Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Being Kind To Myself.

*Content note: fat shaming, body hatred, disordered eating, self-harm, ableist language*

Being Kind To Myself by Feminist Cupcakes

This is a difficult post for me to write. I'm potentially opening myself up to a lot of abuse here, but I think it's worth the risk.

I've had problems with self-esteem for as long as I can remember, probably because I've been fat for as long as I can remember. All my life the people around me have made a big deal out of my weight and their own. My mum has three sisters who were fat* when I was growing up and I have numerous older female cousins who are also fat, and they are always talking about their weight and how to lose it. I was first taken to a doctor about my weight at seven years old; the doctor weighed me, then told me I needed to go on a diet. Whenever I did any physical activity I was praised for it because it would help me lose weight. I was teased at primary school for being fat, one boy told his friends that if he stuck me with a pin I'd pop like a balloon. On the bus on the way home from school one day some older kids got on and one sat next to me. His friend told him not to look at me ''or you'll turn into a retard." I can only imagine he meant that I was so awful to look at that he risked losing his mind from doing so. I was about 9 years old at the time, and the memory still has the power to make me cry.

At high school the bullying continued, and at twelve I started self-harming. I was already constantly lacerating myself mentally, so to do it physically was something of a relief. It stopped the hatred and anger for a while, and I found taking care of the cuts to be soothing; it felt good to do something to take care of myself for a change. When my parents found out they encouraged me not to tell any of my friends, I'm sure because they were worried about how people would treat me if they found out, but it made me feel like I had yet another thing to be ashamed of.

As I've grown older, and especially since having Adam and Jack, my weight has increased, and so have my self-image problems. I now spend long periods of time at home because I hate the looks I get from people. I've had people shout insults from cars, I've had people mutter disgusted comments as they walk past, I've had people follow me down the street screaming abuse at me just because I dare to exist in a public space while being fat.

I've recently discovered the idea of body positivity and fat acceptance, and the revolutionary idea that being fat does not make me less valuable as a person. That sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm serious; I have always felt like I'm worth less than 'normal people' just because I weigh more, and the idea that this wasn't true was mind-blowing for me.

Over the years I have abused my body dreadfully; I've never taken care of it because I hate it so much, and why would I take care of something I hate? I have alternately starved myself for days at a time and stuffed myself with so much food I feel ill. I've stayed awake for 36 hours as a punishment for trivial crap. I've cut myself, burned myself, punched walls hard enough to leave bruises, and I smoked for 10 years all because I hate the body I have.

I'm tired of hating myself. I'm now attempting to be kinder to myself, to try and love myself even if it's just a little bit. Whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror I make a conscious effort to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, to replace "Fuck, I look awful. I'm so disgusting." with "Fuck it, I'm fabulous." When someone compliments me I try to accept the compliment instead of dismissing it as an attempt to cheer me up, and I try to believe that the compliment is objectively true, not just something that they believe. I'm trying to eat healthier food, and move around a bit more. Not to lose weight, but because I want to be kinder to myself. I want to take care of the body I'm in, because I'm tired of punishing it for not looking exactly how I want.

If you're the kind of person who abuses people for the crime of being fat, I hope this post has made you rethink what you're doing. Trust me, there is nothing you can say to me that's worse than what I've been saying to myself, and there's no way you can punish me that's worse than the way I've been punishing myself for years. If fat shaming inspired people to lose weight I'd be a fucking size zero by now.

Being Kind To Myself by Feminist Cupcakes
*I use fat rather than overweight because I dislike the way the word 'overweight' implies that there is a single correct weight. There is obviously no negative association intended in my usage of it.

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to body acceptance here


  1. Oh honey, you're making me tear up here. Listen to me: you did not deserve the treatment you received from your family and other trusted adults (your doctor, etc.). You did nothing wrong, and you still ended up being hurt, belittled and punished. I wish that I could go give the child you were a big hug and some protection from that. It burns me up thinking about this happening to kids. You did not deserve that: you were a victim. Please keep repeating that to yourself--you did not deserve that.

    Obviously, you don't deserve it now, either. But I specifically mention it from the childhood aspect because that's where this self-worth issue has its roots. I have an emotional abuse issue in my childhood too, and it helps me to think about who I was as that child and think about how brave she actually was. Rather than quit trying and commit suicide, or turn to hurting other people, that little girl/teenager kept on going. Step back for a moment and think of yourself in that context. Look at that little girl's strength and marvel at her! She did it--she survived and became you, and she's a goddamned hero. A lot of people couldn't have done what she/you did, BUT YOU DID. Be so, so proud of yourself. Do you hear me? I am not blowing smoke--you did it. Build on that, and keep growing.

    I'm proud of you. Thank you for writing this post. It is brave and true and good, and so are you.

    1. Thank you for this, it's a lovely comment to get. I don't have many readers, but I was scared of the reaction I might get from this; thankfully it's been overwhelmingly positive.

      I probably didn't make it clear enough in my post, but I'm certain that whatever my parents said or did was only ever done out of love. I'm sure they didn't mean to make me feel the way they did, but unfortunately intent isn't magic and doesn't wipe out any of the pain.

      Thank you again for this comment. It really reinforces that I was right to publish this, and it's an incredible compliment.

    2. I do understand about your parents. My childhood scars come from a lot of good intentions too. Unfortunately, issues that our parents didn't work through themselves to resolve tend to get passed along to the children.

      Please know that this, while it sounds complimentary, is not intended to be a compliment. It is truth, and I hope that you'll be helped by it. (((HUGS)))