a bit fat

Sunday, 9 September 2018

“Fran, what size are you again?” “Oh, I’m a size 14”...and there it was, years of wearing Spanx to hide my hips, sucking in for photos until I looked simply miserable in them, all unravelled. My “secret” was out-loud for the very first time, out in the middle of a shoot for a TV ad, in front of models, makeup artists and stylists, I was embracing my size, and it didn’t come with the wave of embarrassment and shame that I had always assumed would carry along with the statement. The embarrassment and shame wasn’t there but an overwhelming sense of release was let out.

That phrase would have never transpired even three months ago. This past summer has been the most quintessential three months of my entire life, for a multitude of reasons, some I may touch on down the road, others, I won’t. But my biggest triumph, the one that will I now wear like a badge of scouts honour for the rest of my life, is the lesson of accepting yourself. Caring for yourself, and dare I say it, liking yourself.

I had been riddled with body issues from as young as primary school. I was tall, taller than most of the boys in my class and incredibly uncomfortable in my own body. Diary entires began at 10 questioning why I wasn’t as petite as my friends. High school came, which as I’m sure you’re aware is a 5 year-long toxic waste pit of insecurity. I would wear Spanx to school to attempt to hide the hips that had sprouted on me before any else my age. I wanted so desperately to be the skinny friend, the free of body woes friend that could flirt with the boys and not assume they thought you were hideous. I was aware of my weight from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep. I felt as if I couldn’t be silly, dance, be exuberant because that didn’t match my weight. To be a size 12 in a friendship group of size 8’s I had to keep myself inward. I feared sleepovers, P.E lessons and any scenario that meant I must change in front of my peers. I wanted so badly to fool everyone I was the same weight as them. Years leading from High school followed the same algorithm into University, doing my best to hide my body, paired with yo-yo dieting, and a wave of even more catastrophic self-loathing when the diet, inevitably fell through. Nights out meant never taking off my leather jacket, as letting a club full of my see peers my arms was unfathomable.

I started blogging last year whilst at university during one of my biggest spells of self-hate. It was a slow, steady and self-loathing start. I cried my eyes out when I received my second ever photoshoot via email. I hated them. I hated the way my thighs touched and the fat roll in my armpit. I was too fat and ugly to blog. No one I followed looked like me, or was my size, which transpired to me as, well; change that. Be like them. Be like the girls you follow.

So that’s what I did, I copied the go-to-fool-proof guide I had followed profusely since the age of 11 of taking any measure to pretend I was like everyone else. Taking outfit photos meant sucking in my tummy, shooting in angles that didn’t make me, look like me. And the biggest rabbit hole of self-hate of them all; Facetune. Being disingenuous, however, was not viable. I was constantly riddled with guilt I wasn’t being authentic meant, alongside spouts of poor mental health that followed last year, into this, meant I was posted sporadically, and if I was posting, I felt like I was posing as someone else.

I wish I could trace back to the exact turning point for me, but one day this summer I just told myself fuck it. You are making yourself truly miserable.  You can see the epiphany quite clearly on my feed. I begin to smile at my posts. I began posting regularly. I started moving my body during shoots, instead of the stagnant pose which I thought would make me look skinniest. I started to recognize the girl I was posting, the girl people were complimenting…I wasn’t like every other girl on my feed, I was me, and miraculously people were responding to that. Praising me for that. It was like I had unlocked this special code when really it was actually really fucking simple. Be authentically you. Be the big hipped, nostril flaring, tubby armed, tubbier thighed, you. Because that’s all you got. And the best part, there’s nothing fucking wrong with that. I am greeted with the direct message weekly of “how are you so body confident?”, and really the truth is just as simple as I just gave up not being confident, for my own sake.

Since, with what feels like a new lease of life and a whole new mind-set has come so many opportunities, unfathomable opportunities. I am reaping the rewards for being me. I now work 20 hours per week on my building this space, collaborating with brands, shooting ad campaigns. I’m no longer going to fall for the trap that is media and the societal ideal of being slim and immaculate at all times. What about my ideal? Being happy, being healthy but also finishing my meals, downing a pint and a pudding without worrying it’ll cost me on a scales Monday morning. Letting my weight fluctuate without it fluctuating my mood.

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