tw: talk of mental illness, body issues
Good morning all 🙂 I hope you had a marvellous weekend, and the beginning of the week hasn’t been too rough on you.
Today I wanted to write about something that seems to be a constant topic in my life, because of the online community I surround myself with: fat positivity. Note that I say fat positivity here and not body positivity, which I think to be a different beast entirely now.
Sometimes it feels like I’m dealing with very opposing sides of my brain in the way I approach life. I have the side of my brain that I see as the “actual me” and the side that I see as purely my mental illness. Distinguishing the two can be hard.
Some people choose to accept the mental illness side of them and amalgamate it into one version of themselves, and although to a certain extent I think that can be very positive, I frequently choose not to do this, because – in my own opinion – I see it as normalising abnormal behaviours I don’t like about myself that are a result of my mental illness.
The “actual me”, for the most part, is the me you see here on this blog. The “actual me” is opinionated, happy, weird, loves their body, loves themselves, loves the world, and is motivated to promote and use positive behaviours in their approach to life.
It’s the me that looks at a picture of themselves and says, “wow I look hot”, “look how great my makeup is”, “look at that cute belly roll”. It’s the me that wants to encourage other people to love themselves so wholly and entirely that they don’t feel the need to participate in the performative art that is “fitting in” to societal expectation, whether it be regarding clothing, makeup, weight, sexual or gender identification.
I don’t want to go into what the other side of my brain is like, simply because I don’t want to trigger anyone, if anything. But if you could imagine the very worst things you could say to someone, that’s what my own brain does/says to me on the daily.
(I’m obviously, not at all saying that people who don’t suffer with mental illness don’t suffer from insecurities, have bad days, days where they don’t like themselves or their bodies. All of that happens and all of that is valid too.)
The reason why I point this out is because it makes writing and promoting fat positivity hard, and I very often feel like a fraud. Because the “negative me” is the one I live with most often on the daily, I have to try really hard to push through and find the part of me that is authentic to be able to write, to be able to interact with people, to be able to look at myself in the same way I look at others online.
I’ve seen many people try to use this mentality to negate fat people’s existences before. To negate their own existences. I have seen people say, “well, you feel this way because you know it’s not right/normal”, “if you’re that unhappy, why don’t you do something about it?”
It’s very hard to try and explain to people that are in that mindset that I am not unhappy because I am fat. I am unhappy because I have depression, and yes, that infiltrates every part of my personality, including my fatness. My mental illness tries to blame my unhappiness on everything, and I mean everything, but itself. But I am not unhappy because I am fat. I am not unhappy because I am fat.
I went on a night out last month. I had had a hair crisis the night before, but I had kind of rectified it, was liking the new hair colour, was feeling alright.
When I tell you that I had spent hours looking at outfits that day, I mean it. Literal hours. Just to find something, just to find one thing that I liked the look of on me. Those days happen to the best of us. So it goes.
I had this sheer top I bought from Asos last year, but I hadn’t worn it because the sleeves were a little too tight, and I didn’t really like how it looked with a vest under it. I chopped the sleeves off (because why not?) and tried it on by itself and loved it. My partners breathed a collective sigh of relief at the fact that I had settled on something, and I was feeling good.
But after getting ready, after that smile you see above, after feeling happy and excited to go out with my husband, my daughter got ill, and I was having to go out alone. That’s when the anxiety kicked in.
Suddenly I hated everything again. I hated the outfit, I hated my hair, I hated my makeup, I hated myself. I hated myself with such deep and ferocious intensity that had it not been so close to when I had to leave, I would have not ended up going. But that wouldn’t have been fair. It wouldn’t have been fair to my friend on their birthday. It wouldn’t have been fair to myself.
I want to take a little aside here to point something out: obviously my husband usually takes photos of me for this blog. On this day, I wasn’t taking pics with the intent on blogging them, but simply because I feel like my body dysmorphia is so bad that I don’t get an “accurate reading” of myself when I look in the mirror, and so I make my husband take pics of me in an outfit, before every single time we leave the house, just so I can see myself through someone else’s eyes, as it were. That’s why the pic above was taken, and that’s why the pic below was taken.
My genuine smile of excitement and happiness, me stood there confident in my bare feet and leggings, turned into genuine fear. I was convinced I couldn’t go out like that, and put on a kimono to cover myself up a bit more (knowing I wouldn’t be able to find another top I liked in time). Obviously the kimono ended up looking boss, cos it looks boss with literally everything. But check that difference in my face.
The point is though, that I still did it. I still went out like that. I still had a nice night. I still spent barely any time clutching my cover around me. And I still saw it as a victory.
It’s not easy to love yourself when you have a voice that tells you literally every day that you’re better off dead. It’s not easy to be positive when you have an illness that tries to strip every bit of light from your life. And yes, when it comes to myself and m body, it is a process. It’s a struggle. It’s a constant fight for self-acceptance. But let me reiterate this one more: I am not unhappy because I am fat.
I am, and always will be, unequivocally, fat positive.
p.s. lipstick is the metallic Happi by Lime Crime. Isn’t it wonderful?