A Moment That Changed Me – Ditching the Diets and Embracing My Plus-Size Body

HEALTH, 27 Jul 2015

Callie Thorpe – The Guardian

I was disgusted by my own body, and dieting only made things worse. But then a chance Google search changed everything.

 

Callie Thorpe on holiday in Barbados. Photograph: Callie Thorpe

Callie Thorpe on holiday in Barbados. Photograph: Callie Thorpe

23 Jul 2015 – Three years ago I was a self-loathing sizeist. Why wouldn’t I be, when we live in a society where fat shaming is a perfectly normal thing? Women are constantly bombarded with the message – from the media, celebrity culture, the fashion industry, and advertising – that if we don’t conform to society’s image of what the “right body” is, that we are inferior; that we won’t achieve anything in our lives or find anybody to love us. I know all too well how it feels to look in the mirror and feel suffocated at the thought that my body is wrong, ugly and unhealthy.

For years I hated my body, and I was determined to succeed, at any cost, in losing weight. Lying on my living room floor in the foetal position, wincing at intense cramps was a regular occurrence back then. I got used to them, working out the best position to ease the pain became a forte of mine, mainly because I knew when they would come. Always after dinner and always after one hot cup of herby-smelling Chinese slimming tea. Oh yes, this was all self-inflicted.

Because I was a serial dieter. You name the diet and I’ve done it. The cabbage soup diet was as unpleasant as it sounds. Atkins gave me bad breath, lethargy and headaches. All the diets that I tried made me thinner for a while, but were ultimately unsustainable, since their focus was on short-term deprivation rather than a long-term change in habits.

One of my least drastic attempts (but the one that affected me the most) was my online diet created to lose weight for a special holiday to Barbados with my boyfriend. What better way to force yourself to lose weight than to write down everything you hate about your body, and then share it with the world for everyone to see? I shared it with my Facebook and Twitter friends and they were extremely supportive, girls messaged me saying they felt the same way about their bodies and that they couldn’t wait to follow my dieting tips.

All was well, I was losing weight, writing about it and getting a good response. Of course this only lasted for a short while, because as humans we make mistakes, we fall off the wagon, we fail. The pressure I felt was immense, how do you tell everyone that you are a failure? My anxiety was the worst it had ever been. When editing the blog, I felt sick at the thought of telling those readers, my friends and family that I gained 4lbs from an emotional weekend binge. It reaffirmed everything that I thought of myself – I was a failure. I would never be slim.

The deadline to the holiday was looming, and I was no closer to my goal weight – I would cry to my boyfriend that I didn’t want to be on the beach at the size I was, tell him how fat I felt, and how disgusting I would look in swimwear. He would comfort me, tell me he loved me all the same and that I was beautiful, but it didn’t matter. Those feelings were mine and no kind words from him would fix it.

Then one day something changed.

Knowing that I had to buy swimwear for the impending holiday I searched in the term “plus size swimwear and a blogpost came up in the search. It was from fashion blogger Gabi Fresh, and it described the life and style of a beautiful girl in America. She was a US 16/18 – my size. It was hours before I finished reading, and when I closed the page, my anxiety felt a little less. Gabi had a profound impression on me; from there, I also stumbled upon many other body-positive blogs. I was so baffled, there were people out there that lived wonderful lives, that went swimming and to the beach and wore fashionable clothes. They weren’t thin but they were happy, and for me that was life-changing.

It was then that I decided the diet diary had to go. If I was going to lose weight it couldn’t be from such a negative place. Soon after I decided to try my hand at writing my own blog and From the Corners of the Curve was born. There wasn’t a change in me overnight, but after hours of web browsing that week, one high-waisted plus-size bikini was ordered, the Chinese tea was binned, and I began to feel better about myself.

Later, I went on to post my own bikini picture from the very holiday in Barbados that I was so worried about. I was astonished by the responses from women saying they felt inspired that they too could feel comfortable in swimwear being plus-size. From then on, my blog became a place to share my new-found love for fashion, my travel experiences and my experiences as a plus-size woman finding my way through life. Since then my blog has allowed me numerous wonderful opportunities including modelling for brands such as Evans, Simply Be, and Marina Rinaldi, as well as features in Cosmo, People StyleWatch, Grazia, Vogue Italia and many others. To see my face in mainstream magazines has been overwhelming and utterly life-changing.

When I open emails from women from all across the world telling me my blog has changed their life, I think back to that day on my sofa, how I felt about myself and how Gabi’s blog changed mine. My health is still important to me, but I’ve reached a point where how healthy I feel no longer depends on the number that I see on a weighing scale. It turned out that fixing the health of my mind with self-love was the most life changing thing of all.

More from A moment that changed me:

James Rhodes: My marriage proposal

Philippa Perry: The man who forgot we’d had sex

Fay Schopen: Saying goodbye to my mother when I was 10

Clive Stafford Smith: Seeing a man executed

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Callie Thorpe is a blogger and model. Her website is fromthecornersofthecurve.com

Go to Original – theguardian.com

 

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