THE BLOG

Your Body Your Rules

06/01/2015 17:05 GMT | Updated 06/03/2015 10:59 GMT

It is the most depressing day of the year. The decorations are gone, the weather is always colder than you can ever possibly remember and no one will go with you to the pub as everyone caves and decides to join in with dry January; after all you have to have something to discuss with your colleagues as because, that's right, we are all back at work. It is also the time of year that sees record numbers signing up for dating sites. As we suddenly all realise we are about to get a year older, it is definitely the year to finally fall in love, settle down, oh and of course, Valentines day is round the corner.

Are you suitably sad yet? No, Ok, I'll go on.

Watch any channel and the ad breaks are filled with diet commercials telling you they really can sort your life out. You can be thinner this year and so all of the above wont matter and of course, you will now find a life partner, because there is less of you and quite frankly by this point you're on the edge, so hell, you sign up to a weight loss club and a gym in one go. I mean it's all well meaning isn't it?

I have no issue with people wanting to lose weight. As long as it's their choice and they are mentally and physically ready for the life changes required because when it's someone else telling you to do it, as a general rule, you wont be.

We are human after all and our natural rebellious streak has recently been highlighted in two studies that suggest telling a friend or family member to lose weight, or 'fat shaming' someone into a diet, could actually push them towards piling on the pounds.

But you're only trying to help right?

I can guarantee that someone who is fat, knows it. If they've not changed, it's either because they are happy with themselves (I know you think that fat is the worse thing that can happen to a human, but there are people who are genuinely happy, active and living a fulfilling life of enjoyment and love whilst simultaneously being fat).

Or maybe they aren't quite ready to make any lifestyle changes yet and you pushing them towards that door, believe me will not help. This isn't about dieting, this is about creating new habits, a new thought process about food, a financial investment and for some a total re-education. It is foolish to believe that you can successfully do that for someone. What you can do, is be on hand when that person asks you to help. But otherwise, any nudge, or concerned pout will not only can damage your relationship, it can be emotionally and mentally destructive for the person you're supposedly trying to help.

On the 7th of January. That is this Wednesday, midway through the worst week of the year. Self styled, weight loss expert Steve Miller has proposed a 'Warn a Friend They're Fat Day'.

'Warn', seriously Steve? Do you know a single fat person who doesn't know they are fat?

They are told it everyday by the likes of Katie Hopkins, men in white vans and general passers by. Fat people are reminded as they walk along the street, past store windows and stores they can not shop in. They are told everyday by some newspaper article or twitter troll that they are fat and unacceptable and by Dr's when they go to see them for any medical problem, whether it be related to weight or not.

This campaign is not encouraging anything new (for years people have been overly concerned with someone everyone else's bodies), but it is continuing to isolate a person from the friends that should be their support and confidence boost.

The campaign and Steve's social media platforms completely disregard so many of the more complex aspects when talking about obesity. There is no mention for those whose eating habits maybe related to mental health issues, for which this campaign could act as a trigger. Binge eating is as much of a mental health issue as anorexia and bulimia, brushing these issues under the carpet is dangerously naive.

While I applaud that Miller doesn't believe in 'diets', the notion that he insists that someone who is fat can not be glamorous, gorgeous or happy, merely suggests there are a whole bunch of fantastic people he simply and unfortunately has not met yet.

Equating someones personal worth in the way Steve does, directly to their dress size, enforcing the notion that life can only start when you've hit a certain weight is both mentally and emotionally damaging. A style of degrading and downgrading people serves no purpose, you can not create change through negativity.

You also can't medically diagnose a person simply by looking at them. Even without training that should be obvious. Not every fat person is consuming huge amounts of fatty foods all day every day, not every fat person is consistently gaining weight and many lead active working and happy lives. Some may even eat better than a size 10 person, because size alone isn't an indicator of health.

If Steve had created a campaign that revolved around getting everyone healthy and active, instead of one that I assume he hopes will boost his weight loss business, then we would've been behind him all they way.

I don't doubt he has helped numerous clients over the years and that is great, I'm no killjoy, I love seeing someone happy, but I believe that happiness doesn't have to come with a particular dress size.

More to the point the words we put out there matter. Words are powerful and can tear down or build confidence in an instance and with confidence we can take on almost any task.

On the 7th of January, SLiNK magazine and blogger Kate London James have teamed up for the #youarefab campaign.

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Copyright: Becky Barnes

This campaign is open to everyone, it isn't about size or weight, but about emotional well being and showing appreciation to those people we want to send a social media high five to. It isn't a gender specific campaign either. But it is about trying to make sure we start 2015 with a setting where positivity can breed more positivity.

All you have to do is tweet, facebook or instagram a friend with the #youarefab on the 07/01/15 and let them know why, it should be so easy to think of something nice to say about the people you love.

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Copyright: SLiNK magazine / Roberto Aguilar

We often over look the importance of emotional and mental health because we cant see it.

However it's about time we realise that our bodies are our business and we have ownership of our own lifestyle choices, whatever they maybe, and if your friend wants your help, they will ask for it.