"Crop tops, F*ck Topshops, Pit-stops, and flip-flops" - Body Positivity Tips for Fat Femmes. #MHAW19

I thought it would be fairly easy to talk about Body image for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week. After all, as a fat girl, I am extremely aware of my body image. It's pointed out by people who think I'm attractive, people who think I'm unattractive, people who pity me, hate me, fetishize me, and I point it out to myself most of all. I am SO aware, all the time, and while I'm able to be body positive when it comes to other people of all shapes and abilities, it's the hardest when it comes to myself.

I talk about self-love and self-care a lot, but I feel like it would be ridiculous not to acknowledge how much harder these things have been for me when it comes to my own body. I am writing this advice blog more so to myself than anyone else, but I think this is advice worth sharing.

So here are 4 things I do to maintain a positive body image, put together into a helpful set of rhyming concepts to make it easier to remember! It's worth noting that this advice is geared towards fat women and femmes, but if you can gain something out of this by all means continue to read.

1. Crop-Tops

I started wearing crop tops as an act of defiance, which is why I tend to do a lot of things if I'm being honest with myself. I found that people would look at me initially, and no one would say anything but I could see a flash of something in their eyes that felt like judgement and it really got under my skin.

Realistically it's mostly my own insecurity projected outwards, but it's important for me to face that head on. I see girls my size and bigger wearing the cutest, most flattering crop-tops and bikinis things that I have always been afraid of and they look incredible. I wanted to feel and look that same way, so I started wearing crop tops.

 It doesn't have to be that for you necessarily, but allowing yourself to wear something that make you happy, regardless of whether you're "supposed to" or not is exciting. You start off with this tremulous, uncertainty, followed by a buzz if thrill and then a determined indignance. Why shouldn't I wear what I want?
Plot twist: You should.

2. F*ck Topshops

Do your mental health a favour and avoid the Topshops and skinny girl shops of the world. If you know a shop doesn't carry your size don't bother shopping there, even for accessories.

First of all, just being in an environment of that screams "these things aren't for YOU" can be detrimental to your self-image.

Secondly, if you want fashion businesses to start carrying clothing in sizes that work for you, protest with your money. Don't shop there and make it clear there is a market these businesses should be tapping into. 

Rather than just looking blindly and facing constant disappointment with mainstream brands, you can research shops that carry bigger sizes and swap hacks/new stores/sales with other fat friends with, and follow plus-sized beauty/fashion bloggers so you can get an idea of what clothes should look like on your body type. I want to compile a list of fat-friendly fashion brands on my personal twitter account,  so if you have suggestions please drop them here:

3. Pit-stops

This one is the most difficult parts of this whole body positivity process for me. It's kind of a meditation, kind of an exposure therapy process.

Look at yourself in the mirror naked for a little bit at a time each day and try to quiet your thoughts. Forget positives or negatives, just look and understand that this is your body. Breathe in, breathe out, and watch how it moves as you do so.

Sometimes we can really dissociate from the image of ourselves in the mirror and create a hyperbolic/unrealistic version in your head. This is about replacing that image with the you that exists here and now. Learning to love thay comes with time, no pressure.

4. Flip-flops

Be active with your body! One of the big things that puts me off exercising is that I hate the way my body moves. I hate how heavily I hit the ground when I run or jog and I feel like my body just flips and flops all over the place. The thing is, the more you find physical things that you enjoy doing the more you will come to appreciate the amazing things your body can do.

This isn't a weight loss thing if you don't want it to be, but it is important to take care of your body in whatever shape it takes. Running when you're overweight can wreak havoc on your knees and ankles so look into low impact forms of cardio and things like swimming that will get your blood pumping, stop you from harming yourself, and get you to appreciate your body as an incredible piece of engineering. Get your flip-flops going, sis.

I'd love to hear what your experiences are, suggestions and ideas you may have, but most importantly I hope this managed to give you something. It's a hard world for people who don't fit into the physical mold that is expected of us, and it can be easy to turn all of that hurt inward. The reason I wanted to create something just for fat women and femmes is because that's my experience, and this blog is nothing if not entirely too personal. I'm a believer in inclusivity, but I also believe it is important to write what you know so you can find people who will relate to that perspective.

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