I’ve never been fat. I’ve been chubby, chunky, skinny, bony. I’ve never been an extreme of fat or thin in my opinion. But I have been a victim of prejudice due to my weight.
My first full-time job was at a store for a fashion brand whose target age range was between 35-65. Giving advice in the fitting rooms to women who were all shapes and sizes, genuinely complementing their choice of outfit and telling them how much what they chose suited them was often thrown back in my face with an “It’s okay for you being so skinny” or something similar. Their comments reeked of their own insecurities, but at 18 years old it’s bound to leave doubts. It always made me angry and I wondered whether they would be as accommodating to that kind of comment had the roles been reversed and I had told them how much their fat bums had filled out those trousers nicely.
My circle of friends includes a great deal of people who are training for things, whether it be body building shows or athletics, diet is a huge part of this. You need to be head strong, regimented and focussed with what you’re putting into your body to fuel your sport. In the last few months they have ALL mentioned to me times in which their diets have been criticised or not understood. Even close family or friends saying ‘surely one [insert non diet food here] won’t kill you’ or ‘It’s a shame diet stops people from having a good time’. (FYI it doesn’t, but comments like that do.)
Apparently if you’re trying to eat healthy you’re not having fun, you only eating ‘rabbit food’ or you must be rich because eating healthily is so expensive. If you’re vegetarian, vegan or like the off falafel you’re a hippy.
Last night I was flicking through my instagram feed and I saw a post from Boux Avenue. They’re a lingerie company and they pride themselves on promoting curvy women. They’re not a plus size company nor are they promoting skinny sticks. They over airbrush their product photos, but who hasn’t gotten a little heavy-handed with Photoshop from time to time? I love their brand, their product and their ethos. They posted a screen shot from a new tv advert but it wasn’t the photo that interested me, rather the comments.
The far left screen grab (top comment) is what kicked off the debate, and I don’t know about you but the objections from the person named laudurr scream of some kind of insecurity. I don’t know whether she’s just been worn down by people constantly telling her she’s too skinny, anorexic or needs to eat more. I don’t know why she chimed in so quickly and so defensively, only she’ll know that, but it seems everyone’s a victim whether they’re curvy or skinny, and the original comment really pushed her button in a strong way. The funny thing is, the two people having this argument are on the same side. Both want to see all sizes of healthy women excepted.
A fellow blogger is having problems at work at the moment. She’s a trail runner and recently completed the London Marathon. She’s still training for events and as a result will eat what she needs to fuel her sport. Her boss doesn’t understand and will make comments in front of other colleagues questioning whether she’s ‘allowed to eat that’ or saying ‘none for you’ when treats are put in front of the team. And now other colleagues are making comments. I don’t know how I would cope in a situation like that.
For all people who are on restrictive diets it requires focus, dedication and SO much mental strength the maintain it. It’s similar to an alcoholic staying on the wagon. If you’re on a carb free diet leaning down for a show, for example, and you have just one bite of something with carbs in it’s all over. You might as well eat the whole pizza. What people who are dieting/fueling/competing need is support. When going out for an event or party with friends and you can’t have even one sip of wine because it breaks your eating plan you shouldn’t have to justify why – especially to friends. I know people who out themselves as alcoholics when they’re at functions just so that they don’t get bullied for not having a drink. They get more kudos from this than if they had told the truth about alcohol having too many calories for their diet – “what a party pooper” they’d say.
The discussions of weight, health and diet are fire starters. They flick a switch in people’s emotions, remind them of the time they were/are picked on. It makes them think of that holiday photo sat on the beach in a swim suit that was a little too tight. It reminds them of the second helping of desert they had last night and then washed it down with another glass of wine. It makes people think of gluttony, greed and selfishness. It’s so emotion evoking that when they see someone so focussed and driven and achieving success it makes them feel like a failure. They resent the apparently virtuous person in front of them, and their gentle persuasion to push them off the pedestal they’ve just put them on will make them feel better if they succeed. They don’t understand your diet, they don’t understand your drive and they really don’t have the will power. They know it, you know it, but it’s you who ends up feeling rubbish.
People have their own demons, their own struggles and their own prejudices. It’s so frustrating that it’s not the norm to support, listen or understand. What people need is a pat on the back, an ear to listen and understand, and so much support. I know I’m inspired by healthy ‘plus sized’ people who are conscious of diet, activity and confident that they look amazing. I’m inspired by people who work hard for their desired body shape and size. I’m inspired by those who eat well to fuel their lifestyle, enjoy it and excel at it. As long as you’re not doing damage to your body or mind I support you, and I wish more people felt the same.