Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Skin You're In

I'm not usually one to preach regarding body image. I've read my fair share of articles condemning slender girls as anorexic/bad influences & other articles that shun women who are above a commercial standard UK size 10. I myself have gone through stages of not being happy with my body, and my insecurities were only confirmed upon reading such articles. I'm not here to pass judgement on you for being bigger or smaller in size to me. I believe I was put on this planet to spread positivity and to inspire others to become better people, not bring people down because their appearance may not be what I will refer to in this article as "appropriate".

Recently I was personally attacked for being smaller than what other people deemed appropriate. A couple of comments were made about my body appearing photo shopped and that only via a photographer's skills in "illusion" could I possibly have a waist as small as I do. I hit the first comment head on and laughed about it, but yes, it hurt me because this is who I am. Someone who knew nothing about me was making judgements about me and voicing them on a social media website where both myself and the designer whose clothes I was modelling could see their criticism and potentially take it to heart. A model friend of mine told me that it only stemmed from jealousy and once you've reached a point of success in the modelling world you're bound to be criticised. I know he's so right, but how sad is that, just because someone else may envy my appearance or my success, they are given a free pass to criticise me on a public forum.

Everyone has moments of being judgemental and making comments about others, whether it's out of envy or purely because they actually think that person is too slender/fat. I'm fine with being judged behind closed doors. Talk about how sick my limbs make you feel or how you want to feed me a steak to your friends, but when you publish that sort of pathetic attempt at validating yourself online, expect some backlash.... which is exactly what these critics received from some lovely strangers who came to my rescue. The one thing I owe to these vindictive individuals is that their criticism sprouted several emails directly to myself full of love and compliments. You, my sweetharts, really make me feel so loved sometimes. Thank you!

Less than a week later, however, I had a stranger come up to me in a nightclub and grab hold of my left arm whilst asking me if she could possibly feed me something because I looked hungry. As this woman was reasonably larger in stature than myself I could have easily been painfully critical of her appearance, but what would that have achieved? She'd have been just as frustrated about a stranger making a comment about her figure as I was, and that's not what I'm about. I'm about finding the beauty in every individual. But her comment has prompted me to no longer allow anyone, whether they are a friend, family member or stranger, the opportunity to get away with muttering a negative or sarcastic comment about my body. After all, sarcasm is often just criticism masked by humour and I've put up with way too much of it recently.

I am consistently surrounded by women and men of different size and stature. Some are happy the way they are, others are pushing for change or they sit on the sidelines of life feeling low in regards to their appearance and consistently poking fun of other people to validate themselves. I will always bring all these people up, and to those who are unhappy I will recommend ways of them becoming happier. I will also tell someone to pull their head in when they say something negative about someone else's body to that person.

My friends and family would tell you I will occasionally refer to "positive space" where negativity is unacceptable. I would never call any of my friends "FAT" or "ANOREXIC" no matter how big or small they are. If someone feels they would be happier if they were slimmer and they are happy to be offered advice, I will provide it. I would also attempt to provide advice if someone wanted to move up a weight class because they weren't happy looking what some uneducated individuals would deem "anorexic". In the instance where someone is seriously anorexic, it is pretty easy to notice, and it is for their immediate family or their partner to help them through, not for a stranger to point out. Just as when someone needs to lose weight for health purposes, this again falls to those closest to them, who they trust and who are doing it out of love not to criticise. If you do not fall into this category, don't mention it.

To put things straight, I do not starve myself to be the way I am, nor do I eat everything that my eyes fall upon. I am also coeliac and have allergies/intolerances to various other foods, so that cuts out a lot of fast food and causes me to check labels on products to check that I can eat them (which in turn eliminates a lot of impulsive eating/grocery shopping). I have a balanced diet and I exercise a minimum five days a week. I do this for me, because even though I may be dangling a red flag at critics, yes I do enjoy being a UK size 4-6. I was not happy when I was a size 8-10. I was unsatisfied with my appearance and hated when people would refer to me as looking "healthier", as after years of being the "slim, slender girl" that term just made me feel fat. Saying this however I do not expect anyone else to be a size 4-6, it's up to you to decide what size makes you happy. If you're a happy, healthy size 16 good for you! If you're happy being a healthy size UK 2, embrace it.

Love the skin you're in and try not to make anyone feel self-conscious about their own skin.

Images from top:
The image that sprouted the original criticism on Bernie Dexter's facebook page
A more recent modelling image
Sharing my love of food on instagram