Before we get stuck into this post, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not fat shaming anyone.  I am talking about my own relationship with my body and why I can’t totally get behind the plus size movement.  It’s not about being controversial, but I’m sure that some will see it that way.  It’s more about opening up a debate about why the plus size movement might not be entirely a good thing.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that it is helpful, and I just want to clarify I am saying that as a fat person who has struggled with weight issues since being a child.

There are lots of people out there who pledge to be happy with their body.  Some of these people may or may not be plus size.  There are lots of amazing people on social media etc who bare all for the body confidence movement and yes, this is great and often inspiring.  They are brave women who are promoting a liberating message, and that is something I love about the power of social media.

So, what’s my problem with it all.  As a fat person, I am not happy with my body.  No matter how many plus size or body confidence hashtags there are out there I personally will never be happy being fat.  I’ve tried to condition my thinking to accept my body so I don’t berate myself, and to a point I have had success with that.  I personally don’t think we should beat ourselves up about our weight and I also strongly believe that other people shouldn’t judge us either.

The issues behind weight gain can be deep and complex for a person.  In my particular case my weight gain is connected to my confidence and self esteem.  If my mental health isn’t in good shape then my self care goes out of the window.  I eat rubbish and I don’t exercise.  My mental health suffers more and I gain more weight.  It starts with one day of poor self care, then grows to a few days a week.  Before I know it the whole thing has spiralled out of control.  The mental challenge then is to pull myself out of the pit of despair and begin the journey back to a positive state of wellness.

In the meantime the damage is done.  The side effects of being fat are pretty rubbish to be honest.  I have constant discomfort in my ribs from slouching.  Getting up from a chair or sofa is an effort.  Then there’s the back aches and the stiffness, they are enough to get anyone down.  I walk annoyingly slowly, and there are sometimes when I literally can’t keep up with my kids.  OK, they are on scooters, so they are super speedy but I have to make sure they don’t get to far ahead so they don’t end up in a dangerous situation.  It worries me daily if I’m honest.

plus size woman

So that’s the day to day side effects of being fat.  What about the health risks?  We can’t beat around the bush here.  Being over weight, plus size or fat is not good for our health.  It puts unnecessary strain on our organs and is one of the biggest causes of cancer.  I snore mainly because of my weight and it drives my husband crazy.  I could also go on about diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease and the problems excessive weight can cause during pregnancy.  Is the plus size movement skirting over all this?    It certainly isn’t talking about the downsides of weight gain is it?

Because of some of the health risks associated with being over weight, I constantly think about my own mortality.  I’m 43 years old with 3 kids, 2 of which are very young.  To be constantly concerned about my own life span is not only a sad state of affairs but also has a detrimental effect on my mental health again.  It could be called kicking me while I’m down in some circles.

I cannot imagine for a second that I am the only plus size woman that feels this way.  There must be more of us who can never entirely embrace the ‘big is beautiful’ message.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of woman out there, of all different shapes and sizes that are stunning.  I’m totally jealous of their confidence and self esteem, but sadly while I’m over weight I will never tick those two boxes.

The issues in society about plus size, social norms and acceptance are tricky.  I absolutely believe that the plus size movement comes from a good place but is it really OK to normalise being fat?  I 100% believe that we should be accepting of everyone no matter what their shape or size is.  We should not judge others for their body type and we should always be kind and accepting of others.  This is something I live by as I know the issues behind my own weight gain are complex.  Losing weight also isn’t easy for lots of people for a number of reasons.

What the plus size movement will never do for me though is to allow me to totally accept myself.  I challenge myself regularly to start losing weight and I’m just waiting for the day when I feel in the zone.  It wasn’t today as I’ve eaten a chocolate mug cake before writing this post, but maybe it will be tomorrow!  The beginning of this journey for me probably begins with my activity levels.  I know this is the answer to improving my mental health and then tackling the other issue of losing weight.

So, on a personal level I just don’t feel comfortable with the plus size movement.  I’m not sure it’s helping women like me who have complex relationships with their bodies.  I believe my own weight gain is a type of self destructive behaviour.  How’s that for brutal honesty!  Having this social movement now suggesting to me that ‘big is beautiful’ just seems to apply more pressure.  I now feel I need to be accepting or even happy about being overweight, and when I just can’t jump on that band wagon have I failed again?

What I’m really interested to discover from writing this post is ‘is it OK to say being fat is rubbish?’.  I’m not saying it’s ugly or bad as I all human beings regardless of shape, size or colour are beautiful.  It’s just that from where I’m sitting it just feels pretty crap!  Who else feels this way?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, one way or another, in the comments below.

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  1. You’ve mentioned the exact reasons as to why the body positivity movemement is so important right here. You state that when your mental health is bad, your self confidence and self worth are low, you comfort eat and that adds to your weight gain. That is EXACTLY why the plus size movement and size acceptance is a winner, if you don’t feel bad about yourself, you will look to make healthier life choices. Bullying and shaming people for their weight is proven to have the reverse effect, they won’t change their lifestyles but they are more likely to comfort eat and self harm, this increasing their weight!

    There has been way too much media attention on the health issues associated with obesity and a lot of these have been overplayed. There is not one disease that only fat people get, and being fat does not guarantee a shorter life suffered in ill health! And even if it does, what business is that of anybody else? Each person is responsible for their own health and happiness only, it isn’t down to anybody else! This article is well worth a read on this subject. on why everything you think you know about obesity is wrong

    Peronsally I hate being fat. I hate myself for getting fat, I hate myself for getting fatter and I hate myself for not losing weight. BUT that’s my battle and my business. I have hated myself and my body at every single size and stage of my life from the time I was about 7 years old onwards, even at a size 10 / 12. I don’t hate other fat women, I don’t find other fat women unattractive, my issues with fat are purely mine

    • Thanks so much Karen. I love your energy and I agree that when it comes to other women, no matter what size I don’t judge them. Those that are positive with it I’m probably a bit jealous of if I’m honest. But also, my issues, like yours, are my own and with a positive message form society maybe that will help with my journey

  2. I totally agree & can relate to your post. I for instance have not allowed a picture of myself to be seen by anyone other than my husband in over 10 years. I put on weight after my son was born but then our lives spiralled out of control so I got even bigger. I have health issues which worry me so I am currently trying to lose weight but can’t exercise at the moment as I fell in my garden which wouldn’t have been as bad if I hadn’t been fat! I look at the Plus size movement & agree that although the clothes are nice the models are beautuful, it upsets me that I need to look in that range for clothing that fits. I am currently 6 stone heavier than before I had my son. I too usually sabotage my own efforts to lose weight normally, but I’m trying not to let it happen this time.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by. It meant a lot reading your comment. We do have such complex issues about our weight, and I know for me it doesn’t take a lot to be thrown of course. My weight has really yo yo ed over the years. I think we will both get there I’m sure

  3. I hear you Zena for sure. I also don’t really identify with the plus size movement and am…in denial a bit! I don’t want to shop at stores that single me out and my size. I’ve never been truly happy with my size and weight either and I want to change it. Ugh, its an awful, ongoing feeling.

    However, I will say, I’ve really embraced one mindset of the body positivity movement. I like the mantra that even if you want to lose weight, or are trying to lose weight…you have to try to accept where you’re at, right now. I got stuck in a spiral of thinking life wouldn’t really start until I was at an ideal weight, or lost a certain amount of weight, or got to a certain dress size. I try to act today as I think I would while thin….enjoy food, enjoy being out in public, etc. That part of the movement is so, so essential, because my life will pass me by if I spend it hoping/wishing I was smaller! So I think it’s important for big bodies to be seen, to be loved and celebrated, as life is happening now and those people might be bigger/smaller someday, but they shouldn’t be ignored while they’re on the journey.

    Hope that makes sense. Thanks so much for being honest!

    • It totally makes sense, and you are right for not wanting life to pass us by being consumed about weight issues. I really think acceptance of all bodies is important. I also have no desire to be skinny either. I would just like to be a healthy weight and have a healthy mind set. Really lovely to read your comment lady! Can’t believe our task misdemeanours were so long ago now 🙂

  4. I’m not plus size but when I was a size 16, I wasn’t happy with my body. I felt very low about how my clothes looked and how I felt mentally. As I began to lose weight and got back to a happy medium, I felt more confident within myself and others could see it too. I think you have to do what makes you happy and comfortable but also what is healthy and safe for you too x

  5. I think our mental health often can take a toll on our bodies, confidence is not always automatic and its important to know its ok not to be ok with your body. But saying it is not enough, work on it too, that’s how i see it

  6. I agree entirely. I am not huge but I am bigger than I would like to be. In my case it is at least partly due to an under active thyroid gland. I was a comfortable size 14 for many years and much prefered it..

  7. I’ve thought about writing this post a number of times and never got around to it, or maybe sub-conscioulsy avoided the backlash that could come. I’m a large woman too and its not healthy. I totally realise I have to accept me and it is no good rubbishing yourself but I never want my kids to see pictures of woman far larger than me and think it is OK to allow yourself to be a health risk.

    How anyone can say a person who weighs 20 stone is healthy is beyond me. If they love themselves and want to be that way, that is OK. I am alive and let live kind of woman, we all do life the way we see fit but I’m not big on the body positve movement sensationalising being fat or in some cases super fat. Mich x

  8. This is such an honest post Zena and to be honest it’s so different to a lot of stuff I’ve read that it is wholeheartedly refreshing. I think it’s ok to say being fat is rubbish if that’s how you feel, and it’s ok to say it’s great if that’s how someone else feels….everyone is entitled to their own take on things.

  9. I hear you, I am overweight and hate it – I am not happy with my body but i am struggling to exercise with my chronic pain. I think celebrating healthy is a much better idea

  10. Although I’m not too large, I am overweight for my height and can relate to how your mental health and state of mind can affect your eating habits so much. I’ve slowly started regaining my weight that I lost after having my son but have no willpower or motivation to attempt a diet. I also hate exercise which doesn’t help. I really do think you need to have the right frame of mind to make the change and think once you start seeing results it’s easier to continue (if that makes sense). But I have no idea how to get there at the moment.

  11. You have to be healthy and comfortable with yourself, no matter what others say. I do find that these movements such as the plus side one don’t always make people feel good about themselves

  12. I think we should all accept that people can have different feelings about their body, i want to lose weight for myself and thats ok, but when i mention it to people they say i dont need too. If i was bigger i dont think i would class myself as plus size ether.Its a tricky grey area that needs to be dicussed.

  13. I think it’s been blown up into a big deal with all the plus size this and that. I’m larger than I want to be after having 3 children and like you I’m just over that 40 mark. The health side is a concern and I am trying to work on regaining my previous weight. I’m guessing I feel just as crap as you do hun. I won’t have pictures of me online i am so unhappy with the way I look x

  14. I think sometimes we wil never be happy with our bodies fullstop. I’m not fat but my weight fluctuates constantly and I find it’s always a battle. Aside from the fact my wardrobe never fits me always one way or the other I am now trying to be more confident and healthy and not worrying so much.

  15. I think we are all entitled to feel what we feel and some plus-sized woman are very happy and comfortable with their appearance and wouldn’t change a thing but that wont apply to all and you are more than justified to not be happy – the main thing to health and working towards a place you feel comfortable and content and that space is for you and you alone as what is perfect for one is not for the other

    Laura x

  16. This is powerful, had to share. And bookmark. And now following you all over the place (but in a good way). Dropped by from #BlogCrush today and so glad I did, wow. Hope this weekend treats you kindly. 🙂 xox

  17. Zena, your beautifully written post is probably the best thing I’ve ever read on this subject. While overweight women can indeed be beautiful, and wonderful in every way, their current and long-term health is at risk. There are a couple of “techniques” (NOT diets–temporary diets do not work) that will improve anyone’s health and, if needed, help them lose weight without any special products, equipment, programs or willpower. I’ve written about them on my blog . I’ll put the links here (and will understand completely if you wish to delete the comment for that reason): , but I hope they will be helpful. Wishing you all the best ~ Jean

  18. I am not plus size, I’m actually technically underweight, but nor am I happy with my body. I struggle with the plus size movement, I may be lynched for saying this but I actually think it is unhealthy for very overweight/obese people to be saying how wonderful it is to be plus size. If that was underweight people saying the same there would be an outcry. You are a lovely person Zena, I think that’s the most important thing here. xxx

  19. Wow thank you for being so honest. Lots of women can relate to how you are feeling and I’m glad you were brave enough to put it out there x

  20. Fabulous post. I’d love everyone to feel fabulous in their own skin and be devoid of hang ups but we all know it’s not that easy. Where there are health concerns (at either end of the spectrum) they do have to be addressed.
    Congratulations, someone loved this post so much they added it to our #BlogCrush linky

  21. I feel exactly the same, and because I have depression and anxiety I am a comfort eater. This year I have managed to quit smoking and alcohol, but chocolate and crisps are a whole different level!

  22. I’m a woman of 60 next week and a plus size, all my life i have struggled with weight issues, smell a cream cake i pile on pounds, and i consider myself to be reasonably healthy, but i am at that point in my life when i think, to hell with it, i am fed up with worrying about my weight, it seem to make me more unhappy worrying about it all the time, watching what i eat, it was reflecting on my marriage and on my mental health, so now i dont worry, i can understand what you ladies are saying and youre most prob alot younger than me, and it worries me, how you all think about yourselves, love your self, perhaps someone should start up a weekly club where all plus size get together and talk, have fun and exercise together, swop recipes, and all help each other, i know there are places like weightwatchers, but the plus size club would be more personal and friendly, who knows it could help LOVE yourselves youre all beautiful people

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