Do the thing. Eff the fear.

Hello pickles,

My friend shared this photo on Facebook a few days ago and thought I'd share and expand upon it as I love the sentiment behind it.

Last year I to the beach with my family who were visiting us. Did I prepare myself in any way for being near-naked in public? Did I fake tan, shave myself as bald as a billiard ball top to toe or make any other preparations? Nope. I was as pale as a milk bottle, slightly hairy legged, devoid of makeup and I didn't care at all. The joy of feeling sun, air and the bracing sea on my body was so freeing and joyful that I wouldn't have cared if anyone had stared at me, the fat girl in a swimming costume. I say that hand on heart. No one could have brought me down at that moment. I was too happy, and I would've pitied anyone who tried to piss on my parade.

As it was, there were all kinds of people near us on the beach from wrinkly old grannies to tiny kids, all of whom were having too much fun to care about anyone else's body. It was great to be reminded that bodies come all different ways - old, young, taut, saggy, wrinkly, smooth, pale, dark, thin, fat. All perfectly natural, all OK.

Fear is good, it keeps us alive. We learn from painful experiences and we hold onto the fear to keep us from experiencing the bad thing again. Fat people deal with stigma and oppression on a daily basis and we might have more fear, or different fears to others, but we all have fears. Sometimes our fear response is out of proportion. I did CBT to reduce my crippling anxiety. It gave me the tools I need to determine if my fear is appropriate in any situation. (I didn't have CBT to give me confidence about my body, but as my confidence grew generally it was a happy side effect.) I started off challenging myself with small things that made me uncomfortable, and as each thing went well (everything did, without fail) it gave me more hope and confidence. I learned that things were far worse in my head than in reality.

I knew when I was on my way to the beach that there was a possibility someone may have given me evil looks, mocked me or insulted me, but I did it anyway. And I grew stronger from facing that fear. 

Find a way to challenge yourself once in a while, even if you start off with baby steps. If might be going from wearing long sleeved tops to short sleeved tops, and then braving bare arms. I guarantee the world won't implode. It might be going swimming in a t shirt over your swimsuit, or it might be rocking a bikini. It might be wearing all the bright colours instead of your safe black top-to-toe look. It might be trying a new hairstyle or getting your legs out in the sun for the first time in 20 years. Whatever your big fear is, work up to it in small bites or big chunks - just work at it. If people don't like what they see when they look at you, they can look away. Do the thing. Eff the fear. Live your life.

Happiness is on the other side of fear. For me, the joy of doing something I really want to do - like go to the beach - is far bigger than the fear of doing it.

Thanks for reading,
Leah xoxo

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