Hi, I’m Leah and I blog over at www.justmeleah.co.uk.
Only in the last couple of years since I’ve immersed myself in the plus size world on the internet have I felt it’s OK – as a fat woman – to be myself. I’m a feminist and have slowly realised some of my deep-rooted beliefs have been programmed into me from a young age and aren’t actually my beliefs. It means I now have a healthy dose of cynicism towards popular opinion and the illusion of perfection.
One of the most important things I’ve realised is that women are encouraged to be competitive in a way which differs to the way men are. Chimamada Ngozi Adichie said it best:
With this expectation on women to diminish themselves physically I think the media (and the internet particularly) can be a toxic place. If we want to look for someone slimmer or prettier than us we can find proof of our comparative ‘wrongness’ in a second. Key for me in embracing myself as is has been binning magazines and newspapers which are focussed on the ‘slim=everything good’ message and the inevitably diet-obsessed culture that follows. You only have to read the womens’ section on any online newspaper to see the positive words used to describe thin bodies and in contrast the judgemental words used to describe fuller bodies – words like ‘lardy’, ‘flabby’ and ‘corpulent’ abound. Instead I choose to surround myself with positive plus size people who are living their lives happily just as they are. Blogs and Tumblr are a great source of inspiration for me and I don’t miss magazines or popular-culture filled newspapers at all.
Aside from the physical comparisons women are implicitly and explicitly coached into throughout our lives, we are also encouraged to compete to be the most accomplished at everything we do, which can be a double edged sword. A quick look through my Facebook or Twitter newsfeed can easily become a depressing read as I see the vibrant, go-getting women I’m lucky enough to have in my life achieving truly impressive things. Most of the time I’m thrilled for my friends and acquaintances, but even though I know comparisons are the root of all evil, sometimes I’m still sucked in and end up beating myself up for the ways I lack genius in comparison. This quote by Steve Furtick always makes me feel better:
I think for women especially, comparisons to each other come as easy as breathing and they serve to diminish us mentally and physically, to make us weak and malleable, to stop us from achieving great things. Know that as long as you are doing your best at whatever you devote your time to in life, you are enough. The only person you ever have to compete with is you. Aim to be a slightly better version of you tomorrow than you were today and you can’t go wrong. You are enough. Just keep swimming.
Thanks for reading,