Book Review: Body Positive Power by Megan Crabbe AKA @bodyposipanda 

So I finally got my hands on this book and after months of anticipation I couldn’t wait to read it. I also happened to be thoroughly knocked down by the worst head cold of my life and having taken to the bed for the past five days I could get really stuck in. It didn’t disappoint. 

Megan is an incredible women. Her Instagram following currently stands at 938k. She posts about everything from the evils of diet culture to how to love your tummy, and get posts are alwats super upbeat and positive. I’ve been following her since day 1 of my own bopo journey and always turn to her fees when I need an injection of body positive power. So it’s really no wonder that the book is so fantastic. 

Megan unpacked and explains all of the ways in which society conditions us to hate our bodies in such a convincing way. There’s no chance anyone could read this book and deny thst fatphobia is rife. She uses studies and research in a great way too that doesn’t feel too academic but still manages to really hit the message home. 

Megan’s story is also super relatable. What girl can’t identify with spending decades trying diet after diet, ignoring hunger pangs, lusting over pictures of models ripped out of magazines, and jumping on every new fitness trend that comes along in the blind hope that this one might actually work? Her body shame ran deep in her veins, like it does for most of us, until one day she stumbled across a body positive account online and everything changed. 

This book is a brilliant first read for anyone embarking on their own body positive journey. She has such a lovely way with words that it feels like you’re just chatting with a friend. Even when discussing the most depressing aspects of body shane and diet culture, Megan manages to keep things lighthearted and even witty! Not only does she help you to see just how society has taught you to hate your body, she also helps you to begin to love and accept your body. A must read for the bopo beginner! 

3 Steps towards a Body Positive 2018

Ok so disclaimer: if you’re not currently body positive (ie. If you don’t already feel 100% confortable and happy with your body) then it’s gonna take some time to get you there. There is no quick fix for undoing years, decades even, of social conditioning. But don’t let that stop you from embarking on the most important journey of your life! In this blog post I’m sharing 3 steps you can take right now to get off to a really good start and set you up for a body positive 2018! 


Step 1. Put the Me in Social Media

We constantly hear about how social media has become the downfall of society. Trolling and online bullying are rife, random scrolling is deteriorating our social skills, the temptation to pop on our phones is weakening interpersonal skills and shortening our attention spans etc. But what if I told you that when it comes to becoming body positive, social media can be your best friend and strongest ally? 

When I say “put the me in social media”, here’s what I mean. How much of your social media feeds is actually helping you to become body positive, and how much is getting in your way? Those influencers and bloggers, the ones that make you wish you were prettier, thinner, more “put together”, more successful, fitter, a healthier eater, more stylish, better travelled, what does following them actually do for you? You might think it motivates you. I argue that it disempowers you. Let’s flip that on it’s head and imagine your social media feeds were full of body positive accounts. Imagine seeing men and women of all shapes and sizes and abilities and experiences celebrating their unfiltered bodies every time you popped online throughout the day. Imagine seeing stretch marks and cellulite and rolls of fat and bingo wings and double chins and saggy boobs. At first, those images would probably shock you. I know they shocked me. But begore long, you’d notice yourself becoming desensitized. And slowly but surely, your idea of what’s normal will shift. Out of nowhere, one day you’ll find yourself shocked by how fake the models in the magazines look. 

That’s all very well and good, I hear you say. But how does that help me start to love and accept my body? Well it’s simple really. The more often you see bodies like yours, the more relaxed you’ll start to feel about your own. You’ll notice your stretch marks one day and think to yourself, “they’re really not that bad”. Maybe a week or two later you’ll dare to wear something you’ve never tried before, a body con dress or a crop top maybe, and you’ll think to yourself as you look in the mirror “damn, I look good”. 

In no time at all you’ll be scoffing at low kcal options and feeling lit AF. 

Step 2. Get Naked

When we hate our bodies we go out of our way to avoid them don’t we? Can you remember the last time you stood in front of a full length mirror completely naked? Do you even know what your naked body looks like anymore? Believe it or not, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “yes Sarah, I know exactly what it looks like… a disgusting pile of shite!!!” I understand that reaction. 

Don’t forget that I’ve been there, I know how that feels. I know what it is to actually be fearful of seeing your body for the first time in years. It’s bloody terrifying! But it’s gotta be done, so here’s how to ease yourself into it. 

Start by spending some time everyday in just your undies and a tshirt. This could be while you’re cooking dinner, it could be watching tv in the evening, it could be when you’re reading your book or on the phone to a friend. It’s ok to be distracted by something. You don’t even need to look in the mirror. This is just about getting comfortable in your skin in your own home. If you house share, stick to your bedroom. Then after a few weeks and once it starts to feel normal, ditch the t shirt. Again, distract yourself by going about your usually routine at home. You’ll catch your reflection in mirrors as you walk around, don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on feeling good moving around in your undies. And when this starts to feel normal, and I promise that it will, you guessed it! Get naked! Now the practicalities of cooking while naked aren’t great, so once you’ve gotten to this level of comfort with your body you can shorten the amount of time spent by as much as you like. Even five minutes a day in the nip will work wonders for your body positivity. You’ll be amazed at just how good it feels to dance around your bedroom in your birthday suit, embracing every wobble, every bounce, and loving the freedom that body positivity gives you! And you’ll be so proud of yourself you’ll want to tell the whole world! 

Step 3. Always Affirm 

I am a huge believer in affirmations. I wasn’t always. The first time my therapist started talking about affirmations I actually sneered at him. But boy oh boy did I learn fast that not only do they work, but they are absolutely essential to any meaningful personal development. 

Affirmations are particularly important when it comes to body positivity for three reasons. 

A) they can erase the negative thought patterns that we’ve learned, developed and perfected from childhood that lead us to self criticise.

B) they can replace those old patterns with new ones that encourage us to accept and love our beautiful bodies. 

C) we can practice affirmations anywhere, any time, in the company of anyone, and nobody will ever know. 

Think of every thought as an affirmation. Every time you think, “I hate my body, I’m so fat, I’d kill to look like her, I’ll never find anyone until I loose weight”, those are all affirmations. You might not mean them to be, but they are. So by choosing to create your own positive affirmations and say them to yourself instead, you push the self hate out and welcome in self love and body positivity instead. 

And it’s so spectacularly simple! The affirmations I used worked really well for me, because I timed them to the rhythm of my breath. It went like this:

Inhale: I love myself 

Exhale: I accept myself 

Inhale: I am enough

Exhale: Pause and repeat 

The great thing about timing them to my breath was that I could practice them pretty much anytime I was breathing. So I’d be sitting on the loo, affirming. I’d be walking to the bus stop, affirming. I’d be lying in bed at night, affirming. I’d be doing my groccery shop, affirming. And although it can be slow to get into the habit at first, once you do it is the easiest most natural thing in the world. So much so that I still catch myself doing it unintentionally sometimes!

So for your final step towards a body positive 2018, I want you to start using the same affirmations I did to tackle those negative thought patterns and replace then with buckets of self love instead. Couple this with Steps 1. and 2. and you’ll be a bopo queen in no time! 

My Five Favourite Self Love Accounts 

Following bopo accounts on Instagram is crucial to developing self love and body positivity. Why? Well considering the fact that these days most of us spend more time on our phones than off them, it’s no wonder that the messages we receive through our social media have an immeasurable impact on how we think and feel. 

When we make the decision to start working hard to cultivate self love, a social media clear out is the best first step. Unfollowing/unliking accounts that make us feel bad about ourselves is an incredibly powerful thing. Often we feel guilty about this, as though we are somehow obliged to follow fitness bloggers, celeb chefs and models for motivation. But society has totally warped our understanding of the word ‘motivation’, and the truth is that those accounts do nothing except make us feel guilty, ashamed and inadequate. Goodbye! 

It’s not enough just to unfollow and unlike these accounts though. We’ve got to replace them with accounts that promote self love and body positivity, and will have a positive impact on our thoughts and feelings. Luckily for us, there are countless accounts on both Facebook and Instagram in particular that provide just that! If anything, it could be argued that there are too many accounts that promote the same things, making it difficult to see the woods for the trees. 

That’s why I’ve decided to share my five favourite self love Instagram accounts here: 

1. @strutbymic

I adore this account. Strut post and repost anything and everything to do with self love. They’re truly inclusive, boasting one of the most diverse pages that I’ve come across to date. I particularly love their celeb content that promotes celebrities who are blazing the trail of positive mental health. This account is an essential resource to anyone and everyone! 

2. @effyourbeautystandards 

This account was created by plus size model and bopo badass Tess Holiday after the hashtag (also created by her) took the internet by storm. It’s now an encyclopedia of all things self love, boldly promoting all kinds of beauty. The account is a shining light for the unconvential and the brave, and is a wonderful resource for those learning to love themselves. 

3. @chooselifewarrior 

The wonderful Danni is an aussy girl who has quite literally changed my life. She was the first bopo account I came across on Instagram just over six months ago. But her account is about more than just body positivity, is about fat activism, which was particularly important to me at the begining of my self love journey. In addition to posting about fatphobia and fatacceptance, Danni is all about inclusivity and diversity. She’s an absolute sweetheart, super down to earth, devoted to her followers, and will be your friend if you need one. 

4. @omgkenzieee 

This girl. DANG! Kenzie Brenna, Canadian bombshell and creator of #cellulitesaturday, is a living breathing rainbow. I shit you not. Everyday she helps almost 200k people across the globe to love who they are, as they are. Kenzie’s message is a simple one, that speaks to people of all race, religion, weight, body type, ability, sexuality and whatever else. Her message of unconditional self love is so powerful, her unwavering passion and conviction shinning through every word and every image, that following her can only improve your quality of life. 

5. @gracefvictory 

Last but by no means least, is Grace Francesca, a plus size social influencer, presenter and author. This girl is my idol! On her Instagram account she posts about everything from body positivity and mental health, to women’s issues and current events, to plus size fashion and style. She’s probably one of the ballsiest women I’ve come across, and she’s just soooo likeable! Her account has shown me that fat chicks can be super stylish, trendy, and current too. Before following her my wardrobe was full of skater dresses and floral blouses. Now I’ve got more body con than anyone would ever need! For a daily boost of sassy self love, look no further!

So that’s my five favourite self love accounts on Instagram! If you’re not following them, please do. I can guarantee that they will help you in your quest for self love just as much as they’ve helped me in mine! 

xox

Sarah 

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The Bikini Body Bullshit 

It’s that time of year again, when our social media becomes saturated by Bikini Body workouts, meal plans and ‘thinspiration’. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s not something that I enjoy. Far from it. But given how pervasive the Bikini Body pressure is in society, I have to face facts and accept the reality of the world I live in. Right? 

Wrong. I refuse to accept that there is any such thing as a Bikini Body, except perhaps in the case of a human body which happens to be clothed in a bikini. 

What I refuse to accept is this; the notion that swimwear is a privilege exclusively bestowed on bodies that have reached a specific standard of beauty. 

Here’s why: 

1. Swimwear is not a privilege. 

The idea that we need to earn the right to wear specific types of clothes creates and perpetuates the idea that some bodies are more worthy than others. What about the fatties, like me? What about the disabled? What about those with extensive scarring, or skin conditions? Those bodies don’t reach society’s beauty standards. But does that mean they are less valuable? No! 

2. My clothing choices are my own. 

When we judge someone harshly for wearing something we think they shouldn’t, what we’re really saying is that those people don’t have, or shouldn’t have, autonomy over their own bodies and their own clothing. We’re saying that they don’t have, or shouldn’t have, the right to express themselves the way they do, and that they should prioritise the comfort levels of others over the free expression of their own personal identity. 

3. Society’s beauty standards are damaging. 

Every year models get thinner. Every year thigh gaps get wider. Every year complexions become clearer, brows more defined, collar bones more prominent, hair thicker and glossier, skin more bronzed, bums perkier, lips plumper. Every year the standard rises further and further out of reach of the vast majority of people. What constituted as beauty in the 50’s is now seen as unhealthy, undesirable and unworthy. What will the standard be in ten years time? Will we require that people have an eating disorder just to try on a swimsuit in the changing rooms? And how many more men and women have to hate themselves into mental illness for us to take control of this rapidly spiralling social problem? 

So… On that happy note, what can be done? Here’s what: 

Put a bikini on your body. 

Congratulations! You now have a Bikini Body! 


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My First Photoshoot. 

I’m doing a photoshoot in a couple of days, and even though I can’t really revel any deets due to the top secret, FBI-like paranoia of Irish media, I NEED to talk about it because I’m FREAKING OUT!

Firstly – its a body positivity future with 4 other babes, all of whom are infinitely more famous than me. OK none of them are famous famous, but ‘insta famous’. One of whom is a bit of a hero of mine who I’ve followed and admired for years. The initial encounter will inevitably involve me stuttering my absolute admiration at her like some American teen fan girl. It will be unpleasant to experience for both myself and herself, and equally unpleasant to observe for the other girls and the team of photographers, stylists etc, who’s attention will have be drawn by the shrill panicky tonne of my voice. It will most likely end in a room full of people avoiding eye contact and shuffling about. 

Secondly – I’m the only fat one. The other girls are much more mainstream in terms of their size, which obviously is no indication that they have more self confidence than me, but still. OK OK I know that body positivity is for everyBODY and that thin girls suffer hugely from unrealistic expectations and body shaming. But it would be so lovely to not be the fattest girl in the room. Why am I ALWAYS the fattest person in the room?

Thirdly – its a swimwear shoot. I have to walk in to a room full of total strangers in a bikini, having never worn a bikini in my life. Yes I do post pictures of my body scantily clad on the internet daily. Many people who’ve seen my Instagram would be justified in describing me as an exhibitionist. But the truth is, there is an enormous difference between a 2D image of my body, and the thing itself in 3D. Walking around in my bikini, things will be moving!!! This does not bode well. 

Fourthly – there’s a interview with each of us. I’ve already done mine but I’m utterly convinced that I was about as articulate as a drunken guinea pig and that I didn’t represent the bopo movement well at all. People will read it and assume that I’m foreign because my grasp of the English language is so poor. ‘Maybe Latvian or Lithuanian,’ they’ll speculate at length. 

Fifthly – my family isn’t supportive of my decision to do this feature. My mum has made it clear that she thinks it’s a mistake without actually saying it, as only a loving Mother can. My 82 year old, Irish Catholic, bible bashing, homophobic, climate change denying, anti feminism granny doesn’t know yet, but will undoubtedly kick my fat exhibitionist arse up and down the street when she sees it, which she will because it’s her paper. She will then have no other choice but to move to Mexico just to escape the shame and scandal I will have brought down on her and I will forever be known as ‘the one who broke Granny’s heart’. My aunties and uncles will tut tut and say that I’m in denial and will ‘feel bad for me’. I will be an outcast, forever banished to the fringes of society! (OK some poetic license used here, but not as much as you’d expect!)

Sixthly (is that even a word??) – this is a big newspaper, probably the biggest in Ireland. People are going to see it. People who I know from school, college, ex boyfriends, bitchy people who I know will go TO TOWN ripping me to shreds. They’ll say I’ve got ‘notions’ and that I look a ‘show’ and gossip about how I drove my poor Granny to flee the country, and to Mexico of all places where the heat is fierce and unrelenting and will undoubtedly be fatal to an aul wan like Granny So And So. Not only will I then be known as Sarah Tyrrell Who Used To Be Pretty Before She Put On All The Weight, I’ll now be upgraded to Sarah Tyrrell Who Put On All The Weight And Sent Her Granny To An Early Grave. Infamous forevermore. 

So, are u feeling deeply deeply concerned for my well being yet? If you are, I dont feckin blame you! But hold on a second, because as scary as all the above is, there is this: 

A) I’ve discovered that the more risks I take, the more wonderful and exciting opportunities come my way. And I have big plans to carve myself a career as a bopo influencer in Ireland, so obviously this is a great opportunity. 

B) I want to push myself further out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to get complacent. I want to do things that scare me, so that I become braver, more resilient and more body positive. From a personal point of view, there is to much growth to gain here to refuse the chance! 

C) This is acrually much bigger than me and my bs insecurities. I believe in representation. I have never in my life, as far as I can remember, opened an Irish magazine or newspaper and seen someone who has a body like mine. I know that women and girls all of the country will see themselves in me and feel inspired/empowered by the sight of a body positive plus size girl. I want to do that more than anything, to show people that you can and should love your body no matter what it looks like. Because women need it. They need go know that it’s OK to be a size 24. They need to know that it’s OK to have two thirds of your body covered in stretch marks and cellulite. They need to know that they have nothing to be ashamed of and ate entitled to love and respect and kindness no matter what their bodies look like. And this article is an opportunity to reach out to those women and spread that message.