It’s just puppy fat- you’ll lose it as you get older. Chocolate eclair! You’re a bit podgy aren’t you? You fat bitch!
These are a small recollection of things that were said to me and what I was called while I was growing up. I tried not to let them bother me; I tried to ignore the horrible comments and remarks. I was bullied for plenty of other things too, but being ‘fat’ was one of the main things I was picked on for. There were only a few other children who were the same size or larger than me, so we were different, which was a great opportunity for bullies.
I don’t know what it’s like for young children now. It’s the same I guess, but since more children are becoming larger at an earlier age and Britain is having an obesity crisis, children are probably being bullied for other things, or the largest ones are being picked on.
Whatever the situation is now, my opinion of my own body image has changed. I love my body more than I ever have in my life. I’ll admit that having a go at losing body weight, which has changed my body shape and image, made me feel more confident about myself. However, even though I’ve put nearly all of the weight I’ve lost back on again, I still love my body and feel confident about my body image.
This may seem difficult to others to come to terms with, but I’ve proven to myself that it shouldn’t matter what shape or size you are. Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin and how they want to look. Everyone should feel confident and fabulous about their own body image.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. We live in a world where on a daily basis, we see advertisements of thin people, idealistic expectations of beauty and ideologies of how we should all look, what we should aim for. This just doesn’t damage individuality, but can also greatly affect self-confidence and self-esteem. Even worse, photoshop is used constantly to make celebrities and other people look absolutely perfect on the front of magazines.
I went through phases during my childhood where I wanted to lose body weight, mostly due to the bullying (despite trying to ignore it). I look back on these methods as dangerous; I’m lucky that I didn’t stick to them for the long-term, otherwise I could’ve been seriously ill. I would eat nothing at break time, eat very little for lunch and drink very little or nothing during the school day. I even attempted this at college during my GCSEs for a while, where an apple would suffice for my lunch.
These methods worked. I lost some body weight quickly, my clothing started to become baggy on me and my family were pleased that I was shifting some pounds. But I couldn’t keep doing it. These methods only worked temporarily. As soon as I started eating normally again and drinking plenty the weight went back on, but at least I was being sensible by realising that this wouldn’t work.
You’d probably think that I would’ve learnt my lesson by college and stopped attempting to fast. In my final year as an undergraduate when I really started pushing myself to lose some body weight by joining the gym, I decided to try out Slim Fast. Again I sacrificed my lunch by drinking a Slim Fast milkshake, which was powder mixed with semi-skimmed milk, and had a cereal bar or a piece of fruit as a snack alongside the diet shake. While it saved me a bit of time since I didn’t need to make myself lunch, this method, once again, only worked temporarily.
I should’ve realised it wouldn’t work in the first place since you are supposed to use Slim Fast for a short period of time (hence the name) and there are products which replace your whole day of what you’d normally eat. I take caution in saying this, but Slim Fast is ok to use if you want to lose some body weight quickly for a special event so you can get into an outfit you may struggle to fit into, but once you stop using Slim Fast, the body weight will go back on.
As soon as I came back to live at home I stopped using Slim Fast, as I knew that my parents wouldn’t approve. I had enough of it by that point as well. On the other side of the coin, I was almost two stone lighter when I came back home. I lost that much body weight in the space of five months through changing my diet and taking regular exercise (plus Slim Fast). I received a lot of positive comments from friends and family and I started to fit into clothing sizes which I dreamed of fitting into when I was younger.
Since being back at home from university for nearly two years a lot has changed. I was 13.12 stone in June 2014, and now I’m currently 15.9 stone. I ran my first 10km race non-stop in 1 hour and 11 minutes in July 2015, weighing about a stone lighter than I am now. I ran over 10km for the first time recently, running 14.5km in 1 hour and 37 minutes non stop. I have a lot more muscle in my thighs and my legs look great, even with a bit more body fat on them at the moment.
What I’ve learnt over the past few years is a very important message, especially for those who consider themselves as ‘fat’, ‘overweight’ or are considered to be this way:
You don’t have to be thin to be fit.
The human body is amazing, and you can train it to do anything, no matter your body weight. I’ve said this before, but I never thought I would be able to run a long distance race without having to stop or being unable to complete it from being too tired/worn out. Being called a ‘fat bitch’ at school made it difficult for me to confidently excel myself in P.E. lessons, when children (and sometimes teachers) would make you feel degraded if you did try to push yourself and you became puffy and out of breath, which was because you were a ‘fat bitch’.
I never took up regular exercise until recently in my life because I thought people would laugh at me for trying to improve my fitness and lose some weight. I even tried running in the back garden at home but that was just one Saturday morning many years ago. This proves that your childhood does have a profound effect on your adolescence and adulthood, but it’s important to overcome what you’ve experienced in the past because these don’t count now, and they don’t matter either.
Ever since I joined the gym and started running outside, I’ve never received a hateful comment or been bullied for excelling myself despite being overweight. Despite the fat on my arms and my bottom jiggling about while I’m running, I’ve never had a look of scorn or felt a sense of degradation. I’ve seen people much larger than myself at the gym and running outside, which is wonderful and great to see.
My weight life is complicated.
For most of my life I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body and its weight. I’ve always been a large individual, and I’ve experienced what it’s like to be at different body weights, but now I’ve learnt just to love myself. I’m working on taking care of my body more, by opting for healthier options and working out more often. It may seem contradictory that I’m trying to lose body weight even though I love my body, but that is one of the reasons why I’m trying to lose some weight, because I love my body.
I’m learning to take care of it, while still enjoying the food pleasures in life (I’m a sucker for chocolate and sweet treats). I am embracing my body as it is, and I will still do in my weight loss journey, however long it takes.
I now feel confident enough to share this photo of when I was in Spain in July last year. I was putting on my tankini when it got raveled up at the back and it looked like I was wearing a bikini. I’ve never worn a bikini before and it will take me a long time before I muster up the courage to wear one, all because of the negativity associated with overweight and ‘fat’ people showing their flesh to the world. I’d like to wear a bikini one day, definitely.
Whatever choices you make and however you decide to live your life, everyone should feel free to be comfortable in their own skin and feel confident about their body image. Whatever journey you’re taking your body on, make sure your weight life is a good and happy one.