Growing up without body positivity on my side was tough and I, like many of my plus-size sisters, felt an undercurrent of fear running though my veins. Fear of judgement clouded much of my youth and I often restricted myself in an attempt to blend seamlessly in society: I wouldn't allow myself certain experiences, I'd break plans, I'd make up excuses simply because I didn't want to go outside and be faced with another day of worrying what a stranger might think of me.
Thankfully, the body positive movement has grown with such force that women are no longer letting society stand in their way - fat women are choosing to live their lives not in spite of their bodies, but with their bodies as an ally. There are certain things that I've noticed no longer hold the same level of power over me as they once did and I've realised that there are a whole bunch of things that fat women shouldn't be afraid of, here are six of them.
In the past, there was many a time where I would divert my eyes so that I didn't catch sight of myself in the mirror, in a shop window, in the window of a passing car. But, if I did lock eyes with myself I'd always cringe a bit at my appearance. But now, fat women don't have to be afraid of their reflections. Body positivity has given many of us the confidence to look in the mirror undeterred and realise that actually we are slaying our outfits and more so, we are slaying the skin that we exist in regardless of its shape or size. We have learnt that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and walking tall with our heads held high is something that we should have been doing proudly since day one. Get it girl.
HAVING A SECOND HELPING
On more that one occasion I recall eyeing up that last potato or extra bit of pudding and wanting it baaaad. But because of society's judgement of fat women in relation to food, I never went for it. Society has told us for many years that a fat woman eating is something to be shamed, that fat women shouldn't ask for more and they certainly shouldn't order the most delicious thing on the menu. But no more! A girl has gotta eat, and fat women should no longer be ashamed of reaching for that extra helping - don't let society's toxic diet culture spread into your eating routine. If you want it, have it!
SHOPPING IN PUBLIC
With few shops stocking plus-size clothing and the dreaded changing room anxiety, shopping in public - or more specifically clothes shopping in public - proved to be a traumatic experience in my younger days. Fat women are often left feeling somewhat unwanted when browsing the shops, and the "pretty woman" effect is often in full force - but now with more and more shops using more accurate models, with more shops stocking a range of sizes and with some unabashedly supporting the body positive movement, fat women no longer have to be afraid of shopping until they drop and you shouldn't be afraid either.
ASKING FOR WHAT WE WANT
Fat women are supposed to be invisible, right? That's what fashion and the media have so-far told us. We are taught not to have a voice, to shrink our bodies and to be relatively unseen - but thankfully that's no longer the case. Fat women are now finding their voices and asking for what they want, instead of putting up with less than everyone else. We are demanding more respect in public, in the media, in the fashion world, at work, in personal relationships - the list goes on. And it's so incredibly powerful to see. We no longer have to abstain from what we want to say or do - so GO GET IT!
EXPRESSING OUR INDIVIDUALITY
Before the body positive properly picked up momentum, fashion for plus-size women was extremely limited. Many stores were still on the side of covering up fat bodies with material in excess and unshapely clothes - but now that many stores have realised that fat women WANT to show off our shapely figures in gorgeous items of clothing, the options for fat-fashion is monumental. Exceptional outfits in a whole variety of sizes means that fat women no longer have to shy away from the clothes that we want to wear to express out individuality!
LOVING OUR BODIES
Perhaps the thing that fat women need to be the least afraid of, is loving their bodies. It takes time to learn to love your body - but now that there is a whole space available online (and in real life) for fat women to find support, acceptance and love, it's easier then ever to discover ways in which you can cultivate a sense of self-love. Fat women no longer have to be afraid of loving their bodies and doing it in the public sphere. Because fat women unite, and we've got this.