Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Time to Stop Being Your Own Bully

Post by Vivienne McMaster for the Love for Love series.








It's Time to Stop Being Your Own Bully

I’m fat.

Sometimes I say chubby or curvy but today I’m going to say it. Fat.

There are so many assumptions that come with that word, or when people see fat bodies.

That you don’t take care of yourself.
That you don’t love yourself.
That you are ashamed.
That you are not healthy.

That fact doesn’t mean that I don’t love myself, that I don’t take care of my body or that I am not worthy.

You see, I’m slowly learning how to not ashamed of it.

I’ve spent 15 years of my life bullying myself in the mirror and I’m done. I’m not playing that game anymore.

I hope that isn’t the first time this week that you’ve heard a big woman state that her worth as a person should not be judged by the size of her body.

It seems like this week we are not contented to stay silent.

Because it is my body, one that I feel blessed to get to adventure this world in.

And I believe that each and every one of our bodies is beautiful.

In the exact size it is at this moment.

I know it is not easy to try to walk the world feeling totally empowered in the body you are in at this moment.

Sometimes that mission gets derailed though, without intention (or sometimes with) by others' words.

Barely a day goes by when I don’t hear or read someone make a comment about their own or someone else’s body size in a derogatory way.

“My back fat is so disgusting. No one likes back fat”
“No one should be wearing jeans that give you a muffin top”

These were two that I heard this week alone.

I wanted to write about body shaming and fat positivity this week because October is Anti-Bullying month and Fat Shaming of others and ourselves, well... it too is bullying.

But I think the worst bully is the one closest to home. The one in the mirror.
Luckily, that is also the one that we can change.


Shall we start with Ourselves?

Truth be told, many of us would never even think of bullying someone else, but then we look in the mirror and speak incredibly negative words to ourselves.

So many of us have been trained to bully ourselves and think that it is okay.

It's time, and it is possible to unlearn this self-bullying behavior.

Here a few more unconventional ways that have been helpful to me:

• Find beauty mentors. Now, by this I don’t mean find people who you want to become or emulate. What I do mean is to find people online or in images that share similarities with you in the ways that you want to heal. For me it might be body size, but for others it might be something quite different. Seeing someone else as beautiful who looks like you helps us mirror it back onto ourselves.

• Take Photos of Yourself! This has been the biggest tool for me. Whether you get someone to take photos of you that help you see yourself with kindness. Take control of your self-image by taking charge of the camera or hire a photographer who’s work you love to help you see your unique self mirrored back at you.

• Don’t go it alone. You aren’t alone. Connect with friends and talk about body positivity.

This self-bullying can spread like wildfire too. I think often we unintentionally are spreading a web of negative reinforcement (aka fat shaming) to those around us who may be trying their darnedest to build up positive body image by speaking derogatory things about our bodies or the bodies of others. One way we can not only help ourselves, but help others is to check ourselves and the way we speak about the bodies of others.

I’m just a woman healing, like you, so I don’t have all the answers either.

But I do know if I do look back at this time and regret being the size I am, it will be minimal compared to the regret I would have if I don’t start loving myself.

Here and now.

Let’s stop bullying ourselves. Today. Now.

Let’s cultivate body love,


As I was writing this, I was floored at how many incredible people were speaking out about the way we speak to ourselves and others. So I wanted to share some of these powerful resources with you!

This beautiful article by my dear friend Valerie Tookes called ‘Like an Elephant’

This wonderful article about the importance of being in Photos with your Family

Mara Glatzel, Self Love Coach

Body Love Wellness A super fabulous ‘Healthy at Every Size’ Blog

The It Gets Fatter Project created by Fat Queer People of Colour but oh so fabulous for all to explore.

Body Positive Yoga

The Fat Nutritionist



Vivienne McMaster is a photographer, visual storyteller and workshop leader with a playful and rule free approach to getting creative with taking photos. She has a big love for helping people find the photographer within themselves. She believes, and knows from experience, that self-portraits can be incredibly healing (and also so much fun). You can find her blogging about self-portraiture and photo adventuring over at her website!
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59 comments:

theresa said...

Absolutely beautiful post! Thank you for being brave and beautiful!

Mary said...

I love this post.


I like to refer to myself, not as fat, but as "a woman of substance". ;o)


And I had a yoga teacher once say that she "currently resides in a larger body". :)

michelle jadaa said...

Reading this really hit home for me,thanks for posting!

rachael maddox said...

viv... this is so so beautiful. YOU are so so beautiful. i'm thankful for your voice. sing loud. also--this site, while not exactly safe for work (it's probably, technically considered pornography), is really powerful in terms of body-image and sexuality spectrums... it's really radical and explicit, so fair warning to all! but i love it and think it's a wonderful site to be shared, to show that all types of bodies can ENJOY SEX and sexuality!: http://sexisnottheenemy.tumblr.com/

GrowSoulBeauty said...

Amazing- seriously one of the most inspiring and amazing things I've read all year! You know I totally adore you Vivienne & you are such a beautiful soul! I will be sharing this message all around- thank you for the inspiration & encouragement!

alexis yael said...

<3


(Mara has been in my rss feed for a long while. Another body positivity blogger who I adore is http://rosiemolinary.com/blog/. I'm checking out your other links now!)

Lelainia Lloyd said...

Interesting that you posted about this today. The other day, a friend posted this photo to her FB page. At first glance, you might think it was speaking out in favour of curvy women. But as I looked at the photo, I had a completely different awareness of it, which I shared with her. (We are both curvy women, by the way.) Here's what I shared with her:


If that is how a woman's body is, than that is how it is. We can't expect thin women to respect our body types if we criticize theirs. We have to get it through our heads that we are all beautiful in our own way, to accept ourselves as we are and to accept other women for how they are, without feeling the need to judge or bash. Only then can we move beyond shaming our bodies and become comfortable in our own skins. We do it to ourselves and we do it to each other. It's a bad behaviour that we choose to perpetuate. It's demeaning and it serves no higher purpose.


You are right Vivienne, it's bullying, no matter who does it. It's time to stop.

Lori Anderson said...

Such an awesome and timely post. I recently wrote a post called "what not to say to an overweight person" because I was asked if I was pregnant ... and it didn't stop there! This is amazing, such a freeing thing to see photos and realize I see your beauty and cool clothes (where do you get those???) and your awesome smile.

Paige said...

I loved reading your post -I think everyone has their own struggles and like you, weight has always been mine. Every time I get too hard on myself I remember a line in Geneen Roth's book "Women, Food and God" - sorry don't remember it exactly but its basically "are you going to care what the size of your thighs were when are are on your death bed?" It always keeps it in perspective for me. I also feel like I have wasted so so much energy worrying about my weight. I too have decided to stop and put that energy to more important things in my life.

Maribeth said...

Beautiful post!! I'm a work in progress in learning to love my body - doing a body journaling video was my first step away from my bullying happen. We are ALL beautiful and here's a HUGE cyberhug to you Vivienne for sharing your courage with the rest of us. YOU are my new beauty mentor. ♥

Kylie Bellard said...

LOVE! All those ladies and the work they do. Including you, Vivienne! I love that you take self-love into the territory of photography. And not just that, but self-portraiture.


Very beautiful post.

Kendra said...

love this post! I wrote something similar about body image a week or so ago. (I don't want to be spammy and link to it specifically but you can find it on my blog the post is "A look in the mirror and thoughts on self acceptance").
I am fat too. I have been most of my life and after becoming a mother this past april I've embraced myself so fully and completely for so many reasons.
thanks for this post!

Mom Photographer said...

lovely post! I am in my 365 Self-Portrait Project journey and I can't say enough about how taking pictures of myself help me deal with my body image!!!

Heather said...

Love this! It's amazing the way we talk to ourselves I have said if you had a friend that talked to you the way that you do, would you stay friends iwth them? Probably not, yet we do it to ourselves all the time. We are teaching others how to treat us by the way we talk and treat ourselvs and we are teaching our young people the same thing.. It's a process but a neccasary wone indeed!

Holly said...

Vivienne, you are so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this and you!

Jen Lee said...

I love you so much, Viv. You are more beautiful every day.

Caelie said...

Fabulous post Viv. So excited that you're talking about this subject and sharing it with the world. xo

Vivienne said...

Oh Jen Lee. I love you back. Thank you for your sweet words my dear.

vivienne said...

Thanks so much Caelie! I can't wait to hang out with you soon!

Vivienne said...

Thanks lovely Holly!

Vivienne said...

Totally...I wouldn't be friends with that person that gets in my head sometimes and talks meanly! Lets have a friend breakup with her!

Vivienne said...

Thank You! I just followed the links to your blog and LOVE the range of self-portraits you have taken. So fabulous!

Vivienne said...

Thank you so much Kendra! I followed the links to your blog (which is SO beautiful by the way) and love what you have to share! I'm following your blog now so I can check out your future posts too!

Vivienne said...

Kylie! Thanks so much lovely you.

Vivienne said...

A huge cyberhug back at you Maribeth!

Vivienne said...

Paige...thanks so much for mentioning Women Food and God...I love that book too, but actually haven't gotten all the way through it (its pretty potent stuff). I'm going to pull it off the bookshelf right now!

Vivienne said...

Thanks so much Lori! I so want to check out your post, but I don't think your website is linked to your comment...if you come back, will you leave it in the comments as I'd so love to read that post!

Vivienne said...

Totally. I've seen that image before. Totally good feedback you shared with your friend Lelainia!

Vivienne said...

ooh...can't wait to check that out lovely Alexis. I'm filling up my blog reader with new body-positive finds...as thats what I'm craving to read, so I totally appreciate you sharing this!

Vivienne said...

I adore you back Amanda!

Vivienne said...

ooh..rachael...i love that you shared this! i did a million and one versions of this post and one of them had more about sex and sexuality (saving it for a future time I guess...plus I think I'm still in the midst of my own sexual revolution)! I'm off to check it out. Thanks amazing you!

Vivienne said...

You're welcome Michelle! Thank you so much for leaving these kind words!

Vivienne said...

I love that Mary! A woman of substance....that totally rocks!

Vivienne said...

Thanks so much Theresa!

Mom Photographer said...

thank you so much! I visited your blog and I am in awe! you're taking wonderful pictures!!!

Chibi Jeebs said...

Oof. This one hits home, big time. Thank you for the light bulb moment (and a big thanks to my friend Lynda for sharing this post with me!)

Vivienne said...

Thanks so much Chibi!

Elisa said...

Such an awesome post thanks for sharing learning to love ourselves unconditionally is such an awesome thing to share :-) We are all truly beautiful just as we are right now :-)

Vivienne said...

You've got it Elisa! Thanks so much for your beautiful words!

Leonie said...

Beautiful words, beautiful you

Mara said...

Thank you so much Vivienne for including me in such a gorgeous post! Cannot wait to hop over and share it with my readers. Thank you. xoxox

Golda Poretsky, HHC said...

Hi there! It's me, Golda, from Body Love Wellness. I just want to thank you for the shout out to my site. I'm so glad you linked to me so I could see your beautiful work! xo

Heather Mattern said...

I. Love. This. So. Much.

Laura said...

This is the first time I have ever read anything of yours and I have to say I love it! I have struggled with my body image and FAT all my life. I remember someone telling me years ago, "never say something to yourself about yourself that you wouldn't say to your best friend" it's a nice reminder to keep my words kind. Thanks for your perspective!

Vivienne said...

Thanks so much Laura!

Vivienne said...

Heather...thank you lovely!

Vivienne said...

Thanks Golda!

Vivienne said...

xoxo leonie!

Vivienne said...

You're so welcome Mara!

saspetherick said...

you are magic ms viv! i fist pumped my way through this brilliant loving wisdom xxx

julie einstein said...

Thank you for the reminder to be kind to ourselves. Just a drop of kindness is all it takes and why does that seem so difficult at times? I believe we all struggle with body image, regardless of size, which is a shame. Communities such as this are integral to women in today's world. Thank you for creating a warm and inviting sisterhood here.

shana lee hampton said...

i love this. LOVE. THIS.

Ugh said...

Girl, I hear you. I hear the comments I say to myself, that I am disgusting, that I am a pig, that I am out of control. I ignore the good things I do, my brain, the people that so frequently tell me the positive effect I had on them (when I had no clue), the fact that I am drawn to healing with art and keep choosing jobs that involve helping and healing. All I can focus on is my weight. My mother says "why do you have this negativity about yourself?" and I want to answer "because all you ever said was that YOU were a "disgusting fat slob and who would hire me?" as the reason you stayed in a job that mad you miserable for 20 years, and how you put me on diets as a child and truly interrogated me about what I ate when you weren't looking. Food was war, ammunition, celebration, abuse. I still can't shake it's horrible hold on me and have thoughts of jealousy for heroin addicts, who have the luxury of going cold turkey, while I have to dance with my addiction with every meal.
This is my insanity.

andrea scher said...

Amen sister! I love this and I love you. what a wise brave teacher you are!

Gabi said...

Viv, this is one of the bravest posts I've ever read. You've quite opened my eyes today and inspired me with your raw honesty. Thank you for being who you are.

Suzanne van Vliet-Struik said...

Thank you! You made me cry, in a good way. An inspiration, thats what you are.

dava said...

I learned your lesson many years ago. I have never pussy-footed around the subject of my weight. I am fat. My GP took offense with my saying that and I pointed out that it was better than my stating I was 'morbidly obese' which is the medical term for my weight.

I love who I am and where I am in my life right now.

However I also point out to people who comment about my weight that fat doesn't mean lazy, careless, junk-food addict or out of condition. I can out-walk, out swim, out dance, out sing most of my slim "fit" friends. And at 52 I can still do deep-knee bends, something very few of them have been able to do for years.

tina abbott said...

Yes yes yes! You are a bad-ass my dear. My favorite kind of woman.

Amanda said...

Oh how I love how you shine in the world. Thank you for continuing to be brave and beautiful, just as you are!

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