When I interviewed for my current position I was asked a very simple, yet complex question: Tell me something quirky about yourself.
Whereas all of my previous answers had come out with ease, I had to pause and ponder this question as a million trivial facts swirled around in my mind. I skipped the fourth grade. I'm ambidextrous in most cases. I have an irrational fear of escalators. No, all of these were silly and wouldn't let the interviewer know anything more about me as a person. So, I proceeded to explain how body positivity helped me find my confidence and has changed my life over the past four years. And when I finished, he said, 'Yes, I gathered from your Facebook page that you were quite body confident.'
I'm not sure if in this moment my face went pale, but it certainly felt like it did. What was on my Facebook? What exactly had he seen? Had I privately posted the pictures from my drunken excursions?
The only words I managed to confusedly spit out were, 'You've seen my Facebook?'.
He laughed and said, 'Yes, so you might want to be careful what you share with the world!' I almost unconsciously replied, 'No, I'm not ashamed of anything,' assuming he was referring to my body positive - or perhaps my mental health - posts and videos.
And that's true. I'd be much more embarrassed if my boss had seen the photo of 20 year-old me with a cigarette in my mouth, giving the middle finger to the camera than I would be if he saw my back rolls and stretch marks.
Maybe this interaction should have been enough for me to rethink my privacy settings, but it wasn't. And by the end of my second week of work, most of the staff knew about my body positive videos, televised wedding, and Instagram account. And while I'm not ashamed of any of these things, it's not lost on me that other people can be very judgmental. Which I was reminded of when one of my new colleagues told me they loved how openly I spoke about my mental health.
'I think it's great what you do, especially as someone who's also had depression. I'd just be careful talking about it so blatantly, you know? You don't want people to look at you or treat you any differently.'
And I said the same thing to her that I said to my boss, and my dad, and my friends when they all echoed the same sentiment: 'I'm not ashamed of it.'
I'm not ashamed of my body. I'm not ashamed of my online body positivity presence. I'm not ashamed of having a fat body. I'm not ashamed of my mental health. I'm not ashamed of speaking about my highs and lows. I'm not ashamed of the abuse I've survived. I'm not ashamed of the fact I've tried to kill myself twice. I'm not ashamed of my sexuality.
I'm simply not fucking ashamed.
I've spent most of my life afraid to talk about all of these things out of fear of being treated differently. I can honestly say at 25 years old, I want people to treat me differently when they find out about these parts of me. It makes it so much easier to weed out the people not worth my time!
People need to understand how dangerous it is to tell people to be afraid of talking about things. To be ashamed of who they are. Convincing people to hide in the shadows is not constructive advice.
While it's hard for me to constantly maintain it because of my anxiety, the mindset of not giving a shit has led to me living a more peaceful life. Life genuinely feels more enjoyable when you start living to please yourself, and not to appease others. So, I'm going to keep speaking about my thunder thighs and my depression because they are a part of me. No matter how I feel about them on any given day, they are things I will always own and on some level be proud of. And I will be the person for others, that others rarely are for me, cheering them on. Encouraging them to live boldly unafraid of their beautiful, admirable imperfections.