opinions – bodylove

So… I’ve been reading all the comments.

Two weeks ago I wrote a blogpost about something that happened to me in the gym and it went viral (well, viral in Belgium. So like, mini-viral). It was covered online by various media, I did interviews for 2 newspapers and I appeared on a talkshow to share my views on feminism and my little legging-gate.

media

tiny media explosion whoop whoop!

I had no idea this was happening until it was already being shared by media, and even though I’m ofcourse glad that it got picked up on a national scale there is also definitely a downside.

The thing is: I wrote a fairly personal blogpost, for my own blog. Yes, it’s the internet and no, I’m not an idiot: I know that what goes online on the blog, goes online for the whole world. That being said, I have quite a loyal group but relatively small group of readers, so I know that when I post something that maybe 400-800 people will read it, and that the majority of those people know the context of my blog and what I stand for. That’s one thing, and it’s a completely different thing to suddenly see what you wrote on a completely different platform, being read by a completely different audience that has no clue who you are or what you stand for, accompanied by a large picture of your behind in leggings.

All of this lead to thousands of mails, messages and comments, most of them good, some of them bad. You know how they say “never read the comments”? Well, I ignored that advice and went ahead to read ALL the comments anyway. That was unpleasant at times…but not hurtful to me. These people clearly don’t know me. And either way, I come from a place where I hated my body and myself for years, so there is nothing people can say about me that comes even close to the horrible things I used to say about myself. I’m in a much better place now. The negative things others say no longer reflect my own insecurities, which makes it so much easier to shrug it off. I mean, when someone online tells you you look “like a disgusting wrapped piece of pork”, what else is there to do but laugh?

Most of those negative comments were really funny made very little sense anyway. Like this one, which starts of sort of kind of supportive-ish but goes down in flames towards the end.

huhwat2

translation: “well, all women in the gym wear leggings to the gym. Nothing weird or ugly about that. But if you are proud of the fact that you’re overweight then there is something wrong with you. […] Obesity is a disorder, it’s unhealthy. If you’re proud of that then there is something wrong with you. Work harder at the gym, […] that will teach those boys a lot more than flaunting around your fat body.”

But if I’m not bothered by the negative comments, then why am I writing about it now?

I try to be someone who doesn’t want to give attention to bullies or haters, but at the same time I find some things are important enough to be addressed (and this blog is a perfect way for me to do that). Because there are certain types of comments that aren’t funny at all. Some negative comments painfully reflect societal issues I care deeply about, and for me this blog is the perfect way to talk about that.

  1. The idea that wearing something means you’re “asking for it”.

uitlokken

underlined translation: “If you go to the gym looking to provoke” […] then you deserve what’s coming to you” “if you enjoy being admired at the gym then you should also know that the people there won’t agree with you” “some people just like any kind of attention”.

The idea that putting a certain type of clothing on my body means I’m “asking for it” is insane and dangerous.  By wearing leggings to do the gym I’m somehow begging for attention or asking to be judged and hurt is very reminiscent of rape culture (for instance when girls in a short skirt are “asking” to be harassed. no. NO). And this is something fat girls specifically have to deal with often: we are told we can’t wear certain things because our bodies might offend others, and if you go ahead and do it anyway, you deserve it when people make fun of you.

Let me get one thing clear: my body and what I wear is none of your fucking business. I want the next generation of women to grow up in a society where we teach people to respect other bodies, NOT where we tell women to cover up out of fear of offending someone. Women should be able to wear what they want without living in fear of being attacked, be it physically or verbally. Your body, your choice.

2.The idea that working out means you must hate your body

afvallen

underlined translation: “[…] curves, which she clearly wants to fix because she works out” (also: “if you provoke then you also need to take the backlash” which goes back to my first point…) “what i’m wondering: why does she go to the gym? Apparantly she’s not that happy with herself then??”

I got quite a lot of those actually whenever I discuss working out as a fuller woman. “well if she says she loves herself then why is she in the gym? Clearly she doesn’t love herself and she wants to be thin!”. Ehm, what? I work out because I LOVE my body, NOT because I hate it. I can’t stress this enough. Working out makes me feel happy. I enjoy the feeling of getting faster and stronger and learning new things and being challenged. It’s good for me, and my body deserves to be treated well. My body deserves the best. And the best, to me, includes regular exercise and doing things I love. It’s truly sad that to a lot of people, “loving yourself” still means “be thin”. It doesn’t. You have the right to exist and live your life in the body you have TODAY, whatever you may look like, and be genuinely happy with yourself.

insta

this whole “I work out because I love my body” thing is really important to me. Go join the discussion on instagram!

As a final note (yes this is the last of it, I swear :p) I’d like to say one thing to all the people hating me: if for every 1000 hateful mails and comments, I receive 1 email from a young girl saying how my blogpost inspired her to love herself and treat herself right, then it would still be worth it. And I didn’t get just one of those lifechanging emails…  I got 117. That’s right, out of all the hundreds of messages and emails I got, 117 of them were of girls and women taking the time to let me know that reading my story made them want to be more confident. To know that my wearing leggings to the gym and writing about it has made an impact on the lives and confidence of 117 amazing girls and women is so fucking amazing I’m literally getting tears in my eyes as I write this… and that’s something no amount of haters will ever take away from me.

Thank you all so much for the support, it means the world to me.

why plussize women aren’t using their power

If you follow me on my page, you’ve probably seen me complain about H&M + before. First of all, they have a real issue with sizing; you always need about 2 sizes bigger than the size you usually wear. But the biggest problem for me is that the majority of the + line is boring, basic stuff, over and over again. Which is frustrating for me as a consumer, because the rest of their lines in the regular collection are so fashionforward and exciting, and I’d love for the + line to reflect this.

But then the other day I walked in and saw this supercute darkblue sweater with sparkly detailing on top, and despite all my previous complaints I rushed over to the register and purchased it.

plussize fashion H&M

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I realized that as a plussize consumer who wants to see change, I need to put my money where my mouth is.

More and more brands are coming out with plussize lines. Not because they are nice people (well they probably are, but that’s not the reason) but because they think there is money to be made. And they’re not wrong; the average woman is a size 12 or 14, so there are literally millions of potential consumers out there. If we are not happy with what is currently being offered to us, we need to start letting our cash do the talking. So I bought the top, because I want H&M to start hearing me when I say “please make special things for us too, I really like this“.

The issue is that so many of us are not throwing any money at the problem. I’m not talking about budgettary restrictions here (hey, I’m a student, I know what it’s like to have a strict budget!), but really the fundamental refusal of a lot of women to spend money on clothes and on themselves. It’s like they don’t believe they’re worth it. The reason behind this is equally obvious as it is sad: a lot of plussize women don’t want to spend money on clothes because they want to lose weight. If you have it in your mind that 6 months from now you’ll be 3 sizes smaller, you’re not going to buy something now. You’ll buy it 6 months from now, so it will fit. Why would you spend money on a dress if you’re convinced it will be too big in a couple of months right?

Wrong. Because chances are, 6 months from now, you’ll still have the same size. And even after years of not losing weight, women can still throw all logic out the window and think they’ll somehow permanently lose weight this time around. It’s also why so many women hold on to clothing in their closet that doesn’t fit them anymore.

This mentality of not wanting to invest in yourself right now is part of a larger problem: as fuller women, you’re constantly putting your life on hold and postponing things for when that time comes that you’ll have lost weight. Before you know it, 10 years have gone by and you’re still wearing the same 5 things, you still haven’t gone to the beach with friends (and they’ve stopped inviting you) and you still haven’t taken that danceclass you’ve always wanted to take. An entire lifetime can go by while you’re waiting for that moment to come that you’ll finally be thin, so that you’ll finally have the right to be happy with yourself and treat yourself with nice things. Ladies, the time is now. You are good enough now. You are worth it now.

So for the love of God, whatever your story is, you deserve to feel great now. Next time you see that outrageous piece of clothing you never thought was for you, get it anyway and rock it. Send a clear message that you’re heare to stay and that you deserve good things in your life. Repeat it until you believe it ;).