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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Love EVERY Body #1

I was very interested when the lovely Leah tweeted about her idea for a new blogger challenge relating to body positivity and immediately signed up. The first assignment is: I'd like you to write a letter to your body, acknowledging the things you've been through together. For example: What accidents and illnesses have you had? Do you have scars or tattoos? Have you been operated on? What have you been through in your body, good and bad? What highs and lows have there been? Does your body make you feel happy, sad, disappointed? Do you feel at one with your body or is it the enemy? What parts do you like and dislike? What parts do you want to work on being happier with? These are just suggestions. Make your post your own and feel free to add photos, art, a poem, or any other creative endeavour.

Now, I'm in two minds about this. It's either going to be fairly easy or incredibly difficult! Dear body...I certainly like you a lot more than I used to, but I'm not sure that I can say I love every part of you just yet; I'm getting there, one step at a time. We've been through a lot together and there have been some difficult times, mostly when I haven't loved you or taken care of you because the opinions of others have made me feel that I should't do so. This is mostly due to bullying, which will probably take up a fair bit of this letter...

I guess I should start from the beginning. I've always been fat, or at least 'chubby', and I've always been tall (well, more like average now) and had big feet (again, it's now more common for people to have feet my size). My earliest memories of body dissatisfaction are from Primary School (age 10-11, at a guess), when I was ridiculed for not wearing a bra. In hindsight I didn't really need one (though felt that I did because of peer pressure and wanting to be 'normal'), which was confirmed with even more humiliation when I went to Contessa and heard the Sales Assistant saying to my Mother that I didn't really need a bra. Also in Primary School, some of the girls started talking about periods; there was one girl in particular that asked everyone somewhat private questions that she actually had no right to ask, but at that age you are not really empowered to challenge such a thing (in my opinion). Again, others had started their periods and I hadn't (which I should've been thankful for, really). Last but not least, the early experiences of getting changed for PE without being separated from the boys were incredibly humiliating. Last but not least, I had already started to be bullied in Primary School, though I can't recall why; although I do remember being told by someone that somebody had called me a 'fat cow' and I responded by calling her a 'skinny runt'...fighting body shaming with body shaming, as you do until you grow up and learn better.

Secondary School was quite possibly the most miserable time of my life and when I hated my body the most (looks like I've stopped writing to my body...bear with me, it's strange to write!). I was bullied for my turned-up nose (Miss Piggy, I was called), thick hair (Macy Gray) and weight (Kelly Osbourne, which I think was a weight/hair combo), as well as my intelligence. I was probably around a size 20, dropping down to a 16-18 by the end of school. Around the age of 14 I had a long-term and long-distance relationship with a lad who was 5 years older than me and (at the time) incredibly attractive, which then became another point of bullying through jealousy; I don't think people could bear the thought of anyone being attracted to a fat girl. I left compulsory education and attempted college, but the bullies followed. Living in a town where you're more likely than not to see someone you know on every road, it was somewhat inevitable. Not long after that, due to circumstances outside of my control, I moved away. Asides from an infrequent jibe in the streets, the bullying stopped. For some time there wasn't a great deal to report, asides from the general feeling of being unattractive.

Fast forward to 2008, when I started modelling. I began to learn to love my body through the lens and, oddly, other people's perceptions of my beauty. I was, and still am, very proud to be an artistic nude model; it's not what I started off doing, but is predominately what I have done for the past few years given the increased interest in the artistic realm of body diversity. (NB: Some of you may have seen my work via my blog, which has now been removed as I made the personal decision not to amalgamate the two, knowing that some people would not wish to see it and also I did not want introducing my blog to automatically be introducing myself as an artistic nude model; if you are particularly interested in seeing my work, leave your e-mail address or another contact method and I will pass the details on to you).

Fast forward again to September 2011, when I moved to London and started university. I'd already started to become more interested in fashion and my appearance and had also started to believe that what I look like doesn't matter so much, friendship isn't based on looks and maybe love isn't either. In May 2012 I started attending Big Girls Paradise with my best friend, Lauren; despite its criticisms (which are irrelevant to this post), these events are at least partly responsible for taking my body acceptance journey to the next level and sparked my feelings/belief of being attractive and fat. It wasn't long after that, in June 2012, that I started blogging and opened myself up to the body positive awesomeness that is the fatosphere; I must've been living in ignorance to not realise that there are people out there who look like me and are struggling or have struggled with the same things.

So, body, you can put the majority of my current goodwill towards you down to blogging and networking. There may be parts of you that I still detest, such as the ever-so-irritating facial hair, but in general I at least like the vast majority of you. I like being cute and squishy, I no longer hate my small breasts and maybe I even like them a little bit, that turned-up nose isn't really pig-like anymore (and even if it was, you got it from Mother and should be thankful for it) and that thick hair is a blessing, even if I have to drag a comb through it like a rake. You have made me very happy by sending the acne packing, although I wish you'd do the same to the current breakout! Both my body and I have a lot to be thankful for and I hope there will be more to come. Perhaps Love EVERY Body will help me to love my body in its entirety.

You can find links to the other bloggers taking part at the bottom of Leah's post, here.

26 comments:

  1. I found the blog as I'm taking part in the challenge too.

    It's horrible what bullying can do to people, and how much unkind words affect people, sometimes for years after they've been said. I went through some of your older posts and you are beautiful. And thick hair is a godsend. and your nose is in no way pig-like.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your future posts

    http://simplyroxilicious.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Great! I need to catch up with everyone else's posts before it ends up being one of those 'I'll do it later' things.

      It's very hard to not internalise negative comments made by others. I think I'm somewhat 'over' it now, but it'd only take one thing to knock me back down again. Thank you for your lovely comments, I'll be sure to check out your post :)

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    2. I'm glad you're over it now. Whenever anyone says anything negative now, at least you have this to come back to and read all the positivity people have given you :) And it's in permanent form!

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    3. Absolutely, it's a great source of positivity and I am so thankful for everyone's comments :)

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  2. Oh Sharon. Bullies are the scum of the earth. Small children can be cruel to one another, but once we're out of the playground there's NO excuse for people to make fun of others. I'm sorry you went through that and so glad you've found strength and belief in yourself from art modelling and going to BGP. You are beautiful, and I can't wait to meet you and give you a big squeeze. x x x

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    1. Yes, I agree with that completely! Thank you hun, I can't wait to meet you too <3 soon I hope x

      And also thank you for having this brilliant idea and for letting me participate!

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  3. Sometimes the things people tell us when we´re young stay with us much longer than it should. I´m glad you found your way to body love through art and networking. I too started to realise that it was possible to like the way my body looks after knowing some amazing women on the fatosphere.

    Looking forward to reading your next posts.

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    1. Thank you :) the people that I have met through the fatosphere are truly inspirational and many I now consider to be close friends.

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  4. Wonderful blog. I could relate to so much in there. You had to change for sports with the boys???? Good gawd, it was bad enough for us getting changed in front of anyone, never mind boys!! Oddly the bullying in our school was for opposite reasons. I remember my best friend being bullied at age 10 because she developed really early and needed a bra. Then when I moved to secondary school at age 12, another girl got bullied for the same reasons, while we were all flat chested and left alone. It was the same with periods. I started mine at 10 and hid it from everyone as that was a thing of shame as well. It was as if we wanted to and were expected to be like boys forever. Any hint of becoming a woman and we were terrified.

    Go you for getting into the artisitc nude modelling. I have a friend who does it and I am ever so envious and admire her so much. I wish I had that level of acceptance about my body. Hopefully the challenge will help us all with some aspect of our body confidence.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. Yeah, in early Primary School...I very much doubt it happens now! It seems we can't win (with the bullies) either way, there'll always be someone/something. I honestly would recommend doing a photoshoot (not neccessarily nude) to anyone as a great confidence-builder; I know that Betty Pamper has plans in this area which I am waiting with eager anticipation. I hope it will help us all, too x

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  5. Bullying is one of the worst things, I wish people would just support others. I have never understood why someone feels good by putting someone else down. You are such a strong person and I look forward to reading more from you in the future! Emma, xxx

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    1. Thanks Emma. Bullying is indeed a terrible thing, I wish there was a magic wand that would make it go away! x

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  6. It's astounding how similar and yet different our stories are. I love all the emotional posts at this challenge I've read till now (not all, but I try my best). It seems I wrote the shortest letter and thought it was so long. *lol*

    It's great to read how far you've come till now. And you will make the rest of that way, I'm sure. :)

    ♡ Mel xoxo

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    1. I've got through 5 or so thus far I think, but it's been a great experience! Doesn't matter how much you write, it's where it comes from that counts :) I know personally I have a tendancy to ramble haha. Thank you x

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  7. Bullies are disgusting, and whats worse it can be done in so many ways now.... it must have been a proud moment doing the artistic nude modelling, a real acceptance of your body. Looking forward to reading more on this workshop, I know for me this first one was an interesting experience writing to my body :)

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    1. Oh yes, I am somewhat relieved that social media wasn't around (or had just started) when I was that age - I think the internet came into existence when I was about 12-13. Thanks for your comments, I'm slowly catching up with everyone's posts and look forward to reading more x

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  8. Interesting story. I also grew up in a town where i knew everyone - so the bullies were always there when they needed to shatter my self esteem. I'm so glad you got into modelling and are learning to like how your body looks. Some people just pick on one person for life, because they know they've already started to chip away at them and can take the attention off their flaws.

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    1. Thank you. I often wonder what would've happened if I hadn't moved; not just in terms of whether the bullying would've continued but also relating to my self-esteem and confidence.

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  9. Bullying is horrible, it's hard to confront the bullies at a young age. But, I guess we become more stronger after going through tough phases. I'm sure you were in one of my PL3 photos, I wish I had said Hi! Your such a beautiful person girll and looking forward to your future loveeverybody posts! So glad you feel happier with artistic modelling!


    I'm taking part too and I'm so glad to be part of this workshop!!

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    1. I agree that difficult things make us stronger, it's because of that I wouldn't 'undo' what I've been through (bullying and other things) even if I could, because I can be fairly certain that I would not be the same person otherwise. Yes re PL3, me too! I'm pretty terrible with talking to people sometimes haha. Thank you so much x

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  10. Jealousy is such a horrible thing...bullies blah!!!! I admire anyone who has the guts to model nude...go you! I laughed at the big feet thing - I've always had large hands which folk comment on continually - but they are one part of my body I don't have a problem with - I look on them as pianists hands ;-)

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    1. Thank you :) haha I just recall that it was one of the first things said about me, I have a video of me & my family when I'm 1 day old in hospital and my Uncle comments that I have massive feet! I could argue they're runner or swimmer feet if I did either of those things ;) do you play piano?! :)

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  11. A brilliant letter hun. It's a long journey but you are well on and truly on the way. You are also beautiful inside and out and I feel lucky knowing you. Look foward to reading your future posts. x I feel the same, surroudning yourself with like minded people can help self acceptance. Big hugs. x

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    1. Aww thank you Hollie, so sweet :) onwards and upwards as they say! x

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  12. Hello cutie! I just found your blog. I think bullies are mean, really really mean! Some people really don't understand how the person really feels inside, so it's not nice to make someone feel like shit. I hope you're feeling well. I think we're all perfect the way we are! xx

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    1. Hello! Yes they are very mean :( I think bullies will always exist though and usually have low self esteem themselves. I'm good thank you, hope you are too, and I couldn't agree more! x

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