Recently I stumbled across this incredible lady – Megan of bodyposipanda.
Megan posts gorgeous images and messages around the theme of loving your body exactly as it is. This is body positivity, and it has its roots in rebelling against the incessant thin = beautiful, one dimensional standard of beauty we’re told to believe more or less from birth.
Though I’ve had my share of demons to battle, I’m fortunate to have never encountered an eating disorder myself, and I’m in awe of her strength in recovering and using that strength to continue to inspire people every day.
Reading through her posts, I’m struck by how similar her underlying message is to the reason I do what I do across all my businesses – the photography, the confidence coaching, the mermaid school, even the websites – it’s all about permission to be fully who you are, right now.
Inhabiting the body you have, fully and joyfully and lovingly – I am so sick of hearing people deny themselves a slice of cheesecake, or debate with themselves and their colleagues about whether they should have had that extra glass of wine. Of hearing and witnessing people go out for a Sunday roast and order a salad. Not because they’re vegan, or because they prefer salad, but because they feel guilty for eating and worry about the weight they’re putting on.
I once joined (on sufferance, but to support someone I loved) a weight loss group. I’d accompanied my Mum years ago when I was small to a similar one, and even at the age of 7 or 8 I was baffled as to why these ladies would choose fake chocolate (remember Flyte bars?) over real chocolate, when they were all beautiful anyway, and there was never any drastic change in their weight week to week. I didn’t understand why weight was a thing women obsessed over, and to some extent I still don’t.
Here’s the thing:
Losing weight will not instantly make you happier.
Losing weight will not instantly make you healthier.
Fixating on your weight above all other measures of health & happiness will rob you of precious years of your life.
Sitting in that weight loss group, watching these glorious, vibrant women huddle under their own fear of having gained a pound or two, compare stories of what they had substituted for real food and being warned against going into “confession” mode by the facilitator (who, incidentally, was utterly lovely – this is not intended as an attack on her) – I left every single week wanting to cry. Not for myself, but for these women who were so set on getting thinner that they were prepared to lose a part of themselves and a precious evening every week to do so.
And don’t get me started on mixing balsamic vinegar with lemonade to simulate Pimms – just drink the damn Pimms and enjoy it!
Megan’s posts are wonderful – she embraces her body, squidgy bits and all, and shows us every single day that our bodies should be loved and respected, celebrated and shown off – exactly as they are. With a smattering of reminders that the female form is not solely for male enjoyment and sexual imagery; and that there is no one single ideal body.
She also supports Health At Every Size, which I will probably write at more length about. The comments on her Instagram are at once joyful and heartbreaking – the number of people, almost all women, who simply don’t think they’ll ever be able to accept or like, let alone love, their bodies, is breathtaking, and not in a good way.
Personally, I’ve had people express their disbelief:
that I am a size 16-18 and don’t want to change that;
that I don’t ever look at the scales;
that my weight & size fluctuates several clothing sizes up and down each year and I’m happy with that;
that I don’t see my clothing size label as a measure of my worth;
that I burlesque with stretch marks and tummy rolls and wibbly bingo wings;
that I wasn’t born with this self confidence and that I choose to love myself and my body each and every day.
And that is why I do what I do – why I photograph women in all their glory, all shapes and sizes and body types and levels of confidence. That is why I created the Unfurling Your Wings course, to allow women to access their other selves, the ones that get hidden and squashed by the thousands of images and messages that we’re bombarded with every day, that make us feel less than enough.
That is why I write and share, and thanks to Megan’s inspiration today, will get braver and bolder in both writing and sharing images of myself. It’s one of the big reasons I burlesque. If I can inspire one person to feel differently about their body after seeing mine, just one person to be kinder to themselves and listen a little less to the relentless quest for unattainable perfection… then it’s worth every troll, hater and ignorant comment.