When I started blogging, I did so out of a very personal need to prove, to my peers and contemporaries, that you can be “fashionable”, “stylish” and, most importantly, feel good about yourself no matter what your size. (We’ll perhaps leave my thoughts on the terms “fashionable” and “stylish” to another blogpost – else I’ll bore you with word overkill).
I was the biggest of my friendship group, always had been the biggest, and sometimes I felt a little on the periphery – didn’t particularly like having pictures next to my much slimmer more toned friends. It is something that, over the years, I have come to terms with but, 2 years ago (and just a few short months before I started my own blog) I spent an evening crying over how big I looked compared to all my friends on my own hen do.
(Yes, those are sparkly nipple tassels we were all wearing … it was a fun night!)
I was a very naive blogger at start – didn’t really have a clue about body positivity or the plus size world. I soon learnt – instagram was the first to open my eyes. Showing me a world of plus size mega babes loving and embracing their bodies – unashamed of their lumps, bumps, and jiggly bits. People like Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Betty Pamper, and Curvy Wordy made me feel better about my own body simply by putting their own out there – seeing them made me feel better about myself. My confidence, in my body and in my self, grew as I was accepted into this community.
I have a thing for lingerie (shocking right?) and posting my very first lingerie review was terrifying for me. What would people think about those flabby bits around my armpits? NOTHING! Not one person mentions my armpits – people got in touch to say they loved my review, people told me it was refreshing to see someone being honest about their body by putting it out there.
(Please note the bad mirror selfie – this was the early days of blogging for me that mostly did involve bad mirror shots).
I still wasn’t in a place to reveal all my so-imagined flaws – I cropped out my tummy, refused to show my thighs, and hid the roll that lies beneath my bra line. Over time, however, those hang ups fell away. I posted more selfies, more lingerie shots, more full body images and began to see my body as beautiful …
Soon, I was jiggling about on Instagram for all to see …
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have my hang ups. The past few months have been particularly hard to feel good and confident about myself. Being ill last year left my body damn near ruined; struggling to walk, having difficulty doing something simply like open a bottle of milk, being unable to balance … it doesn’t help the self love.
At times I felt very, very down – hated my body for failing me in the most hideous of ways. I cried, a lot – partially because of exhaustion, hormones, and pain but also because I didn’t really recognise myself. I continued blogging but it was really a fake it until you make it scenario. Attending the plus size awards in November was terrifying for me – stepping out in public now that I was entirely reliant on a crutch to stay upright, I had to drink copious amounts of champagne in order to get my game face on … you wouldn’t know it from the pictures eh?
This insecurity, over time, began to fall away. I started following over people on IG with who experience similar health or disability issues – people who radiated beauty through their confidence and ‘don’t give a damn attitude’. The likes of Real Life Pirate, MindSetForLifeltd and the #scarrednotscared posts really helped me to stop giving a damn. I had always known that what I have been through has made me stronger but now I’m ready to shout it from the roof tops.
Many people say that those from minorities shouldn’t have to define themselves as separate, in an ideal world this would be very much the case. We wouldn’t need terms like ‘plus size’ or ‘spoonie’ in order to create & find communities of acceptance, but unfortunately we do.
At Christmas I had someone tell me ‘F**k off back to my disabled parking space’ because my crutch offended her so much. A few months ago, at the train station, I had a woman tut loudly and say ‘There’s a lift right there you know, you’re holding everyone else up’. I take the stairs whenever possible because I won’t learn to do them if I don’t practice – not that I should ever have to justify my taking the stairs over a lift!
Now I won’t lie, sometimes comments like that hurt! In those times of need, I turn to the support of people who can really understand my point of view, who know the frustrations, the anger, the sheer ARGH of it! The spoonie community is perfect for this.
The plus size community is also a crutch for me – not only do seeing other fat chicks out there rocking crop tops broaden my own fashion & confidence horizons, but the plus community affords me a safe place. Elvi recently asked me to give a quote about why I feel plus size is needed …
I’m very much in favour of keeping the plus as, in a society that judges women on their body shape, it allows me a safe space where I can dress as I want to dress without judgement. Shops that cater exclusively to plus size women are welcoming environments where I can feel at ease and be myself – this is a stark contrast to many straight shops where asking for a size 18 or larger is often treated with scorn.
But it is more than this, it goes deeper. The plus size community, for the large part, is welcoming, understanding, open minded and accepting. Perhaps its because society tells us we’re wrong, therefore we’re more open to other minorities who are systematically discriminated on so many different levels.
I also feel that plus size, and all loud shouting about it on social media, will only have a good affect on those young women and men who are coming to terms with the fact their bodies aren’t the “acceptable” body that society, the media, and so many social medias promote. If it means just 1 girl who stumbles across #effyourbeautystandards, #thisisplus or #volup2isdiversity feels better about herself and starts to love her body, then surely keeping the plus size community growing, vocalising, and thriving is worth it.
At least that’s just my thoughts … what are yours?