As a child I was led to believe that my body determined not only my value but also what I could do with my life. I loved to dance and was a keen debater, but as I lost confidence in my body and became trapped in a cycle of dieting and trying to shrink myself, the options I felt were available to me also began to shrink.
At Uni I wore all black (It’s a slimming colour according to 00’s fashion experts Trinny and Susannah!) and spent the majority of my time in my room, convinced that I couldn’t do the things I really wanted until I’d lost weight. I turned my back on who I really was and settled for a life limited to what I believed people like me could achieve.
I’d like to say that when I had my daughter, at 25, all this changed, but in reality I dieted even more. I didn’t want her to think that being in an “overweight body” was normal. I didn’t want to set a bad example by bingeing or eating “unhealthy foods”. I tried hypnosis, a myriad of diets, clean eating, weight loss pills and even enquired about surgery. I bounced between orthorexia and binge eating disorder and felt like I’d be this way forever.
Several years later I was having coaching and had worked through many of my limiting beliefs in other areas. I felt like the one thing that was still holding me back and that I’d never be able to change was my relationship with my body, so I decided to bring it to a session.
Opening up to my coach was the start of a transformative journey (yes, I hate the word journey too!). I no longer felt alone in my experience and realised other people were going through this too. I accessed a community of people and support through the body positive and fat activist movements. I was so relieved to have found another way of being it became my whole world, spending any time I had away from the children attending body positive events or reading anything I could get my hands on.
As I began to accept my body, I also began to reconnect with the parts of myself I had denied – my inner activist was reawakened. I had already become very interested in children’s rights a few years earlier, deciding to home educate my children in a consent-based, unschooling environment. Seeing them grow up feeling as though they could fully express themselves made me realise just how much of myself I had shut down over the years.
Something that struck me throughout this time was an inner strength and resilience that I had never noticed before. I realised that my eating disorder had been my way to cope with what had never been an easy childhood. But as I worked more on my recovery, I developed a real desire to show up in the world and stop playing small, no matter what people thought of me. My own activism around body liberation flourished and I trained as a coach, which was both empowering and terrifying in equal measure.
Showing up authentically also meant listening to and respecting what I’d known since I was a teenager; that I am queer. I became more involved in the queer community and (heads up, cliche ahead) found my people, particularly in the fat queer community.
Now I’m lucky enough to do a job I love combining all of my passions; coaching, activism, body liberation, self-empowerment and the queer community.