Last January I wrote a post featuring a list of 10 things you – AKA I – could probably do with hearing as the year began. It wasn’t intended to be particularly bold or profound, simply an antidote to the pervasive negative body chat & diet culture that comes to a crescendo at this time of year.
With talk of calories, self-control & Christmas excess dominating conversations, it can be tough to stand your ground, regardless of how much you love yourself. So, whether you’re a body positive veteran or a fat babe in need of comfort, I hope this year’s ten things post serves to remind you that there is another way & that there’s always someone on your side.
& if you’re just here for this banging outfit – I HEAR YOU, I think this is one of my favourite ever looks – stick around ’til the end & I’ll have all the details for you.
- Weight loss doesn’t have to be one of your resolutions. So much of the messaging around new years is based on the assumption that wanting to shed a few pounds is a universal experience, but I promise you it is not. If you’re considering adding weight loss to your list of resolutions, I’d encourage you to look at the bigger picture. What is it that you really want to achieve? What do you think losing weight will mean for you? Keep asking yourself why? until you get to the root of what it is you want, then ask yourself if you really need to lose weight to get there. My bet is the answer is no.
- Food can be a joyous thing. Everyone’s fav food gal Ruby Tandoh is currently compiling a thread of good things about food & it is incredible. From cold butter in a hot pan to cereal milk & the golden centre of a poached egg, that list is a thing of beauty. If you’re struggling with guilt around eating or if cooking has become a bland chore, why not make 2018 the year you rediscover the happiness a bowl of your favourite food can bring? Try new things. Worry less about what you should be eating, & more about what brings you joy. Ditch portions & serving sizes in favour of eating the amount that your body tells you it needs. If your relationship with food is more complicated, check out Beat’s website – they’re a fantastic charity with advice & support on disordered eating.
- Ditch social media that makes you feel bad. Sometimes it’s good to be challenged but if there are social media accounts that consistently leave you feeling uncomfortable, insecure or just sketched out, dump them. From bloggers whose posts always give you that twinge of I wish I looked like that, to friends who post memes about feeling fat, and plus size brands who never feature anyone over a size 14, it’s time to have a clear out. If you’re worried about upsetting people, soft block options are your friend, but never feel guilty for creating the space you need to heal from society’s fucked up approach to bodies.
- Health is holistic & nuanced. Thousands of people are currently trying to tell you they know what health is. They’ve helpfully distilled it into five easy rules, all you need to do is pay them £19.99 & they’ll tell you. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Health looks different for different people at different times. Sometimes it’s a big bowl of pak choi fried in garlic & chilli, sometimes it’s making a doctors appointment for that pain in your shoulder you’ve been hoping will go away. Sometimes health means lung-fulls of fresh air as you walk to the shop on the corner to buy a Flake you’ll eat whilst sitting on the sofa in your PJs, & sometimes it means cancelling your gym membership to free up the cash to pay a therapist. Dump the Instagram nutritionists out to make a fast buck, listen to your body & do as it asks to the best of your ability.
- Fat girls can wear whatever they damn well please. Mainstream fat fashion is still largely vanilla. Even brands whose USP is brash, fashion-forward style will tone it down when it comes to their plus size line, so sometimes a gal needs reminding that styles don’t look bad on fat bodies, they just look different. Brianna of The B Word, Margie of Margie Plus, & Runa of Glam by Runa are just three of the women who pushed me to expand my vision of what fat folks can wear last year & long may it continue.
- You do not have to engage in diet talk just to be polite. You’re in the kitchen at work, trying to squeeze past someone dissecting a donut into impossibly tiny segments. You just want a spoon to eat your Petit Filous with but before you can escape they’re explaining in intricate detail their weight loss goals, their diet plan, how they just want to get fit. The temptation might be to join in – tell them how slim they’re looking, take a tiny donut segment when you really want a whole one, explain to them how you’ve been meaning to get back to the gym so they know you’re one of them… But you don’t have to. You can walk away. You can utter a non-committal mmhm. You can tell them they look great as they are. You don’t owe anyone your discomfort.
- You cannot love your way out of structural oppression. Here are some not so fun facts: employers will avoid hiring fat candidates because we are perceived to be lazy & when asked anonymously a significant number of medical professionals will admit to finding fat bodies disgusting. No amount of self-love will protect you from those facts. There is nothing wrong with prioritising your relationship with your own body, but if you have the energy, make 2018 the year you push back against fat discrimination on a societal level. Equip yourself with the facts to challenge some of the most common myths – Jes Baker’s Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, Charlotte Cooper’s Fat Activism: a Radical Social Movement, & Lindy West’s Shrill are good places to start.
- You deserve compliments. If I had a pound for every time I deflected a compliment with a self-deprecating comment or responded with an impression of that blushing dove gif, I would own many more pairs of velvet culottes. In 2018 I’m aiming to become better at accepting compliments & more vocal about stuff I think I’m good at, & you should do the same – I bet you’re great.
- Diets don’t work. Even if weight loss was a valuable goal – which it isn’t – dieting is not an effective way to achieve it. Research shows that the vast majority of people on diets either never lose weight at all or regain it within a year. This experience is so universal that studies on “successful” dieters are incredibly rare because they simply cannot get enough participants to be robust, & the participants they do find often display behaviours which are indicative of disordered eating. If you’re a regular dieter I do not say this to upset or disappoint you, but to make the point that your “failure” is not personal, it is the result of playing a rigged game. So rather than committing to another diet (I include in this lifestyle plans which are just diets in disguise, do not at me) which will inevitably result in you feeling guilty & ashamed, why not resolve to learn your favourite poem off by heart, perfect your Yorkshire pudding recipe, or save up enough to take that trip you’ve been dreaming of?
- We’ll get through this together. Fat positive spaces in the real world can be tough to find, so if January has you feeling isolated & afraid do not panic. I promise you that me & hundreds of other body positive activists around the world have your back. Don’t be scared to reach out, whether you need some words of reassurance, recommendations of uplifting Instagram accounts to follow, or help picking out a killer dress for an upcoming party – we’ve got you.
Now about this look. These black velvet plisse culottes from New Look have changed my life & I would strongly recommend you all hopping aboard this train (they’re also currently just £11 in the sale which is outrageous). This jacket is also a new favourite & I’m obsessed with Elvi’s aesthetic at the moment. The bra is the Dahlia from Dita Von Teese’s Figleaves line, which they kindly sent to me after I tested their online bra fitting service, & the black draped body & velvet boots are both old favourites.
Photos by the ever-talented Lianne.