Last Thursday evening the unbelievable happened. An awards ceremony took place in the House of Commons for body confidence. No need for a red carpet or pomp and circumstance. No male politicians driving agendas to win elections. Just a group of individuals of all shapes and sizes, fighting for the right for us all 'to be ourselves'...
I work with women across a variety of areas of their lives; losing weight, getting fit, finding purpose, becoming more assertive, breaking bad habits, motivation, energy, nutrition, their relationships etc etc. But what I've come to realise is that there is one common denominator underlying all these challenges and concerns.
For many people, "single" is some what of a dirty word. They hope that it's a temporary thing, that soon they'll bump into the love of their life and finally, they won't be the dreaded single anymore, they'll be half of a duo, cloaked in the security of a relationship. While there is nothing wrong with falling in love, there is also nothing wrong with being single.
The word fat only has a negative association to it if you allow it to. If you call someone fat as an insult, that says more about you as a person than it does anything else. I believe that we need to tell people when we hear this kind of unconscious fat shaming, whether the comment is coming from a place of malice or genuinely wanting to be nice.
I see gender differences in attitudes to competitiveness in my own family. My kids running down the stairs, shouting "last one down is a rotten egg" and the would-be rotten egg usually cries. So I discourage the competing, in a bid to avoid the tears. My husband on the other hand actively encourages competition - though usually as a means to an end.
It's very confusing for men as they are bombarded with images of well built, muscular men in the media. They are led to believe that they should look the same as them if they want to get women interested in having a relationship. So they are told to buy the latest protein powders, training gizmos and go to the gym five hours a day if they have any chance at all.
"People are under enormous pressure, I think, to not fail," he says. "Parents don't want to see the pain of failure. The teachers punish you for failing. Your boss punishes you for failing. So people learn throughout their life gradually, to find all sorts of ways to not fail, which frankly is easy to do."
Leaving my parents and the comfort of my home was the first wrench. Entering the playground felt more like walking into a battlefield. Seeing the different groups, the popular, the pretty, the sporty and then finally the geeks - where I usually ended up. The next obstacle was walking into class and praying someone would sit next to me.