TW: Body issues/mental health
Hello everyone! It’s a glorious day here, with the sun shining, Jameela Jamil’s podcast playing and a bounty of plants are waving their leaves on our shelf (hopefully going to grow into big, fruitful beauties). The warmer weather is coming (I’ve taken my thermal socks off for once) and everyone seems hopeful that maybe the threat of Covid-19 is finally waning. Everything seems good, right?
I’m struggling with a particular issues amid all of this. Of course, I love the sunny weather, and I am so pleased that the world is possibly becoming a safer place for our collective health. However, all of these things mean that it is likely that we will all be outside and around others as much as possible this summer, starved of human contact as we are. That also means that it is probably going to be frowned upon to be taking to the streets in my bleach stained leggings or my baggiest jumper. It’s not going to be feasible to be wrapped in my fabulous furry coats and layers of scarves and gloves.
This time of year is scary for those of us with disordered eating and dysmorphic body images. I haven’t bought jeans in two and a half years. I am terrified of shopping for clothes for myself, unless it’s something so oversized that there is no chance that it won’t fit. Every item I look at has me imagining my stomach billowing like a river over the top, my chest spilling over the neck line or my hips pressing through the fabric until I’m so upset that I back out of buying anything. Even as I’m writing this, it seems like such a little problem, that I can’t shop. I’m constantly reminding myself that it is a valid feeling and that we shouldn’t diminish these feelings about ourselves.
So today I took my biggest step, after a week of trying and ending in panic attacks and depression: I bought some clothes. I know that there is still a hurdle to come, which is putting them on. The ‘trying on’ period can be even worse than the shopping. Having those fears confirmed when something doesn’t fit seems to align itself in my mind with all my other negative thoughts about myself. Diet culture seems to seep through any sort of armour I put around myself, trying to learn to love myself. I am a tall woman, with curves and a large bust. I don’t fit into any of the categories online, where tall clothes are designed for the women without curves, and the curve clothes are designed for people 5’5 and below. I can recognise these facts. I know that in some stores I am a 14, in others a 22. I can fix those facts in my mind and try to reason with that age old phrase of ‘it’s only a number’, but it all goes out the window when I try to shop.
Women are told from a young age to be small, to be quiet and not to take up space, physically or mentally. Diet culture permeates modern culture, teaching all of us that to be thin to to be correct: to be healthy, to be loved, to be valued. Even when someone is thin, if they are the ‘wrong’ kind of thin, they are still wrong. Fat shaming and skinny shaming mean that no one wins within diet culture. Our media straps are full of before and after photos, congratulating changing a body to be one step closer to that promised perfection. One person’s ‘goals’ is another person’s insecurity, whether it’s the shape of their bum, the size of their thighs or the angle of their sternum. Even our favourite celebrities, our trusted idols, begin hocking weight loss tea or appetite suppressing lollipops. It feels like there aren’t many places left to turn.
The journey to self love isn’t easy, and unfortunately, buying jeans is part of that journey. Picking a day when you feel mentally stronger, having someone sat with you who supports and loves you, or even asking them to pick for you can all be ways around it. I am lucky that my partner saw how much I was struggling and took it upon themselves to buy jeans for me. Sometimes it’s not worth the drama. They’re just jeans. Don’t let them ruin your day (and I’ll try to not let them ruin mine).
If you’re looking for positive media, check out the people below on their social media:
- @jamilajamil and her podcast ‘iWeigh’ (@iweigh) where body image, beauty, self love and mental health, amongst other topics are discussed with amazing guests
- @tessholliday is a fabulous plus size model who says Eff Your Beauty Standards and brings sexy to all sizes
- @selfloveliv is a body positivity influencer and self proclaimed ‘YOUR INTERNET BEST FRIEND’
- @iambeckyd_ runs a fitness page and also showcases her style of strong queer masculine fashion
- @maddylucydann is a very tall doctor who is hilarious, as well as so confident in herself.
- @jess_megan_ is a midsize model who promotes self love, is sex positive and an embracer of all the lumps and bumps of every body.
There are so many more, but these sprang to mind. Let me know who your favourite body positive people are!