Since my infamous TV debut, I haven’t had much time to blog. A lot has happened, and whilst most of it has been positive, it has also been a steep learning curve. So I figured it was high time I sat down and shared some of what I have learned so far.
The thing about a blog like mine is that I am continuously learning and refining my message. I never pretended to be an expert and I always said I would make mistakes. And I’m glad I did because I have made quite a few of them.
The elephant in the room
First off, I want to address my appearance on This Morning. I was approached by one of their producers the day before to ask if I was willing to be part of a debate with a man named Steve Miller. I had never heard of him before, but once I looked him up it became very clear what kind of a “debate” it was going to be.
Now television is all about ratings. I’m sure you know this. I walked into that interview with my eyes wide open. I’ve watched experts try to have sensible, nuanced debates with Steve Miller before and every time he wiped the floor with them. The night before I was due to go on, I decided to follow my own advice. Go big, or go home.
I decided to meet his controversy with my own controversy. To do it with a smile on my face and to remain calm throughout. But I didn’t mince my words. And I made big sweeping generalisations that I knew would cause a bit of a furor. Notice that nobody cared about the fact that he made just as many generalisations and assumptions. Because as far as almost everyone is concerned, Steve is right and I am wrong. Fat is bad and needs to be eradicated.
It didn’t seem to matter that Steve is a self-titled “diet guru” who earns every penny that he makes from promoting diet culture. It also didn’t matter that he has no real qualifications to speak of and spent most of the time talking over me. The real fact of the matter is that daytime TV is designed to cause as much drama as possible in order to get the ratings up. And FYI, he seems like a reasonably decent person in real life with a bit of a a sense of humor if you give him half the chance.
The Fitness Fanatics
Following on from my TV appearance, a few Insta-famous fitness experts and social media influencers decided to call me out on social media. And I am not sure they realise just how much they helped me. According to one expert in the business, there wasn’t a fitness professional around that wasn’t talking about weight inclusivity that week.
I wanted to spark a debate and it looks like I did. The angrier they got, the more people they sent my way. Most just slid in to my DMs or the comment sections of my Instagram and Twitter feed to call me names and tell me how stupid I was.
But some stuck around and listened to what I had to say. They didn’t always agree, but they were civilised and respectful and I learned from them as much as they learned from me. I genuinely believe that there is a lot to be gained from listening to people with opposing points of view.
However, there is nothing to be gained from listening to people who have no interest in what you have to say. I’m not here to be anyone’s emotional punchbag, and I quickly learned how to deal with internet trolls. [hint: you tell them to be quiet and then you send them packing.]
What I learned about my community
I haven’t really felt part of a community before. Never thought I would find mine on social media in my 40s! There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world fighting against diet culture and fatphobia. People who have recognise how badly people who inhabit larger bodies are treated and want to do something about it.
This isn’t just about self-love or body acceptance. In fact, loving your body all the time is not a particularly easy thing to do. But you don’t have to be in love with your body to stand against social injustice. You don’t even have to be fat like me to fight alongside me. You just have to recognise that fatphobia is an issue that needs addressing in order for our society to be a fairer and more equitable place.
My community does not agree all the time. That’s OK, whose does? My community sometimes argue with one another. But families fight and they find a way to work through it. The fighting and making up afterwards often makes them stronger.
My community is not just made up of fat people. It is anyone whose body is oppressed by mainstream society whether it is because of size, colour, gender, ability or any other factor. Body positivity or body acceptance/neutrality is about as intersectional community as they come. And I freaking love it! I’ve found my tribe.
I just wanna keep learning and growing
I cannot understand how my following grew so fast, but I recognise that this is what happens when you start advocating for a group of marignalised people who experience oppression in so many different areas of their life. And I’m realising that this is what I was born to do. All of my life experiences so far have lead me to this point.
The home that I grew up in. The body I inhabit and the career that I chose. All of the setbacks and failures I have experienced along the way have lead me to this moment and for the first time ever, I know what I am supposed to do next. When I started this blog, I had no idea what direction I was going in. It started off as a means of charting my weight loss. Then it turned into something a little more honest and profound.
Over time, I began to realise that weight loss was the wrong thing to be pursuing and I started 2021 determined to pursue good health instead. As I started to explore the Health At Every Size movement, it soon became apparent that I had gotten everything backwards for most of my life. Pursuing weight loss isn’t just a waste of time, it is actually really damaging.
What I learned about myself
I have now embarked on an intuitive eating journey. I am realising that my body is already set up to regulate how much I eat, but I have just spent the last 40 years ignoring it. My relationship with food is broken, and I am attempting to fix it. I will let you know how it goes.
If you think about it, it’s crazy how we’re taught to breastfeed on demand but once our children reach the age when they can think for themselves, we teach them to stop listening to their bodies and start following instruction instead. We’re taught to ignore our hunger, limit our intake of food, and to eat what we are given as opposed to what we want or need. And we wonder why our bodies have stopped co-operating!
Diet culture has permeated every area of society and I acknowledge just how unpopular I need to become in order to fight against it. But that’s OK. I was never very popular anyway. Popularity is over-rated and I’m too old to care whether people like me anymore.
I am going to try and steer clear of controversy, but I can’t help but court it when I speak the truth. It makes me laugh when people advise me to tone it down because too much controversy distracts from the message. Clearly these people have never met me before!
But still, I am not going to pick fights with people just for the sake of it. And I’m slowly learning how to deal with the trolls. Many of them just want attention or are using me as a ploy to get more media attention and followers. Little do they realise that they are doing a lot more for me than I could ever do for them.
Fat Doctor Version 2.0
And finally, I have compiled a list of things I believe and stand for. For those of you who joined me at the beginning and are not liking where I am headed, I totally respect that and wish you nothing but the best. You can unsubscribe from my mailing list anytime.
Those of you just joining me, remember that I am still very much at the beginning of my journey. I still don’t have many answers and I will never stop learning and refining my message.
And finally, to those of you who started this journey with me and and have stuck by me ever since, I want to say thank you. I love you. I am doing this for you.
10 reasons why I can’t stop talking about this
So my first ever post I told you how I was going to lose weight the hard way and let you into my 9 point plan. Nine months later, and I’m singing a very different tune. So here 10 reasons why I can’t stop talking about removing weight stigma from the doctor’s office.
- All people are entitled to respect and care, irrespective of their health status. Health is not a moral obligation.
- All people have the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination.
- Doctors should be practicing holistic medicine. Instead of focusing solely on physical health, we need to consider mental, emotional and spiritual health too.
- Doctors are not meant to tell patients what to do. We are meant to facilitate informed consent by explaining the risks and benefits of all forms of treatment (including the option of non-treatment). In order to do this, we need to know all the facts and be aware of our own confirmation bias.
- A doctor’s duty of care to their patients includes acting in their best interest (beneficence), doing no harm (non-maleficence), respecting body autonomy and practicing fairly and without discrimination. Our actions need to meet all of these criteria.
- There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all healthcare system. In order to provide individualistic care, we need to understand our patient’s social history, history of previous trauma, health beliefs, past medical history, current medications, and dieting history.
- Weight is not a health behavior. Health promotion should center around modifying behavior as opposed to weight loss.
- Weight bias among medical professionals (whether explicit or implicit) has the ability to color their treatment decisions.
- Weight stigma damages the doctor-patient relationship in a variety of different ways including loss of trust, breakdown in communication, poor compliance, and avoidance.
- In order to remove weight stigma from the consultation room, doctors should be practicing weight inclusive medicine
What did you think of the 10 reasons? Make sure to leave a comment below and join in the discussion. And if you like what I have to say, you can subscribe to my website and never miss another blog post again.