Back to the beginning
When I was growing up, Body Positivity wasn’t a “thing”. Well, not in small town South Wales it wasn’t anyway! I was born too bloody early. Instead I was destined to spend all of my childhood stuck on a never ending succession of soul sucking diets, trying not to get caught stealing an extra 2 fingered kit-kat from the biscuit tin, not fitting into desperately longed for ‘trendy’ clothes, and feeling really, really ashamed of myself all of the bloody time.
I’m sad to say that not a lot changed as I entered my teens and early adult hood (what a monumental waste). But then as I edged ever closer to my 40’s, for a number of reasons (some of which I talk about in this post) things eventually started to click, and I finally began to realise that there was no magic dieting key that was going to unlock the gateway to the universe of body acceptance and happiness for me. If I hadn’t figured it out in the last 3 decades, then it was probably safe to say that I wasn’t going to solve it any time soon and so I decided that enough was enough and the time had finally come for me and the diet industry to part company once and for all.
So I said sayonara to 7lbs in 7 days. If they hadn’t stayed off so far, I was guessing they were on my belly and bingos to stay! And guess what happened? As I made peace with my body, while I didn’t suddenly shed 4 stone and emerge, Barbie-like from a fat-suit (sorry if that’s the ending you were hoping for) for the first time in my life, my weight actually stabilised. A concept which was completely alien to me after so many years of yo-yo dieting. But that wasn’t the only positive to come out of ditching the diets. Oh no! Slowly but surely, when I wasn’t obsessing over how shite I’d been on my latest diet plan, my confidence started edge ever higher; my energy levels sky rocketed as I listened to my body and fuelled it with real food rather than crappy processed “diet” foods, and I suddenly discovered that I had way more time to dedicate to real life rather than constantly obsessing over how many calories/syns/points I had eaten on any given day. What a bloody novelty!
Enter Body Positivity
During this initial time of change, finding the Body Positive movement proved pivotal. My mindset and attitude was shifting dramatically and finding bo-po on social media was like finding a beacon of light shining in the dark. It underpinned everything I was slowly learning to believe about myself. Here was a gang of other amazing women, living their own wonderful lives in fabulous bodies which didn’t fit the media ideal. Once I knew where to look for them, I could surround myself with them and flood my social media feeds with them so that they became my new wallpaper. I was no longer constantly being bombarded with images forced on me by the mainstream media. Instead, I was in charge of curating my feeds, and I was choosing to fill them with bodies that looked more like mine! Hallelujah!!!!!!!! What a marvellous, life affirming thing that was. It changed everything and had a huge impact on my confidence. Who’d have thought it…….? I wasn’t quite as alone as I’d believed all this time.
But while body positivity helped me make such a dramatic shift to begin with, over the last few months, it’s stopped talking to me quite as clearly. When I go to search for inspiration on social media, I’m no longer seeing what I’m searching for. I’m looking for a reflection of where I am in my life right now, but I’m not finding it. I’m desperate to see other 40-something women talking to me about their burning issues of the day. But instead my feeds are filled with sparkly, pink haired, unicorn clad 20-somethings, discussing burlesque classes and plus size bikini marches. It all feels very millennial. And as much as I’d love to tick that box, it just ain’t me!
Going all out for mid-life positivity!
Now don’t get me wrong, I still think that these bo-po warriors are doing a sterling job in terms of changing general perceptions and opinions. But at this point in my life, they are just aren’t cutting the mustard. From where I’m standing right now, body positivity is taking on a whole host of new meanings. In the not too distant future, monumental changes are going to be happening to my body, whether I like it or not. Ain’t no-one holding back the tides of change I’ve got hiding round the corner – not even a whole herd of glittery unicorns, and I want to talk to other women who are going to understand the feelings that come alongside those changes. Physically, mentally and emotionally, this time of life feels pretty monumental and I’m keen to reclaim it, mark it, and celebrate it rather than letting it simply pass by in a blur of parents evenings, pro-retinol and possible HRT.
Added to all of this, I can’t help but feel that the mood of the movement has changed quite a bit. Recently I have found that I’ve got to a stage where I was heavily censoring what I was writing on instagram/facebook/the blog for fear of saying the wrong thing and upsetting the ‘in-crowd’. The scene has become ultra politicised of late. As someone who’s admittedly not too clever at playing that game, it suddenly didn’t feel like the warm and welcoming, uber-positive place it once was.
Fight against it as I might, the parameters of the safe space have shifted. But do you know what, I’ve realised that that’s ok. It’s called a movement for a reason. Its a living, breathing, moving thing, and as such, it has changed and morphed into something different and will continue to do so as time goes on. And guess what……? So will I! So maybe it’s time I look for a new group of people to celebrate life, body diversity and growing (a bit) older with!
So what next? Well, I’m going to focus on the things that I think will help me in my current situation and I’m hoping therefore that they’ll also help others……… Unless, you know, I’ve got it totally arse backwards and I really am the only one who feels like a slightly confused 41 year old woman with lots of responsibilities who wonders how the hell she ended up in such grown up place when inside she still feels like the awkward 16 year old she was just a second ago?! Hmmmm, help me out here ladies……… ladies………???