak up.  I was under confident and felt that society as a whole did not want to hear from the fat girl.  I could be the atypical "funny fat girl" but having an opinion on a subject was something that I felt that I was not allowed.  Even now, with confidence gain; being fat detracts from my point of view constantly.  As a fat woman, and a feminist, I am automatically stereotyped as a "feminazi" who can't get laid.  
My political and social beliefs are put down to, again, as one man put it "If you were thin and had a man, you wouldn't need to champion all these causes, you would be normal".  I have no desire to be normal, no matter what shape or size. After decades of not saying what I really think through the fear of not being liked and accepted; to now, finding my confidence to be able to be who I really am, my thought process is, screw it.  I would rather have an opinion than none at all.  The people who dislike my opinions don't need to.  I don't need their approval.  My true friends accept me for who I am and if they feel the need to avoid certain subjects with me, that is fine.  They still love me and I have been told since that despite the avoidance of certain subjects, they admire my passion.  So I won't dial back.  I will continue to live to the beat of my own drum because, hell, I think I deserve to.  Everyone does, 
The truth is, I love being passionate about what I think and speaking up.  It has taught me so much.  Conversing with people has both affirmed and changed my opinion on many subjects. It brings me joy and that can never be wrong. 

Pretty much all my life I've been told I'm "too soft" and as an adult that's changed to, too emotional, over thinking and taking things too personally. It's been used as a insult as well as an attribute. It's been said formally in one-to-ones or passing comments by colleagues. I get it less by friends because they tend not to see that side of my life. In work I have to be assertive whereas "home" me is very passive. 
It annoys me now more than ever, I find myself having to police my own feelings and reactions to people who seem totally oblivious to how their actions can effect me. In a client facing role my "softness" is my biggest asset, it helps me connect and build relationships as well as get stuff done. But it also means that people use it against me and break my confidence in a heartbeat. I am constantly battling between them being in the wrong and feelings of "is it me?" 
By being emotional, I'm not constantly in tears or can't take constructive criticism; I can, I'm very honest about myself and where I need to improve. I appreciate feedback and can take things on the chin. It's when people hone in on and pick up on my self doubt and subsequently use that as a weapon. 
I have to find reason with people who know me well - who I trust. People I can openly ask "is it me?" and who will give me an honest answer. I also have friends who really champion my personality type and help that fire of confidence keep going.  

Throughout my life I have been told that I am a strong person by friends and family alike.  I endeavor to consider other people's thoughts, feelings and priorities and 'get on with it' without creating much fuss even when facing life's challenges. However, in adult life, this concept of emotional strength and resilience became tied up with that of independence.  I have spent most of my adult life as a singleton and without a very obvious reason for my being single (no obvious physical disfigurement or apparent abhorrent personality traits), there had to be something... Then, yes, oh wait, it was because I was 'too independent'.  Friends and family alike proffered this nugget of wisdom that this was the reason why I was single.      Upon hearing this train of thought again and again over the years by different people in my life, this had a detrimental impact on my self-confidence.  It made me question how I behave with other people, my values and my beliefs. It made me feel like my independent spirit was a defective part of my personality.  Although I am sure that for the most part, the sentiment behind giving the advice had been along the lines of helpfulness, thoughtfulness and concern for my future happiness, by diminishing my self-confidence, it had the opposite result of adding to any feelings of anxiety and unhappiness that I already had and making me feel like there was no point in pursuing a relationship because I would ruin it with my overly independent streak.   Naturally, I was very upset at what felt like an ongoing personal attack.  Yes, I am an independent person, but I am also a sensitive, caring and loving person as well.  And in being independent, I don't agree that resigns you to an life of isolation and loneliness! I always think it is important to consider any advice given to you by someone that genuinely cares for your welfare.  For this reason, you have to honestly evaluate your relationship with the person offering the advice and acknowledge whether this advice is due to genuine concern or a result of their own values and beliefs (which you may not necessarily share) or a negative outlet for their own insecurities.  For instance, from men, I generally disregarded and at times challenged them, questioning whether my independence was a general issue or their incapability to deal with a woman with her own mind and ability to look after herself.  For close friends and family members, I considered what they really meant by what it is to be 'too independent'.  In reality, my independence in respect of my opinions, choices and finances was not the issue at hand.  The real issue was that I was not open to the idea of meeting someone. 
But at 30, I changed all that.  I moved to a different city and tried online dating with real success.  I am now at a point in my life where I am fortunate enough to be with a person who I love and who loves me back. I am still independent but he respects and values that about me. I don't need him, I want him in my life.  And that's what I consider to be a true, equal, happy partnership. 

As soon as I got tall (when I was about 14 - I'm 6'1") I started becoming aware that kids my age thought I was some sort of freak, and that it was hilarious to make fun of me for being a gangly awkward tall girl. My dad was the first one to tell me that the reason boys weren't interested in me was because I was too tall, that they were intimidated (he said it from a place of love and trying to make me feel better). I also think that in a sense fashion has always told me I was too tall by not catering to me, by making me 'other', by forcing me to pay more and look elsewhere and make dressing myself more complicated and harder than for the average person. Weirdly, I have always loved being tall and nobody was able to dent that feeling for me. I don't know why. I always felt annoyed and mildly upset that men found my height intimidating, but to be honest my thinking they were pathetic for that was the stronger, more dominant feeling. I have always been slightly embarrassed about my massive feet, but only slightly. I find it more amusing than anything else. However, some people's attitudes have dented me a bit and made me feel hurt, but I think that was more to do with my general self esteem than my height per se. I've had instances where people have told me I was in the wrong queue for the toilets, or said "oh sorry mate" when they've bumped into me, then grimaced as they've realised I was a woman. I think most women would have a wobble if they were mistaken for a bloke.  I've had men recoil, &/or grimace &/or swear when they have noticed me and my height. The least harmful-yet-stupid reaction is men blurting out "Bloody hell, you're tall!" at me which happens all the time. I even experienced sexual assault where my height was a factor (won't go into too much detail, but it involved short males seeing how easy it was to get their hands up my skirt and further when I was a young teenager). So I guess in that sense the impact has been that I am acutely aware that my height is an issue for men, even though it's not an issue for me. When it comes to fashion, the impact is that I've felt incredibly frustrated and that my life would be so much easier if I were shorter/average height. And I feel like I've missed out a bit on heels and lovely shoes. But I've never wanted to be shorter. I just wanted to be catered to (fashion is better now and seems to be getting better all the time, but it was a nightmare until about 2010). 
I don't feel negative about my height. And I fully 100% believe that if other people have an idiotic reaction to my height, that is entirely on them. I just think they're pathetic. And fashion has come along now to the point where I am rarely frustrated so that's just lucky I guess. I now know where to look for clothes and I know what's going to work for me from regular clothes. Trial and error. 

 I feel like we have some kind of gang here - A gang of incredible people who have their own "Too" Superpowers and I want to say a huge and sincere thank you to each magnificent one of them from the bottom of my heart.  I hope you've enjoyed / taken something away from this post because this is just Part 1 - I have a wealth of incredible people ready to share their thoughts with you in my drafts right now and I intend to continue sharing until the end of February. If you'd like to contribute, be it openly or anonymously, please get in touch with me at
If you are having negative thoughts right now and need to talk to someone - You Are Not Alone. There are details of people who can help at the bottom of my holiday post here.  Please know that you are important, you are worthy and you are loved.
Em x

Five Minutes on What Now...?

Trigger Warning - This post mentions fertility and motherhood

I’m going through this thing right now. An internal debate if you will. Not a particularly fun or fluffy one, so If you’re reading this post in the hope of clarity or a deeper understanding of a woman who has her life together READ NO FURTHER.

I saw a quote recently that really stuck with me - it said something about there being two kinds of childless women; A loving and caring Auntie type and the other a drunken old floozy. Luckily I can’t find the exact quote again because I’m in exactly the kind of mood where I’d find the Earth mother who wrote it and kick their face off... Child loss broke my heart, there’s no doubt about it. MPW and I went from knowing exactly who we were as a couple, to getting our heads around the fact that there would be new element to life as we knew it, to actually looking forward to having another little dude to knock about with and take to McDonalds. Despite this, as a couple who had never formally written the “Along came a baby” chapter into our book, it’s since been very difficult to work out what exactly it is we grieved for.
I'm sorry but has there ever been a more apt jumper for a blog post?!
Maybe Baby Jumper - Joanie Clothing
Polka Dot Skirt - Joanie Clothing
Not long ago, I watched a programme about millionaires going on holiday, built around what I know to be the standard reality TV format of “Good vs Bad”. One couple had a fairly typically UK family setup and were shown as hard, dedicated parents; working to provide for their family and, therefore, fulfilled in their lives. The other couple, had chosen earlier in life not to have children and as such were depicted as selfish and lonely; classing the cruise staff as their family and living an soulless existence. It left me feeling utterly empty. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal more self-belief than to base my life decisions around trash TV, this said, it does get you to thinking. The past two years have really mellowed me, I feel much more able to handle whatever is thrown at me and I'm sad that I'll never be in the position where I can prove this to the rest of the world.

I see my parents spending time with friends whose lives now revolve round their grandchildren. I hear friend’s mums talk about what wonderful mothers they have, in turn, become and as beautiful as this sentiment is, it also physically hurts me - Will I miss out on not only a wonderful bond with my own children but also a magical new bond with my own mother, wherein she can finally look at me and think “Yes, I’ve done a good job”? Will I never have that? And more to the point, is it just FOMO that makes me want it?
Then there's fertility itself; The pain, expense and distress that I have seen so many of my wonderful friends go through. 

Herein lies the issue with having children: It is not a decision you make lightly, you can’t just “have a go” at motherhood in the way that I’ve “had a go” at pilates, pole dancing and being a functioning adult. When you buy into this particular lifestyle, you buy into it HARD. Yes, I have choices, but I could be making the choice to lose my relationship, my career, my independence. I could be making the choice to raise the next prime minister, the love of my life, a lifetime of wonder and joy. Seriously, how do people make this look so easy?!?

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, I’m also very, very, VERY fortunate to have some incredible women in my life who have made a firm decision to not have children and, beyond the pretty much constant irritation of people saying “OH YOU’LL CHANGE YOUR MIND”, they are secure, confident and most importantly; happy in their decision.

I just want to finish this post by, as per, recognising my privilege. I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a safe and loving relationship, yes I work very hard to have my own home and relative financial independence but I’m also very lucky to be a position where I have the emotional support of a lot of good people who I know will love me with or without children.
Em x

Five Minutes On You Are Perfect.

Trigger Warning: This post mentions diet culture negatively. If this is something which may cause you upset or trauma at this point, please skip this post, do what's right for you and take care of yourself you lovely person.

I don't often write about this topic because frankly, I find it dull. Dull and infuriating. This said, I just want to take the time to interrupt our regular January schedule of "Please self-loathe in order to buy this crap" with some of my own thoughts. These are thoughts which my body positive friends regularly share in the hope that they will dilute the nonsense you are being bombarded with, you may have read them, shared them, maybe even ignored (as I did a million times over in the past) under the assumption that this doesn't mean you, that good things are only going to happen for you when you eat that thing/subscribe to that place/deprive yourself of that pleasure because you are somehow different and you do not deserve to love yourself.

But I would like it if you could read this post from me and please at least consider making this about you. Even if just to keep me quiet for another year.

I've been reluctant in the past to describe myself as Body Positive. I am without a doubt positive about other people's bodies, but here's a secret....
Sometimes I am not positive about my own body
 "WHUT?!?" I hear you cry, "How can someone who likes all bodies not like their own?!?" Well here's an even bigger secret, if not THE biggest secret:
Everyone has body confidence wobbles. EVERYONE.

This is my body - Right now I like it. Very occasionally, when it looks EXACTLY the same as it did when I liked it, I don't. In the past I've gotten into debates with myself over this; "If I was this/that/the other I'd be happier/richer/more popular...." But here's the crux of the matter: If on the Monday the scales said one thing and on the Tuesday they said something else I am still exactly the same, wonderful person. Changing my appearance will not make me love myself. 

So what? What WILL make you love yourself? Well, that's a tricky one. We're all different, but I can certainly tell you some of the things I do to lift myself up, to bring myself back and to ultimately enjoy my life to the absolute best of my abilities
I never, ever, EVER compare myself to other people:
The quote above has become my mantra and trust me when I say that it works. 
I do know that this one can be difficult, I'm lucky in that I'm not competitive in the slightest. However, I have been guilty of negatively comparing myself to other people - It's very easy for me to lift others up at the cost of my own self-esteem and this simply won't do. I now make a conscious effort to praise others without mentioning myself in any way. I also listen when people compliment me - It's the next level up from simply accepting compliments and provides me with a list of nice things to say to myself when I'm not feeling it. 

I have a look at myself:
I have a big mirror in my attic. I want a bigger mirror in my attic. Even when I'm lacking in positivity, I can guarantee that looking at myself in the mirror brings me back to the real world. I'm not saying that a golden light shines, angels sing and I go straight to the top of the "Top 100 babes" list BUT I do remember to acknowledge the parts of myself I love; My long legs, my juicy bum, my ability to contort my reflection into a mirror designed for someone under 5"6... 

I think about what I value in other people:
I value honesty, integrity, humour and optimism. As long as I strive towards these values then why wouldn't I love myself? Give it a go: List your top four qualities in other people and think about what they might value in you - I highly doubt that it's a flat stomach and lunchbox full of lentils...

I speak to my friends:
If your friends make you feel bad about yourself; They. Are. Not. Your. Friends. 
If this is the case, the likelihood is that they have problems of their own - This is not your issue. Please do not allow yourself to be someone's verbal or mental punchbag, you are worth more than this.
We all go through periods of our lives where we realise that we've outgrown people, I have friends from various stages of my life who are wonderful, strong people and who know me incredibly well. Some of them are into lentils and high intensity training but they are all intelligent and interesting enough to know that these are their choices. I've also left people behind, generally people who have a very narrow view of what life should be and what role I should play in it. Life's far too short for that and I'm far too busy enjoying it.

I live in a bubble of wonderful women:
If you talk about dieting on any one of my social media feeds I WILL DELETE YOU. This doesn't mean people sharing pictures of delicious-looking colourful food or magnificent weightlifting accomplishments. This is more about people who are willing to make money from the body positive label yet have such an obvious disdain for their own bodies. This, I cannot get along with. The world I choose for myself is based around strong, tolerant and diverse people who likely have the same body confidence wobbles as me but who choose to combat this with thinking rather than self-punishment. 

All of this is my opinion, I am a 32 year old able-bodied white woman at the privileged end of the acceptable-fat scale. If you're struggling to take my word for all of this, please have a read of some of the following blogs which help me out on a daily basis:

If you want to make some changes in 2017, consider changing your way of thinking, you'll be glad that you did, and remember that when it comes to being yourself, you are already perfect and you cannot improve on perfection. 
Em x

Five Minutes on Lost Time

I am who I am due to both the good things and bad things that have happened in my life. I don’t say this flippantly and nor could I ever assume that everyone should look at their lives this way; Many people have experienced traumas which should never ever have been part of their story - My bad experiences, though unpleasant, are not on a par with those of many women (I’m not trying to minimise anything here, rather, acknowledge my privilege).

This morning, I was thinking about the girl who made my life a misery for many of my teenage years, and you know what? I couldn’t even remember her name. I spent every day for two years trying to work out what I’d done wrong to make this person hate me. Why I was so bad that I deserved the way she treated me. She was every other thought that passed through my mind for two years.

And. I. Cannot. Remember. Her. Name.

This is both wonderful and incredibly sad to me. What could I have done with all that wasted time? (I’ll level with you here, I was 13-14, I would have been watching Leonardo DiCaprio films and listening to Radiohead. I would not have been doing anything even vaguely productive but that kind of ruins the point I’m clumsily trying to make here)

When I was 20, I’d put some weight on (LIFE OVER *Sigh*) I dramatically threw a shitload of my clothes out of the window of my flat because they didn’t look how I wanted them to look then spent the night crying in bed about how terrible I was and how my boyfriend was probably going to leave me (He should have done, I threw a shoe at him not long after that, a white shoe). I also had some excellent fried chicken which I could just eat now but even that didn’t help.  On that night, my friends ended up having one of the most unbelievably enviable Rock 'n' Roll nights which I missed due to my own self-pity.

Tears over entirely inappropriate men, skipped meals, missed nights out, unreciprocated effort on terrible people and all those self-loathing thoughts that, as women, we’re conditioned to feel.

What could I have done with that time?

On the flipside of this, “wasting time” is not always just that. At 23 I was trying desperately to make an unsuccessful engagement work. He was (and still is!) a wonderful man; kind, attractive, hard-working and everything I thought I wanted from life. But I had a constant pain in my stomach, I’d pick issues that didn’t exist, I’d obsess over how him looking at other women, spend all our time together thinking that he deserved better, I lost track of what I deserved. We’d bought a house and gotten engaged young (Which I don’t regret at all – We had some awesome times together) but I was bored and lonely and didn’t know who I was without him.

Calling time on this relationship a year later was one of the best things I could have possibly done for both of us, and I’ll tell you something, I am an infinitely happier person for the things that that I learnt from this shitty episode.

Today, I thought about what I would tell a daughter or, more likely, a niece as they leave what I sincerely hope will be a carefree childhood and enter the real, quite cruel world of adulthood. I would want to tell them all of this, that what seems like the end of the world now will be forgotten entirely until you’re 32 and feeling irritatingly nostalgic. 

But we learn these things ourselves and can have REALLY good fun making up for that time lost. 

Em x

Five minutes on liking who you are when others do not.

Trigger warning: This post mentions previous issues around food, diet and body image. It also has a plethora of positive parts and it has a VERY happy ending and this is what I want you to take away with you. However, there are also elements which may be where you're at now, or bring up tough memories so please take care of yourself above all else and remember that you are entirely not alone, not at all, there are people (myself included) ready to listen to you should you want, need or think you could do with it.

It's been a funny year for me and my body image. 
2015 has been the first year of my adult life (I'm gonna count that as thirteen years although I've probably only been effectively adulting for two of those....) where I haven't done any of the following:
> Followed a fad diet
> Actively deprived myself of food 
> Skipped meals
> Taken supplements/weight loss aids/diet pills (with a view to changing how my body looks)
> Joined a gym only to leave three months later 

This year has also been the first year where the following things haven't happened:
> There have been no pre-night out "NOTHING FITS ME I LOOK TERRIBLE" palavas (I've still had the odd huff because I HAVE NO CLOTHES*) *blatant lie, my apologies.
> I haven't stayed in rather than go out for fear of negative repercussions. 
> I have not once physically compared myself to another woman. I have, however, admired many a banging babe without bringing myself down.
> I've eaten food with people I don't know, real food, not ordered a side dish because I worry what they think of me.
> I've looked at every photograph of myself and my first thought has been how much fun I was having at the time, rather than picking on my arms/dad chin/wonky nose. 

I've felt carefree, strong and downright glorious. I took the decision to like myself and I'm so bloody glad I did.

Sadly, this is where the story takes a bit of a twist....
I took the decision to like myself.
Unfortunately, not everyone else has to.

There's a bit of an assumption that fat women are ok to be fat if they are actively trying NOT to be fat. Perverse isn't it? When you let the world know that you are confident, strong and happy just exactly how you are (Because THAT IS WHO YOU ARE) it also opens the floor for people,to be confident, strong and happy in telling you why you shouldn't be those exact things. 

DISCLAIMER: This is not ALL people, MOST people have perspective, they have a recognition that your life is none of their damn business. They probably also think you're pretty hot. Because you are. 

In the past when I've received criticism from people around my appearance and (heeeeeere comes the world's stupidest thing ever.....) my "health" (I live at the doctors, I'm the worlds healthiest hypochondriac, plus, ironically, any recent issues have been due to me taking slimming pills in my youth...) I've been able to respond with "Yeah, but I'm going to the gym and have eaten like seventy salads in the last hour" whilst justifying it all to myself with the knowledge that I'm also actively destroying my insides with drugs from so called "slimming clinics". Then these people go away, happy that I'm aware I don't please them and that I'm going to do something about it. ISN'T THIS ALL LAUGHABLE?!?! 

Now, when faced with criticism, I merely say "I'm happy. Thank you for your concern". It feels good. It feels honest. This has really baffled some people. Women who have spent their entire lives dieting have thought twice about it, it all seems a bit silly when I'm doing everything they want to do AND having fish and chips for lunch. Friends have been overjoyed that I'm finally just being me, not a watered down me. For other people it's harder for them to get their heads round, they were happy with the watered down me, it fit in with their ideas of what "healthy" looked like and what "confident" should be. 

Not my circus. Not my monkeys. 

I'm staying true to myself, this is not an experiment, I am not playing at being fat and confident to upset people, I AM fat and I AM confident. 

Picture c/o the glorious Murder of Goths

I can't tell anyone what to do and how to live their lives, nor would I want to (I've got all on just looking after my own life....) I'm the least "together" person I've ever met but I can tell you now, freeing up the space in my mind that pleasing other people took up has given me space for infinitely better things. Infinitely better things which you'll all know all about soon. 

Em x