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Not thin enough for mainstream, too thin for plus size? 

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!!!

woman with scars on stomach ibd blogger sam cleasby

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. ”

beyonce rule

 

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.

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

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?

Sam x

That time I was the same size as Alexa Chung. Or maybe not.

You know the whole One Size Fits All thing? Well, it turns out that a size 16 mother of 3 is not the same size and shape as model and all round tiny, gorgeous woman Alexa Chung

How do I know this? Well apart from physics, common sense and having a pair of working eyes, I once ended up in a spa with the lovely Chung in New York and what followed was so awful that I can only now laugh about it, years later.

I had gone to New York to see my husband who was working at the time for Arctic Monkeys and Alexa was dating the singer.  We had met and hung out a few times and being the thoroughly lovely and welcoming person she is, she invited me on a girly day out with one of her friends.

After a fab morning shopping at Bloomingdales, we met for brunch and I felt like I was in a film, though to be fair, I always feel like I’m on a movie set when I am in America.  I am just a normal girl from Sheffield, there was no coolness from me, I was like a giddy kipper.  Anyway the plan was to go get our nails done, but when we arrived it was mentioned about going to the day spa.  Neither Alexa or I had any swimwear but the receptionist assured us they could supply bikinis, I wasn’t super hyped about this but thought I would go along with it as I DO love a spa.

So we pay and then this smug faced receptionist hands us two small bags, the size of the bag immediately worries me as inside were our swimmers.

“Whose is whose?” I asked.  “Oh they are one size fits all!” she chirpily replies.

alexa chung

I looked to my left at the tall, model-like stature of my pal and then down at my chunky arse and wider than average tummy and then back to the receptionist, “You are fucking kidding, right?”

“No” she replies as she shoos us down towards the changing room, “believe me, they’ll fit!”

Before I could even think I am in a changing room looking down at the smallest pair of paper pants and bikini top imaginable.  I am considering just doing a runner when I see Alexa’s face is as aghast as mine.  “It’ll be fine!” she says with a fake cheer.

We undress.  In an open changing room, because seriously, who needs privacy here?! I put on the pants and am relieved they go over my hips but realise that I must walk with my knees together so they don’t rip up the sides and I don’t get arrested for public indecency.  The paper bikini top covers my nipples.  That’s it.  Just nips.  I want to fall into a deep hole and die.

Chung puts on her bikini and we stand side by side looking in the mirror.  Her pants are pulled up to her chest and the bra is hanging off.  For a moment, there is a stunned silence.  Then we burst out laughing.  We look fucking ridiculous and there is no way around it but to hysterically laugh.

ileostomy bag bikini swimwear beachwear holiday

Inside I am dying a little, I am stood next to a gorgeous model, fit to burst in a paper bikini with my stretch marks, big boobs and cellulite hanging out.  Then she says to me “my tits look ridiculous in this, yours look amazing”.  And I realise that we judge ourselves, we are always so harsh on our own looks that we don’t actually bother thinking about other people.  I was scared she would laugh at me when actually, like most women, she was simply concentrating on her own image.

We ended up using both of our paper bras to fashion one mega bikini top to hold my puppies in place whilst she went in her own bra.  (Why on earth we both didn’t just wear our own knickers and bras I have no idea!)

As we hung out in the spa in what turned out to be a lovely day, we talked about our sizes and how difficult it was to be in the public eye.  She has been slated time and time again for her size, and it made me think about how hung up we are on a woman’s size and shape.  You can’t win, you are either too fat or too thin, too wobbly or too muscly.  Judging women based entirely on their shape is a tool to shut us up, it is a way to objectify us and discredit our worth.

I am far more than the size of my arse, the number in the back of my dress bears no relevance to my character.  Body shaming is everywhere these days and even as I go around the UK talking to women about self esteem and body confidence, the response I get back is often negative towards thinner women.  The term ‘real women’ pisses me right off, as if those under a size 10 are some robotic alien dolls sent back from the future to make all other women feel shit about themselves.

And ladies, we have to take responsibility for this because we are our own worst enemy.  Don’t judge and shame the woman next to you, don’t assume anything about her because of the shape of her body or size of her ass.  Don’t be so free and easy with the ‘skinny bitch’ comments.  (Most) people wouldn’t dream of telling me to get a salad, yet more will happily tell a slimmer woman to eat a pie!

Let’s just start on loving ourselves.  Even when you are in a paper bikini stood next to a model.

 

Sam x

 

 

Sam x

Fat is not sexy…

These are the words of Steve Miller, do you remember him? He did a show called Fat Families where he basically bullied people into exercise and eating salad by calling them “massive fatties” at every opportunity in order to motivate them to lose weight.

Well I unfortunately stumbled upon his twitter feed yesterday and unsurprisingly it is filled with fat shaming posts.  What does surprise me is how far he is willing to push his condemnation of overweight people.  His feed is filled with venomous statements labelling people “fat” “lazy” and stating that they aren’t curvy, just fat.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Here’s the charmer himself telling the world about the “reality” and “truth” that fat people are unattractive and aren’t able to be in a loving relationship.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Also fat people don’t have sex.  It’s the truth, it must be!!! This vile Alan Carr wannabe said so!!  All I can think is that he has been taking a leaf out of the Katie Hopkins school of fame and hopes that if he can be as offensive as possible then he will gain fame.  He extolls himself as ‘the Simon Cowell of the slimming world’ with his Mr Nasty character and believes that fat shaming helps to motivate people to lose weight.

What a dick.

I really want to post an intelligent and reasoned argument as to why this vile toad is wrong, but I only have expletives!  How very fucking dare he?  His ‘reality’ and ‘truth’ is bullshit.  He doesn’t get to judge others on their outward appearance and assume that his fucked up, warped view of the world is the truth.

“The reality is; most men don’t want an overweight lover so as soon as they begin to get heavier their partner begins to look elsewhere. After all, who wants a fat woman on top of them in the bedroom?”

What world is he living in? His assumption that all women want to be a size 6 and all men would baulk at the sight of a woman larger than a supermodel is fucking ridiculous.

You know what is sexy? Confidence.  There is nothing hotter than a person who glows with self love, who is happy, joyous and loving life.  You know that person who lights up a room when they enter, who is interesting and clever and witty and you are drawn to them.  And they may be a size 6 or a size 26, the outer shell doesn’t matter when you are in the presence of someone awesome.

You know what isn’t sexy? A person who tries to make money from shaming people into feeling bad about themselves, who name-calls and belittles others.  Somebody who takes their own hurt and pain and puts it onto others.

Worry not, because they amazing world of twitter has responded with vigour.  Awesome blogger and fat activist Daisy replied.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Whilst I pissed myself at Fat Becky‘s response…

steve miller fat shaming

Yeah, yeah I know lowering ourselves to mocking his appearance isn’t the most adult thing to do, but sometimes, some people are so vile that they kind of deserve it…

There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, get fitter or change your lifestyle, but how many really believe that someone bullying them will help? No one should lose weight because someone else makes them feel bad about themselves, weight loss and getting fitter should be a personal choice and one that is emotionally healthy for them.

And that personal choice goes both ways, a friend told me recently that she had been dieting for years and had started a new regime, her husband sighed heavily and told her that he would rather her gain another 5 stone than him have to see her punish herself any longer.  Not everyone wants to be thin, nor does every partner care what size their loved one is.

After my surgeries I was a little shy in front of my husband, I wore long vests in the bedroom to hide my changed body, this became a habit that I eventually tired of.  I realised I wasn’t fooling him, he didn’t think I was a size 0 under my size 16 vest!!! And so I rid myself of the garments and shook what my momma gave me… The result? An honest conversation where he told me that when I covered up it made him worry that I didn’t trust him to love me, it also made him think I couldn’t be enjoying myself if I was thinking about my stomach.

This vile man, Steve Miller, would like you all to believe that if you are fat, no one will love you.  I call bullshit.  If the people around you only care about the number in the back of your dress then dump those fuckers NOW.  True friends, partners, lovers care about you as a whole package and your size and shape pales into insignificance when it comes to your self esteem, confidence, joy and character.

Sex and love are about respect, trust, fun and excitement.  These things come through self esteem and a great relationship not through salads and treadmills.

Fat is not sexy? What a load of shit!!!

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No make up, no photoshop, size 16 and in the words of the amazing Amy Schumer, I can catch a dick any time I want…

Steve Miller, go fuck yourself!

 

Sam x