Something I've seen a lot of on the old WWW lately, particularly Instagram, are some posts and images from women who are helping to empower other women by feeling confident in their own skin. This, of course, is marvellous. We have so many hang-ups about our body that it's great to see people with cellulite and wobbly bits posing in bikini's saying "I'm beautiful, flaws and all", and who says they're flaws anyway? Cellulite is natural, sagginess after a baby or weight loss is natural, and so I love all this kind of positive encouragement, but what I don't like is something I'm calling Weight Loss Shaming.
At the moment I'm about 1 ½ stone heavier than I want to be, probably the biggest I've ever been, I can't blame childbirth, my youngest is 3 ½, I just love food and have a very large sweet tooth. I've just come back from a holiday in Florida where yes, I wore my bikini. Even though I'm not happy with my size, cellulite, and wobbly bits, I happily walked around the pool and played with my children. While I'm not at my ideal dress size, I'm not about to let it get me down or stop me having fun. And to prove it, here's a full body picture of me in a bikini because it does feel empowering to not feel any pressure about how your body looks.
But I do want to lose weight, not for anyone else, not to fit in with an ideal because I see slim models in magazines, I want to do it for me because I would feel happier in myself. But some of these wonderful accounts I feel are actually pushing a negative message, maybe not consciously, but it's there. For example I've seen things along the lines of "if you want cake for breakfast, have cake for breakfast, why shouldn't you?" or "you should feel happy in your skin, you shouldn't feel like you need to diet". Instantly I'm being told that I should feel bad that I want to lose weight.
If I want cake for breakfast, I'll have cake, but you know what, I want to get back in to the half of my wardrobe (ok more like ¾) that I can't fit in to! It may seem like empowerment by telling women that they shouldn't feel like they need to lose weight, but if the post said "skip dinner tonight, be happy in your skinny body" I think the response would be far from a positive one.
I also see memes about larger women being better to cuddle, which people happily share, but what if there was a meme about a thinner person saying how they're better than a larger person? It would be seen as derogatory and an insult to larger women, so why do we think it's ok to basically shame slimmer people?
And the posts about your body changing after giving birth, how you should love your amazing body and not be bothered about firming up because you're a mother goddess now, you're not the same person you were before. Maybe so but this mother goddess still wants to feel comfortable in her own skin. I am incredibly proud and amazed that my body made 3 healthy and perfect children, but I only need to look at them to feel that, I don't need my body to act as a reminder.
Not all of us feel pressured in to what we see in the magazines, we just want to be happy in our own bodies. The smallest I've been is a size 8, I wouldn't want to be that small again because I personally don't think it suits me. Yet, I look at women in magazines that may be a size 8 and I think they look wonderful. Then there's the "fuller figure" ladies (I dislike labelling women's bodies, who decides what is plus and minus anyway?) I follow Georgina Horne on Instagram and I think she is absolutely gorgeous, I love love love her body and I think she looks amazing. She has a fuller figure than mine and I love that she's happy in her body, that is what probably helps make her look as radiant as she does. She loves the size she is, she works out to keep her body fit and healthy and that is beautiful.
I think amid all of the positive messages trying to help women feel confident, these posters don't realise that some women who feel that they're over weight are still happy, will still wear a bikini regardless but that they do want to lose weight and to not feel guilty about that fact. Wanting to lose weight or tone up when you're a mother is not something you should feel ashamed about, and it certainly doesn't make you neglectful or any less of a mother. As a mother of 3 girls the message I want to pass on to them is about body confidence and happiness but also how to keep fit and healthy, this is not measured by the size of your clothes.
So instead of telling people they should or shouldn't diet, how about supporting women? "Your body is beautiful no matter what size, if you want to lose weight or gain wait, go for it, if you're happy with the size that you are then that's beautiful too". In my mind there's no right or wrong size, only the body that YOU feel happy and healthy in, not your partner, not your friends, you and only you.
How to get a bikini body? Put a bikini on!