I never realised it was possible to actually love yourself if you didn't have a flat tummy, slender thighs, perfect hair or toned arms. It was drilled into me from a young age that being me wasn't acceptable and looking the way I did wasn't good enough..
Peers, 'friends' and even certain family members would pick me apart and put me down simply because I wasn't thin enough & for as long as I can remember being 'fat' wasn't something to be proud of. Fat was gross & it felt like it just wasn't allowed. You had to be thin, you had to be slim. For me, fat was an insult, a word that nobody ever wanted to be called, a word that caused pain, upset & even harm. What is it about society that can turn a word into something so powerful?
Its no secret the issues I have faced and things I've been through because I was painfully unhappy with me. I couldn't accept myself for who I really was & when you think about it, who can blame me?
How can anyone love themselves for who they really are when being yourself leaves you vulnerable and open to judgement and shame?
My whole life I couldn't bare to look at myself in the mirror. All I saw was rolls, stretch marks, cellulite and everything else, but as I've grown up, in particular this year I have realised something. Body image is all about acceptance. If there were people on the front cover of magazines with rolls, stretch marks, cellulite and everything else, we would probably be more accepting of our bodies, as well as other peoples. I don't know when the penny dropped, or when I realised enough is enough but I'm finally in a place where I can look at myself and think 'you know what, I f***ing love you'. Yes, I have some work to do, I could probably drop a few pounds and exercise a little more (for health reasons), but I'm not going to punish myself or hate myself because I'm not there yet. Life is all about journeys & I'm very confident that I will get where I need to be, but who says you can't have a laugh and love yourself whilst you're on your way? Thats the fun part right?
I guess I was a product of my environment. I never really saw anyone happy with how they looked. Women around me would say 'I've put on so much weight' (as if it were a bad thing) and I would hear them constantly put themselves down. Until a few months ago, I didn't actually think you could be happy with your body if you were bigger than what society deems as acceptable. If I'm honest with you and myself, I hated being 'fat', or called 'fat'. I would look at someone who was overweight and think 'ugh, they need to lose weight, they're disgusting'. Maybe it was a projection of how I felt about myself, but I also think it was because all my life, I have never been shown or taught that being fat is beautiful too. Thinking about that now makes me tear up :( I get really upset thinking about how brain washed I was & how obsessed I was with trying to be thin, trying to constantly lose weight, trying to better myself when I'm fanfatfuckingtastic just being me.
This year I shed everything but weight. I shed negative people, negative thoughts and negative behaviours. If something doesn't make me feel good about myself, then its gone. I began to really love myself from the inside out and I can finally say with the upmost belief that I LOVE ME. I made a choice that I was going to be happy, I made a choice that I was going to look at me, beyond my outer exterior. Just because society doesn't think stretch marks or extra fat are beautiful, that doesn't mean that they aren't. I worked on change. I changed or let go of anything that didn't serve me growth. I drilled into myself that the word fat is exactly that.. just a word.
I've accepted myself for who I am at this precise moment. Health is important to me and thats what I focus on, eating right and exercising is the best thing for my mind so thats why I do both (like I said I'm still working on this) but I'm not eating kale or running to get into a pair of size 14 jeans anymore. What I have learned about being body positive is that its an acceptance for and of anyone, at any size. How people choose to live their lives & how many burgers vs how much salad they eat is none of my business, its not your business either. If someone is happy with them then thats what truly matters. I know how desperate I was to feel happy, so if someone has achieved that then good on them. Body positivity isn't just about me & how I view myself, its how I view others. It took me a slice of humble pie and a swallow of my pride to realise that but I have now, and boy does it feel good.
From the girl who used to cut herself to feel, used to throw up her food so her tummy would be flatter to now someone who can post bikini selfies & eat a pizza without feeling guilty and all because I've learned acceptance, I've learned how to really love and I've learned how to be body positive. My mind set has completely and utterly changed & I genuinely can't believe I'm here. Yep, my arms are bigger than some girls and yup, my thighs jiggle, yep my boobs are saggy and yep my tummy has 1-3 rolls depending on how many rolls I've eaten LOL, but I've also got an amazing heart, big hair and even bigger personality.
Im heavier than I have been but I'm also happier than I have ever been & to me, thats what really matters. Getting here was hard, so hard, but I can say with complete honesty and pride, it was worth every damn second. Im not saying I don't have off days where I feel insecure and negative about how I look, I am only human after all. What I'm saying is that 90% of the time I love me, the bare faced, chubby cheeked, potty mouthed me that isn't going to change to conform to society's ideal of whats beautiful. Im not going to change to fit in & if someone has an issue with that - thats not my problem.
We still live in a world where people would rather you be slim and unhappy than fat and happy, but that will not deter me from whats important. Im breaking down barriers every single day whether that be in the industry, with mental health awareness or simply 'causing a stir' for speaking my mind. I don't need reassurance from other people that I'm good enough because I know for myself that I'm good enough, I'm more than good enough..
Being comfortable with your size, your body & how you look in general is a personal journey that I hope all of you are able to go on. It takes just one step to start, a lot of hard work & sacrifice, but the results will stay embedded in you forever. I know words hurt, I know what its like to wake up every single morning wishing you were someone else, it sucks, it sucks so much but with time and investment in to yourself you will get there.
I hope this post made sense, I am aware I like to waffle on a bit. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or tweet me @graciefrancesca if you like. Lots of love x