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The Long Journey To Self Love
In the words of the magnanimous drag queen RuPaul; if you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love someone else?
They’re sound words to live your life by, but just how easy is it? How do you turn on the self love switch? It’s a different journey for everyone, but here’s mine.
As a plus size babe growing up it wasn’t always smooth sailing, especially getting to grips with growing up and joining the world of adults (I still haven’t done that last one, I don’t think).
I’d already experienced how cruel other children could be, but by the time I reached my late teens, I had more or less got it covered. I developed a larger than life personality and a good sense of humour to boot, and was ready to take on the world, ready for university and working life. I broke into modelling for the first time, and was having an amazing time. My self esteem was growing fast!
Sadly, aged nineteen and at UK size 24, I learned a hard and valuable lesson about visiting my doctor on a routine appointment. Sometimes, they treat your size and not you.
I sat in front of this man – this qualified doctor – who laughed at me. He accused me of lying about my eating habits and activity levels, then signed a load of sheets for diabetes tests, all the while making certain I knew the NHS was wasting a lot of money to do so. I left, both in tears and without the tablets I’d gone in there to get.
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In short; within a year, I developed an eating disorder, and became preoccupied with meagre calorie intake and excessive amounts of daily exercise. No matter what I did, nothing was ever enough and eventually I hit a UK 10 to 12.
Closest friends and family warned me I was going too far but I viewed them as saboteurs. My mind had convinced me I needed to keep losing, no matter what. It wasn’t until I collapsed at university from malnutrition that I began listening to them. Thus began the slow recovery of mind and body, and it almost cost me my degree.
This story has a happy ending, I promise! Fast forward six years and this is me now, at a UK 18-20. For me, this is where I am comfortable:
Furthermore, the doctor I saw has left the surgery and possibly even the profession. Oh, and I got the degree.
Would I say I love myself now? Not always. There are some days where it can be hard, and if I’m not careful I start comparing myself to others and getting critical of myself. For a long while, I felt a fraud for telling others to love themselves when I couldn’t.
For me, the key is to retrain my brain.
I fill my life with fellow plus size babes who empower me and keep my inner dialogue positive. We are all bombarded with media images of what’s “acceptable” so I fight back with empowering and body positive hashtags. I make sure that when I look in the mirror I pick out something I like. If I can’t do that on a particular day, I remind myself that my body has been with me my entire life, battled through illness and neglect and continues to love me even when I don’t love it.
Think of what makes you, YOU. Perhaps it’s your witty sense of humour. Maybe you like your eyes, or maybe you like your bum! Or, if nothing else, thank your body for keeping you alive, thick or thin.
Photo 1: Graham Sessions
Photo 2: Light and Darker
Photo 3: Graham Dean