self care

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Fa(t)shion February

Published February 11, 2012 by sleepydumpling

It’s February, and you know what that means?  The second annual Fa(t)shion February!  For those of you who haven’t encountered Fa(t)shion February, it started on Tumblr, simply fat people posting their clothing choices for the month of February.  Pretty straight forward huh?

Though it doesn’t necessarily have to be an outfit one gets dressed up in – it can also be the things you wear every day to do the stuff you do.  Your PJ’s.  Your exercise gear.  The stuff you wear while doing chores.  Doesn’t matter – it’s all just to share the clothes we fatties wear with each other.  It’s really up to you to show whatever you like to of what you wear.

Now if you’re not someone who is interested in fatshion, who prefers to dress totally for practicality, that’s ok.  Not everyone does, it’s a personal choice.  You can come back next post if you’re not interested, I won’t mind you skipping this one, really!

I didn’t really get into Fa(t)shion February last year, other than to enjoy watching other people’s posts, to see what other fab fatties were wearing and to see bodies like mine.  But through the year last year I got more into posting my outfits of the day (OOTD’s) to the Fatshionista Flickr group, and sharing them with friends on Facebook.  Plus for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying partaking in fashion.  Thanks to the generosity of Autograph Fashion, who gifted me a lot of clothes over the past year in return for a whole lot of work around giving them constructive feedback, I’ve been able to play with my style and fashion far more in the past year than I had the whole of my life.  Not only did I get to build my wardrobe up, but it also has taught me to look at the clothes I already had, and the way that I wear them, with a whole lot more confidence and personal flair.

When it comes to fashion, I personally believe it’s about far more than what the fashion industry presents to us as “fashion”.  Fashion is about self expression, fun, style, self love and care, and community.  There is nothing quite like the connection that sharing our personal style and tastes can create between people.  I know myself I’ve met loads of people through my own personal fashion.  From the woman in the line at the movies with the Lego minifig earrings that I got chatting to, to Brisbane’s own Marilyn Monroe who I always trade compliments with on our outfits/accessories when we encounter each other around town, to the fatshion blogs I follow online, all of those have brought me fantastic new relationships in my life.  It’s a great ice-breaker and a great way to connect with someone you already know.

Recently, s.e. smith wrote an excellent piece on fat positive shopping that really spoke to me.  In it, ou says:

Fat-positive shopping isn’t just about having a rack of clothes that fit, or even a whole store of clothes that fit. It’s also about creating an environment that is positive for the customers, that embraces the full range of expressions and styles. Just as people of other sizes don’t dress uniformly, fat folks don’t have a single fashion sense, nor do they want to march around in lockstep wearing the same kinds of garments. Some people want to wear torn leggings, sparkle sweaters, and rainbow skirts. Others want sharp business suits. Some people want fabulous wrap maxidresses, others want tunics to layer over jeans.

That’s what I love about fatshion – it allows people to express themselves far more than mainstream fashion does.  I find that really powerful and certainly far more fun than being restricted to what the fashion industry tells us we should be wearing.  I love how creative we are with fatshion and our own personal style.  It sucks that we have had to be that way because we have had such limited resources available to us, but it really is one of our strengths – we’ve evolved so much more creativity and personal style, and a solid sense of community around that creativity and style.

The other thing I think that fatshion has over mainstream fashion is that we’re far more embracing towards diversity.  We are usually (not always, but usually) far more open minded to how other people dress and express themselves.  We’re far more open in trying new things ourselves.  And we’re generally a whole lot less critical about other people’s bodies and style choice, and we’re not focused on youth, thinness and whiteness like mainstream fashion.  I think this piece by Fatty Unbound really illustrates that.

To me, fashion is about following an industry, but fatshion is about us collectively leading an expressive community.  Whether  you’re hitting up the thrift stores and big box retailers, or making designer stuff work for you, or anywhere in between, fatshion is about finding your personal style and rocking the hell out of it.

So, have I been contributing to Fa(t)shion February?  Yes I have, and I’ll share the first few outfits with you here.  I’ve not been documenting every day, but I have had a few to share already.  I hope to do more as the month progresses.  Let’s see:

Paper bag dress. 1/2/12

I found this “paper bag” dress at Big W of all places.  It’s not something I would normally wear being a real neutral, but I loved the almost silk feel of the fabric, and it’s SUPER cool.  We’ve had some stinking hot weather, so cool is important.  Of course, at work I cover up my tattoo (partially, just the naked lady’s boobs really), so I have to have a shrug over a sleeveless top like this one.  The shrug is actually a coppery, sparkly knit from Autograph Fashion that I picked up on sale.  And I’ve got that old staple of leggings (Big W) and ballet flats (Rubi Shoes) underneath.

Leopard Print and Lycra. 3/2/12

I was being photographed that day for an article that I believe is due to be in tomorrow’s Sun Herald (Sydney – I’ll share it if I can find it online!) and I wanted something funky and fun.  So I decided to go with leopard print and Lycra.  The leopard print shirt is from Autograph Fashion (one they gave me), the cami is from Evans Clothing, skirt is from Target, tights are from We Love Colors (gold) and the leopard print Converse are ones my friend Kylie found for me in Scotland.

Snakeskin With Sparkles 7/2/12

I got this dress on sale for $20 from Autograph.  It is currently my absolute favourite dress, and I am encouraging them to make more in different prints and colours!  Here it is without the sparkly shrug (also picked up on sale at Autograph).  The pink sparkly ballet flats are from Diana Ferrari, I got those on sale out at DFO a while back.

Autumn Tones - 9/2/12

Another top picked up on sale at Autograph – I love the scalloped lace around the neckline and that apricot/terracotta colour is everywhere at the moment.  I’m standing kind of weird and one of my shoes is hidden, but the khaki wide-legged pants are from Target – I got those for TEN BUCKS!  Damn I love a bargain!  And the shoes are from Rivers.

So there you have my first four Fatshion February outfits.  I’m looking forward to doing more as the month progresses, and I’ll definitely share them here when I do.

Are you doing Fa(t)shion February this year?  Do you think you’re a creative person when it comes to fatshion?  What makes you feel good about fatshion?

Feeling Forced

Published January 31, 2012 by sleepydumpling

I need to get something off my chest.

I know I’ve been a bit quiet here on Fat Heffalump as of late.  I’ve got some personal stuff happening that is proving to be highly stressful and it’s going to be so for the next few months, and work is hotting up on a big project that is also due to reach it’s peak at the end of March.  So my writing mojo is not really what it normally is.  So I’ve been practicing what I preach, and putting some self care practices in place so that I can emotionally and physically get through what is going to be a big upheaval in my life.

However, it doesn’t mean I’m not participating in, or keeping abreast of the happenings of the world of fat activism.

That said, it’s a bit of a phenomenon of being a visible rad fatty that many people send me emails, tweets or posts on other social media spaces showing me links to horrible articles of fat hatred, ask me for advice, or ask me to comment on articles or join in on debates about fat stigma.

Most of the time, I’ll pitch in.  Sometimes I’ll respond with some advice so that they are armed with something to go and respond directly themselves.

But of course, there are times I just want to turn on my computer and read stuff, or chat with people, without being everyone’s agony aunt and rent-a-radical.

Today was one of those days.  I got up, got ready for work, and was on the bus in to work when I was reading through Twitter and Facebook, and checking my emails.  My usual routine.  Yet again, there they were.  The tweets “Have you seen this?! [insert: link into fat-hating article here]”.  The email “Can you come on to my FB page and help me argue with this person [read: fat hating douchecanoe they refuse to unfriend]?”  The FB update where they tag me and expect me to jump in with a piece about the myths about fat and health.

Now look, I am passionate about this stuff.  I want to help where I can.  I want to make a difference.  But I am a human being, and I do have limitations.  Not to mention that I have my own wall of fat hatred I have to fight through in this world.

And I just can’t deal with it at the moment.  I let fly on Twitter with this mini-tirade:

https://twitter.com/#!/Fatheffalump/status/164111690852614144

https://twitter.com/#!/Fatheffalump/status/164112272908750849

https://twitter.com/#!/Fatheffalump/status/164112497115275265

https://twitter.com/#!/Fatheffalump/status/164112743845216256

https://twitter.com/#!/Fatheffalump/status/164113453869572097

It wasn’t aimed at any one in particular, but at ALL of the examples that have been coming through.  Unfortunately though, someone tried to lay a guilt trip on me for pushing back against this expectation of me being constantly available to fight other people’s battles.  When I called them on it, she retweeted me and called me “bitter”.  This is the very same person who wanted me to respond to the fat hatred they pushed at me a few hours before.

It’s exhausting.  It’s invasive.  And it shows a whole lot of indifference to my feelings as a human being.

I know what fat hatred and stigma are.  I see these articles and discussions.  I deal with my own share of fat hatred aimed at me – sometimes more, because I am an outspoken, visible fat woman.  I don’t need them directly sent to me all the time, with the insinuation that I should respond to them, the implication that I should be the one to speak up.  The lovely @mimbles referred to it earlier today as “the everyone else takes one step backwards kind of volunteering!”  When people go “This is horrible!  Something should be done!” and then all step back and wait for someone else to fix it.

It’s not cool.  It makes me feel used.  It leaves me with no space that I can get a rest from the relentless slog that is fat activism.  And it makes me feel that my own needs and life are irrelevant, and that I’m only interesting to people when I’m fighting on their behalf.

I know I’m not the only activist who feels worn down by this at times.

I love, love, LOVE how my activism has brought so many amazing people to my life, how it has given me some fantastic opportunities and how people have so many lovely things to say about me and the work I do.  I love that people trust me, and that people sometimes even look up to me.  I still can’t believe it most of the time, but it is really lovely.

But I need people to remember that I am a person.  One who has feelings, who on top of her activism, has a busy career life, friends, hobbies, responsibilities and her own baggage too – all things that fill my life already, without the time and energy I put into activism.

I hope I’m always here to fight right beside you all against fat hatred and stigma.  But please, don’t push me in front of you on the battlefield.

How Does Dieting Benefit Our Health?

Published September 29, 2011 by sleepydumpling

**Trigger warning, topic is about weight loss diets and disordered eating.**

I got a fantastic question on my Tumblr yesterday, that got me thinking a bit about diet culture and the constant calls for fat people to go on diets “for their health” and “take care of yourself”.

I was thinking about my own life of dieting, and how I felt all those times, and what my own health was like in those years.

When people say fat people should go on diets “for their health”, they’re not factoring in a) how dieting  affects the body and b) the mental health of the fat person.  Even if they are genuinely concerned for someone’s health and not just using concern trolling to police fat bodies because of their appearance, how much thought do they give to what dieting turns people into?

Now let’s just establish here that we know that fat people aren’t lazy gluttons and that we’re not all stuffing our faces 24 x 7 and that “dieting” doesn’t equal “just eating healthy”.  I know that’s the rhetoric that is spouted at us all the time, that we just have to “Put down the donut/cheeseburger/whatever.”  Let’s make it nice and clear that I’m talking about food restriction or replacement, rather than the mythical “just eat healthy” that the anti-fat seem to think we are not doing already.  When people say “Just eat healthy.” they don’t actually mean that, they mean diet, because hey, there’s no possible way a fat person can already be “just eating healthy”.  I’m talking about weight loss diets.  Calorie counting, no carb, no fat, no sugar, cabbage soup, replacement shakes, Atkins, South Beach, Pritikin, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, grapefruit, high protein, high fibre, high cardboard… whatever the fuck diet we were on at the time.  And this includes any of the disordered eating habits too – bingeing, purging, starvation, laxative abuse, diet pills, exercise bingeing, and even weight loss surgery.  Anything that is designed to restrict, reduce or purge for the supposed purpose of making us thin.

Can I ask… have any of you ever known a person, fat or thin or somewhere in between, who has been on a weight loss diet/programme, who is/was actually HAPPY while they are doing so?

*crickets chirping*

I know I was never happy.  I always felt like shit.  Having to measure every bit of food, count points, calories or grams, having to think about what I was going to eat every minute of the day.  I couldn’t just relax and spend time with friends, because I’d have to think about what foods met my diet.  Organising lunches for work was a headache and I was always on my guard for people questioning my eating habits (or lack of them).  Grocery shopping was even more nightmarish than I find it now (and I hate it now, thank God for online grocery shopping!) because almost everything was “forbidden” on whatever diet I was on at the time.  I was always hungry.  When I did get to eat, it was shitty.  Either it was really bad food (cabbage soup?) or it wasn’t even food at all, it was some powdery substitute or rubbery/cardboard diet version.  I never wanted the things I was “allowed” to eat, and yet I was so unbelievably hungry all the time that I had to eat them when I could.

Physically, my body fought me all the way.  I was constantly sick with every cold and virus that came around.  My skin was bad.  My teeth were terrible.  I constantly had to fight bad breath and diarrhea.  I had constant hayfever and headaches.  I never had any energy and never slept properly.

Emotionally, I was depressed, anxious and obsessive.  Depressed because I hated being hungry all the time and having to eat things that tasted like cardboard or rubber, depressed because no matter what I did, I could never lose weight and keep it off.  Anxious because I never knew where I could get “suitable” food, and I hated anyone knowing I was on a diet.  Anxious because my blood sugar was always low and I was shaky and couldn’t concentrate.  Obsessive because food might actually GET me, if I let down my guard.

Yet all of this was supposed to benefit my health?  How?

We all know that diets fail on the long term in 95% of cases, with weight regain plus more, but we never talk about how bloody miserable dieting is.  How nobody is actually happy while they are dieting, and because 95% of them find diets fail, they’re not happy in the long term either.  The whole diet culture just sets people, particularly women, up to be miserable all the time, both during dieting and then when it inevitably fails.

And this is supposed to be for our health?  This is supposed to be “taking care of ourselves”.

I call bullshit.

Instead, we can put all that crap behind us, re-learn to eat to nourish us, let go of exercising as some kind of penance and learn to find activity that we enjoy and live our lives to the fullest no matter what our weight.

I know which sounds like taking care of myself to me.

Working Your Way Out of the Self-Loathing Land

Published September 12, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Recently I received an email from an anonymous reader of Fat Heffalump, that asked me how one could possibly engage in Fat Activism/Acceptance when they absolutely loathed everything about their body.  They made it clear that it’s not that they thought that other people should loathe being fat, they just couldn’t find a single thing to like about their own body, they found themselves just that repulsive.

I think that is a bloody good question and one we should talk about.

Let me just say, there was once a time when I felt that way myself.  Even after years of being steeped in fat acceptance, I still have times where I get caught up in that kind of thinking.  I want to make it clear that there isn’t some kind of magical transformation that converts you to some kind of magnificent 100% self-loving fatty.  It just doesn’t work that way.  All of us have to work on it and practice and hone our skills.  I think the difference is that once you’ve been practicing this stuff for awhile and get better at it, you’re conscious of what it really is.  You’re aware that it’s not about your body being repulsive, but it’s about carrying the emotional baggage of a world that fears, loathes and stigmatises fat bodies.

We also have the benefit of community.  If you have a shitty day and you feel bad, having the community of the fatosphere to turn to is definitely beneficial.  When you have someone else to talk to, even online, who understands how you feel, and/or has had similar experiences, it is so much easier to deal with.

But also, it takes work.  We don’t just miraculously start loving our bodies overnight.  It takes work and practice.  Things like doing lots of reading of fat positive material.  Cutting out body snark of others.  Critical thinking about popular media and culture.  Surrounding yourself with fat positive people.  And taking the time to work on seeing yourself from a different perspective.

The thing that I think started to tip my thinking out of constant self-loathing was learning to be gentle with myself and actually entertain the thought that it wasn’t always going to be that way.  Just allowing yourself to think that there is an alternative way to feel is very powerful, even if you don’t feel that way right now.

So to start you all off, I’m going to share a little exercise that helped me to change my thinking about my body, and if you like you can share it in the comments below.

Think about your body and pick one thing that you like about yourself physically.  It can be anything, from the colour of your eyes, to your hair, your boobs, your hands, your elbows, the backs of your knees… anything on your whole body.  Just find ONE little thing that you like about your body, and think about it.  Think about that body part, you might like to close your eyes for a minute if you can.  Just think about it, the shape, the colour, the texture of the hair/skin/nails, all the different features of that one particular body part.  The only rule is no negative thoughts – you have to let those go.

If you can, take a photograph of that body part, or find one you already have that you like.  Think about what it is you like about that body part.  Think about how that part of your body serves you in your life, in it’s function in your body.

Hold on to those thoughts.  When you feel down about how you look, when you feel like you can’t love your body, go back to those thoughts and embrace them.  Remind yourself over and over about that one feature that you really like.  When you feel ready, have a go at finding another one.  And over time, you will find it easier to find things that you like about your body, adding more and more to your arsenal against self-loathing.

It sounds kind of silly, but it has really helped me in those very tough times.

Just to quickly share mine, I have always loved my feet.  They’re big but they’re a lovely shape. and they get me around everywhere I need to go.  I have funny wee toenails that I can paint cute colours, and I LOVE shoes, so my feet get to be decorated with something I love.  I also have both of my feet tattooed, which is another thing I love about them.  They also served me for many years with my dancing and I’m still very light on them.  Plus my feet never smell bad.  I just don’t get stinky feet, no matter what kind of shoes or socks or tights I wear.

Here’s a photo of my left foot before I got a real tattoo on it, back when I first started doing this exercise:

I’ve almost forgotten what my feet looked like without tattoos!  No matter how much I get caught up in the crappy messages society pushes at me about fat bodies, I only have to remember my feet, and how good they’ve been to me.

Your turn!!

Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Shame

Published August 20, 2011 by sleepydumpling

I talk about fat stigma a lot here on Fat Heffalump.  It’s the biggest problem fat people face and clearly the most damaging.  Far more damaging than being fat is, that’s for sure.  I want to start breaking down some of the components of fat stigma and talking about strategies to overcome those as a fat person.  Hopefully, this will be the first in a series of posts along this theme.

Tonight I want to talk about shame.  For me at least, and I know my experience is not universal but I am sure there are plenty of you who feel the same way, the shame placed on me as a fat person has been the most painful aspect of fat stigma, the hardest to overcome, and very much the one that has done the most damage to me.

Fat people are shamed at every turn.  We are shamed for being fat.  We are shamed for not being healthy enough (regardless of how healthy we actually are).  We are shamed for not being active enough, but if we are publicly active, we are shamed for that too.  We are shamed for being sloppy dressers, but if we do manage to find nice clothes and take pride in our appearance, we are shamed for that as well.  We are shamed for wearing shapeless sacks, and we are shamed if we wear anything that reveals any skin.  We are shamed for eating “junk” food, but should we be seen eating “healthy” food we are shamed for that as well (I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that “It will take more than salad to fix you, fat bitch.”)  We are shamed if we hide ourselves away from the world, and we are shamed if we appear in public.  We are shamed if we do not work, and then we are shamed if we dare to want a career and be treated the same as everyone else.  We are shamed for needing health care (and it is implied that we require more than others), but often we are shamed once we get health care for not getting it sooner.  We are shamed if we make no mention of our fatness, and yet if we do, if we are proud of ourselves and own our fatness, we are shamed for that as well.

No matter which way we turn, there is always someone waiting to heap shame on our shoulders.  Many people will say that they’re “Telling it like it is.” or somehow trying to help us when they put shame on us.  But there is one stark fact that we know for sure:

You cannot shame someone for their own good.

You just can’t.  Shaming someone has absolutely no benefit for them at all, just damage.  And shaming someone isn’t about helping them, it’s about making them feel bad, shutting them up, oppressing them and quite often, making the shamer feel better about themselves.

But what does help people, is letting go of shame.  Is empowering them to advocate for themselves, and to feel like they are able to deal with whatever life throws their way.  Empowering them to live their lives to the fullest, within their personal circumstances, that they can.

Every day of our lives, we hear, over and over, that fat people should be ashamed of themselves, for a myriad of reasons.  When you hear so many stories of fat people who are unhappy with their lives, it is so often because they feel worthless, ashamed of themselves because they are fat.  They loathe themselves because the world around them has told them they should.

People who feel worthless and unhappy don’t take care of themselves as well as they can.  When someone hates their body, they’re not going to treat it well and care for it the best they can.  Instead they are going to punish themselves, deprive themselves and look for ways to change who they are.

However, when someone has strong self esteem, and doesn’t carry that forced shame on their shoulders, they are able to do so much more for themselves in their lives.  They cope better with adversity in their lives (which none of us can avoid, we all go through tough times), they are able to focus better on their work and other life matters, they feed themselves better, are more likely to be active and to seek out quality health care.

So, as people who have shame heaped on us from every quarter at any opportunity, what can we fat people do to let go of that shame, and not carry a burden that is not ours to carry?

I can only share what has worked for me, but perhaps some of you have strategies and methods that you would like to share as well.  For me, surrounding myself with positivity helps.  Be it online or in reality.  I have found that the people I have in my life now are far more positive and progressive than when I was in that dark place of shame and self loathing.  I read different things and watch different movies/television shows.  I don’t read magazines or newspapers that indulge in shaming any more, and I am far more selective about which movies and TV shows I watch.  When it comes to my online reading, I find things that build my self esteem and confidence, rather than tear it down.  The same goes for the friends I surround myself with.  When I look back now, I was the whipping girl for so many of the people I called “friend”.  I was the fat girl they used to make themselves feel better.  That’s not a friendship, that’s abuse.

Self care is really important too.  Making sure that I take time to look after myself, be it just a pampering in a nice hot shower, time to read or relax some other way, making myself a nutritious meal, or just finding a way to de-stress when things get a bit much for me.

What also works for me is thinking of the shame as a metaphor.  Mine is kind of gross, but I like to think of the shame people try to hand me about my fat body as a big steaming turd.  I didn’t make that turd, and it’s not mine to carry.  When people try to hand me that steaming turd of shame, I metaphorically hand it right back to them and think to myself “That is yours to carry.”  Sometimes you might get a bit on yourself and have to take some time to clean up with some self care, but it’s still not yours to carry.

I know, it’s gross, but the metaphor works for me!

So how do you work your way through shame?  Has letting go of shame about your body helped you in any way?  Or are you still carrying around some that you need help shedding?

The Right of Self Advocacy

Published July 13, 2011 by sleepydumpling

I’m going to talk about another recurring theme of the kind of comments we see on (and in) articles about fatness (whether they be in the mainstream media as “obesity” articles or  here in the fatosphere ), and that is the theme that fat people should not, or cannot advocate for themselves.  That somehow, by measure of our fatness, we render ourselves incapable of making decisions as an adult about our own lives.

There is a common sentiment that fat people need intervention in their lives.  Be it from those in the medical profession, our families and friends, or complete strangers, either on the internet or in public.  Entire conferences are held by medical professionals into “obesity interventions and prevention”, without any input from actual fat people.  Doctors prescribe restrictive diets, food substitutes, weight loss therapy and at the most extreme, surgical gastric mutilation, without any further investigation than measuring a patients BMI, which in itself is a flawed system of measurement.  Our friends, families and even colleagues feel it is acceptable to “let us know” that we are fat and that we should “do something about it”.  And strangers, be they on the street or online, feel free to advise us, without invitation, without knowing anything about us, and often despite our protests, on what we should be doing with our bodies and our lives.

This of course is presented to fat people as “concern for your health“, but what it really is, at it’s core, is the infantilisation of fat people and stripping of the basic adult right to make ones own decisions.

It reduces fat people to a child-like state of requiring management to function in the basics like eating and physical activity.  It says “You’re not capable of taking care of yourself, so we need to step in and do it for you.”  Usually, it is done without any consultation at all with the fat person in question, and even if the fat person does attempt to explain that they do not require management or intervention, they are often dismissed as being overly emotional or in denial.  No matter what argument a fat person presents to advocate for themselves, the response is dismissive and patronising.

The other main outcome of this kind of behaviour is the othering of fat people.  It reduces fat people to sub-normal beings, as less-than-human others, as though they are animals that require husbandry, a kind of domestic management.  It strips fat people of the fundamental human right to advocate for themselves and make their own life decisions.  This is the kind of personal reduction that we have seen with other marginalised people throughout history and in our current time.  It is the act of reducing fat people (and other marginalised people) as somehow less than the normative.

One of the first things I think we need to be focusing on as a movement is the basic right to advocate for ourselves as adults.  It’s not easy, I know all too well.  Even now I still have trouble standing up for myself, particularly to medical professionals and saying “This is not what I want.” or “That is not my experience.” or even “You are not listening to me.”  Even now, as I get more and more bolshy about my fat activism, I still find myself daunted in the face of the kind of dismissive responses we often get.  Mostly it is born of frustration for me, that even at almost 38 years of age, I am unable to be heard as the capable adult that I am while people only focus on my fatness, rather than the facts, my experiences and my own wishes.

That’s it really.  The problem does not lie with our communication of these things, but with other people hearing them.

But that said, I know I have to keep doing it.  I have to keep pushing, keep challenging, keep demanding.  Because, like any other human being, we have the right to advocate for ourselves as adults.

No matter what size our bodies are, no matter what status our health is.

Dear You, Volume 2.

Published May 29, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Dear You,

Hello again.  It’s a little while since I wrote to you last, isn’t it?  I was just thinking about you.  Yes, you!  And you.  You too, over there in the corner.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I want you to know something.  You’re ok, you are.  Oh I know, you’re not perfect and sometimes you feel fraudulent, like you’re only pretending to be ok, but the truth is, imperfection and “faking it” are ok too.

I want you to know, you don’t have to feel invincible all the time to be ok.  You don’t have to be permanently fabulous to make a difference to the world.  Nor do you have to be completely loving of yourself, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be ok.  It’s ok to feel afraid, to have doubts, to be a little less than your shiny self from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and that’s ok.  The key thing is to acknowledge it, feel it and allow it to pass.  Or if you need it, it’s totally ok to ask for help.  You don’t have to change the world all on your own.

Also, don’t feel you have to perform all the time either.  There will be times where you just need to step back and BE without worrying about what you have to DO.  Anyone who expects you to be perfectly “on” all the time doesn’t really care about you – they’re caring more about themselves and their own expectations than your needs or feelings.

The thing is, self love is about so much more than just declaring “I am awesome!” and believing it.  You are awesome.  But you are also human, and part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that all humans are flawed, and cutting yourself some slack.  Forgiving yourself.  You will make mistakes, and you will be flawed, but that’s fine.  We are all flawed, we all make mistakes.  What matters is how you work through those mistakes and flaws.  The most perfect thing you can do is acknowledge them and learn from them.  But most importantly, be responsible for your mistakes.  That’s the thing that will make a difference.

Because really, it’s all about doing the best you can within whatever circumstances you’ve got in your life at any given time.  So what if someone else is able to do more, give more, be more.  That’s them, in their lives.  You have yourself, in your life, so that’s what you’ve got to work with.

But there is something I REALLY want you to know.  You are a perfectly acceptable human being right now, this minute.  You are just as valid as any other human being, without changing a single thing about yourself.  That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to grow, evolve or improve yourself, or you can’t do better sometimes, it just means right now this instant, you are worthy of your own self love.  Even if it is hard to love yourself sometimes (and boy, is it!), or you’re struggling with some really difficult stuff in your life, you still deserve it.

So dearest you, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and give the best version of you that you can give, but know that even in the tough times, you are still valid, worthy and deserving of your own self love.

I love you.

Kath

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