I am a size 16, despite years of dieting and exercise, I always end up at a 16. For 15 years I have been somewhere between a 14 and an 18. I am open about this and often tell people my size, you kind of feel the need to when you are shaking your ta-ta’s in photo shoots.
There’s this odd phenomenon though where though I know I’m bigger than many, if I ever use the hashtag #plussize, I tend to get a couple of different responses. One is that I “don’t look like a size 16” and the other tends to be from other plus size women who seem to think I’m not big enough to class myself as plus size.
Someone once told me that I’m the “clothes designer’s idea of a 16” and I don’t think it was a compliment! That I am too mainstream and don’t represent ‘real’ plus size women. As I’m tall I “carry it well”, I apparently “hide it” and “don’t help out genuinely plus size women” as I look slimmer than I am. WTF?
I had similar comments when I showed my stoma, ostomy bag and scars with responses from some stating that “it’s ok” for me as my “stomach is flat”. Comments from some thinking that I’m showing an unachievable image as others have hernias (I’ve had 2!), terrible scarring (hands up here for keloids!) and fat, wobbly bits. (Yup! Got those too!). I’m also covered in stretchmarks from having 28lbs worth of baby over three kids and four and a half years!!!
I know I come across as super confident but I tell you now, it takes a lot of courage to put up images of myself! I’m 34, I’ve had 3 children and 3 surgeries, I’ve been chronically ill for 12 years and my body has taken such a pasting. I have days where I feel shit about myself like we all do, there are times when I just want to hide away from the world.
I choose to tell my story through images, mainly because I run a photography company and so it is a normal part of my life, but also because often photos are so much more powerful than words. When I was going through my surgeries, I desperately wanted to see other people with stomas, ostomy bags and scars. This blog has always been about raising awareness and helping others and I desperately wanted to promote a positive body image despite everything I had been through. Through these decisions I have been accused of sexualising disability and had comments about my weight and size. From those taking the piss and letting me know I am “hardly a model” (NO SHIT SHERLOCK!) through to those who just want me to cover up!
I know that when you put yourself out into the public arena, that you open yourself up to judgement and I fully accept that. Worry not, I am not weeping into my pillow at night, I remind myself of the Beyonce rule…
“Would Beyoncé be reading this? No, she would just delete it or somebody would delete it for her. What I really need to do is… say, Fuck you. I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m Beyoncé. I’m going to Ibiza with Jay-Z now, fuck off. ”
It often feels that the negative comments I get come from other women rather than men. And I sometimes feel trapped in this weight and size limbo where I am obviously bigger than a lot of women and struggle to buy clothes when I go shopping, but I’m on the smaller end of the plus size ranges and sometimes feel judged for not being big enough!!
All the writing I do about self esteem and body confidence is about love and acceptance for what you have. Through the past two years I learnt to celebrate that I’m just still here standing! That my body, though it has disease, scars and illness, carries me through life and is a miracle. I wish we could all gain a bit more self love, that we could see ourselves in a way that is joyous and filled with love.
We are ever fighting against a tide of social pressure to look a certain way. We are told we must be thin, young and sexy (though not too sexy or we are asking for it!). It’s crazy and we need to stop the judgement of other women. We can complain about the media all we want but it can start with us. We all need to be more accepting of other people, to treat them in a way we would want to be treated.
And we need to be strong in ourselves and have the confidence to just be ourselves, whatever our size and shape.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. As with everything I write, it’s my personal opinions based on my experiences. And our personal opinions are alway skewed so let me know! Is this something other people feel? Are you plus size and have judged others or are you petite and have an opinion on those larger than yourself?