Body Positivity – Has it become an issue of privilege? 33

Are you bikini ready and body confident?

I’m really struggling at the moment with body positivity. Having gone through a double mastectomy and failed reconstruction, I was always going to have issues with my changed body. However, it has really come to the fore this spring with the influx of social media campaigns declaring that all bodies are beautiful.

A large number of these campaigns are run by people who I would consider to be attractive women of an average size. Of course, all women are prone to body insecurity. But I can’t help but feel that when an average-sized woman is presented as the champion of fat acceptance, it totally marginalises people at either end of the spectrum.

In fact, they have commercialised the issue without dealing with the stigma and discrimination that exists. These campaigns are for average sized women to feel good about the fat bodies THEY DON’T HAVE.

Body Confidence - Has it become an issue of privilege?

All bodies are beautiful. Are they? Not in my experience. All people are beautiful and often their inner beauty shines through, but the fact of the matter is that fat people are marginalised, actively discriminated against, and often humiliated.

Want an example? I have been humiliated when riding a bike, by people in a passing car.

“Don’t worry if you fall off. You are so fat, you will bounce.”

I have been dropped from food brand campaigns, only to see the recipes I put forward shared by other bloggers. When I questioned this, I was told I didn’t fit the brand’s target audience.

For me, the issue is that when body positivity becomes a conversation about the middle, the people that the movement was created by, and for, are crowded out. That’s what happens every time we read that anything above a size 8 is a plus-sized model? When body confidence articles online and in magazines only have one woman above a size 16 in their “Body Confidence Goals – The Girls You Need to be Following” or “30 Inspirational Body Confidence Quotes from Women Who Know What They’re Talking About”.

It’s not just fat people who feel marginalised in this conversation. Naturally very thin people feel the same way, too. I really feel people are forgetting this was a movement created by fat people for fat people. To treat it so lightly does both them and me a great disservice.

It’s common for average sized women on Instagram to say that people won’t judge you by your body. Well, that is total ballcocks. Who wants to sit next to the fat person on the bus or train? You see people look at you, and scan for empty seats.

Prejudice is everywhere. I had my heart evaluation this year, which tests cholesterol and heart health. The conversation before the check was all about my weight, and the nurse seemed to focus on the likelihood that my cholesterol was going to need treatment. No matter how many times I told her that I eat a healthy, balanced diet and as a family we avoid foods that are high in saturated fat (apart from the dreaded cheese). I eat the same as my family, and they are all within acceptable healthy weights, but I am clinically obese thanks to my medications and anaemia. You guessed it – my heart and cholesterol levels were both found to be healthy.

When discussing this with Sally from Who’s the Mummy she hit the nail on the head when she said

“This really a conversation about privilege. If you’re a white cis-gender, straight female wearing size 12 or 14 clothes, the body positivity movement was NOT started to tell your story. And by using your platform to only tell your story, you’re crowding out the stories it was intended to tell”

Body positivity shouldn’t about losing 10lb’s and feeling happier.  It shouldn’t be about being bikini ready or how healthy is the new skinny. It should be about accepting all bodies.  We are more than just our body, so for me, body positivity is about learning not to marginalise people for how they look, full stop!

Body positivity should be about all people. Not just curvy people, or small fat people. All fat people!

I’m happy to wear a bathing costume, but I’m much more comfortable doing so without other people staring at me due to the way I look. I don’t let my feelings about my body stop me doing the things I want to do with my family. But all the images in this post were taken when we were at private pools.

Would my life be better if I was thinner? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point of this blog post. My point is that my life would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I am fat. And so I would ask those women talking about positivity to expand their conversation more about me, and the women like me.

Would my life be better if I was thinner? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point of this blog post. My point is that my life would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I am fat. And so I would ask those women talking about positivity to expand their conversation more about me, and the women like me.

33 thoughts on “Body Positivity – Has it become an issue of privilege?

  • Anon

    A great, honest and well written post. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m morbidly obese as a result of battling with Binge Eating Disorder for many years. I’m constantly judged by my size, and have also experienced people shouting out in the streets at me. To the average sized woman it might FEEL we’ve come a long way in acceptance of our bodies, but I still experience judgement and discrimination on a daily basis that is perpetuated and patronised by size 12/14’s implying that they’re winning at being comfortable with fat.

  • Sarah

    Do you follow or read Sofie Hagen? Shes awesome. Also Standard Issue podcasts. “Womans” magazines should be banned. Why pay to read something guarenteed to tell you that you are not enough.
    Not skinny enough. Not healthy enough. Skin not clear enough. Not famous enough. Not doing enough. Not sexy enough. And the bullseye – magazines that tear you down in every page with bullshit and photoshopped pictures then telling you they can help you raise your confidence! Fuck em. My body confidence is at the worst it has ever been. It was good to read your post. Take care x

  • Sally

    Hi Jen

    Thanks for sharing this post and our conversation 🙂

    Modern life and social media is ridiculously hard and I think virtually all women to some extent are raised and encouraged to be critical of their bodies – and that’s an important conversation. I think it’s entirely valid to have feelings about your body, whatever size it is.

    But – I think there is a danger that “body positivity” is becoming a conversation about women of an average size, who lack confidence after having a baby. That’s a fine conversation to have, and I don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings, but when those conversations are being led by and shared among women who are already high profile in part because of the advantages they have (slim, white, educated, straight), then my worry is it crowds out those women who are already marginalised and brutalised to some extent by social media.

    I’m not 100% sure what the solution is. Should slim women be more inclusive in their campaigns? Perhaps. Should fat women get a lot more vocal and angry and demand to be represented? Probably. Should the media recognise that body positivity isn’t just a case of selling positive slogan sweatshirts where an XL is a size 14? God, I hope so.

  • Jane R

    Such a well written and thoughtful post – and so true. I’m a large size 16 with a BMW over 30 (er not quite sure how far over 30…). I have a DR’S appointment this afternoon that I have put off making because of the issues that are raised about being obese. I shouldn’t feel like this!I don’t have ongoing medical issues that cause this – but 3 kids, a sedentary job, and a lack of time contribute to my not maintaining a more healthy weight.
    We sadly lost a colleague recently at work to a massive heart attack – he was slim, and very fit – cycled miles every day, and ran frequently, but had an appalling diet. But everyone assumes slim+exercise = healthy, overweight+not much exercise=automatically unhealthy.
    You are so right that health is not just about your size – and I find inspiration in the curvy sewing collective and their messages of body positivity, whatever size or shape you may be. I also remind myself of the ‘this girl can’ campaign whenever I go off to exercise (badly lol)

  • Molly

    I’m sorry if my video or post this week upset you Jen. I think it’s a really complex issue and I really do feel that we ALL need to be talking about this stuff. Body positivity, body neutrality, body confidence, body anything – it’s a really emotive subject and I’m well aware that I’ve never had to deal with discrimination because of the way I look, but I’m also aware that there are others out there who have similar shaped bodies to mine who are desperately unhappy. I guess what I was trying to say (and will continue to say) is that I really do feel all bodies are worth celebrating and, as I said in my video, no one’s worth should be defined by how they look or what their body shape is.

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      Thanks for commenting and I do understand that all women can be prone to body insecurity. I had already had this sent to a certain someone ( who had to get busy and then run a retreat of all things) to be edited before I saw your video and this isn’t about that, but the fact is I am defined by the way I look, my body shape and my physical disability.
      It does, however, reinforce the fact that ‘body positivity’ seems to have lost its true and radical meaning. It used to acknowledge that not all bodies are viewed equally, that some come with a huge amount of cultural stigma. I noticed that no one over a certain size was in your video or sent you images and the fact that we are judged, commented on and humiliated for our size would be one of the reasons for that.

      • Molly

        I completely understand where you’re coming from regarding the political body positive movement (and Nyomi’s comment covers the difference between “body confidence” and “body positive” really well I think). Regarding my video, I’d have loved to include more photographs, although I disagree that “no one over a certain size” was in there. There were women of all shapes and sizes and I included every photo I was sent, but would have loved to include more (if you’d have sent me one I’d have loved to have included it too). For what it’s worth, there’ve been no negative comments on that video or post, even though it showed women with a huge array of body shapes. I’ve had messages, shares and comments from women of all sizes which goes to show the positive message I was trying to make made the impact on many of the people who saw it. I’m sorry you didn’t feel the same, but I do think that speaking about this stuff is important and shouldn’t be a conversation that excludes anyone – big, small, tall, short etc. But I totally acknowledge that I’m not in your shoes and can’t speak from a point of discrimination. Then again, if I’d not made the video or talked about any of that stuff at all then all the people who WERE uplifted or moved by it wouldn’t have been. I think any positive message that gets us speaking about body shape and away from diet culture and body negativity etc is a good thing.

        • Jen Walshaw Post author

          I would never send you an image of me in a Bikini and am pretty sure that other women over a certain size wouldn’t either. Why would I add more ammunition for people to ridicule and humiliate me? Every day my comment moderation on youtube captures hundreds of messages about me being fat, a drain on society, ugly and much worse. I do understand that women are prone to body insecurity but this is about body positivity and your comment reinforces the fact that ‘body positivity’ seems to have lost its true and radical meaning. It used to acknowledge that not all bodies are viewed equally, that some come with a huge amount of cultural stigma.

          When I looked at your video (after I had written this post) it didn’t appear to me as a very diverse representation and you have a fabulous platform and reach, so all I would ask is that you expand conversation more to include the extremes from the spectrum like me, and the women like me.

          • Molly

            I totally get that Jen. And I am listening. How would you have liked me to have done it differently? (Totally not asking in an aggressive way, I’m just really interested in learning how I could have done it better.)

  • Becky

    Oh, I so (respectfully) do not agree that it is a matter of privilege. I have a 16 year old white, slim, stunning niece who possibly has less body confidence than me an overweight disbaled 47 year old. Regular sized bodied people can hide all sort sof confidence issues/eating disorders/dysmorphia and media pressure affects us all. I think the messages of confidence need to come from everyone to everyone becuase lack of confidence is EVERYWHERE and often not related to the physical at all. I blooming love the Biklni Ready video that is fluying around it shows so many different bodies and had such a fab message. I am always the first in the pool I have to say and many of my younger slimmer peers don’t have the confidence so yes the messages of body confidence should by by all women and for all women in my opinion.

    • Sally

      Becky, I don’t think anyone is saying that body confidence isn’t an issue for MOST women regardless of size. My reference to privilege was that your body confidence message is a whole lot more likely to be amplified and picked up if you’re an average sized woman. Google Image Search “Body positive” and see what sort of bodies come up…

      80 or 90% of those bodies are smaller than the average UK woman.

      Privilege is defined as a special advantage enjoyed by a set of people. Women with average sized bodies enjoy a privilege of representation and visibility not afforded to larger women. And that privilege makes it EVEN harder for those women wearing a size 24, 26 and bigger to feel body confident. Because if you’re not even represented in media content promoting body positivity, what does that say about your body? And what does it say to society as a whole when your body is so hideous it’s not even acceptable enough to be included and represented in campaigns about celebrating bigger bodies?

      So respectfully, yes, this is absolutely a conversation about privilege (in my humble, entirely possibly wrong, opinion) x

      • Molly

        This is exactly why I opened up my video to be about other people too, asking for people to send me photos so I could show a whole range of different types of bodies. (Ideally I’d liked to have more photos to show an even broader spectrum of shapes and sizes but I could only go with the ones I was sent – you should have sent me one too Sally then you could have been in the video!).

        • becky

          Molly – I loved all those photos at the end and the song that went with it – beautiful to celebrate so many different sizes and shapes

        • Sally

          I haven’t seen the video (tiny bit busy this week) so I can’t comment but as I say body confidence is an issue for most women in this day and age and I don’t dismiss anyone’s voice in this conversation. And I am 100 percent sure – coming from you – that it was a fabulous video of gorgeous ladies x

          Personally I completely support any woman who is championing confidence and self-esteem and all that good stuff.

          I think what Jen is maybe trying to say is just that it’s a shame that the conversation isn’t a bit more diverse. That’s not something I lay at your feet or anyone else’s but it’s a shame because a larger woman’s experience of body positivity (or shame) is often far more external than internal.

          When you’re regularly shouted at in the street by strangers, or trolled online EVERY single time you post a photo or video, or when someone is annoyed by you and the default insult is always, always “fat bitch” and the like then it probably does sting a bit that so much of the body positivity movement comprises women who have probably never had those experiences that every overweight woman has probably had. Does that make sense?

          And those experiences, combined with seeing campaigns featuring much slimmer women getting so much praise and traction, make it impossibly hard for those women to even think of sharing a photo in a video because we know our image won’t be met just with support but also with misogyny, insults and derision. Just because that’s life when you’re a size 16 or over. People are awful sometimes.

          Personally I’m fortunate enough to give less than two fucks what a stranger thinks of my body. Having watched two of my brothers take their last breaths on this earth I’m just grateful to have a body that works and sustains me. What someone else thinks of it is entirely their affair.

          But I see other women like Jen feeling hurt and feeling excluded and I want to see how we represent those women too in these campaigns, without wishing to minimise anyone else’s feelings along the way. I hope that makes sense. I suspect at some level we are all actually in complete agreement but maybe just need to try a little harder to empathise with each other’s experiences x

      • becky

        I take your point and totally agree there should be WAY more diversity of body images in the media (and dammit I called myself 47 when I am in fact 46!! )and I totally went and google image searched body positive and yes not that diverse ( but more than I thought it might be – definately room for improvement!!!)

        I do really think it is vital women of all sizes who have body confidence issues take part in these conversations though I really do, Like you said it imapcts most peeps and yes I think average /beautiful anyone get more media rep than others which is of course PANTS and something we all need to challenge. So i concur there is a privelege issue in that representation and this is an issue we all need to be heard talking about no matter who we are or what out size – we all need to heard/represented.

  • Nyomi

    I think there is a difference between talking about body confidence, which affects everyone, and then talking about body positivity, which is a political movement. A lot of people don’t realise that body positivity, is a phrase coined by those with more marginalised bodies until they educate themselves more on the issue. I used it incorrectly at the start of me learning about it. I hear what you are saying, and of course the points you are making are very valid. I would add a disclaimer though, if women with more mainstream bodies aren’t allowed to be part of the body positivity movement then what happens to them? Diet culture and fat stigma is all part of this and they are affected by that. In a lot of cases these women are thinner because they are so very affected by diet culture and have disordered behaviour or eating disorders. Do we tell a size 12 woman recovering from an eating disorder that she’s not welcome because her body isn’t marginalised. Then what? She’s still not media size zero perfect so she may as well get right back on with anorexia? A prime example is someone like Body Posi Panda, her body is average and she’s a poster girl for body positivity. I don’t know what the answer is but I know that many women are just trying to reclaim their bodies and if they aren’t welcome in body positivity then what can they do, where can they go.

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      That is what I was trying to put across which is really hard when you are emotionally invested in something like this. I do understand that all women can be prone to body insecurity. The media has a lot to answer for, which I do say in my post.

      It does, however, reinforce the fact that ‘body positivity’ seems to have lost its true and radical meaning. It used to acknowledge that not all bodies are viewed equally, that some come with a huge amount of cultural stigma. I just find the concept of an average sized woman saying that no one is ever judged on their size or get your bather on as people are to busy worrying about themselves to comment about you, not my experience.

      • becky

        Ah yes body positivity is a diff thing though isnt it its a movement?..We were all responsing to what you were saying about body confidence being an issue of privellege. I do understand its such an emotive issue – hard to write about and so very complex

        • Jen Walshaw Post author

          I was trying to say that this is about more than women being prone to body insecurity and that body positivity seems to have become an issue of privilege in my experience.
          When someone has never experienced the prejudice, discrimination and bile that being fat brings it can be hard to understand or empathise.
          As I say in the final paragraph, this isn’t about me being thinner just that my life would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I am fat. And so I would ask those women talking about positivity to expand their conversation more about me, and the women like me.

          • becky

            I totally totally get that Jen but this post said body confidence was an issue of privelege to start with and thats what I think we all responded too? I dont agree with that in that I think ..we are all impacted with that. Body positivity is of caourse as Nyomi said a different thing to body condfidence and I do agree its a very important movement and yes I also agree quite different and an issue of privellge – discrimination is vile and we need to stamp iot down! Am with you on that x

            • Jen Walshaw Post author

              I hold my hands up – I titled the piece incorrectly, but I didn’t use that in the copy. Does that invalidate what I am saying? It appears that it does. It is a shame that the conversation isn’t a little bit more diverse and that people think that this was an attack. It was written and in my drafts for months and sent to be edited last week as I was so emotionally invested in it I wanted it checking. I shouldn’t feel as though I have to justify the fact that I am abused as a fat person, but I really feel that the more we try to make it about what it isn’t we detract from what it is. 78 is the number of comments that my moderation on youtube caught about me being fat, a drain on society and other bile this week alone. I wopuld love to be seen as a person first and fat second, but that is unlikely to happen unless the conversation is expanded to include people like me.

  • Alison

    Jen I really feel for you when you describe the judgement you’ve faced and the way you have been made to feel about your body. No one should be made to Feel bad about their appearance.
    I think it’s a complex issue though and so often it comes down to a mental aspect rather than how we actually look. Someone who is a size 12/14 might have very real body issues which shouldn’t be dismissed because she isn’t thin enough or fat enough to be welcomed into the body confidence conversation.

  • Katy

    **** “I can’t help but feel that when an average-sized woman is presented as the champion of fat acceptance, it totally marginalises people at either end of the spectrum.” ****

    So should average-sized women get their own campaign? Are they not allowed to celebrate body positivity, or perhaps they are but only alongside a dose of guilt that they’re not quite fat enough to use the terminology? Who is presenting them as the champion? Maybe they are just doing the best they can to further the movement?

    I can’t help but feel that if women at the other ends of the spectrum feel like they are being marginalised, then they need to shout louder about themselves in relation to body positivity, rather than criticising average-sized women for trying to celebrate feeling good in their skin.

    Body positivity should apply to people of all sizes, races, backgrounds, genders and sexualities, but it can only do so if those groups get out there and include themselves. Maybe that’s what you’re trying to do with this post, but blaming average-sized women for comandeering the movement isn’t the right way to go about it, sorry.

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      I can not shout louder – my voice is drowned out by 1000 of comments I get about being fat and overweight. I do understand that women are prone to body insecurity but this is about body positivity and your comment reinforces the fact that ‘body positivity’ seems to have lost its true and radical meaning. It used to acknowledge that not all bodies are viewed equally, that some come with a huge amount of cultural stigma.
      I want to be seen as being a person first and fat second, which I guarantee average-sized women are.

  • cass bailey

    Ah Jen, I’m so sorry you feel like you’re judged by your size more than you as a person. It makes me so sad to read that you’re treated poorly and get so many comments about your size.

    I don’t judge people by their size, shape, colour, preferences and I know you don’t either. In fact, I’m willing to bet that 99% of people in the world wouldn’t ever judge people on any of these things but the few who do clearly have louder voices if they’re the ones you’re hearing most!

    I’m far from a size 12 but I don’t think I’ve ever felt judged by my size rather than by me as a person and I don’t think I’ve ever had a comment about it anywhere online – other than someone saying my boobs were ginormous but I can take that. 😉

    • Sam

      Beautifully said.

      Whilst I too would never comment or judge anyone else by their size, shape, colour etc….. we have to realise there are some cruel people out there who choose to do so. Maybe this is because they have low self esteem, insecurities or are just in fact bullies! No matter what, this is unacceptable, to make another person feel so insecure or not seen for who they are but be judged by their size is just quite frankly disgusting!

      However, after going from a healthy size 10 to a much bigger size I too feel the insecurities, but have to admit I have never come across any abuse or rudeness, thankfully! I too have gained weight due to medication for reasons I would not like to discuss, but I have chose to do something about it, not because of how I feel people might judge me but because I am unhappy not being at a healthy weight and want to set a good example for my son.

      I know that I’ll never be a size 10 again but I also know that I need to be at a healthy weight to regain my confidence (still with lumps and bumps, I accept this, and put it down to age!!!!) So I am on a mission to do so and yes it’s tough but I’m doing it purely for me and not for other people!

      I really enjoyed Mollys story and don’t think that she was leaving larger ladies out, she asked us all for pictures and that was purely to celebrate our shapes and sizes and make us feel good about ourselves, good for her. After all if we don’t love ourselves how can we expect others to!

      Unfortunately I am struggling to love myself right now and that is why I am choosing to make changes. Don’t let bullies define who you are, if you are happy, confident and comfortable with yourself then screw them!!! Not as eloquently put as Molly! But if you’re not, make changes for you, not because of how the trolls make you feel!

  • Katy

    Ugh, yes, the things that I avoid doing because I’m not thinner verges slightly on the ridiculous. I won’t film that technique video this week because maybe in, like, 3 weeks, some of the extra 4 1/2 stone I’m carrying will magically vanish and I’ll look less like the size of a house, maybe just the size of a semi instead. Or maybe I can do the video only showing my hands, or maybe I can hide bits of me behind the sewing machine and people won’t notice the spare tyre(s).

    I was at the doctor’s a couple of weeks ago with a chest infection and an asthma flare up. He asked what I thought caused it and I said I reckoned it was the 3 hills I’d hoofed up in one day a week earlier because I was really wheezing on the 3rd one, and then it was quite cold and windy at the top and I didn’t put a jumper on. His face clearly said ‘This is not a woman that has even gone up a mole hill looking at the size of her’ and yet I go to the gym 4 mornings a week and 4 lunchtimes a week I walk with my friend round the block (2 1/2 miles). All the way round those walks my petite colleague complains about her weight and how she wants to lose half a stone, while telling me that because I’m tall I can carry it off better (well gee, thanks for that!) making me feel more like the galumphing oaf beside her than ever. This is the same woman who once announced in front of quite a large number of our colleagues that the easiest way to tell the difference between me and the other Katie that works in my department is to get us to turn to the side a bit, because you’d ‘never miss that chest anywhere’. Well no, no you can’t, but even at my slimmest (5 1/2 stones ago) it wasn’t any smaller, so there’s bog all I can do about it. Did I mention that working in IT means that this entire group of colleagues was male? I don’t think she says these things maliciously, I really don’t, but by god she doesn’t understand quite how painful that can be. I’m not even going there on my mother. She’s been petite all her life, you would seriously never spot us for mother and daughter, and she and my dad make fat comments all the damn time about complete strangers, or when describing people they meet. I’m pretty sure I have never once in my life described anyone by the shape they were.

    So, erm, yeah, it appears I have zero body positivity at the moment, sorry for that rant!

  • Chloe (Sorry About The Mess)

    I’ve come here via Sally’s post and have found both posts very interesting and perhaps maybe I’ve learnt something about the origins of the body positivity movement and what it ACTUALLY means. I am astounded at the amount of comments and abuse you receive on a weekly basis. I had no idea and I imagine no one that is a size 16 and under does either. More exposure of this behaviour and more conversation around that is definitely needed. I’m a size 14 with odd proportions that mean I still don’t fit a lot of high street clothes, it’s frustrating and it sometimes makes me sad, but this post has made me realise that it’s a bloody good thing that I ‘only’ have my inner confidence demons to fight, not keyboard warriors and nasty people in real life.

  • Steph Curtis

    Jen, I’m sad that you have been treated so badly 🙁 It’s sad that there are mean-spirited people in this world. Maybe part of the solution is education; by that I mean all parents educating their own children and talking to them about attitudes and what shouldn’t be said or even thought. Teaching them that everyone is human and worth something. I’m sure you do that with your boys, and I’d like to think I’ve done it with my girls… but looking back, maybe I haven’t been explicit enough and it’s a conversation I need to sit down and have right now with them. It’d be idealistic to think we could change all of society in one fell swoop, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Body confidence, body shaming, body positivity all need to be talked about much more I think, by everyone from extra small to extra large xx

  • Deahna

    I’ve loved reading your posts for a long time and I remember one where you admitted that you needed to be in family photos instead of ‘only’ being the photographer. That post and this really struck a chord with me.
    I’m one of those small persons who should fit in a size 10 but when I was much younger I was seriously underweight and almost found myself in hospital because of that. Twenty or so years later I’m a size 14 for upper body, 16 for lower body. I have entirely too much belly fat, my cholsterol is too high and so is uric acid and inflammatory markers. But whenever I say something about it I’m told that I’m “really just the right size” and “where would you want to loose fat, you don’t have any” and “you could eat whatever you want” and even worse “other people have more problems than you do”. No even my own GP dares tell me I need to get rid of some of the belly fat at least before it becomes a health risk.
    I’ve also got a problem with my muscles and joints which prevents team sports as I would keep letting people down when in pain. But it never got diagnosed because each doctor I’ve seen immediately pigeonholed me: female of certain age, menopause, bored after children left the nest (I don’t have any because I can’t have them!!!), somewhat overweight. After a while I just gave up.
    I decided to “treat” myself. I have been doing a lot of mobility and light to medium weights training and have gotten much better. I no longer feel challenged by those so I decided it was time I stepped my training up a bit. I couldn’t keep up the first time I went and at the beginning of the second was curtly told “This isn’t for beginners” in a sort of condescending tone. There was no praise for how far I’ve come, no tips how to cope or which class might be better to join, nothing.
    In your eyes I’m probably one of the “average women”. I don’t feel particularly insecure about my body. But how am I supposed to feel body positivity when I’m not even allowed to see my body and its problems realistically? The problems are there and they won’t go away by a miracle or overnight.
    Jen, I love the photo of you on the sunbed and I hope you’ll often wear this gentle smile. You are a lovely person whichever size or health situation you are in. Thanks for letting me rant a bit and looking forward to your next post.

  • Midlife SInglemum

    This is so right, I agree with everything you’ve said here. I admit I’d not thought about it like this before. It’s doubly irritating when a slightly chubby (or not even that) woman takes this on as a cause that is so easy for her to adopt without any effort or pain, or real understanding about what larger women go through. It’s another ‘look at me, I’m wonderful and wise too,’ position which actually only goes to serve herself. As for brands and advertising – they pay it lip service because it behooves them to do so but, as you say, they don’t really get it, or even care.

  • Katie


    Just came across this blog and I think this is a really good blog post! I think you’re right when you say would your life be better if you were thinner?
    I mean you could say you may be living a healthier lifestyle? But would you be happier?? Probably not as you would never be satisfied and also does the way you look stop your children being happy! No!!

    Katie xx

  • Amy Harding

    This really struck a chord with me. A lot of the women promoting ‘body positivity’ on Social Media platforms didn’t sit well with me but I wasn’t sure why. You’ve explained the issue so well. The white, middle class, educated, conventionally attractive, straight, cis gender woman has so much power and privilege that at times she seems unaware of it. Social Media and particularly ‘mum bloggers’ are dominated by them. Seemingly inventing problems they don’t have and coming up with solutions they don’t need. All whilst processing to represent normal women/ the sisterhood/ whatever. They are the same people who believe we live in a ‘post racial’ society. Keep speaking out x

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