Compliments (Yes, that’s the title)

I was given a compliment today. I was told that when I listen “You really listen and that makes me feel safe and important.”

I’m almost 100% certain that my husband and daughter would disagree, but whatever… (See what I did there? Hilarious, I know!)

poster-please-dont-interrupt-me-while-im-ignoring-you-1809909

I like compliments. I like receiving them, but I especially like to give them, knowing how much it can mean to people. And if a compliment that I give someone means nothing at all, it doesn’t matter. Nobody was hurt.

For years now, I have been consciously trying to move away from the superficial (and dangerous) culture of obsession with appearance and I’m always aware of this when I compliment people. By which I mean that I consciously try to give compliments that aren’t appearance based as much as possible.

Think about it though, how nice would it be if we all put a bit more thought and authenticity into our compliments so that they actually mean something and are given and received with genuine appreciation?

Obviously I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with complimenting appearances at all, but for women in particular; it’s almost an expectation of some kind that we all should be conforming to. When we habitually compliment each other on appearance, we reinforce the internalised belief that appearance is what matters and that our value as women is all based on whether or not we fit a narrow definition of ‘attractive’.

“I like your hair”

“That’s a nice dress”

“You look slim” (There’s a WHOLE other blog post there….)

“Is that tan real? Wow”

“I love those shoes”

“Nice skirt, it looks so high fashion”

“Look at you with your long red nails”

Yes, these are nice compliments to receive – although the likelihood is that you already know your dress is nice, that’s why you bought it. Same with the shoes. You probably like your own hair too. And your nails. But these kinds of compliment alone, all the time, are very superficial and often not particularly genuine.

On the other hand, complimenting someone about their character – their parenting; loyalty; passion; attitude; resilience; work ethic; kindness; achievements; the unique things about them that you like or value is far more authentic and will inevitably mean more.

I mean, who remembers compliments about their hair or clothes with any great emotion? On the other hand, who forgets compliments about their character and who they are as a person?

For me personally appearance based compliments are irritating. I cut my hair short, in part because I couldn’t bear how important it seemed to be to the rest of the world that my hair was so thick and shiny. It gave me a “Shut the fuck up about my hair! It’s just dead stuff hanging off my scalp!” attitude.

Likewise, when I lose weight and people ask me if I’ve lost weight or tell me I’m looking slimmer… irritation and a “Why do people assume weight loss should be celebrated. Well fuck that! I’m going to get even fatter!” attitude.

Yes, I am fully aware that this is my issue (One of many!). Yes, of course I like being told I look beautiful or nice or pretty, and yes of course I tell people they look beautiful or nice or pretty.

But what I’m saying is, a thoughtful compliment about anything other than appearance will do more for most people’s self-esteem than “I like your top” ever will. Self esteem is so often mistakenly linked to appearance, which keeps us in the grip of low self esteem if we don’t fit that acceptable standard of beauty (which most of us will never perceive ourselves of having achieved). Whereas if people are built up around traits unrelated to physical appearance, self esteem really does flourish.

kid pres quote

Telling someone that you love their creativity or admire their integrity will last a lot longer than “Your hair looks nice”.

Telling someone that they’re brave or positive will help build them up in ways that “I love your shoes” can’t.

I’ve probably forgotten hundreds of “You look nice in that” (Some genuine, some patronising and others just for the sake of it no doubt)

But I will never forget being told that my passion inspired someone.

So this is my mission to the 3 people who read my blog… Try and balance appearance and character based compliments a bit because yes, we all like a nice comment about how we look, but we all benefit from genuine, thoughtful compliments about who we are.

Ooooh, suits you sir…

I had planned to attend an awards do at a university yesterday – the MD of the company I work for had been nominated for an award and I wanted to share the experience with her. I’m not at home in an academic environment and ‘professionalism’ is one of my least favourite social constructs, but my colleague is an awesome woman and the least she deserves from me is to step out of my comfort zone to support her in celebrating her success.

If you know me, or have read my blogs you’ll know that I’m not all about appearances or fashion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what I wear – I like clothes and accessories, it’s just that I like clothes and accessories regardless of whether they’re fashionable, regardless of whether they have a label, and regardless of whether they match!

I thought about what I would wear to something like this, and my checklist was as follows:

  1. That I feel comfortable
  2. That I don’t embarrass my colleague
  3. That I minimise the potential for being judged negatively by other people present

I thought I had it planned, and even invested in a new top, and then there it was,  “Dress code smart / business”…

Maybe you know what smart business means? I didn’t . I googled. Some of the highlights of my search included words like: tailored, conservative, skirt, dress, nylons (!!), heel, blouse, neutral, blazer.

formal

And then I realised that I don’t own a single item of clothing or pair of shoes that fits the bill. If my wardrobe was a google search result you would find the words: bright, floaty, denim, colourful, patterned, boots, sandals…

floaty

So I flaked on my colleague. And although I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded what I was wearing in the slightest, I just couldn’t face any of the options that stood before me, which were:

  1. Buy a suitable outfit and shoes resulting in feeling uncomfortable, unconfident and impostor-like.
  2. Wear what I planned to but feel unconfident and judged.

For me, not going was the least anxiety inducing option and I took it, but it did get me thinking about dress codes and about why the hell they’re still a ‘thing’?! (I’m not talking about ‘no trainers’ at a nightclub – although I don’t get what that’s all about either to be fair)

I work in the third sector where I haven’t had to adhere to any formal dress codes. I’ve only had one job where this wasn’t the case, and that was at a chartered surveyors. I hated having to appear as something completely different to who I am, and as someone I actually didn’t want to be.

It was the only time in my life that I’ve had separate ‘work clothes’. Before and after that job, my wardrobe has consisted of only 3 catagories – ‘Clothes’; ‘going out clothes’ and ‘clothes that don’t fit at the moment’. I’ve never even had summer / winter clothes because I’m always boiling so cotton and light materials are all I need all year round thank you.

I hate that people are expected to look the same in the name of ‘professionalism’. I’ve met many men in suits and women in pencil skirts and blouses who are anything but professional – for example, sleazy, arrogant, aggressive, ignorant and clueless…  Of course, this applies to people in casual clothes too, but THAT’S MY POINT. Wearing a certain type of clothes doesn’t make anyone more or less professional or competent.

And then there’s the classist aspect of dress codes. Suits and so-called ‘smart’ clothes are the territory of the middle and upper classes. Poor people generally can’t afford to section off their wardrobes into categories, seasons and events. (No, don’t even start with your Jeremy Kyle inspired narrative of how the working classes are all walking around in expensive trainers. I will shut your bigoted ass down before you can say “brainwashed”)  Poor people get bullied in school for not having the right clothes and shoes. They know from a young age what isn’t for them. Children from poor families don’t generally see their parents going to work and / or social events in ‘formal’ clothes. ‘formal’ clothes are for well off people.

So then, the first time a person not from a middle class background is expected to conform to a formal dress code there is likely to be a fair bit of anxiety about fitting in. We all know that ‘impostor syndrome’ is real for a lot of people, particularly those who have achieved success without formal higher education or for people who have grown up lacking self worth. Being expected to look a certain way and dress a certain way often compounds deep rooted feelings of being out of place. It’s easy to tell the difference between the people with genuine confidence who are used to dressing up from those who are ‘dressed up’ because they have to be. So if the objective of dress codes is for everyone to fit in, it’s an epic fail, because clothes only cover bodies – they don’t change the way people hold themselves or impact on their self-worth.

Some forms of dress are worn to appear authoritative and we all then have a lovely visual aid to help us ‘respect’ that authority. Again… no thanks.  I’m all about challenging traditional hierarchies and power structures when it comes to appearance. I do actually like a hierarchy of responsibility and accountability in a work environment, but I don’t see the necessity for this to translate into what we wear. In fact, two of the men I respect most, and who are widely respected in their work by their peers are men who rarely, if ever, wear a suit (You know who you are you sexy things!)

‘Professional’ dress codes literally exist so that we can all tell the difference between ‘professional’ people and everyone else.  And all dress codes are literally just a visual aid to hierarchy. Power structures from yesteryear demand that certain dress codes are adhered to in order for respect to be earned.

It’s bullshit.

And for a lot of people, what they wear as an expression of who they are is particularly important, like some transgender and non-binary people. And anyway, the work that most people do isn’t impacted in any way by what they wear, so surely a person’s standard of work is  more important than what they’re wearing?

Why can’t I be me? In my clothes? Well, actually I can – I am. And so far so good – no one’s died or vomited or frozen in shock. I’ll be me, you be you, they be them! We all like to dress differently and nobody’s style is right or wrong! Of course, common sense applies – I won’t wear anything with offensive slogans on or clothes that are dirty or broken & I’ll leave the hot pants and string vest in the ‘going out clothes’ area of the wardrobe…  But I won’t ‘dress up’ just because some guy in a suit is coming to visit, or because I’m going to a meeting. I will be respected regardless of what I’m wearing, and if anyone chooses not to respect what I’m saying / doing because I’m not dressed the ‘right way’, well to be quite honest I don’t care.

There are some occasions where I would happily conform to a request for dressing a certain way or in a certain colour – like weddings and funerals. I’m not about to spoil someone’s wedding or disrespect someone’s bereavement. But neither of these is about power or professionalism. I would also wear formal dress to court if I were accompanying someone, so as not to jeopardise their situation.

In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be spending most of my work life in a community hub and rest assured that the only thing that will matter there is that people feel comfortable to be themselves; that people will be able to express themselves and that, provided they’re actually wearing clothes, nobody will feel ‘less than’ or ‘better than’ anyone else. We will have stakeholder meetings, AGM’s and various other events and the dress code will always be: Wear your favourite clothes that make you feel confident.

(But rest assured, I’m not a complete fluff… if someone interprets that as a green light to wear their favourite gimp suit I will ask them to change!)

gimp

Clothes Maketh the Woman

I want to ramble about clothes.

Let me first make it clear though, what this blog is NOT about… It’s not about fashion. It’s not a critique of fashion trends or expression of self through clothes. I have no strong opinion on fashion as an industry, I don’t buy into the body positivity movement or the idea that any one body shape is better than another. I’m not offended by any style of clothing (Actually, that’s a lie. I have a physical reaction to men in super tight trousers that don’t reach their ankles, teamed with a deck shoe…But I know that this is my irrational problem!), I don’t care if people want to cover up completely or let it all hang out. Personally, I couldn’t care less about labels or brands – I don’t particularly feel anything much about people who do. Everyone has a body of some kind and everyone puts clothes on their bodies. Brilliant.

So, what DO I care about? Well, being a feminist killjoy, I care about the ways in which girls are oppressed and how they carry their oppression with them into womanhood. And yes, clothes are on my hit list right now!

It’s been lovely and warm recently, as we enjoy some spring sunshine. I am incredibly lucky to live in a flat that overlooks a beach and a playground of sorts. One of my favourite things to do is people watch – everyone is happy in the fresh air at the beach, so I get to see happiness through my windows every day. And not just happy people – all the happy dogs being walked are a joy to watch too!

What I have noticed, however, is how differently girls and boys enjoy the playground, depending on what they’re wearing.

Sunny days for boys means trousers / shorts and t-shirt. Trainers or sandals on their feet. Beachwear of shorts / wet suit / t-shirt. That’s about it.

Sunny days for girls has the added options of leggings / dresses / skirts and / crop tops / vest tops / floaty tops. Beachwear with the added options of swimsuit / bikini (despite the top half of pre-pubescent girls bodies being identical to that of pre-pubescent boys! But that’s for another blog) / tankini / sarong.

“So, what’s your problem?” I hear you cry. “Get to the point already Rosa”

Well, my problem is that all of the additional clothing options that are aimed solely at girls, result in an inequality that offers boys more freedom than girls even when they’re little children and all they want to do is play.

Skirts and dresses restrict girls’ movement and they force girls into a premature and unnecessary awareness of modesty. For boys to have more freedom than girls because of how we, as parents, are clothing them in the name of ‘conformity’ is actually really awful when you think about it.

A three year old girl doing a cartwheel or climbing in the park, should not have to face commentary from other children or adults about being ‘careful’ that she’s not showing her knickers.

A four year old girl should not, when all the children sit cross legged in assembly, know that she needs to push her dress into her lap to hide her underwear from view.

A six year old girl should not stop herself in her tracks, from following her trouser wearing peers climbing railings, because she’s conscious of what she’s wearing.

An eleven year old girl should not feel anxiety about going to school on a windy day, because her skirt might blow up.

A twelve year old girl should not have to consider when it’s ‘safest’ for her to climb the stairs depending on who might be behind her.

A thirteen year old girl should not feel forced into shaving her legs because not doing so would leave her open to ridicule and bullying at school.

So, I suppose I’m on the school uniform part of my post now then? And what might my thoughts on that be, I wonder?

Well, I’m not a fan of school uniform full stop – I don’t buy the argument that it creates an ‘equal standard for all’ whether children are from families that are rich or poor. I mean, as if children with shit uniform, shit shoes, shit bags, shit phones, shit haircuts, shit coats, dirty clothes, etc aren’t easily identifiable and targeted by bullies.

In fact, I happen to believe that uniforms just make it easier to identify anyone ‘different’ – not harder. But I digress, because, I’m not going off on one about uniforms in general… so, since they do exist in most schools in the UK, does it not make common sense for all children to wear a gender neutral uniform of trousers/leggings/shorts and t-shirts / polo shirts with trainers?

You know, nonrestrictive clothes and shoes that allow for physical activity without having to think about modesty and without the hyper sexualisation that often accompanies the so-called choices that girls have, particularly in secondary school.

And speaking of ‘choices’…I know that people might say let the child choose what they want to wear and what they feel most comfortable in. My response to that would be there is no real ‘choice’.  Girls know from infancy, that what they wear really matters and that the more feminine they are, the more they’re liked.

 

So, bearing that it mind, let’s look at so called ‘choice’ when it comes to school uniform.

When they start nursery / school, boys are expected to wear trousers that come in one style, a shirt and jumper or blazer – again, all one standard style. The only real decisions to be made are the shoes – however, of the styles available to choose from, you can be pretty sure that they’ll be sturdy and comfortable.

Girls, on the other hand, have all kinds of ‘choices’ – skirts with or without pleats, long or short, tight fitting or ‘A’ line, pinafore dress, plain blouse, blouse with fancy collars or puffed sleeves, plain ankle socks, tights, frilly ankle socks, tight or loose trousers, high waisted or low, jumper or cardigan… and then the shoes – patent, matt, slip on, buckles, laces, gems, sequins, secret little glitter emblems on the soles… all kinds of stereotyped and wholly unnecessary embellishments. Girls shoes are shit. They break and they don’t make running or climbing easy.

So what message are we giving to girls? The tired old message that what they look like matters more than what they do. The shitty message that it’s a good use of time to think about clothes and appearance when in actual fact, their time could be better spent thinking of anything BUT!

The message that boys are more active, more boisterous whereas girls are passive and less physical. Well, apart from all of the other ways that girls are oppressed to conform to these stereotypes, clothes play a big part. It’s not rocket science to understand that it’s easier to act on the desire to be active when your clothes and shoes aren’t restrictive.

Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t about fashion or hating on feminine clothes – it’s literally just about wanting girls to be equal to boys when it comes to feeling comfortable, confident and safe in their skin. It would just be nice for parents to think for a second about what restrictions the clothes they dress their children in have. A pair of leggings or shorts under a dress or skirt would help. One piece bathers for girl children, rather than bikinis as though they have reason to specifically cover their chests. Trainers instead of flimsy impractical shoes that fall off or cause girls to slip when they run. Jeans, shorts, leggings, jeggings – nonrestrictive and practical.

And as for school uniforms – I really am at a complete loss trying to understand why dresses and skirts are still a thing for schools. Especially when we’re trying to promote physical activity in children, which skirts, dresses and shit shoes restrict. It makes no sense to me and I have yet to hear a single rational argument as to why girls should wear a skirt to school, so if you have one, tell me – I’m all ears.

 

 

Hormones, the little bastards…

Yesterday I had to cancel plans because of my womb. It was far from being the first time and definitely won’t be the last, because for over 25 years, my hormones have acted as little jailers, caging my body in their agonising, bloody, prison.

I’ve never NOT had a problem with my hormones… I started my periods late at nearly 16. I gave birth to my first and only child age 17 & shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which led to years of trying countless ways of managing the symptoms with varying degrees of success.

A few years ago, during a very heavy period, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and also feeling a bit like I was always moaning about something health related or another. And it suddenly occurred to me that almost EVERY health problem I’ve had – both physical and mental – can be attributed to my fucked up hormones or the treatment I’ve been prescribed.

Like the depression and anxiety I’ve experienced since I was a teenager, which has included a panic disorder, agoraphobia and led to suicide attempts. From my mid 20’s on, I’ve managed my mental health well and the last time I needed time off work for mental health related reasons was so long ago I can’t remember. Which is all good, BUT the hormone related fluctuations in mood will never go away and there are times when my PMT magnifies every crumb of anxiety and depression that will forever be lurking in the background waiting to take centre stage again.

People (by which I mostly mean ‘men’) tend to dismiss PMT as some kind of dramatic women’s issue that makes life hard for the people around them once a month. It’s used as a reason to minimise or dismiss women’s valid feelings, a big joke, with ‘long suffering’ boyfriends and husbands rolling their eyes in solidarity with one another. For at least one week in every month, many women are reduced to the perceived symptoms of their menstrual cycle and that’s just really fucking shoddy!

The impact of hormone fluctuations on mood is real and isn’t funny for women who genuinely feel low, anxious, irritable, unconfident, tired, bloated & unmotivated. We have to carry on with life, work and relationships feeling like this – and we DO. Why would anyone who cares for a girl or a woman that experiences PMT not want to be kinder, more tolerant and compassionate during that time?

The emotional rollercoaster caused by my hormones is a ride that I’ve learned how to navigate in some ways -like, I know that there are times I need to be alone to just…be. (That’s the best way I can describe it!) Times when I know that being around people any more than absolutely necessary is too much. And how do you explain that to people who want to make plans? How do you explain that to colleagues who have watched you being positive & motivated all day?

So, then comes the guilt which, when added to the anxiety and the low mood, becomes exasperation at the whole situation and then it’s hello snappy, irritable, tearful twat! And all this is just a starter, the main course has yet to be served…

THE PERIOD. Over the years I’ve gone several months without a period at all, and I’ve gone several months that feel like one constant, epic period. The older I’ve got, the longer the periods. And here are the ingredients….

Pain. The cramps of ‘period pain’ are basically caused by the womb contracting, like it does when a woman is in labour. It really hurts, and although the hot water bottle is a cliché, it can be the only thing that offers a tiny bit of relief. Unfortunately, holding a hot water bottle to your abdomen is something that you can only really do at home. So we tend to fill up on painkillers and just power through, which is quite tiring.

Throwing up. Sometimes, accompanying the excruciating cramps there’s throwing up. I don’t understand why, although I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. I do know that it’s horrible and when it happens, there’s no going anywhere.

Bleeding. Well, yeah, obviously… it’s a period! But I’m not talking about bleeding here. I’m talking about BLEEEEEEEDING. I kid you not, I have flooded so badly that my bathroom floor has needed to be MOPPED. I’ve ruined clothes & bedding. I’ve always got a stash of sanitary towels in my bag, car and desk drawer. I have ‘period’ towels on top of which I put a puppy training pad to soak up the crappy few hours of sleep I get when I’m BLEEEEEEEEDING. I avoid any unnecessary journeys, I can’t go out socially, I can’t wear light clothes, climbing stairs can be challenging, and even getting in/out of the car is risky because of the whole ‘wide step’ motion!

Clots. For me, it’s completely expected that I will ‘birth’ a fair few clots during a period. My husband doesn’t bat an eyelid when I let him know I’m off to “birth”. They’re big bastards too, the size of a…. I’m going to say, gerbil. My womb helpfully contracts for a good few hours to help them on their way, which is nice. And usually, the clot itself is followed by a river of blood, which if I’m lucky will happen on a toilet. Otherwise….look out bed / chair / car / clothes / floor.

Fatigue. Maybe due to the hormone fluctuations, heavy bleeding, anaemia… who knows? But it’s real and it totally impacts on pretty much everything. Every drop of energy needs to be saved for things like work – because, well, money is a necessary evil. There’s no energy left for anything else, and even talking feels a bit much sometimes.

Migraines. I’m absolutely convinced that the migraines I suffer from were triggered by the various synthetic hormones that have been pumped into my body over the years. There is a clear connection between periods and migraines for me, and as well as being excruciatingly painful, they’re debilitating as fuck.

Acne. Again, definitely hormone related. Also painful (hello boils) and hideous.

So that’s the period itself. Not all women will have the same experience as me, but I guarantee that the things I’m describing are far from uncommon. And as if all that isn’t enough, there’s more.

It’s expensive – I’m lucky in that I can buy decent sanitary towels. I have literally spent thousands of pounds on these ‘luxurious’ items in my life so far and if ever I needed motivation to hang on to my job, being afforded the dignity of buying a half decent sanitary towel is up there with keeping a roof over my head!

I’m killing the environment – See above. Yes, I know I could theoretically use washable pads and I’m aware of such things as moon cups and sponges, but honestly, anyone who knows the reality of flooding and clotting will tell you that these are not really options when there’s always ultra with wings….

It’s made a liar out of me – Nowadays I have the luxury of being a boss lady with a woman MD above me, who I would never need to lie to if I couldn’t be in work. This hasn’t always been the case though, and in past jobs I have felt like I had no choice other than to lie about needing time off. Because women are generally not believed when periods are the cause of sickness & the options have literally been lie or tell the truth and have everyone think you’re lying….

It kills the romance – I mean, bedroom shenanigans with the things mentioned above? Enough said, I think!

It’s undignified – Sitting on puppy pads in the car; laying towels on the bed to sleep on; flooding in a public loo and having to clean up with just tissue; leaking on other people’s furniture; gasping in public when cramps hit you unexpectedly; the many scans, smears and internal examinations; being somewhere without a sanitary bin and having to put the used pads in your bag until you can dispose of them; Taking pants off IN the bath for a shower, and putting freshly prepped sanitary towelled pants on as soon as the shower is turned off while still stood in the bath; Using incontinence pads; spending at least an hour every day plucking my face (thanks to PCOS).

The whole situation is just a huge part of my life and a huge part of life for many other women like me, and here is my frustration – why are menstrual / hormonal disorders not taken more seriously? From an overall health perspective alone, it would make sense to research causes and treatment so that women could be less depressed, less tired, less self-conscious & more able to exercise consistently (because yes exercise is good for women having a ‘normal’ period, but almost impossible when it’s anything more).

It just seems so shitty that the ‘solutions’ offered by the medical profession almost always involve prescribing synthetic hormones which often not only make things worse, but can have pretty serious side effects. My own experience of ‘treatments’ have included various types of contraceptive pill, some high doses of the hormones that make up ‘diannette’ (Following which I started experiencing the migraines referred to earlier) Tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid, IUD’s, vitamin B6 & B12. Then there’s the treatments for PCOS including several different types of long term antibiotic for acne, topical acne treatments, roaccutane and laser hair removal. All things that mask the symptoms without considering the cause.

Is it not really taken seriously because we’re women? Like many exclusively ‘female problems’, the general attitude seems to be that we should just be getting on with it, and we’re usually offered a load of examples of how women have been doing this for centuries without whining like we do these days. To which I say shut the fuck up and don’t even get me started on the history of maternal mortality, women being labelled witches or believed to be hysterical and institutionalised.

Really though – we’re talking about something that significantly affects the lives of over half the world’s population and yet it’s shrouded in stigma and shame. This has to change, and while we’re waiting, how about we stop making light of the whole subject and start giving a shit about what many women experience just by existing. Stop dismissing women’s feelings based on their ‘time of the month’ – have a bit of empathy and understanding. Teach children about periods – girls AND boys and do whatever we can to help girls & women who don’t have access to sanitary protection by donating pads and tampons to food banks and homelessness projects. (I’ve chucked some links below.)

And also, watch this awesome woman:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vu2BsePvoI

Told you she was awesome! Was I right or was I right? 🙂

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-free-menstrual-products-for-all-children-on-free-school-meals-freeperiods

https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

https://www.bloodygoodperiod.com/about/#bio

https://plan-uk.org/media-centre/freeperiods-research-on-period-poverty-and-stigma

 

 

 

So…Obesity Causes Cancer

Anyone who knows me won’t be in the least bit surprised that I’m compelled to weigh in (pun intended) on the debate around the Cancer Research obesity campaign, so here goes….

I’m fat. People are also thin, tall, short and lots of other things. I’m not actually going to give ‘obese’ the time of day, seeing as it’s a medical term based on a BMI calculation which is increasingly accepted as being pretty inaccurate as a measure of health.

As a fat woman, I’m already hated by the medical industry; mass media; clothing industry; fitness industry – and of course, by sheeple on social media who claim to be concerned for my health. People basically bullying fat people using ‘IT’S A FACT’ as justification. So this is my first beef with the campaign…. It’s a platform from which bullies can further justify their bullying. Thanks for that.

Never mind that many of the links between cancer and it’s causes are complex and little understood – hence the fact that there’s still no ‘cure’! Never mind that Cancer Research themselves say: ‘It’s very clear that there is a link between cancer and obesity. But it’s still not completely understood how exactly obesity causes cancer.’

In other words, there’s definitely correlation between being fat and having cancer, but no FACTS as to why this is. Correlation is known, but causation is not.

Fat people are already stigmatised enough – we’re labelled, stereotyped, and discriminated against based on the amount of fat on our bodies. This campaign is only feeding (pun intended again) into the vitriol already spewed towards fat people simply for existing. And, frighteningly, it could COST lives rather than save them. Because, as if fat people aren’t already reluctant to access healthcare… here’s just another barrier. Feeling worried about something? Let me see if I can lose a few stone before going to the GP because the likelihood is, I’ll just be told to lose weight  – seriously, practically everything is attributed to weight when you’re fat.

And apart from not going in the first place, inevitably symptoms of cancer will be misdiagnosed as fat symptoms until it’s too late. Despite early diagnosis being pretty fucking important for cancer.

Hey, maybe the STIGMA and SHAME of being fat contributes to the correlation between being fat and having cancer? Maybe fat people are less likely to be diagnosed and treated effectively in a timely way because of these things?

And why is everyone so obsessed with fat people anyway? So repulsed by fat people?  Why can’t we look at health in a holistic non-weight centric way? We can look at nutrition, physical activity, emotional resilience, coronary health, genetics etc. without it being all about WEIGHT.

I’m not going to justify my existence or defend my body shape – I shouldn’t have to and nor should anyone! But what I will say is that the reasons that people might make unhealthy lifestyle choices are hugely complex. Saying ‘Just’ eating less or exercise more is trivialising the complexity of human psychology and behaviours.

And as well as being a pleasure, food is a powerful and necessary drug. The world we live in is no longer one where food is cultivated or hunted purely for survival. We live in a capitalist hell hole where food is used to control and entice and there’s big money in the food industry regardless of whether it’s nutritionally dense or completely lacking in nutrients. Nutrition is NOT something that everyone understands, and saying that anyone can make healthy meals for a family cheaply is ignorant. (Two large chips and four sausages in batter with bread and butter is likely to work out a hell of a lot cheaper than a nutritionally balanced meal for a family of four.)

And Christ, look around any urban school – it’s not a coincidence that you’ll see a chippy or a bakery close by. Look at how sugary food for children is marketed. Look at the BIGGER PICTURE (Yes, all these fucking puns are intended.)

And as for the tired old ‘fat people are a strain on the health service’ – well to be fair, ILL people are a strain on the health service, no matter what size their bodies are. Everyone takes risks with their health. Even – gasp! – UNFAT people!!! Hello stress, steroids, smoking, drinking, speeding, STI’s, tanning, fighting, drug use, sporting injuries, oh and…. Shit, yeah… just diseases in general like EVERY OTHER HUMAN! Oh, and fat people also pay tax to fund the NHS just like every other fucker! Mad I know!

No, I’m not going to pretend that being fat doesn’t contribute to poor physical health. Not many people deny this, really. And fat people who are disabled by their weight in any way aren’t robots – they are human beings with insight and awareness (and plenty of shame usually – more than you could imagine!). Do you REALLY think that if it was as easy as ‘eat less’ there would be a single person living in any other body than the one they feel most at ease in?? Seriously??? The fact that fat people who hate themselves and their lives exist at all should in itself be enough proof of how much more complicated the issue of weight is! (Obviously this isn’t how all fat people feel – calm down!)

And while we’re on the subject of the NHS, what are all the ‘it’s just FACT’ ranters actually doing about saving this service? How actively are they campaigning and petitioning? To what degree are they making it a priority to educate themselves about the crisis facing the NHS? Or, as I suspect is the case, does their concern only stretch to being mean to fat people on the internet under the guise of concern? 🤔

So yeah… Personally I’m not a fan of this campaign, in case it wasn’t obvious 🤣 And I have SOOO much more to say, but the bottom line is that this is NOT going to make fat people lose weight. So, it’s mission unaccomplished.