I'm Still Here

So I put up (and subsequently took down...partly because of the following words, also maybe partly because I'm not there yet) an Instagram post last week. It was a picture collage of my chubby self getting ready to work out (which I actually did lol!). I didn't suck anything in or only show my good bits, I just wanted to say that hey, I'm not thin, and I'm working out too, crazy times eh Instagram?

I don't like sharing pics of myself AT ALL, but because I am really trying to just exist in my body right now and stop casting judgements on it every day of my life, I am occasionally pushing myself out of that comfort zone.

In trying to communicate about body positivity and taking my own baby steps towards putting up pictures of my less than perfect body, I found myself feeling vulnerable and exposed still. Which I guess is natural. I am new to this. And then some (well-meaning) comments just made me feel pretty misunderstood, and I don't know, awkward, which I know was not their intent at all. But it's (partly) why the bopo community exists I think. The chubby girls don't need the skinny girls to tell us we are acceptable, we just want a place at the table. So to speak.

I feel like I am still learning how to talk about this stuff, and in fairness maybe I should get a a better handle on that before trying to encapsulate my feelings on the topic in a photo blurb.

If you don’t understand the language of body positivity or fat acceptance (which I admit I am still very much on a learning curve myself), please think about what the person is saying, and maybe if you don't get where they are coming from, read up on it some if you want to. Body positivity is truly for everyone who is open to it.

So yeah, if I put up a picture, I’m genuinely not asking for pity or anyone to relate to anything I'm talking about if they don’t know where I’m coming from. I know it is human instinct to want to be complimenting or helping others we perceive to be in need of that.

I’m simply asking to be a part of a conversation that frankly excludes any woman over a size 14. To say that I am here, exercising just like all the rest of you, and I am trying, and I don’t get to hashtag my body “fit” or “healthy” or we know it/we hate it "fitspo", because of how I am shaped. Not without fear of scorn or attack at any rate. If you don’t get that, that’s fine. It’s probably because you don’t walk around every day knowing you don't fit a societal standard.

I am not asking for anyone to say I look ok, or say that it’s ok that I am fat and scarred because of my history. Because it would be ok if I just got fat, regardless of cancer. Maybe it is my fault for mentioning it too many times. But people gain weight/or are simply naturally inclined to be bigger than "average" for numerous reasons, and judging them for it has got to stop. I was a socially "acceptable" size until I got sick, so I find it a bit odd/frustrating when people speak to me as if I am some special lumpy flower they have to handle with kid gloves (I'm obviously a spiky cactus lol!).

I know what it is to be the thin (ish!) girl who holds the cards, the societal object of desire. Obnoxious as that sounds, retrospectively, I know that's what I was, for a long time, regardless of what inner turmoil was happening inside. My outside was just peachy, and I'm sure that opened a lot of doors for me. Now that I am where I am, I can see that. And also I know twenty years from now I will say "Silly 40 something me, you were so very young and perfect!"

When I put up a picture of my body it is simply me, here and now, trying to add to the voices of the numerous women online who feel invisible when they see dozens of #fit #healthy #goals bodies every day, and their own does not and will likely never match up. I don't need my scars or my belly roll(s!) to be seen as anything other than what they are. I'm saying I'm okay with it, or trying to be, and if that makes anyone uncomfortable or confused I'm sorry.

I am NOT fat shaming myself, something people seem to indirectly assume no matter how many words I use about body positivity and self-acceptance. Hey, I get it, nine times out of ten a picture of someone my size's body is captioned with some form of self shaming: "Must lose weight, this is it", or as a before "This was me, I was so fat and miserable, now I am thin and happy".

I am saying: this is me, size 16, trying to be healthy and take care of myself as best as I know how - without saying I am unacceptable or unlovable or on an immediate weight loss kick, as is so often implied.

And to say that societal or Instagram standards don’t matter, isn't really helping the issue, because guess what, whether we like it or not, they DO matter. They matter to me, and to women like me who often feel excluded from a conversation about what is acceptable or desirable in womanity.

Something that can be a very positive thing in social media is everyone wanting to feel inclusive and support each other, I am not negating that. It can be wonderful and generous and all good and I appreciate kindness in every form, truly. This is not meant to offend anyone who I know was trying to be kind or supportive. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to comment for their thoughtfulness. I just don't wish to be misunderstood on this one, because it's kind of a biggie for me right now.

I know that I personally felt confused/excluded from the body positive conversation for a long time before I learned more about it, just as I felt like I didn't "fit in" with eating disorder recovery because I didn't fit certain stereotypical parameters. At its best I do believe the internet can teach us how to understand each other a bit better, and for me personally body positive thinking is where it's at right now. I'm not saying you have to jump on board the bopo train if that's not your bag, just as I know no one would expect me to join Weight Watchers just because that was what they were up to.

I know it's counterintuitive in a sense to everything we are taught about how to speak about our bodies as women from a young age, for me it means unlearning a lot of things, and this is coming from someone who considered myself mostly healthy/recovered from negative self talk/behaviors. But I am learning I in fact have a long way to go on that.

Self acceptance just feels a LOT better than any diet or weight loss trip I've tried, and yes it's hard mental work and no maybe I will never be three sizes smaller again and maybe some days I will still struggle with that. But it's also pretty damn freeing.

This is a pic taken LAST Spring, but I am about the same weight now. I was quite happy to have my picture taken on the day, and quite distraught with the end result so I didn't post it on the blog. It's hard when photos do not reflect how you see yourself - it's excruciating to think you looked great and then see a photo and feel self loathing. But I'm tired of hiding. I am trying to love myself where I'm at, because hating my body has gotten me nowhere in life, whatever size I have been. So if it makes anyone who remembers me when I was thin or anyone who feels uncomfortable seeing a more round shaped human form in the blogosphere not know what to say, sorry. I'm still here, and I'm going to try to be less invisible from now on.


  1. You look great as always. I often think we often see our own flaws where other people see beauty. I see a vivacious curvy redhead with a great smile x

    1. Ha, thanks Elinor that is really sweet of you! You are right it is hard to see ourselves as others do. I genuinely thought this was among the worst pictures ever taken of me when I first saw it. (On closer inspection I'm now more distracted by the junk food litter on the ground - very un-lifestyle blogger of me to not crop it out lol!);-). xox

  2. I think that we are too hard on ourselves and as Elinor said we see our flaws that others don't even notice. I'm another one that doesn't like seeing photos of myself as I see someone looking back that I don't like the look of and try to avoid cameras at all costs but I'm slowly trying to put pics on Instagram and maybe one day even my blog. That is such a good photo of you, you look so happy and relaxed there also it must have been one of those rare warm, sunny days in Aberdeen that day as you had your shades on and no jacket :D xx

    1. Ha, good spot Denise it was one of the warmest days I believe, I never leave the house without a jacket unless it's quite hot! We are definitely way too hard on ourselves, embracing our "imperfections" is the only way to go I think, it's not always easy but I am trying! Thanks for reading :-) xo

  3. Hi Steff, you look really good. I love the vibe that your outfits always have. It's in between boho and elegant, hard to describe but it is something that works so well for you! Iga www.igaberry.com

    1. You are so kind! I think of my style as more haphazard bag lady who never irons lol! ;-) xx

  4. Sandals in Aberdeen !

  5. I don't remember the Instagram photo but I really hope if I did see it that I adhered to my normal policy of say nothing about people's bodies! One, it is just common courtesy, Two, it's not something I care about, Three, I learned a long time ago that I'm a "skinny bitch" and my opinions are... not welcome, ha.

    But thank you for writing out this post, it is really helpful! I'm not going to lie, I'm not very familiar with the body positive movement or the language. Words are important and can hurt even when someone is trying to be positive/complimentary.

    I agree with everyone else, you look so relaxed and happy in that photo!

    1. You definitely did not comment, and yes people mean well, but it feels like because we are used to commenting on pics sometimes we speak when that is not really required/a request for approval.The bopo thing is weird too though because there are layers and factions and in fighting and understandable frustrations that the thinner girls who were in some instances former diet gurus have latched onto it to sell their brand. It's messed up,I'm just swimming through it trying to find the inspiration that doesn't come with a life philosophy course with a price tag! Kinda sucks but that's the internet these days.