I was a really happy fat child, smiling and standing up tall in all my photos. I loved my life and I got great pleasure from baking, cooking and family meals. I remember my Nan and Mum making Marge Simpson style mumbles of concern in the background when we went clothes shopping but nothing fazed me and I went back to plaiting the luminous hair of my little ponies.
Things changed however when I became a fat teenager. I remember outgrowing my size 20 school blazer in year 8 and my mum telling me we couldn’t get another one in town and that we needed to go to a special shop. I remember someone telling me that I would hate my Mum later in life for letting me get so fat. As I grew older, I remember unrequited love, awful clothes, not fitting in and cruel bullies who chipped away my self esteem. At 15 I felt like a failure, because I was fat.
I turned up at college scared of what people would make of me, scared of being ostracised again but instead I met an amazing bunch of people who were open minded and appreciated diversity and difference! They saw me as a funny, intelligent, creative kind person and they loved my style and individuality. Who knew that the homemade, reworked and second hand clothes I was forced to make because high street retailers excluded me, were actually cooler than Topshop? My confidence grew as I realised that style, attitude and creativity is a lot more interesting than following dictated fashion trends. In short, I started accepting myself and began to explore who I am rather than wasting time trying to fit into someone else’s version of what a woman should be.
Things are better now, there are a few shops on the high street where I can buy decent size 26/28 clothes and the choice online is even better. There are designers doing ground-breaking work and Fat Positive groups abundantly abounding. Yes, there are still nasty negative people out there and you will come across discrimination from time to time. Bullies will always find something to criticise whether it’s too fat, too thin, too average, yada, yada, yada. Their words only hurt if you believe them, so find ways to see that your strengths outweigh any negatives.
So thank you very much to the community who accepted me and gave me back the confidence I had as a child. You made me the different, creative, brave, kind and strong individual I am today.