So it’s no secret that three years ago I was 4 stone heavier than I am now.
This was something I’d never experienced before, especially as someone who’d always held a lot of value on being ‘lean’ and ‘in shape’ training HARD, eating clean (whatever that means) and being proud of the abs that I’d slaved in the gym for…
So to not recognise the body staring back at me?
To feel completely out of control?
To feel the need to hide parts of my body in clothes that I would never usually have dreamed of wearing?
.. Was completely foreign to me.
And let’s be honest no amount of someone telling you to ‘Be kind to yourself’ or ‘You’re lovely as you are’ is actually going to make you feel any frikkin different when you’re fat, shattered and got a baby hanging off your boob, on demand..
Yes, babies are a gift from God..
Yes I know how GRATEFUL I should have been..
And I was, whoohoo rar rar rar .. but give us a break, it’s not all Mary fecking Poppins is it, Hun.
So, lemme just set the scene, there I was, first night out post baby, fat shattered and trying my best to salvage a life, and some kind of identity, beyond the bump.
When some drunk girl barged past me on the dance floor, declaring.. wait for it..
“Don’t push me you FAT BITCH”..
Yep, no shit, that’s what she said.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my time, but honestly, FAT has never been one of them.
Now, I would like to just point out that I didn’t push her, in fact quite the contrary, our pissed bandage dress friend, who likely weighed about as much as a postage stamp, had in fact tried to barge me out of the way, wading through the dance floor.
Now if there’s anything you should know about me, I can deadlift double my own body weight, a bit like Persil, gal is deceivingly small and mighty. I am not easy to push over or move out of the way. More so, wielding an additional 4 stone of weight. So postage stamp had no fecking chance (soz, Hun).
Not to mention.. errr.. manners??
Ya see, in the past, I’d have hurled an expletive back at Bandage Dress. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve been brought up with the Burnley mentality.. You don’t let people push you around, you stick up for yourself, if someone pushes you- you push them back twice as hard.
But, weirdly, probably for the first time in my life, not this time..
I just looked at her, bewildered, a weird curiosity washing over me..
All I remember thinking is ‘Fucking hell, angry much?’
And that was that.
Bandage Dress staggered off in to the crowd.
And it wasn’t till the weeks that followed as I rehashed the tale of my ‘one night out since I gave birth’ to one of my friends over lunch, that a stark realisation washed over me as my friend laughed “OMG asif you got fat shamed!!”
Did I get fat shamed?
Is that what it’s supposed to feel like to be fat shamed?
I mean, I didn’t actually feel shame in my weight, in my size or about myself.
I mean it wasn’t my ‘ideal weight’ (whatever that means), yes I was shattered, uncomfortable and fat.. A LOT fatter than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Like, ever.
I mean, don’t people always talk about being shamed by other people?
‘She fat shamed me’
But isn’t shame an emotion?
A feeling that you feel, yourself?
Can anyone else actually make you feel shame in something?
Is it not like any situation?
Don’t we have a choice on which feelings we feel in reaction to something?
Don’t we all, as women, find and feel shame in different things?
Like what I’m ashamed of (which, what can I say, is way less than I probably should.. FYI I am my own biggest eye roll) might be totally different to what you feel ashamed of.
I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I got called a ‘bint’ by some random woman I’d never met, on the internet…
Does that mean I got Bint shamed?
Well I don’t think I did, in one breath I just think this woman, can’t even remember her name, was a bit of a knob. In another breath I just feel a bit sorry for someone who feels the need to try and belittle someone they’ve never met on the internet.. I mean imagine the headspace you have to be in to do that, Imagine THAT being your view of the world.
So why then. WHY was it that I refused to put myself in the category of being a victim of ‘fat shaming’ because as the dance floor situation goes, I think I qualify for that narrative, don’t I?
So, following this, three things happened in succession, that lead to my epiphany..
The first came to me when I asked the following question, just out of curiosity, in my SOS secret FB group..
What does the word ‘fat’ mean to you?
And the response I got was astounding..
“No self control”
The list went on..
The second revelation was a conversation with my client, we’ll call her Hannah.
There are a few reasons that this conversation left me pretty flabbergasted (great word btw), ya see Hannah was in her forties, works hard in the gym, eats well and is in great shape, by all accounts.. Great relationship with her husband, successful career..
So, the last thing I was expecting was for this woman, who had her ‘shit together’, by all accounts, to look me in the eye and tearfully whisper..
“I still feel like the fat bird”
And there it was.
The reason I didn’t get the ‘fat shaming’ thing.
The reason I didn’t feel the pang of shame in my own fatness.
I have never identified as a fat person.
Fat, is just that.. body fat. It’s not an organ, it’s not stuck there.. I’ve always had other value to my body.
The body that’s carried both of my sons.
The body that I had patience with, trained and trusted and as a child who LOVED to dance.
The body that’s run two half marathons.
The body that can deadlift double my own bodyweight.
The body that feels nourished from all kinds of foods.
The body that has shape, curves and tiger stripe stretch marks.
Even wielding 4 additional stones of fat, more body fat that I’ve ever had in my entire life in fact, that body fat wasn’t who I was as a person on a conscious or subconscious level.
Don’t you see, that if you’re spending your life looking in the mirror telling your self you’re not enough in some way or another.
Putting all your hopes and dreams on a number on a scale, hoping that you might take up less space in the world.
Ashamed of who you are.
Not ‘Slim enough’ to wear that.. for example, is something I hear a lot.
Fat isn’t always just a word, it’s something that’s attached to thought, feeling and negative experience and for some women that’s a life time of negative experience and negative connotation, believe me, I’ve seen it.
But all isn’t lost.
Guilt is what you’ve done.
Shame is because of who you are.
Only you can feel shame in who you are. I’ll have you consider that no one else can make you do that.
So what I’m about to say is super cheesy.. but it’s so f*cking true..
So before you throw up a little bit in your own mouth, I’m inviting you to read the words and actually think
‘Is this true for me?’
OK, here goes.. I’ll have you consider that if you want TRUE change, you need to believe that you are beautiful and shine your torch beam on your own good shit.. not the negative, doom and gloom, even when you feel like there isn’t any.
Place value in what your body can do and celebrate her, rather than dragging her down and just trying to take up less space in the world.
You need to believe that you don’t deserve to be ashamed…
And to do this.. the answer ain’t in the next ‘diet’, the next drink your own piss ‘detox’ or your next Slimming World group..
It’s an inner belief to the problem, it’s about getting ‘lit from within’ to heal the shame that you, yourself, feel and to do this you need to go on a journey to change your story.
The exact belief system behind my SOS programme and all the work that I do with my clients.
If you need some help on your own journey, a helping hand, a coach and a group of other amazing women who’ve got your back you can apply for my SOS programme here