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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