From The Editor: Hello, 999 – Is That The Body Police?
As I’m sat writing this, it’s absolutely pissing it down with rain. Sod’s law, really. However, prior to this torrential downpour, most parts of the UK have been inundated with sunshine and pretty high temperatures (well, for this country, anyway). During this time, I’ve spent most days in a swimming costume and shorts, or floaty palazzo pants, which shows a major shift in my hot weather fashion behaviours since previous years.
Prior to the aforementioned shift, I’ve baked away in jeans out of fear of being judged - GASP! SHOCK! HORROR! A FAT GIRL HAS FAT AND THE FAT HAS SPREAD TO HER THIGHS AND HER THIGHS ARE ON SHOW! - and have stayed pretty covered up in nice weather, unless I was in the comfort of my own back garden. Those days have been and gone though, because despite always worshiping the mantra ‘fashion over function’, I’ve only more recently started to accept ‘comfort over conformity’. Yes, I’m fat, but I’m also currently drowning in my own sweat, and that’s not quite how I wish to make my departure from this world. Screw society and its notion that if you’re above a size 10 your sole purpose in life is to not offend anybody with your fatness. Alas, bake no more, I embrace the sun, and the sun embraces/lightly tans me.
As much as I’ve been able to banish my own worries and discomforts in the summer months, there’s this residual annoyance that I just can’t seem to shake off. They’re like the police force - but really not - and find joy in little more than passing comment on people’s bodies and how they choose to dress and/or go about their day-to-day business. If, like me, you’ve managed to sack the voice in your head that told you what you should or shouldn’t wear because of your size, you’ll agree that this special forces division - the BPU (Body Policing Unit) - are actually the absolute worst.
So, what does the BPU do? Nothing beneficial, I can tell you that much. You can find BPU officers all year round, but they do most of their work in the summer season when temperatures reach above 20ºC. Unlike an actual police force, they bring no purpose and work shifts just because they’re assholes.
You can find BPU officers anywhere around the world, and sometimes, they even follow you on your holidays. Take a couple of summers back, for example. I was on a gorgeous beach on the Costa Brava and had to make that awful dash over hot sand from the lounger to the sea. I, being the super-fit marathon runner that I am (that’s a lie), gave it my all, flicking the burning sand up the backs of my legs - which I responded to with a musical number sounding a lot like ‘shit, shit, hot, shit’ - before falling arse over tit into the water and creating what can only be described as plus-sized ripples. Personally, I think it was a majestic display on my part. The couple of elderly holidaymakers - and undercover BPU agents - didn’t quite agree, and went on to discuss the many reasons why I shouldn’t wear a bikini at my size at great length in the least secretive of fashions.
BPU officers are also protecting the greater good of the community at events, such as concerts and music festivals. I was only at Lovebox last year when it turned out a member of the BPU was among us within our 20-strong group of slightly drunken festival-goers. When this guy wasn’t working for the BPU, he was a personal trainer. I hold no grudges against personal trainers, but there’s a certain breed of personal trainer that makes my skin crawl; you may have even experienced the joy of meeting such a person. The type that genuinely believes he’s God’s gift to women, and believes that because he’s in ‘the business’, he has the right to pass judgement on people’s bodies quite freely with no repercussions. This guy had basically pledged his allegiance to the BPU (and in short, was a total prick). Anyway, a girl walked past laughing away with her friends. Her outfit was gorgeous - a cute cami and denim shorts - and if I had to guess, purely for the sake of this story, she was probably a UK 18, no larger than me. He takes one look at her, turns to the group with a smirk on his face, and says ‘it should be illegal for things that big to wear things that small.’
BPU officers also come in other, more subtle, shapes and sizes, and I’d love to point them all out to you right here, right now. Unfortunately, whilst it’s raining, the majority disband and crawl back into the hideous holes that they came from. Having said that, I honestly could not give two fucks if Janet and Richard (probably not their names) from Huddersfield (probably not where they're from) have nothing better to do on their holiday to Spain than to sit around disapproving the circumference of my thighs. Nor do I care if I give Mr Personal Trainer nightmares for a week as a result of wearing something ‘too small’ for him to feel protected from my fat. You may have many of your own experiences to share when it comes to the BPU, but the most important thing to remember is that, even as a force, they have no authority over anybody - or literally - any body, period. If body shaming’s how they choose to spend their days of summer, that’s fine, but hating myself’s not how I intend to spend mine, and the same should go for you, too.