What does healthy look like? After losing over 13st and going from a UK size 30 to a 12 you'd think I'd know! But in a society that so harshly criticizes the SIZE of women's bodies.... I'm not so sure! I'm now a Fitness Blog/Vlogger who runs 5km and lifts weights exceeding 150kg 4x a week. Nevertheless, according to people like Katie Hopkins - whom I confronted on the documentary My Fat Story - at a UK12, I'm still a size called FAT!
I lost the weight naturally and without calorie restriction, which seems to be a rarity today if not a total mystery! I'm not a size 12 because I have to be. I made the decision on my weight loss journey to stay curvy, I now consciously maintain my size. To be honest for someone who lost as much weight as I did; and as quickly, another couple of stone would be easy! But what if I'm happy like this, what if I feel attractive and confident as well as the fittest I've ever been, is it ok?
(Find out how I lost over 12st in less than 2 years in My Weight Loss Journey Video!)
In the Fashion Industry UK size 12 is viewed as plus size and is not considered an 'aspirational' body size. In the real world 10/12/14 are 'normal' sizes; but judging by some on social media not only is it not aspirational, it's actually considered unhealthy! Gorgeous Curve Models like Ashley Graham & Robyn Lawley are being accused of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, being targeted in sizeist social media campaigns like #ThinnerBeauty, yet Ashley has her own online fitness videos - so what's the problem? It's easy to understand why I feel confused - should I be trying to lose more weight to look healthy, especially if I want to be a fitness blogger?
Does skinny = healthy?
As a reasonable person I know I am fitter and stronger than a lot of people bigger or smaller than me! The subject of the health risks associated with obesity is one thing, but the subject of women being allowed to be different sizes and still be considered healthy is another! Maybe I'll face ridicule for being size 12 in a world full of fitness females with body-fat under 18%! But who cares... I'm finally happy after 20 years of struggling with my weight, and now at a healthy size 12, I'm going to proudly promote fitness!
I met Rivkie Baum, Editor of Slink Magazine, filming the documentary 'My Fat Story'. As both of us were there to confront Katie on body shaming we quickly connected and decided to collaborate creating a free online Fitness Show, and a Healthy Cooking Show hosted by, Plus Women's Wear Designer, Anna Scholz. Our aim is to educate and get women of every size Up, Out and Active.... without fearing body shaming whilst exercising. We were all deeply inspired by the This Girl Can campaign.
At the recent launch of our shows Rivkie, Anna and I sat down with a panel of leading Health, Fashion & Media industry professionals to discuss what healthy really does look like?
(Check Out the panel discussion highlights video of our Up, Out & Active Launch Event!)
Panel guest Bryony Gordon; Telegraph columnist says:
"For me when I've been a UK size 8/10, I was way unhealthier then me now 'at a size 18! Now I eat and swim 3x a week, but back then I used to be bulimic! Friends have actually said 'Are you really happy, and I said Yea... I'm not throwing-up anymore or walking around starving!"Hayley Jarvis, Community Programmes Manager for the mental health charity Mind, makes the often forgotten point:
"The question isn't about what does healthy look like, it's what does it feel like! We want people to be confident, have high self esteem and the benefits of physical activity on the mind are massive!"Other panelists included Paul Cheesman - Health & Fitness Manager and Louise Boyce Curve Model & Model Booker - Milk Management.
And contrary to any thought of there being one healthy looking body size, just take a look at photographer Howard Schatz's 2002 book entitled - Athlete, His photos compare the different bodies of Olympic Athletes. Schatz's shows the wide array of heights, widths, and body shapes belonging to undisputedly healthy champions!
In conclusion for me healthy looks like: ... me trying a new activity and feeling stronger and more confident as a result; waking up and feeling positive and energised ready to achieve beyond my boundaries.
So seemingly 'Looks' have very little to do with what healthyreally looks like!