lindsay ; positively

The personal musings of a woman learning to find her voice and herself.

Feeling Lost — October 14, 2016

Feeling Lost

Let me start with a story.

A week ago today, I went to the theatre.  For Paul’s 30th birthday, I was stuck on what to buy him as a present, so he suggested we go to the theatre together for the first time as a couple.  The West End cast of Mary Poppins is at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle until the end of October, it’s a show he really wanted to see, and he’d been wanting to go to the theatre with me for ages.  It seemed like a wonderful idea.
At some point along the way, I forgot to take into consideration that I am fat, and we booked up regular seats.

That was a mistake which I am still paying for now.

A day before the performance, I started to feel very anxious.

“What if I don’t fit in the seat?”

“What if I have no leg room?”

Paul worked out that we were going to be at the end of our aisle, and he was happy for me to have the end seat, so the only other persons personal space I could possibly be encroaching onto would be his.  This reduced the anxiety I was feeling somewhat, although it didn’t fade completely.  Still, I put on a brave face, and off we went.

The act of sitting in my seat once we got there was sadly agony.  The wooden, static armrests dug into my hips, and my knees were pressed against the seat in front.  My sides went numb, but my knees didn’t and I was in a lot of pain.  As the end of the first half of the show rolled around, the tears had started to fall.

After the intermission, I gave up on my seat and sat on the stair immediately next to it.  I could enjoy the rest of the show without pain.

The damage was already done though.  It’s been a week, and here are my hips this evening:


(Please, excuse my horribly chipped nail varnish!)

As well as the bruising looking quite bad, both hips also hurt when I do anything approaching slightly physical.  It’s not enough to stop me doing things, but it’s damn annoying.

I guess that’s the end of the story, and now I should explain why the title of this post is “Feeling Lost”…

I have cried a few times since I saw the show.  I told Paul that I felt “less than human” in the initial aftermath.  That I didn’t “fit into the world”.

I want to go back and see more shows at the theatre.  My trouble fitting into the seat aside, I really enjoyed Mary Poppins.  But to go back, and not end up in tears again,  I know in the future I will need to pay more to get a more suitable seat….at the very least with more leg room.

And it’s thinking about this that leaves me feeling confused and lost.

I feel so…separate to the world at times.  I’m sure most bigger people do.  It’s easy to feel like we don’t fit because so often, we don’t.  So many things are designed without us in mind.  This is where Thin Privilege comes in.  My thin friends can enjoy a trip to the theatre without worrying about whether the seat they’ve paid for will bruise their hips like mine did.

I don’t know if I should try and lose weight….to try and conform making living in this world easier, or whether I should not try to force any change with myself in that regard, and instead stand my ground?  Be angry and upset at the fact that next time around, I will have to pay more for a seat that allows me to enjoy a show without pain?

If I do decide a change is in order, does that mean I’m less “body positive”?

Prior to this whole incident, I had been thinking about trying to bring more exercise into my life anyway.  Since I passed my driving test and the household got our car, I am so much less active.  I’ve felt a difference in my joints, most specifically my knees.  I don’t believe this change is weight related because I have not majorly changed in size.  The big change, is how much I physically move myself.

That is not a weight or size related driver to exercise.  It is a “I want to be more active, I want to move my body more” driver.

But…I’m conflicted now.  Because my hips are bruised and sore and part of me wishes I weren’t as big as I am.  I want to interact with the world more easily. 

It’s taken me so long to be comfortable with my body.  To find love for it despite so many external sources around it saying that I shouldn’t.  I know that the journey of self love and acceptance of your body is never a straight and forward line.  Perhaps these conflicted feelings are just a blip.

I know I can exercise without weight loss being the goal.  If exercise brings about weight loss, then that is a by product I will have to deal with.  Our bodies are forever changing; that’s something I need to keep in mind.

Finally, I’ve also struggled with whether or not to write about this.  Ever since my depression and anxiety worsened at the end of last year, I have found that I don’t engage as much as I used to online.  I think part of that is a fear of troll and hater backlash.  This particular topic is something a concern troll could go nuts over; a fat person being too big for a seat. Even though my anxiety has been much better managed for months now and I do have a presence online again…there is a fear about talking about this kind of thing.  I’ve decided to try and push past my comfort zone though.  Being open and honest with the people who read my ramblings has always served me well in the past; it may do now.

My Body Positive Year — August 27, 2015

My Body Positive Year

I’m in a somewhat self reflective mood and since I’m sat on a train with no where to go, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on the past year of my life being a “body positive” person.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about since this photograph appeared in my Timehop feed two days ago:

The first picture of me in a bikini!

My body positive journey was already well on its way by this point last year, but the purchase of a bikini really was the start of the solidifying process for me. There were many more milestones to go though.

A journey of body positivity is personal to each and every one of us. The reason we embark on it I suppose is the same; to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and to not hate ourselves. Instead, to love what we see. The reason behind that hatred, however, is different, and personal…just like the resultant journey to combat it.

Personally for me, since my early teens, I’ve been fat. Being “fat” was my thing. I was bullied at school for being fat and in a way I was bullied at home too, one of the taunts thrown my way being that I was a “fattie”.

Then vs. Now

On the surface the fat shaming faced at home was very mild but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realise how much of an impact subtle behaviours and remarks can actually have on a young, impressionable mind.

When the time came that I started to develop crushes, no one at school would look at me twice. Well, there was one boy who admitted to liking me “like that”. Unfortunately I didn’t like him back. I remember when I was about 15 or 16, one of the popular boys told me, in the way that I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings but of course, it still hurt anyway, that I had a pretty face, and if I lost some weight I’d be stunning.

(I know that as a fat girl, I am definitely not alone in hearing such a sentiment.)

I thought I would never find love. That no one would be able to see “me” because they’d never see past the fact I was fat.

I was proven wrong. I met my husband when we were 18. Within about a month or two of starting to date, we were spending most nights at each other’s places. Within 2 years we had moved in together officially, at the 6 year mark we married, and this December we will hit 14 years together. Not bad for a girl who was convinced she would never find love! And the funny thing is, with Michael, maybe the first couple of times he saw me naked, I was nervous, sure. But after that, I think I can honestly say I never was again.

I have completely and totally digressed. And that’s okay, this is supposed to be a reflective piece.

Moving on though, finding acceptance with one person is good, sure. But finding acceptance within society, but more importantly, finding acceptance within yourself can be so much harder. Especially when all the messages and images we are bombarded with day in, day out, are trying to convince us that we should all be striving for a very narrow definition of beauty perfection.

(That’s not to say at all that I look down on anyone who either has that body type, or anyone striving to achieve it. All bodies are good bodies. All I hope is that those striving are doing so out of love, not out of hate for themselves.)

I digressed slightly again. When we are bombarded so much by the media with photoshopped imagery of how we are “supposed” to look, it’s very easy to understand how we can develop negative self images of ourselves. How we can start to look at ourselves and hate what we see.

So, how do we start to challenge this?

I don’t believe that there is a one approach fits all method. For me however, the “fake it til you make” approach has been successful. You see, people seem to have this strange idea that I am confident. I’m not. Or at least, I don’t believe that I am. But I pretend to be. When I want to do something that is new or scary, I pretend to be that confident person that I want to be. And at some point along the way, you pretend so many times that it’s just no long an “act” and you aren’t pretending anymore.

Because if you can pretend to be confident….hunni, you ARE confident, whether you want to believe it or not!

At the start of my body positive journey, I found a community on Instagram brimming with positive and inspiring people and I found myself thinking “if they can do it, so can I!”. I had in a sense started along the way already….my wardrobe had expanded outside of my usual t-shirt and jeans; for the first time in years I was wearing leggings, skirts, dresses. Clothes that were tight fitting, that showed off my form, not attempting to conceal and hide it.

Patterned, tight leggings? Never! 

Finding the community helped me to build on that. I bought my first bikini…. But then I then had to WEAR it when swimming; where other people would see me in it. Which I did eventually, once I built up enough courage to do so! 🙂

I went swimming. I've gone swimming in this bikini three times now. Each time gets easier. Each time, I realise more and more that generally, no one gives crap whether I flaunt what my momma gave me, or cover up every inch of skin. And if someone DOES decide to judge me, why should I let it bother me? I have spent 21 years of my life, since the age of 10 when it first really dawned me me that I was bigger than the other girls, feeling ashamed of my body. Hiding it. Not loving it. I want to be healthier. Not to lose weight, not to fit society's idea of what a perfect body should be. But just…to be healthier! And if a journey of health means I lose weight, then so be it. Because body confidence means trying to love your body regardless of it's size. I used to think a skinnier me would be happier. I used to look at girls skinner than me and be so envious. I used to use being fat as a reason to not do stuff. To be a wallflower. I'm still like that; there's part of me that doesn't want to shine, because she was told from a very young age that if she didn't fit a very narrow, defined ideal, that happiness WASN'T for her. I'm trying to not be that person anymore. My worth IS NOT determined by my weight. Being beautiful and being fat ARE NOT mutually exclusive; beauty transcends the size of your clothes. So. I'll keep wearing my bikini, and feel amazing every time that I do. #FATshionfauxpas

A post shared by Lindsay (@buckleyourboots) on

Three times in, still going strong!

My hair become bright red. This might not seem to be the most obvious of body positive actions but to me, it was. Having grown up being told time and time again by my father that I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair, the act of doing so, and to increasingly brighter colours was a one of defiance, of self validation….of breaking free. Of taking control of my body for me.

Red hair in pigtails? Hella cute!

I finally, after over a decade of wanting one, got my first tattoo. Another thing that wasn’t permitted by my father. I actually just got it added to four days ago.

I couldn’t love this more if I tried.

My new found confidence, in both my body and myself….be it fake or not, possibly reached its pinnacle in February this year. Julie, of Be Quirky Be You, got in touch with me asking if I would be interested in modelling in a photo shoot for her, that would require some semi-naked and fully naked shots. Despite my nerves, I took the leap and did it. I have already blogged a bit about the experience here, but here are 4 of the photos from the day. I think the happiness is clear to see on my face.

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Credit: Julie Mullin.

Body positivity is something I am so utterly ridiculously pleased I found. It is not a cure all in life, but it has allowed me to let go of so much worry, so much stress. It has been life changing for me.

In the name of honesty…

Let me up front with you; I want to lose some weight. But not because I hate my body. Not even because I am unhappy with my body. Over the past year, I have noticed that my knees hurt a lot more than they used to. I’d like to take a little bit of the strain off them. That’s it. I don’t hate my body as it is now. Honestly, my body image is probably the best it has ever been. I don’t want to lose much weight. I came to peace with the fact I am a plus size woman a long time ago. I’m not looking to “fix” myself because there’s nothing to fix.

Also, I won’t lie. I have bad body image days. I’m sure anyone who claims to be body positive does, and it would be misleading of someone advocating it to try and suggest that every day is filled with complete self love and sunshine and that you’ll never hate your body or part of it again. It doesn’t work like that. Roads are seldom smooth and straight. They twist, turn, they have bumps and cracks.

(Or at least, here in the UK they do!)

Bad days will come. But they also go, and are replaced with better days. Just like everything else in life. You take the good with the bad, the rough with the smooth.

Like all things that are genuinely worth working towards, working towards being body positivity will be hard. After all, if it were easy, why aren’t we all doing it already? Anything that pushes you outside of your comfort zone usually is hard, but the reward is worth the effort.

Timing is a funny thing. The writing of this post reached beyond the train journey I was on when I first started writing it; in fact as I write this paragraph, I’m on the return journey home! Towards the end of the first journey, I received a direct message from Dawn on Instagram. Here is a screenshot of the message she sent me, shared with her permission:

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I don’t receive a lot of messages like this, but I have received some over the past few months and every time I do, I am completely and utterly bowled over. I can never get over the fact that someone has decided to follow me….look at my pictures, read my words, and actually takes inspiration from that. When I replied to Dawn, she replied saying that she was in awe that I had. That again amazed me. Of course I replied! She took the time to send me such a wonderful message, it was the least I could do. Considering all the reflecting I have been doing, her timing was almost perfect, and served as such a poignant reminder to me. I don’t have grandiose delusions of importance; I’m a small minnow in a large online world. And that’s okay. I never had aspirations to be anything more than part of the online community. I don’t need to be prolific. But knowing that there are people out there who do draw benefit from my account; it is nice. It drives me to keep sharing, which in turn helps me on my own journey, just as much as it helps anyone else on theirs.

In therapy, my therapist always extolled the virtues of repetition; the more we hear something, the more we practice and do something…the more it becomes habit.

You don’t just become body positive overnight. Again and again, we have to practice.

  • Practice not hiding our wobbly bits.
  • Practice looking in the mirror and not immediately recoiling.
  • Practice deploying the blinkers when we walk down the street.
  • Practice telling ourselves we are beautiful and are worth of self love exactly as we are.

Thank you so much Dawn, for letting me know about your journey so far. I am so so pleased that you are finding that positivity for yourself and hope it continues to grow. And if you have a bad day, don’t despair! We all do.

Finally, I want to end this post by acknowledging one more thing that the online body positivity community has done for me; allowed me to meet some absolutely amazing people!

This year, I have met in person 10 babes who I knew first on Instagram.  I consider myself extremely blessed.

Beholdeth the selfies…

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I look forward to the next year (and more!) of my life as a body positive, embracing life as much as possible, person!

Mental Health – The Stigma and My Own Continuing Journey — August 15, 2015

Mental Health – The Stigma and My Own Continuing Journey

Sometimes, life can be good.  And sometimes…sometimes not so much.  August up until a couple of days ago had been going pretty well for me, but then I’ve had a couple of harder days and that’s prompted me to write this post.

I suffer from mental health issues.  If you ask me about it, I won’t deny it.  I have no reason to, nor should anyone else.

If you follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, you totally should, I’m a delight!), you will know that I don’t just talk about my battle with self image and my body love journey; much of my content is focused around my mental health as well.  I have spent most of my adult life battling depression as a result of low self esteem, stemming from behaviours developed in my childhood.

For the longest time, I never truly understood how much of an impact my upbringing had had on my life as an adult.  I knew that my childhood wasn’t exactly great, and a lot of my unhappiness in life was as a result of it, but I channelled so much of the reasoning behind my depression into my appearance; into insecurity about my size and my asymmetrical breasts.  I bought into the reasoning that life sucked because I was some kind of freak, and because I was big, and that if only I could lose some weight, all the things that were wrong in my life would magically fix themselves.  I would be slimmer, and then I could get a boob job and be “normal”.

Of course, things wouldn’t simply be “fixed”, because weight loss and having perfect breasts isn’t the cure for my low self esteem; of growing up believing and continuing to believe that I am worthless.  Being fat and imperfect was never actually my problem at all…it was a convenient smoke screen to hide the real root cause of my self hatred.  But, my feelings about my body were a contributing factor, that cannot be denied, and something that needed to be addressed along with everything else.

The process of learning to love my body, of learning to let go of the belief that the definition of beauty is as narrow minded and precise as the beauty and diet industry would have us believe… it was one step of many in a journey I am still on.  A journey that will probably never end, but that I am completely and utterly committed to.  I owe the body positivity movement a lot in my desire to be a happier, more confident person.  I have bad body image days, sure, but I understand now that my happiness isn’t tied to a number on the scale, or the size of my jeans.

Therapy (Probably) Saved My Life

When I entered therapy last year, I was hitting bottom.  I wasn’t quite suicidal, but having been there before, I knew I was getting close.  Feelings and thoughts of wanting to run away and end it all had started to creep their way in.  I won’t go into the nitty gritty here because it’s very complicated and personal (as these things invariably are), but everything had just started to feel like it had become too much and I didn’t know how to cope any more.   I was scared of what might happen if I didn’t start to address what was going on with me.

Therapy might have just saved my life.  It was and is hard and at times, so so horrible.  I lost count of the number of occasions I sat for hours in floods of tears.  I learned all about how low self esteem develops, and what feeds into it for years.  It was a relief to get to the root cause of why I basically hated myself and never considered myself or my happiness in any decisions I made.  I mourned for the woman I could have been if only I had known it all sooner, and got angry at the girl I had been for so long; ignorant and unaware.  Sometimes I still feel this way, but mostly, I am just trying my hardest to push beyond it, because if you spend your whole life looking behind, how can you move forwards?

Sometimes, the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life is confront your own negative opinions and beliefs about yourself, and why you feel that way.  To understand the way your brain reacts to things, and why.  And what you can do, as hard as it might be, to try and affect positive change.

The important things in life are rarely; nay, never, easy.  Facing up to it was difficult, but surviving the continuing process keeps making me stronger.

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(gif credit)

I am still on my journey.  It doesn’t just come to an end when therapy does.  If anything, it only properly starts when therapy ends, because then you have to do it without the safety net.  And unfortunately for me, a month after my safety net was pulled away, my grandmother died, which sent me hurtling backwards.  I still have all the tools therapy gave me, and I think overall, I am still in a much more positive place than I was this time last year.  But I have referred myself back to the service.  The journey plods onwards.

The Stigma

Mental health is so important, and in this country, I don’t believe it gets the focus it so desperately needs.  When I used to sit in the waiting room at my local health centre, all the info-graphics on the table and on the wall tell you that one in four people will experience mental health problems in their lifetime.  One in Four.  That means every single one of us knows multiple people who suffer in some shape or form, be that diagnosed or not.  All of the people who are closest to me are either on medication, in therapy or face to face treatment of some description, or both.  Yet, how many of us openly discuss what we experience in the same way that we might talk about having a cold, an upset stomach or breaking a limb?  We simply don’t, because mental health still has such a stigma attached to it.  I do think it’s not as bad as it once was, but there is still a long way to go.

Provision of mental health care on the NHS here in the UK is appalling.  I do speak from experience.  Once you actually see a professional it is fine (at least, for me this was the case; I know for others this has not been…I am sure as with anything, this varies professional to professional).  My therapist was absolutely amazing and I honestly have nothing but good things to say about him.  But the journey to get to him was the complete opposite, because the provision of care is just spread thin.  Waiting lists.  Administration services that don’t know if they are coming or going.  Ridiculously strict discharge policies; more than likely the result of thin on the ground service provision.

Even if you get over the stigma having a mental illness, and try to get help, you then have to deal with a service buckling under the strain of the people already in it.

One day, hopefully it will change and services will be easier to access.  Without making this post too political, I know that this is something that always plays a part when it comes to who I vote for because it is something I feel strongly about.

I have had people on Instagram tell me that one of the reasons that they like to follow me is that I am honest.  I have good days, I have bad days, and I don’t hide the bad.  My honesty in my struggle with both my ability to love my body, and my mental health is inspiring to them in their struggle with their own issues.  In all honesty, to become an inspiration was never my goal with my Instagram account; I came across the body positivity movement and was inspired myself and simply joined in!  My account is first and foremost for me, I won’t lie about that.  It is my outlet, which is the reason why I am honest.  But, I am so amazed and humbled that other people take inspiration from it and me, and knowing that pushes me to keep sharing, and to keep being honest.

Sometimes, I feel like a fake when I comes to my depression.  I know how to smile, and have fun.  I fill my posts with selfies and smiles, outfits and games.  Tea…lots of tea; all the things that make me happy.  Sometimes, you would be hard-pressed to think that I suffer from low self esteem or depression at all.  But that’s the thing; depression doesn’t discriminate.  Your life doesn’t have to be shitty for you to be depressed.  Mental illness doesn’t pick and choose.  I always try and remember this.  Just because I have good days…even when those good days outweigh the bad, doesn’t mean I’m magically cured.  My own personal reasons for being mentally ill have come about due to behaviours and reactions deeply entrenched over YEARS.  It will take me years to break them, if I ever manage to at all.  I do everything I can to push past my depression; I am a big believer in faking it til I make it.  I do things, participate and live as full a life as possible because I want to live.  I WANT to be happy.  Sometimes, I am.  Sometimes, I’m not.  Sometimes, my depression and low self esteem get the better of me.

I promise, you and myself, I will keep talking about my mental health.  Because it is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Don’t suffer in Silence, Please

Please, if you know do suffer from a mental illness, or if you think you might, and you don’t already have support in place…talk to someone.  Read up on it.  Do something.

I have posted some links below that might prove useful (UK based since that’s where I am).  You might think, based off what I have said above, that it’s not worth the hassle of trying to enter the system to access counselling and therapy.  Believe me, it is.  My experience may not reflect yours; every NHS Trust is different after all.  Even with the trouble I experienced, I am still glad I battled through and got the help I needed in the end.  Speak to your GP; they’ll be able to refer you, or point you in the right direction of the service in your area.

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Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk/

Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talking-about-mental-health

NHS – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Mentalhealthhome.aspx

Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org/

Three Years On — June 21, 2015

Three Years On

This entry is a re-post of something I put on tumblr last year.  With it being Father’s Day weekend, I feel like sharing it here.

As well as helping me to love myself at my size, body positivity has also helped me to accept and love my arms since they were hurt in the dog attack I have referenced quite a few times on Instagram (you know, if you follow me there).

Here we go…..

*warning, at the end of the post there are some photographs of wounds and blood.  Be forewarned…*

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