From The Editor: Body Positivity Should've Fixed Me, So Was It My Fault That It Didn't?
I fell in love with body positivity two years ago. For the first time, I was a loud, fat woman with plenty to say who didn’t give a fuck, and it was liberating as hell. So when I found myself just over 18 months later in an outpatients unit talking to an eating disorder specialist, I felt like I’d shit the bed with this whole body positivity thing. I convinced myself that if anybody knew that I had an eating disorder, and I wasn’t 100% in love with my body all day, every day, I would be labelled a fraud for running a company that focuses on being body positive. I had dreams of being banished from the body positive community because of my struggles, and the thought that the movement might not have room for me anymore crushed me. In recent years I’d always been fairly open about my disordered eating, but for the first time, I was ashamed of it. In my mind, body positivity should’ve fixed me, so was it my fault that it hadn’t?
Having been the bullied kid that was called fat from the age of four, I realised from then on that nobody deserves to feel unhappy in their body. Growing up, I thought that this unhappiness was banished when you reached a certain dress size, and I linked my happiness to something physical rather than psychological. Before body positivity, I used the word 'fat' to bully myself, and let the word hold such power that others could use it towards me with an immediate trigger effect. However, when I found body positivity, I stumbled into a world where I could rock a bikini without three months of dieting beforehand, or where I could love myself unapologetically, with no justification necessary. This incredible whirlwind of body acceptance, self love, and of the self respect that I never thought I deserved (because my fatness made my unworthy of it, in my eyes at least), had, as far as I was concerned, fixed me. I was convinced that my chequered past of eating disorders and feeling shit about the way I looked was behind me.
As I spoke to the specialist about my diagnosis, I accepted that this was my reality, and that The Unedit was not only my full-time job but my absolute pride and joy. I came to the conclusion that regardless of where I was at in my recovery journey (even if, at this stage, it was back to square one), there would always be a place for me there, and in body positivity. I also had the realisation that body positivity didn’t have to be a complete fix, but could just be a contribution to my recovery journey. In hindsight, the thought that I could undo 22 years of self-hate with just two years of body positivity seemed pretty impossible, and rather than going with the ebbs and flows of the (somewhat turbulent) relationship I have with my body, I put pressure on myself to be cured by the movement. Despite my anxieties, when I left the hospital after my treatment had been discussed, a weight felt like it had been lifted, and after a few days of processing, I was ready to jump back in the saddle properly and kick bulimia up the arse. My imposter syndrome - as much as the occasional thought still floats around - began to subside from then on, and I realised: I’m not a fraud, everyone’s journeys are different. I have good intentions, both for myself and others. I have nothing but love and passion for the movement, its messages and the people in it. I had finally found a home in a community where, as a fat woman, I was treated with respect (and I respected myself), and it’s this very same movement that has made me even more hungry - pardon the pun - for recovery.
I guess what I’m trying to say is just because body positivity wasn’t the long-term solution to every single one of my problems, it doesn’t mean that I need to up sticks and haul ass back to a diet culture-soaked world where I’d be triggered and disrespected. This doesn’t go to say that another person’s journey with body positivity can’t be the answer to their recovery from disordered eating, or what snaps them out of a diet mentality; but by allowing myself to accept that body positivity is the constant in my life that is monumentally instrumental to my recovery rather that being the sole solution, my connection to the movement is stronger now than ever. It’s stronger because I’ve accepted my body in both good times and in bad; it’s stronger because of my determination for fat people with eating disorders to be both recognised and normalised; it’s stronger because my passion to provide a platform - one where we’re not afraid to talk about things that other media outlets would shy away from or tokenise - has a new lease of life.
Struggling is okay and it happens to the best of us, and sometimes we just need to be reminded exactly that. Just because body positivity may not have necessarily completely undone all the years of conditioned self-hate and the scars that they leave behind, it doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong or that the movement can’t have changed your life in some way. I’m indebted to body positivity for what it has done for me: for opening up my mind to more than calories and weight loss; for rescuing me from an industry that triggered me and made me hate myself more; for giving me the opportunity to launch my career in a direction that genuinely makes my soul happy. Much like one size doesn’t fit all, one movement doesn’t necessarily fix all, but it’s a pretty incredible starting point.
Writing this was more for my own peace of mind than anything else, but if you’re reading this and are feeling the struggle right now, please remember this: those struggles do not negate from who we are as people, our achievements, our ambitions or our worthiness of respect, visibility, help and love.