By Lucie Kavanagh
“Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.
I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me
There’s a meme doing the rounds at the moment that portrays four beautiful, happy women getting into a car. The caption of the picture is “Me and my friends when quarantine ends”. It’s a joyful scene. So what’s supposed to be funny about it?
The woman all have large bodies.
Every time someone I know shares this on social media I cringe and I want to say something about it, and about every other joke or phrase that laughs about the fact that putting on weight might be the most awful consequence of life during a pandemic.
I don’t say anything for the same reasons that I never said anything when laughed at school for being overweight or hearing comments about my weight or size throughout my life.
But the thing is; if you laugh at the image of larger people or chuckle at the thought of the “quarantine 15” do you really want your friends with larger bodies to think that the thought of ending up looking like them is preposterous? Is that really a message you want to give to anyone that you care about?
It is natural to want to improve our body image and at any one time lots of us might want to try a healthy eating plan or improve fitness and there’s nothing wrong with any of this. But when we are under constant pressure from external sources to buy into the theory that a larger body is the worst possible thing or that it is a hugely negative attribute of a person, it becomes toxic. We don’t need it and we definitely don’t at a time of crisis and pressure. How we are right now and how we are getting through is perfectly fine. If we’re healthy and safe, that’s the thing that matters.
My body has pretty much been every shape known to man due to a lifetime of fighting with it. I spend a lot of time feeling torn between learning to accept myself as I am now and overcoming the destructive urges in order to change it. I have to keep reminding myself that yes, I am upset every so often by Facebook memories of myself in thinner days and it’s sad to think how people might have complimented how I looked and the discipline I had…but then I also have to think of how life really was for me, how unhealthy those times were and the fact that a larger body right now, might be worth the freedom from the constant thoughts. Someday, hopefully that freedom will be across all levels and the thoughts, constant or otherwise, will be quieter.
But this is for anyone who is struggling right now with their self-image. Maybe the lockdown has changed your habits and this is worrying you. Maybe it’s not easy to exercise, mentally or practically. Maybe your eating routines have changed and this is how you’re coping with the stress and that’s absolutely fine. But please try not to condemn yourself for however you are coping. There are things you can do to feel better about yourself and they are unique to you. I go through phases of making my own cosmetics from items around the house-aloe vera, essential oils, cucumber, apple cider vinegar-there are so many possibilities and it’s good fun working out how to do it and what you like. Wear clothes that make you feel good and experiment with different outfits if you’re at home-take the chance, if you have it, of not having to dress a certain way for work and decide what you want to wear. Paint your nails. Moisturise. Exfoliate. Or…do none of these things!
Don’t forget to get your vitamin D in the lovely sunshine we’re having…it doesn’t have to be a walk, it can be sitting with a book in the garden. Remind yourself that you deserve everything you can think of that helps you feel better. The external pressures are more than enough to cope with. You deserve rest and care and sensory treats in whatever way works for you.
After quarantine ends, all you really need to do is look back and know that you got through it and that you got your family and loved ones through it, physically or remotely. You will meet people you’ve missed and none of you will care about extra pounds lost or gained; the joy will be in having the freedom to hug and talk in person.
Mind yourself. You’ve got this.
If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following