I always find that January is the hardest time of the year to exist as a fat person. Everything we see, hear and experience is focussed on the assumption that with a new beginning, there will be a need for a new body. Here are some things to remember this January. Please read them if you find yourself struggling.
It’s not really a new beginning
Let’s be real: the 1st of January is just another day. Nothing magical happens as those bells ring. Sure, we hang up different calendars, but honestly the only pressure to ‘start again’ is entirely societal. You are as valid on the 1st of January as you were on the 31st of December. A new year is simply a continuation; one day after another, as we put one foot in front of the other and just keep walking through life. Time is linear, not revolutionary. Please do not put your body on a deadline.
You are not fundamentally wrong
It’s so bloody difficult to sit in a room of people (particularly women, in my experience) who are dieting and confidently say “no, I am not on a diet”. When you catch the quick snap of the eyes down your body and back up, wondering what it is about you that makes you immune to the January panic. The thing to remember is that the majority of people have been conditioned to believe that their bodies are subject to a continual process of change, and when they see somebody who is not suffering in the same way it can often make them feel insecure. This does not make you wrong and it does not make other people wrong. It just makes everybody different.
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Rationalise your triggers
In any other month of the year, I’d be telling you to mute people. But honestly, in January it is just impossible. You’d be muting almost every single person you follow if you avoided your trigger words, and you’d be ill-prepared for your life ‘outside’ of the internet. January is a minefield, and with every step you risk jeopardising your own mental state. Instead of burying your head in the sand – which, believe me, is my first instinct – you need to strap on your armour and walk through it all. You need to think of key phrases to repeat to yourself. You need to remind yourself why you are doing the things you do, and why they are doing the things they do. Instead of muting people, simply increase the amount of people you follow: flood your thread with positivity, so that the words which sting you are few and far between.
We are all in this together
And I actually mean it this time, not like when David Cameron said it. Surround yourself with your allies and speak up when you’re feeling overwhelmed: chances are, they are too. Read body positive publications (I know a good one…), search for hashtags on Instagram and make some new friends. We’re all walking the same journey, but January is the month of obstacles so be ready to be there to give your friends a leg-up over some of them.
And above all, remember: it will all die down soon enough. You just need to survive.