Unconditional Body Beautiful - Part One

Hello sweet peas,

I've joined a body positivity workshop run by Rebecca from Rebequita Rose which is along a similar vein as Love EVERY Body, which I hosted last year. There's always room for more body positivity so when Rebecca asked me to join I was glad to accept.

Our first month's assignment is to talk about My body and I from the beginning.

Have you always loved your body? Why? How has your perception of your body changed over the years? How has your style evolved over the years in reference to your body perception? Do you dress to hide or flatter your body? ***Have you always been plus size/thin? How was each size different besides the obvious?

No, I have not always loved my body. I came out of the womb fat. I was a fat baby, a fat toddler, a fat child, a fat teenager and so on. I had a hard time growing up because I didn't have a single individual who told me I was OK to be me. Almost everyone made fun of me for my weight or commented on my weight when I was a child - other school kids, my own family, members of my mum's church and so on. Now it enrages me to think about the way adults talk to young children about their bodies and give them a complex about them. I had a very hard time growing up, as do so many other kids for a variety of reasons.

As you can see in the photos below I was a round faced 11 year old, but by the time I was 15 my love of walking had burned away much of my puppy fat, but I still thought I was huge because that's all I'd been told my whole life. My mum was also fat and had put me on my first diet (with the intervention of the family doctor) before the first photo was taken. My mum never meant to make me feel like a freak (and if you ever read this mum, I'm sorry, I know you just wanted me to have a better life than you did) but that's what happened and I thought no matter what happened I was fat, and would always be thought of as fat. I did lose weight by extremely unhealthy means when I was 17, but although my bones were sticking out all over the place, I still thought I was fat. Parents, this is what you do to your kids when you criticise their bodies at a young age.

11 year old me

15 year old me

The teenage years are hard for all of us. Our bodies are doing strange things and we're so hyper-aware we feel like the whole world is watching us. Having my body policed and commented on by other people since I was a child made this a particularly horrible time and I wouldn't go back to my teens for anything.

After I left school I had an office job for a few years, and from then on the next 15 years of my working life was spent in very active jobs, the most active of which was the 4 years I was cleaning airplanes. I was doing 4 x 12 hour shifts a week and the job involved heavy lifting, lots of running up and down aircraft steps, cleaning at a fast pace with ex-military police managers yelling at us to go faster (all of our managers were ex-forces - the job seemed to suit angry, micromanaging men) and lots and lots of brutally hard work. And still I was fat. Being fat for me has never been about laziness or excess - I've always loved exercise and worked (and played) like a trojan until Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME rendered me too ill to work. My mum was fat, my nan was fat, and probably her mum before her too. It's just the way my family rolls.

Life has always been a mixed bag for me, because although I was always fat and I knew some people treated me differently because of it, I also knew I was pretty and never had any problem attracting partners. I never felt any less likely to get a job because I was fat, for instance, as I've always had bags of personality. I never saw my size as a hindrance. I saw the people who treated me differently to others because of my size as being shallow idiots.

I did have a bit of an epiphany in 1998 when my nan died. I realised this is it - we are all really mortal, and all of us will one day die. (Prior to that I'd been working on the typical young person assertion that I was invincible. ;) ) It made me come out of my shell a bit and care less about what other people thought of me, and that has very much been a work in progress ever since.

I had dieted on and off from the age of about 10 (maybe earlier, I can't remember exactly when it was I was put on my first diet) until the age of about 35 or 36, when I finally had enough of it. Where had dieting got me? Fatter and fatter continuously. In fact the only time my weight and size stabilised was when I stopped dieting. About 2-3 years ago I discovered plus size blogs, and since that time I've immersed myself in them, as well as the body positive movements on Tumblr and Instagram. I also stopped reading magazines (most of them are obsessed with diets) and newspapers who are also sold on the 'only thin is worthwhile' message. Ugh.

Now I'm possibly as fat as I've ever been, but strangely I've never loved my body more. I've stopped beating myself up for the most part and concentrate on being the healthiest me I can, all my complex mental and physical health needs taken into account. Loving myself has NEVER been about the size of my body. It's about filtering out all the rubbish which society teaches us about our bodies.

Since I've been blogging I've learned so much about my body - how it looks from almost every angle, and what suits it. I choose to 'flatter' it or show it off in its natural state depending on my moods. 

The other participants so far:


Thanks for reading. This workshop will last for a year and will have monthly topics.
Leah xoxo

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