Sunday, 22 April 2018

Our bodies are amazing....lets stop with the body shaming...

I am what I am...

Spring has arrived in the UK and it’s time to strip away the thick and multiple layers of clothing as the sun shines bright and strong. For most it is a time that sparks happiness and excitement as summer wardrobes are unpacked, plans for picnics, bbq’s and trips outdoors are planned, and there are smiles aplenty. 

However, for some, like me. stripping away those layers of clothing is like taking away a safety blanket and feeling exposed and vulnerable. We all have our insecurities and without sounding superficial, one of my hang ups is the way I look. I am not stupid, I know I am not pretty, slim, young, desirable etc. But I want to be ‘good enough’, to be liked and not to be laughed at or judged as a person based on my looks and weight. 

Being overweight is still a massive taboo, and one that it not easy to live with. It takes just seven seconds to judge someone based on first impressions. Of course, that seven seconds is spent quickly evaluating what we have to go by…our sight (and smell too). We all do it, we may look at someone and think ‘do they really think their hair suits them? how can they go out wearing that? Did no one tell them how they are looking?’, or sometimes ‘look at the state of that!!!’

I am one of those people who get stares and judgements made about them, and you have no idea how tough it can make going outside in public. Worrying about what people are thinking, fearing you won’t fit into a seat or through a small gap. But seeing and hearing some of the comments people say about us ‘fatties’ is terrible. It hurts and it has more impact on that person that you will ever realise.

I can’t (and wouldn’t speak for others), but we do know how we look, trust me on that. We don’t need a reminder!

I know I am fat! I look at myself in the mirror and I can see that. I know clothes by and large look awful. Nothing fits right, I need to wear shapeless clothes that hide the many rolls and bulges. I can’t reveal my legs as they are like tree trunks. The top of my arms are wobblier than blamaunge. My belly…well, there are no adequate descriptions!

I have wanted to hide away for the last few days. I have pulled my wardrobe apart trying in vain to find any item of clothing that could disguise how I look, but to no avail. I almost cancelled going to football yesterday as I didn’t want people to see me and feel disgusted by me. I like my own company (and luckily so) and so have done stuff on my own so I don’t see people that might judge me, or be judged for being seen with me. 

But today I did something I had been longing to do. When I was at my sickest, and spending months on end in bed, I drew what ‘happy’ and ‘healthy’ looked like. I made it my aim to achieve it. TODAY I DID IT!!!!!!!. I spent the afternoon on Clapham Common with a blanket, a picnic, and my book. I lay there, read, relaxed, and felt the sun on my skin, the breeze all around me, and the grass soft and green on my skin. Nature didn’t care that I was overweight, and my body felt great! 

I spent a long time in an inner dialogue with myself (I am the only person who will listen to me!!). This is incredible. I never dreamt I would be well again and able to be out living a life what wasn’t just based in my bedroom. Why I am not high on life all the time and dancing round the streets (ok, maybe the world is not ready for my dance moves!!). But why am I wanting to hide away based on what others might think of me. The person who ‘will never get better or never lose weight’ is doing just those…albeit slowly. But why is that the voice that is loudest in my head, and not the woo hoo, lets do this and make the most of every moment! 

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment as I came to realise that…you know what. My body (and everybody else’s) is amazing. We are all different shapes, sizes and all unique. Our body tells a story of our journey. It has over 100 trillion cells that keep us alive and functioning. It is truly amazing and should be celebrated. My body has been broken for the last 4 years and the fact that I am able to do some of the things I never envisaged being able to do again is testament to the power of my body and its ability to heal, quite simply amazing My heart beats and lungs breath without me consciously controlling them. My legs thankfully work again and help me travel and explore. My whole body is recovering and giving me a second shot at life, yet I am fixated only on how the outer shell appears to others rather than marvelling at its inner capabilities.

 Every scar has a story, and are a part of us and our life. I have a scar on my finger where my finger was trapped in the door hinge and virtually sewn back on as a kid. Am I ashamed of it? No, it’s hilarious. I often show it off. I have a scar under my bottom lip from when as a child, I fell over and cut it. I have loads of others too. So why I am so ashamed to leave the house?

My body is a result of my battle. My battle with ME/CFS and my recovery. My bingo wings, my saggy boobs, my wobbly tummy and thunder thighs. They are all scars left from my battle with illness. Wounds of how I did what I had to do to cope with living inside four walls and being confined to bed for the best part of 3 years. But that is a story that is not visible to the world and we do by and large judge big people as purely greedy and lazy.

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing people see people and judging How could they let themselves get into that shape? Why don’t they do something about it? 

No, I am not hiding behind excuses, and  it is not all due to my illness, I am also a greedy cow who loves all the things that are not conducive to being slim, but there is often more of a story to a person’s weight than just being a piggy! Food can be a comfort. When we are kids we are often rewarded for being good, for achieving something, or sometimes after we fall over or hurt ourselves, with a treat. Usually a sweet, or takeaway or something nice. So, as we grow older we associate food with comfort and turn to it when things aren’t going so well. 

Perhaps that person is grieving the loss of a loved one, perhaps they lost their job, they have an illness, they’ve had a breakup…there are so many things it could be other than just being lazy and greedy.  

No, I’m not sexy, attractive, someone that looks great in clothes and with curves in the right places, but I hope I am not a bad person. I try to be kind, thoughtful, and a nice person. My illness and my weight has certainly (I hope) made me less judgemental. Perhaps that is part of my frustration too. I guess if you haven’t been through something it is hard to understand how it can feel.  

I have my scars, including the saggy and blubbery bits, but they can be worked on. None of us are perfect, but being overweight doesn’t make a person less worthy or inferior. Please don’t make life harder for us. Believe me, we are our own harshest critics!

To anyone still reading, no matter your size, your hair (or lack of it), your skin colour, eye colour, shape, wobbly tum, wonky toes, they are you, and you are AMAZING! Love the skin you are in, and take a moment to say well done to your body for the air in your lungs, the meat on your bones, the muscles that help you move, the bones that support you, and all the things we don’t even realise are happening right now inside of us! It is a miracle of nature and so are you!

Let’s stop with the body shaming, and embrace ourselves for who we are, what we achieve and to hell with those who don’t want to join in!

Rant over ;-) 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Collector by Fiona Cummins

Out now

Published by Pan Macmillan

Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

If you like Mo Hayder and Thomas Harris, you’ll love The Collector. 
Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town. His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting . . .
Clara, the girl he left behind, dreams of being found. Her mother is falling apart but she will not give up hope. The Collector has found an apprentice to take over his family’s legacy. 
But he can’t forget the one who got away and the detective who destroyed his dreams. DS Etta Fitzroy must hunt him down before his obsession destroys them all. 

My review:

Having read and loved Rattle, Fiona's debut novel, I was like a kid waiting for christmas when I heard that not only did she have another book coming out, but that it was a follow up to her first book. I clicked download as soon as I could and ventured off to a quiet retreat to get stuck in.

It is safe to say that The Collector did not let me down! I devoured every page and kept going long after I should have stopped to do other things! Even darker and creepier than Rattle, this book is everything i hoped it would be and more! If you haven't read Rattle it would be good to read it first, but not essential as this stands alone  as well. 

The main character is one twisted sicko who wants nothing more than to cause as much pain and misery as possible. He is deeply warped! Clara, a young girl is missing and hope is pretty much gone for her. But DS Etta Fitzroy never gives up hope. Determined and passionate she is always driven and in search of justice. But The Collector just doesnt want to let go! Cue a plot that twists and turns and kept me gripped to the edge of my seat. 

Fiona Cummins has written another best seller. Filled with great characters, especially Etta Fitzroy, who I hope we see again. Hope she is busy writing book three because I am sat here eagerly awaiting it!