Size really does matter


Yes the title is size does matter  – hopefully that’s got your attention in the right way! Hopefully you’re already a little angry at me – good, you’re meant to be!  You're meant to be sat there going, hang on that's a bit judgemental and feeling slightly annoyed at me.  Good, you dam well should be, and now I’ve got you a little angry I’ll explain what I mean properly.

You may think what do I have to worry about in terms of body image, I have a very small frame and yes a good shape (not going to pretend I don’t because that would be offensive in so many ways) but here’s the thing it wasn’t always the case.  At the age of 10 my primary head teacher said in assembly in front of the entire school ‘where’s the fat one, thought she was doing the next reading?’  I’m not 10 anymore, but as you can imagine that kind of thing stays with you.  It colours the fact that you won’t allow anyone to take your photograph or post selfie images on social media.  It colours the fact that you refuse to have mirrors in the house and loathe changing rooms that are a myriad of mirrors with harsh lighting.  Shopping for me is like wrenching my very soul out piece by tiny piece till there’s nothing left so it’s easier to just say nah I’m good I hate crowds, see you later when asked to go shopping ‘because it’s fun’ no it isn’t! Not for those that can't stand the sight of their own body.

Then the real body dysmorphia kicks in with puberty as your body changes and you become even more aware of how you look compared to others.  We spend so long comparing ourselves, we have an altered sense of perception when it comes to ourselves in comparison to others and trust me it never ends well!  Not sure if anyone remembers that Gok Wan How to Look Good Naked programme but friends were desperate to get me on that just so I could start to see myself the way they do.  Compliments – forget it, we think you’re lying or out for some gain because why on earth would you give us a compliment??

But then something really odd happened.  I had a very serious bout of depression and while some comfort eat I refuse to eat. My hunger triggers shut down and eating is something forbidden, evil, disgusting. For those with eating disorders you'll understand when I say it's about control, it's never about the calories as such.  Food is the one thing we feel we have control over when everything else is topsy turvy in our lives, we may have zero control over a bad work place, a poor relationship, financial worries but food - that we can control, whether it's eating too much or in my case too little.  It becomes almost obsessive and you mark off small victories with it.  Again, it's about control - NOT the calories themselves.  To me, deprivation was some sort of small victory when you have a distorted view of yourself and your environment.  Cut a long story short I ended up in hospital prepped for surgery because I was presenting with appendicitis but actually the ketones in my liver were causing internal damage and it took 8 hours of tests and questions to figure this out.  I had lost far too much weight far too quickly and was told in no uncertain terms that if I presented again I would be on a drip and probably sectioned for causing self harm to myself.  So off to the anti depressants for me!

That was several years ago, I’m a healthy weight now and eat like a piggy so have no intention of going back into that darkness.  Depression isn’t a place of sadness, it’s a place of abject nothingness that tears at the fabric of your reality.  It distorts everything and while I know it’s possible to go back there I would really rather not.  I don’t think the door is ever fully shut but equally if you’ve never known the dark you can’t appreciate the light.  That’s how I have to rationalise it anyway, I know it’s not the same for everyone and don’t profess to have any answers.  I still have my moments, still struggle somedays to eat in front of new people, still think oh my god they'll think I'm a right piggy if I eat all that so yes somedays I still do the push the food around to give the impression I've eaten.  Still do the oh sorry, I didn't like the sauce that came in or it's fine I ate earlier.  It's far less common than it was and I try to be much more open about it now.  If I had a broken leg you'd move chairs and put a cushion out for me to make me feel more comfortable - head messes should be treated the same way and we should stop feeling ashamed that our minds are a little damaged but too many of us still feel a little ashamed as if it's somehow our fault, or we deserve to be unwell.  

So, back to today and why I do what I do with the glass around body positivity.  A good friend of mine got me to take photographs of myself to try and get me to see myself the way others do.  It’s not meant as a sexual thing, but the female naked body is incredibly sensual and I do now enjoy taking the pictures.  He also got me to make a life sized model of myself like the Nikki de Saint Phalle sculptures.  I remember vividly stepping back one day, covered in mod roc and paint and going 'erm there should be more of me that that??' and he went, no, that IS how big you really are and for the first time in many many years I genuinely saw myself through another's eyes and I'll admit it, I cried but in a good, relief kind of way. 

So the point about size matters – ladies (and gents!) you can spend a lifetime worrying about my bum is too big or my boobs are tiny – but true beauty has nothing to do with your physical shape.  It has to do with your brain, the way you act towards others, the kindness you exude when you help someone without reward.  True beauty is in the way you supported your friend when they needed you, it has nothing to do with your waist size! If we could only learn this quicker it would make me very happy to see you happy rather than getting on the scales and worrying! Everyone is beautiful and we should celebrate that more and I fully intend to keep doing it with the glass commissions.  The feedback from people to date makes me cry happy tears, especially when I get messages off their partner saying she can't stop smiling - THAT'S why I do what I do - it's not sleazy, it's not seedy, it's meant to be celebratory, it's meant to be affirming and if we could just get there quicker life would be so much better!

 

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