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! 

Ten Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

I’ve been experiencing a little writers block lately. I don’t want to write shite anymore. It doesn’t feel good to publish blog posts that I don’t take any pride in. I don’t want to feel obliged to post something on certain days just to keep up with other bloggers. So I’ve decided not to continue churning out blog post after blog post for the sake of consistency.  I’m opting for quality over quantity from now on. 

With that in mind, yesterday I went on my IG Stories and asked my followers to suggest ideas for blog posts. I asked you guys what topics you’d like me to write about, what challenges your facing, what issues your struggling with. And as always, you didn’t disappoint.  My favourite suggestion was to write a post with advice that I’d give my younger self. So I’ve decided to write that one first. 

Having come full circle from self loathing to self love, my reflections on my past are inevitably tinged with sadness and regret. It’s not neccessarily a case of wishing I could go back and change things. But I can’t help but ache a little when I think of all the pain I put myself through, hating myself as passionately as I did. But hey, we live and we learn right?

So let’s get stuck in. Here are the ten things I’d tell my younger self! 

1. There is more than one kind of beautiful

I have news for you; you are actually really, quite beautiful. I know you’ll find this hard to believe. But the truth is that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. You don’t have to have crystal clear skin, or sparkling white teeth. You don’t have to be stretch mark and cellulite free. You don’t need to be petite and graceful. You are beautiful just as you are. And I’ve got even more news for you; your body isn’t gonna stay the same for ever. In fact, it’s about to change in a BIG way. But you’ll still be beautiful. Because contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, there is more than one kind of beautiful and in time, you’ll learn that for yourself. 
2. Your body is not the enemy

You may find this hard to believe, but your body is the best friend you’ll ever have. Everything it does, it does for you. It will never leave you. It will never hurt you. It won’t cheat on you, or slag you off behind your back, or tell you lies. Your relationship with your body will be the longest realtionship of your life. You can never ever get away from it and vice versa. So invest in it, make it a good relationship, or you’ve got a whole lotta misery ahead of you.

3. You are valuable 

Ok so you may not be the most traditionally pretty girl in your group. You may not be the cleverest girl in your class. You may not be the most popular kid in your family. Yes, you can be difficult and you regularly challenge and test the patience of those around you. True, you can be high maintennce and tempermental. But you ARE valuable, just as you are. Never ever let yourself feel less than, or not enough. Remind yourself everday that you are valuable, because you are and always will be. 

4. Your sexuality is not wrong

Those butterflies you get in your nether regions when you see that boy you fancy, or when you watch Sex And The City while your Mum’s out of the house, there’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your body in bed at night. There’s nothing wrong with being curious and using the internet to find the anwers to your questions. There’s nothing wrong with day dreaming about doing the no pants dance with Him while you should be listening to your teacher. And guess what? Your friends are ALL doing the exact same thing! It’s all totally normal, so stop feeling so bloody guilty about it all! 

5. Do it for you, never for him

Don’t be bullied into doing something you’re not ready for. It won’t make him love you. It won’t make him hold your hand in public. All it will achieve is making you feel like shit. So don’t do it! If you want to have sex for the sheer shits and giggles of it, GO FOR IT! Get yourself on the pill and buy the biggest box of Johnnies you can find, and have at it girl! Sex is the bee’s knees,  but only when it’s about you! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Make sure he looks after you and your needs. Demand your orgasms! Trust me – they’re worth it. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s something you have to do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing it. You’re not stupid so don’t fall for that shit. If you’re gonna do it, do it for you. NEVER for him. Ps: if he’s trying to bully you into it, DUMP HIM. He’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve your beautiful body.

6. If they don’t get you, they’re not your friends

A true friend is someone you can totally relax around and just be yourself with. They’re someone whose weirdness matches your weirdness. Their uncoolness matches your uncoolness. You can be goofy as hell around each other. You can admit to still watching kids tv just because you like it. You can admit to being afraid to have sex, or to having had loads of crap sex. You don’t have to hide anything about yourself from them. Because they get you. And if they don’t… I’m sorry babygirl but they’re not your friends. Move on, find real ones. Because there is NOTHING better than real friendship. 

7. Wear whatever you want

Fuck fashion rules! Fuck dressing for your shape. Fuck not wearing pink and red together, or only wearing the eye shadow colour that matches your eyes. WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT! Experiment with fashion. Wear weird shit that nobody else wears. Get it wrong sometimes and laugh it off when you do. Hold your head high! Be different. Be interesting.. Stand out from the flock of sheep in their O’Neills bottoms/rara skirts. And don’t listen to your parents. They haven’t a clue about fashion! 

8. The life plan is not your friend

Please. Stop. Planning. You are so clueless about what’s in store. Stop investing in these intricate plans to have this done by that age and be married by that time etc. Live life by the seat of your pants. Choose a college course that you think will be fun. Work hard at your part time job and save half your wages every week. Plan for the year ahead, but never beyond that. And just enjoying being young. There are some very hard times ahead, so just have fun now while you still can!

9. Don’t be a bitch 

STOP TALKING SHIT ABOUT OTHER GIRLS! That is bitchy as hell, and you’ll never know how much the things you say are hurting the people you say them about. They don’t deserve it, no matter what they’ve done. Don’t be so judgey. Who the hell do you think you are? GIrls need to support girls. Be on your own team. You’ll learn soon enough how hard it is to be a woman in this world, so don’t go out of your way to make it ever harder. You’re not a bitch. I know that. So just stop acting like one! 

10. Self hate isn’t worth it

Reality time. You cannot change yourself. Yes, you will change over time, but not deliberately. Life will change you, you’ll learn lessons and grow. The people in your life will change you, they’ll make you a better, stronger person. But you CANNOT change yourself. So please stop torturing yourself trying to. Get used to who you are. Learn to live with the parts of yourself you’re not too keen on. Remind yourself everyday that you’re basically a really good person at heart, and you’ll soon make peace with yourself. Because if you only take one thing away from all this, let it be this; self hate is not worth it. 

Sarah xo 

World Mental Health Day Stigma Smash! 

Today it’s WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY. Yay! So for the day that’s in it, I wanted to smash some stigmas that are heavily associated with mental illness in Ireland. 

Unfortunately I don’t think you guys want to read a twelve thousand word dissertation, and I don’t really want to write one to be honest, so I’m limiting the scope to the three stigmas which I think most urgently need to be smashed. These are stigmas that not only paint a horribly inaccurate picture of what it’s like to experience and live with mental illness, but they actually make a persons mental illness WORSE! So they really need to go. Like, now. Today if at all possible!

Stigma 1 – Suicide is Selfish

The belief amongst many that suicide is a selfish act is one I used to subscribe to (hangs head in shame at former closed mindedness). I thought that to end your own life, to put your family and friends through what can only be described as the most heart wrecnching, soul destroying grief imaginable was an utterly selfish thing to do. I mean, if you loved your friends and family you would never do that to them, right? Wrong!

It wasn’t until I began to have suicidal thoughts myself (shivers at the mere memory) that I realised the truth; for many people, suicide is seen as the right thing to do for the people you love. I can’t claim to speak for everyone who has ever had suicidal thoughts obviously, but there is no doubt that in my case my thoughts around suicide were completely based on the very certain conviction that I was damaging the lives of everyone around me. 

I wholeheartedly believed that my friends and family, my own daughter who was just five years old at the time, would be infintely better off if I was no longer around. Sure, they’d be sad at first and there’d be a period of grief and mourning. But in my mind at that time, I thought they’d get over it and go on to live fuller, happier lives as a result of it. 

That’s some dark shit, right?

So how does this make mental illness even more difficult for those going through it? Well it’s simple really. It makes people much less willing to talk about their experiences of feeling suicidal if they think they will be criticised for it. And if they don’t feel free to talk about their experience they can never fully recover. We need to stop making people feeling guilty for having gone through this. Instead of shaming them, we should be supporting and celebrating them and their courage.  

Stigma 2 – Depression is Just ‘The Blues’ 

If i had a euro for everytime somebody brushed off depression as a simple case of ‘The Blues’ I’d be on a yachy in the south of Spain right now, or at the very least I’d be writing this post on my very own rose gold MAC and not my daughters Lenovo tablet. 

Many people of a certain generation still hold the opinion that depression is just a phase we all go through, an inevitable result of the shittiness of life, and something to be just gotten over with a generous dose of tough love and a bout of fresh air. This is NOT TRUE! 

The symptoms of depression go above and beyond a simple bad mood or a period of consecutive bad days.  Insomnia, lethargy, weight loss, weight gain, mania, axiety, disappearence of sex drive, self imposed isolation, lack of personal hygiene, irrational mood swings, paranoia and about fifty other sympotms are associated with depression. 

It is NOT The Blues. It is a debilitating and life threatening illness. By brushing it off as anything less, we discourage them from seeking the help they desperately lead, and increase their chances of suffering in silence as their illness gets worse and worse over time. 

Stigma 3 – Medication is The Source of All Evil

Now this is a slightly trickier stigma to smash, but one that needs urgent smashing nonetheless. The notion that antidepressants and other medications associatied with mentall illness are bad is seriously damaging. 

During my depression, not only did I take an antidepressant for six months, but I also took a sleeping tablet every night for three months. Both antidepressants and sleeping tablets have a horrible reputation for being super addictive, and coming with a list of side affects as long as your arm. But by the time I’d gotten myself into the doctor, I was desperate. 

So I took an antidepressant every morning for six months, and a sleeping tablet every night for three. 

And guess what? The world DIDN’T end! In fact, my first nights sleep without my sleeping tablet was a full, undisturbed eight glorious hours. I had absolutely no problems at all coming off my daily dose, and I’m convinced that had I chosen not to take a tablet every night at 9pm for three months, I couldn’t have developed the really healthy sleep routine that’s still lasting today. And my antidepressants were no different. I have absolutey no regrets about using either, and won’t hesitate to go back for more if I ever find myself in that position again! 

Unfortunately most people live in real fear of both forms of medication, aswell as other forms of medication perscribed for mental illness. Because of this stigma, too many people avoid going to their doctor to seek treatment, and just endure hellish symptoms for months or even years on end. 

Ireland has a long way to go before our society swaps shaming of people with mental illness to supporting people with mental illness. Initiatives like World Mental Health Day are definitely a step in the right direction, as they encourage the discourse around mental health and raise awareness and understanding of one of the most important social issues of our time . Yes, there is still SERIOUS stigma surrounding all forms of mental illness. And yes, these stigmas are harming the mental health of our nation. But through social media and online campaigns, we WILL smash them. And once they’re smashed, hopefully sufferers of mental illnesses such as depression will finally feel comfortable to speak up, seek help and find their way to the road of recovery! 

Dramatic Weight Change; Time to Think About the Why! 

Some thoughts I’ve been having around weight loss and weight gain on my holiday… Musings, if you will! 

We tend to see weight as a problem, the problem. When somebody gains or loses weight, we look at that as the problem. But we never really wonder why. 

When somebody gains or loses weight rapidly, it’s an indicator of far more than the amount of food they’ve been eating. Sure, we often wonder how they’ve lost or gained it. We regularly speculate about their eating and exercise habits. We’re always very interested in the how but not the why

I gained about six stone in a ten year period. The how? I binged on shitty food. The why? I was battling self loathing and depression. If somebody lost six stone in the same period, the why is equally important. 

Why is that person losing so much? What’s going on inside their brains to result in such dramatic weight change? What demons are they facing? Are they sitting at home crying every night? Do they hate who they are? Are they having suicidal thoughts? Are they self harming? Do they have anyone to talk to? What help do they need? 

These are just some of the questions we should be asking when dramatic weight change occurs. But we never do. 

I wish my family would ask themselves these questions when they look at me, instead of always focusing on what I eat and how often I exercise. Maybe then, they’d realise that I am not my weight. Maybe then, they’d realise that I am more than just a number on a scales.

Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
Enter your email address here and get ready to start loving yourself! 

Responding to Fat Shamers… What’s The Point of Preaching to the Choir? 

I recently spoke on my Instagram stories about how a cousin of mine had fat shamed a girl on TV in front of me, and how upset it had made me. To be honest, the word upset is an under statement. I was enraged. 

Fat shaming others in front of fat people, is like slagging off blind people in front of other blind people, or taking the piss out of black people in front of other black people. It’s not acceptable. End of. 

Unfortunately, I felt too emotional at the time to respond to my cousin in a way that wasn’t agreesive, so I took myself out of the room until I felt calmer. Having had a bad temper in the past, I used to be a huge hot head pre-counselling, I’m glad that these days I can anticipate my temper and avoid losing it at people. But I do regret missing an opportunity to explain to my cousin how his comments made me feel, and why he should be more conscious of what he says in future. 

It got me thinking. What’s the point of my Instagram? Why do I post regularly about body positivity and self love? My followers know what those two terms mean. They follow me after all. I don’t need to convince them not to fat shame, or explain to them about how fat shaming makes me feel. I’m preaching to the choir. 

But what about the other people, like my cousin? Shouldn’t I be spending more of my time trying to convert them? Shouldn’t I be taking advantage of every opportunity to make the people who’ve never lived in fat bodies aware of the effect their words have on us? 

The answer to these question, obviously, is yes. So I’ve decided to start by emailing my cousin and explaining to him how his comments made me feel, in a way which will hopefully not come across as aggressive but will make him think twice the next time he fat shames, no matter who’s around. 

Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
Enter your email address here and get ready to start loving yourself! 

20 Things That Are Hard AF When You’ve Got Depression.

Last night I came across a post on Instagram which highlighted the glamorisation of the #selfcaresunday hashtag. It really made me think about the way we talk about self care, and I realised that I haven’t been very forthcoming when it comes to talking about the daily struggles I faced during my depression. 

So in the interest of breaking down the stigma around mental illness, here’s a fairly exhaustive list of the things that were hard AF for me during my depression. 

  1. Brushing my teeth
  2. Changing  my bed sheets
  3. Washing dishes
  4. Opening post
  5. Answering the phone
  6. Showering 
  7. Doing a grocery shop
  8. Changing my underwear
  9. Changing my tampons
  10. Hoovering
  11. Paying bills
  12. Getting my daughter to school on time
  13. Going to family events
  14. Brushing my hair
  15. Wearing deoderant
  16. Walking my dog
  17. Taking out the bins
  18. Cleaning the toilet 
  19. Doing laundry
  20. Putting clothes away at the end of the day 

    Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
    Enter your email address here and get ready to start loving yourself! 

    5 Tips for Online Dating for Plus Size Girls 

    So your fat, single, and ready for a change? But how do you deal with the whole weight thing on online dating sites? Even if you’re body positive, it can be tricky. Trust me I know, I’ve been there. 

    This seems to be a challenge that many fat girls face. I’ve had lots of followers get in touch in recent times, asking for advice on how to be honest about their bodies online. So I decided to throw together a few tips for you ladies based on my experience. 

    1. Pictures Are Required 

    Twelve pictures of your lovely smiley face aint gonna cut it if your serious about meeting soneone. When I’m crusing an online dating app, I automatically disregard profiles that don’t include full length pictures. At least one picture of your body, head to toe, is required. No excuses please. 

    2. Don’t Be a Catfish 

    We’ve all heard of the dreaded catfishing phenomenon. Some of us have been victims of it. Don’t be that person! You may have been taught all your life to only use pictures that are ‘flattering’, but in the world of online dating honesty really is the best policy. If you take a snap and are thrilled beyond belief with how thin you look in it, don’t use it. Be honest. Be realistic. Be yourself. 

    3. Sell Your Self Love 

    Believe it or not, people are attracted to people who love themselves. Men in particular, who are so used to super self conscious women, find self loving women refreshing and sexy. Talk about this. Get it across in your profile. You don’t gave to say ‘my name is Emma and I have a beautiful fat body’. But you can say something like, ‘my name is Emma and I’m a self confessed chubby chick’, or ‘cutie with a booty’, or ‘plus size and proud’. Make sure the person reading gets a sense of your self love, they’ll love it! 

    4. Leave The Anger At The Door 

    Very often I get messages from followers, and it’s immediately clear to me that they’ve got some anger issues. I understand it. The world has been a bastard to you. It’s made you feel worthless, so of course you’re angry. But anger isn’t attractive. And it seeps out subtly in the words you use. Keep your profile positive and upbeat. You don’t want to appear bitter or resentful. That’s really not a turn on. 

    5. Open Your  Mind, And Your Heart

    There’s one thing that all fatties have in common; we’ve been beaten down. We’ve been taught, for our whole lives, that we’re unattractive and undesirable. But the truth is, we’re just a type. True, not everyone’s gonna fancy us. True, most people won’t. But there are lots of people who will love you for your body, not in spite of it. This can be very hard to accept. Especially for self love and body positivity newbies. But I promise you that it’s true! You’ve got to open up to the idea, so that when one of these lovely humans does message you online, you won’t immediately dismiss them. 

    Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
    Enter your email address here and get ready to start loving yourself! 

    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! 



    Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
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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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    Five Things I’ve Learned About Self Love 

    This time last year I had just recently embarked on the most important mission of my life; to fall in love with myself. Like most people, I suppose, the idea of self love was completely alien to me back then, and I made all kinds of crazy assumptions about the concept. Since then though, I’ve come to understand self love for what it really is, and let go of the misconceptions I had initially, and being the nice guy that I am I thought I’d share them here. 

    1. Self Love isn’t Narcicism or Vanity

    Whoever coined the phrase, ‘she loves herself’ has done humanity a great disservice! Most people believe loving yourself is about thinking you’re better than everyone else, looking down on others and acting superior and conceited. This is soooooo not what true self love is about! Instead it’s a humble acceptance and appreciation of ourselves as we are. Funnily enough, self love even helps us to see the good in everyone around us, so if anything it boosts our opinions of ourselves and others simultaneously!

    2. Self Love isn’t Selfish or Self Centred

    Another misconception is that self love means prioritising yourself over the needs of others. It’s understandable that people make this mistake, but it is a mistake. Self love means taking diligent care of yourself, so that you can function more efficiently and easily. Someone who prioritises self love eats well, sleeps well, makes good use of their time, cuts out parts of their lives that drain them of their energy, and frees up time to spend with the people they love. They become better parents, better friends, better employees and employers. Who doesn’t benefit from that?

    3. Self Love isn’t a Destination

    I remember when I was in counselling for depression and learning to love myself. I used to get so frustrated and moan to my counsellor that it was taking too long to learn to love myself. I couldn’t wait to get where I was going, to arrive at self love. After all, it sounded like such a beautiful place. But what I didn’t understand was that self love isn’t a destination. Imagine self love as a never ending spectrum, with no end in sight. You can never love yourself enough. You can never be kind enough to yourself, or show yourself enough compassion. You can always love yourself more than you do right now, and you’re never finished learning how to do it.

    4. Self Love isn’t all Manicures and Massages 

    Thanks to  Instagram and the endless array of hashtags that accompany images of pampering days, meals in fancy restaurants, retail hauls and pretty, pink, peonies, many people believe that self love is all about treating yourself to the things you want. Unfortunately that’s not true. Believe me, I wish it was! But self love is about hard graft. It’s about knuckling down with your thoughts to understand yourself more. It’s about dragging your tired ass off the couch and into bed an hour before you want to. It’s about finding the courage to stand up to your boss, or your friend, or your partner that’s been taking advantage of you. It’s about getting the hell out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to finally treat yourself better. Sure, buy yourself the peonies, but don’t think that it means anything other then the fact that you love peonies.  

    5. Self Love isn’t Linear

    This is so true of mental health in general. Everyday is different, every moment is unique. Some days I love myself more than others, and there are some hours when my self love is higher, or lower, than it was an hour before. It isn’t a case of finding self love one day, and then just having it for the rest of your life at a constant, unchanging level. I still have mornings when I wake up and have to consciously choose to love myself. And I have mornings when I wake up positively bursting with self love. Everyday is different and it can be a bit of a rollercoaster. 

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    Body Positivity 101

    A lot of people have been asking me what I did to become body positive. They’ve been asking for  specific, concrete steps that I’ve taken to boost my self love. So I’ve decided to put together a list of six tips for the bopo beginner here. I hope it helps! 

    Tip 1. Instagram

    The first thing I did to learn more about body positivity was to find body positive accounts on Instagram. There are a few good accounts on Facebook, but Instagram is where it’s at for all things bopo. I searched in my discover page using hashtags like; bodypositive, bodypositivity, bopo, bopowarrior, effyourbeautystandards, celebratemysize, and donthatetheshake. 

    By using these hashtags I quickly discovered dozens of accounts run by incredibly inspirational women worldwide. As a fat person, I was more drawn to accounts that were run by fat women, but there are just as many accounts run by thin women. The range of body positive accounts on Instagram is so diverse that no matter who you are, you’re bound to find some that you can really relate to. 

    By following the accounts of bopo fat women, I began the admittedly uncomfortable but absolutely crucial task of desensitizing myselg to images of fat bodies. I gradually stopped seeing them as grotesque and started seeing them as completely normal. This was the first step in changing the way I saw my own body. 

    I’m sure it’s possible, but I think it would be infinitely more difficult to begin a body positive journey without having an Instagram account. I can’t emphasise enough how central the platform has been to my own experience. Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, it would be hugely worthwhile for you to set one up. You don’t need to start posting or be active in that way, but following some bopo accounts will really kick start your body positive journey! 

    Tip 2. Get Reading

    Once you’ve found a few accounts to follow on Instagram it’s time to start digging a little deeper. Looking at pictures is a fantastic way to desensitize yourself to non-airbrushed bodies, but it’s important to start reading the captions under those pictures too. 

    Many of the big bopo accounts are run by wonderfully gifted writers, and their captions can provide insight and help you gain understanding of body positivity. They can also challenge what you thought you knew about the world, which is extremely useful in breaking down old patterns and creating space for new ones to grow. A lot of these women will also have websites and blogs, just like this one, where they may write in even more detail about issues relating to body positivity. 

    Find their websites, read their blogs, comment with thoughts or questions, engage in the discussion. Even if you’re not sure what you think about something you’ve read, leave a comment saying just that! The body positive community is a very welcoming place, and the vast majority of women will be happy to chat with you and help you in any way that they can. 

    Tip 3. Write your thoughts 

    Now before you start panicking and thinking that you have to be a wordsmith to be body positive, relax! Under no circumstances do you need to set up a blog to be body positive. Buuuut, I do advise you to pop down to your local shop and pick up a notebook type thing. 

    Because like it or not, journalling is a proven tactic for dealing with emotional issues. And baby, body positivity brings up a lot of emotional issues. You’re gonna be forced to remember all the snide comments your Mum made that made you feel fat, all the ex boyfriends who made you feel undesirable, all the times bitches said things to hurt you, all the clothes that didn’t fit. This is unfortunate, uncomfortable and unavoidable. I’m sorry.

    But there is good news! Writing really does help. There’s something about forming words in your mind and getting them onto paper that helps us make sense of our thoughts and emotions. So when you’re reliving some previously buried memory from the past, get your notebook out. When you’re feeling uncomfortable with something you’ve seen or read, get your notebook out. When you’re mind is swirling with unarticulated questions and concerns, get your notebook out. Nobody ever has to see it but you. But I promise, its an invaluable tool. 

    Tip 4. Question Everything 

    After just a couple of weeks of following bopo accounts, reading and writing, you’ll probably find yourself beginning to question things that you took for granted previously. For example, I remember one day seeing an article online about how to dress for your body shape. In the past I wouldn’t have blinked an eye, but this time I realised I was uncomfortable with the idea that women are obliged to ‘flatter’ their body shape. What did flatter mean? Improve? Manipulate? Hide? This is the first time I started questioning the world around me. 

    Don’t be alarmed when this happens. It can be a little exhausting, emotionally, to realise that you are going to have reform the vast majority of your previously held opinions. What a daunting task! But taking it day by day, you’ll figure out how you feel about things soon enough, and in no time you’ll marvel at how blind you had been in the past. 

    Don’t be afraid to question what you see and read on Instagram too. Remember that body positivity means very different things to different people. So there are a variety of strands/schools of thought that may not be apparent at first, but that you’ll begin to recognise as you strengthen your bopo muscles. Pick and choose what accounts speak to you most, which ones promote the version of body positivity that you connect with, and unfollow the rest. 

    Tip 5. Experiment 

    To me, nothing shows body positive progress as much as clothing does. Clothes may seem frivolous and unimportant, and I don’t mean to imply that you’ve got to be a fashionista to be body positive. But there are few things that express how we feel about ourselves and our bodies as much as our clothes do. 

    I can still remember the first time I bought ripped boyfriend jeans. I had always lusted after them, wishing that I had the body to pull them off. The first time I bought a pair I was terrified that people would point and laugh at me in the street, but I just kept reminding myself that my body was beautiful just the way it was, and that if the girls who I followed on Instagram could post pictires of their half naked bodies on the internet I could surely muster the courage to wear a pair of jeans. By the end of that day I was strutting around like Beyonce, checking my reflection at every opportunity, feeling like the sexiest bitch that ever lived. 

    As your feelings towards your body begin to change, try experimenting with your clothes a little bit. Wear something you would never have worn before. After all, you will by now have started to realise that your body isn’t the most shameful thing on the planet after all, and your sole focus can shift from hiding it to enjoying it. 

    In less than six months I’ve gone from hating my body, feeling a deep sense of shame and guilt around my body, and feeling completely unworthy of love and respect, to truly loving my body just as it is, and finally seeing my beauty and value for the first time. It’s been without a doubt the single most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my life. Now I’m committed to helping others experience that same transition. With that in mind, I really hope these tips help you on your body positive journey! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments, or get in touch with me privately via the contact page in the menu. 

    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.