'The F Word'

A boy once said to me: 'You've got a pretty face. Shame about the body. Kinda ruins the whole thing.' I asked him what that was supposed to mean and he replied with, 'well you're not exactly thin are you?'. It's always stayed with me and probably always will.

I'm a heavy user of the f word. I've called myself 'fat' for years. Medically, I am overweight and I look large next to my friends but that's the way it's always been. A majority of my body issues being a long-term effect of medical problems, it's only been recently that I've started substituting the f word for better words like curvy and shapely. But even these words have a stigma to them now. It seems curvy can be thrown out as an insult just as easily as fat can. I don't love my body, I'm far from that milestone. 

But I do have my good days, the kinda days when you wanna dance in your underwear. And I celebrate on these days.

Body image is such a huge issue. There are powerful women who work hard for their bodies and are still called fat. There are women who are proud of a few pounds disappearing on the scales. There are women who refuse to ration their food or happiness because of other people's opinions. There are women who struggle everyday to feel comfortable in their own skin, but still get up and get on with their day. There are women who simply do what they want when they want and how they want with their bodies. All of these options are okay.

Celebrity body shaming frustrates me just as much as hearing an over-confident, 15 year old call me fat when I pass in the corridor. Why do we and the media, constantly put women down instead of building them up?

'Pretty Little Liars' star Sasha Pieterse was struggling with a serious hormone imbalance and was met with consistent comments about her weight gain due to being slimmer as a child star and the camera affecting her appearance. Beauty guru / vlogger Tanya Burr is constantly harassed about her shorter, fuller body shape despite being happy in herself with her workouts and beach selfies. Demi Lovato, a former Disney child star who battled with an eating disorder, recovered and worked on her figure yet now receives a lot of comments about being overweight. Little Mix singer, Jesy Nelson is often referred to as being the 'fat one' in the group.

Jennifer Lawrence has turned down movie roles when asked to excessively slim down. Everybody has seen the pictures of her photoshopped photoshoots that make us question the magazines we trust. "In Hollywood, I'm obese. I'm considered a fat actress. I eat like a caveman. I'll be the only actress that doesn't have anorexia rumours! I'm never going to starve myself for a part. I'm invincible. I don't want little girls to be like, 'Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I'm going to skip dinner!"

There are examples we should follow to spread body image positivity. Everyone knows about Marilyn Monroe, incredibly comfortable as a size 16 and her body shape made her no less beautiful. She was and still is an icon for body confidence. Her figure was desirable but now considered obese by today's standards.

We are seeing progress though. In recent years, many celebrities have been made to feel beautiful and independent despite what the media may say about their bodies. While clearly not a size 0, when Adele made her glorious return to the throne with her album 25, there was only talk of how wonderful she looked and how wonderful her new album was. Female comedians and actresses Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Miranda Hart and Ruth Jones are all labelled as 'plus-sized' women but are individually successful based on their confidence and hilarious wit. Their plus sized bodies don't change the fact that they are talented. The same goes for Amy Schumer who posted a topless picture of herself on social media for the 2016 Pirelli calendar with the comment, "Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman." Despite her confidence in herself, the actress did receive negative comments on her photo from young people (often women) calling her disgusting and gross. Schumer is spreading acceptance of all body types and is comfortable in her own skin. That's enough for her, she's still a powerful woman.

Celebrities, particularly reality stars who slim down, are seen as an investment. Binky Felstead, Vicky Pattinson and Charlotte Crosby are prime examples of this. Some even have their own fitness dvds and Pattinson has her own nutritional range. Although these stars and many others worked incredibly hard for their bodies, there is also no doubt that they also had help from professionals. However, these stars were unhappy and they fixed it, they controlled their bodies. The underlying fact here is that a majority of the fuel to 'shed a few pounds' does come from the media's expectations and can be a damaging influence on young women and those who are unhappy with their bodies.

Would it be different if we walked around with labels on our heads to explain our body issues? 'Suffering with chronic illness', 'emotional bingeing', 'no understanding of how to get fit'. Would there be more acceptance? Would there be more help avaliable? Would there be a wider choice of roles for plus-sized females in film and television other than 'the funny one'? Would we stop comparing ourselves to the glossy photographs?

All of the women I have mentioned are healthy. These women are talented, happy and successful. Most importantly, these women probably don't care what other people think and respect themselves. They make decisions for themselves and do exactly what they want. Nobody else has control over their bodies.

I think what I'm trying to say is, at the end of the day it's down to you. Wether you're a size 2 or a size 20. Nobody has the right to control your body except you. You want to lose weight seriously with strict diet and long daily workouts? DO IT. You're happy to eat pizza and cookies all day? DO IT. You wanna wear something tight or something showing more skin than usual? DO IT. You want to get professional help to feel comfortable with yourself? DO IT.

Accept what you can't change, change what you can't accept.

Let's take the stigma away from the 'f' word. I am not fat because I have fat. I'm a bigger girl and certainly look large in comparison with my friends. But I am also funny, smart, kind, successful and beautiful despite my body. I am pretty great. We all are.

'You Can Barely Handle Your Hair'

There’s a fine line between my worst and my best
And honey, I didn’t let you close to see either

My worst is a monster
spurting fire and hatred and blood
drowning in plain sight
and doesn’t want to be saved
gagging on spite
gurgling venom
red and black and everything so dark
covered in cobwebs
self destructing
envious, angry, evil
a burnt lasagne, a cold coffee
broken windows and no central heating
dusty journals, twice licked envelopes
pencil sharpenings
sad, old, lonely swing sets
scars on muscle
an empty movie theatre
an apocalyptic wasteland

My best is a goddess
a bottle of sunrise and the first bite of a cookie
enticing, inviting, fulfilling
curls and curves and shapely features
singing in full soprano
waltzing on the moon
skin like fireworks
celebrating and finding my voice
a mouth like sparklers
collection of possibility
the never ending sky
a bottomless jug of custard
heinz tomato soup in winter
the first snowfall
the sharp breath before a kiss
a late night drive to nowhere
a fish reflecting rainbows
a child’s first laugh
a dream

You ran away within months
And I ask myself how you’d have handled me?
I’m everything I want to be
I’m everything I don’t 
I’m not a pick n’ mix for the bits you like
You can barely handle your hair in the morning
so I ask myself, how could you have handled me?