encourage

 

“If you and I, every time we pass a mirror, downgrade on how we look or complain about our looks, if we remember that a girl is watching us and that’s what she’s learning”.

Gloria Steinem

 

Whoa. That didn’t quite go to plan.

 

Some of you may have noticed that I decided to write a blog post on Sunday about how I wore a bikini on holiday and how, basically, no-one gave a shit. It was just a big girl (me) … in a bikini. And that was that. It was meant as a positive body image post … one that would hopefully inspire some of my readers to think blimey, if Kate has the courage to wear a bikini when she’s a size 18 woman who’s had 2 children, and she’s not ashamed, then maybe I will too.

 

And some of you have been inspired! Not only have I had the most amazing blog comments left, tweets sent and Facebook support, but some of you have kindly sent me photos of yourself in your bikini and explained that it’s taken a long time to get to the point where you feel comfortable enough to wear a 2 piece, but you’ve finally found the courage to do so.

 

I’d call that a massive win!

 

However, and this is where it all went slightly … awry, Mumsnet kindly made me Blogger of the Day, which I’m very thankful for because it meant new women visited my blog and left comments that otherwise wouldn’t have found the article.

 

Every single person that left a comment, said nice things. They said I was awesome. They said they had been inspired to wear a bikini too. They said they thought I was great for ‘putting it all out there’ no matter what I looked like. And that’s all lovely, but I certainly didn’t write the post for an ego boost (as appreciated as it was!)

 

But what happened next upset me a little. The blog post went onto Mumsnet’s Facebook page and, well, I think you might know what happened next.

 

The trolls came out to play.

 

Except … I call them trolls, but they appear to be just other ‘normal’ women … women like you and me. Some of the things they said were bitchy, spiteful, fattist and downright nasty – not just about me, but all bigger women.

 

I’m a big girl, in every sense of the word … I can take it, but putting yourself ‘out there’ like I did, takes a lot of courage. I didn’t do it to ‘show off ‘… trust me, it’s taken me years to even be able to look at myself in a full length mirror and, as I’ve said before, I’m not exactly a young, gorgeous, sexy model. No, I did it to encourage other women. To share all of me … lumps and bumps included. Just to be ‘real.’ I often see glimpses into people’s lives online, but they’re snapshots of a ‘perfect’ life that they want to portray … allowing us to see only what they want us to. I didn’t want that post to be like that … I wanted to show exactly what I look like in real life. Stripped down. No make-up. Just normal.

 

It’s obvious some people on the Mumsnet thread completely missed the point and I would say, thankfully, that they were and are in the minority. The voice of this minority were DROWNED OUT by the voice of everyone else who said to them, “WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?”

 

My original post wasn’t written to discuss whether I’m healthy or not at this size, nor was it to bash thinner women … on the bloody contrary – it was written to celebrate women of all sizes.

 

I like to think I’m a nice person who is nice to other people (on the whole) – I was just raised that way. How I look has nothing to do with my soul or my heart … it’s just an external façade that will gradually decline even more as the years pass. It’s a shell that I’m proud to show off because … well, just because I want to – it’s been good to me, and I’ll be damned if anyone, anywhere thinks I ‘shouldn’t’ wear what I like just because I’m a plus size woman. Who is anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do?!

 

Some of the comments I read yesterday were just plain ugly.

 

I’d say yesterday was a game of two halves. I was buoyed by the support, admiration and encouragement from most women … yet bitterly disappointed by the minority who still want to fat shame others.

 

Women can be women’s worst critics.

 

So I don’t want this conversation to stop here. We should all be talking about how we feel about our bodies, and encourage each other, not disparage and judge so, if I may … could I possibly ask the writers amongst you to think about putting down your own thoughts about this subject in your own blog post (or even just on paper if you don’t blog).

 

I’m 43 and finally at an age where I’m comfortable with what I look like and who I am … I’m certainly not going to let a few lone voices make me feel bad in any way whatsoever.

 

Finally, I’ll say this.  As a mother, I want to raise my boys to know that they’re loved because of who they are, not what they look like, and, for my part, I have to lead by example.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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28 Comments

  1. Well said. This sentence has particularly struck me, thank you:

    How I look has nothing to do with my soul or my heart …

    You have inspired me Kate. I understand that the so-called ‘fat shaming’ brigade can claim that concerns for someone’s health are at the heart of what they say. While your post wasn’t about that, there was a sad inevitability about such vile comments from people who have bigoted and hurtful preconceptions about anyone who doesn’t fit in to their ideal.

    As someone said, their attitude is ugly.

    1. Oh Linda, thank you so much! You’re right … there was an element of inevitability about what happened, I just still find it incredible that people are so bigoted. Very sad x

  2. Hear hear!

    Glad you used the quote 🙂

    For the record, after years of being a fairly active Mumsnetter myself, I was also on the receiving end of bitchy, spiteful remarks (unconnected to body issues though).

    I terminated my Mumsnet account and wrote to MN to state my case.

    The sheer undiluted aggression that prompted some if the remarks made towards me made me realise that:

    – these are people who hind behind a pseudonym in order to vent their spite….cowards, in other words

    – they must lead rather meaningless lives if they can spare this sort of energy and time on idiosyncratic ranting

    – you will never please all of the people all of the time and, in the case of low lives such as these, it’s best to rise above them

    When you’ve worked in the NHS and seen young, beautiful people die of incurable disease, well before their time, you realise that the old cliché “Life is too short to waste on spite and anger”, is very true.

    Besides, it takes far more energy to be angry and rant, than it takes to be supportive and smile.

    Don’t let the bastards get you down 🙂

    1. You totally hit the nail on the head Jessica … and people like that will never get me down. Seriously. I just felt the need to address the point really. It’s a shame that these few people give Mumsnet such a bad name because I’m a fan of the company as a whole. I’m not the first to have a skirmish with this type of commenter, nor will I be the last. It’s almost a rite of passage. As my Mum said, if you can’t say something nice or positive, say nothing. I try and live by that rule but sometimes feel the need to call out people for their ignorance. I know I’m an acquired taste … as a person, as a writer, as a woman, and it’s lucky I have strong shoulders … but other women don’t and fat shaming is just plain wrong. I have this little corner of the internet to voice my opinion and others aren’t so lucky, so I kinda feel an obligation to stand up and say when something is wrong. I don’t know … it just baffles me that we can’t just support each other.

  3. You’re right- you won’t be the last.

    But I disagree that it’s almost a rite of passage on sites such as MN.

    That gives people dishing the venom an excuse to carry on doing what they do and the rest of us having to simply accept the inevitability of it all.

    Whilst I feel that MN has many positive aspects and overall I believe it serves a purpose, poisonous peoples should somehow be named and shamed on sites like MN, if for no other reason than to not award them with a platform.

    Doubt it will ever happen though!

    Oh…and your mum was right 🙂

    1. (sorry for the delay in responding!) When I say ‘rite of passage’ I mean that a lot of fellow bloggers have felt the ‘wrath’ of the rogue Mumsnetter and it does seem almost inevitable it’s going to happen at some point. Complaining to Mumsnet will never change the mindset of these people but nor is it right that they can say what they do. Which is why I wrote the post really … to highlight the bigoted and make the point that it’s not acceptable. But it won’t change them saying the same thing to someone somewhere else. Mumsnet are never going to call out individuals but boy, did my friends and readers rally round!!! 🙂

  4. As a fellow size 18 lady who can come across as larger than life in certain situations, I was so pleased to see you don the two peice and wear your swim suit with confidence.
    I haven’t been able to take my daughter swimming in over a year in a 1 peice because of how self conscious it has always left me feeling, even on holiday I’d hide beneath a tshirt. So you’re post, it made me really happy.
    Then last night, I saw the screenshot of the Mumsnet thread and I was angry and sad and frustrated for you and by them!
    I’ve seen so many people dragged through the wash with Mumsnet, it’s just so appalling that instead of holding their tongues if they have nothing nice to say, they feel the need to criticise and be so negative. Why can’t we support each other and be a parenting/ blogging community? Or at the very least, just decent human beings!!?

    1. Thanks Tinuke, and I’m glad you found a little inspiration from this post. Mumsnet made me really sad, if only for a few days, because you’re right, we should be supporting each other … as women, as people. I’ve brushed myself off now … and just went out and bought another bikini! 🙂

  5. I think people just can’t help themselves. I will never understand why people have to be nasty. It seems that no matter where you go there is always someone who has something negative to say (where one goes, not you alone). I couldn’t agree more with Jessica’s point:
    -these are people who hind behind a pseudonym in order to vent their spite….cowards, in other words
    I also think a lot of it, deep down, is jealousy and self-loathing. Why else would someone want to make someone else feel bad about themselves?

    I follow your blog (and have done for a while now) because I like the way you “speak”. Although we are different people with different lives, I can actually relate to a lot of what you say. You seem to think like me. If I didn’t like it, I just wouldn’t read it and I would move to a blog I did like. Keep doing what you are doing Kate. xx

  6. These people make me sad. Not only because I want to unleash my mum on them (‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’), but also because they don’t know what a lovely lovely person you are, both inside and out. Bumnuts to them, mate, that’s what I say x

  7. Well I for one think you looked bloody amazing in your bikini .. as did Chris !!!

    I think the negative comments I read on the other post were attention seeking and inflammatory .. and totally uncalled for . A body is one thing .. a kind heart and soul is where it’s at ! I too am plus size and probably won’t don a bikini anytime soon .. more because I holiday in Skeggie and its a bit parky than for any other reason !!

    Well done Kate … as always , much love xx

    1. Thanks Julia! You’re right, a lot of the comments were designed to provoke and it’s really hard to stand back and not say anything … but I know there is no point reasoning with unreasonable people so I didn’t bother! 🙂 x

  8. Good on you Kate. The world would be a much better place if people just stopped for 10 seconds before passing criticism and thought ‘would I like that said to me?’ ‘would I say it my mother?’ ‘does that make me sound like an awful douche?’

    You looked fab, and I’m glad to know it x

  9. I’m a bit late to this Kate, but it’s a real shame that women can be so unsupportive to other women, we can be each other’s worst enemies sometimes. Ignore the mean girls, you totally rocked that bikini.

  10. Both posts were beautifully written and had a great message behind them. I have two girls who I hope will grow up to love themselves, warts and all. But sadly my eldest, when she was 6, came out with “you have to be skinny to be pretty”, something she won’t have heard from our house, so is picking up from school already. It is also worrying as she’s a tiny little thing, so the fact this thought even enters into her head is scary. I did blog about it at the time as it scared the crap out of me. I really don’t know what we can do about the whole fat/weight issue, apart from keep educating our kids. It really does worry me though x

    1. Thanks Sophie, that’s lovely of you to say. Can totally understand how you must be feeling raising a daughter … especially when she says things like that. The mind boggles at just what a 6 year old is picking up out there! But all we can do, as you say, is educate and hope that by raising strong, independent, smart kids, they’ll work it out for themselves x

  11. Kate I’d like to write about this, but it might take me a while. Please feel free to virtually kick me if I don’t get to it before the summer’s up.
    It starts in the playground. It’s happening now, with my 9 year old and some of her ‘friends.’ Picking apart her appearance (she is beautiful) because she has some hairs on her legs, or a mole on her face. Why girls are so prone to it I do not know, but it seems that some just never grow up. These are the childish, immature, ignorant women who believe their mission in life is to put themselves at the top of the pile, by making sure others are put down below them.
    It pisses me off so much because in my book women should be supporting each other, celebrating each other, not dragging each other down. 🙁

    1. Oh Helen, that’s so incredibly sad to read. I think as a mother of 2 boys, all of that has passed me by because I just can’t imagine boys picking each other’s appearances apart – the closest I’ve come is comments being made about Dexter’s amazing hair when he was younger but I think a lot of it was just curiosity. You’re right about ‘why’ women are still making these comments though … I think it’s just insecurity on their part. The best way for them to feel better about themselves? Make others feel shit. They obviously didn’t get the ‘Let’s support each other and be nice’ memo … All we can do is educate our own kids I guess and hope that their spirit rubs off on others around them. Thanks for commenting x

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