Friday, 24 April 2015

Jamelia - Your Argument is Flawed. Here's my Big Fat Story...

I really hope you can spend 5 minutes reading this blog post, no matter who you are, where you're from or what size you are. It's a very upfront and honest perspective that not everyone will understand, but I'm hoping I can change that...

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you'll be fully aware of failed pop star Jamelia's controversial comments regarding plus size clothing, and the huge backlash she has received in the aftermath.

I actually cannot be bothered to quote her but in essence her opinion (which she has explained she is paid to give) is that "extreme" sizes below 6 and over 20 should not be available on the high street and should only be sold in specialist shops. She explained that these sizes are unhealthy and that women who fit in them should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go shopping.

I have read many blog posts since then from many members of the amazing plus-size blogging community and have agreed with them all, But in my opinion (which I don't get paid to give) there's a big point that's being missed here and one that not everyone can relate to, but I'd like to share it...


I was a teenager of the 90s, when the world was a very different place to what it is now. I didn't get my first mobile phone (a rather splendid Nokia 3310 with Purple Ronnie fascia) until I was 18 and apart from spending 20mins waiting for the internet to dial up before being thrown off again (cos my Mum wanted to ring my Auntie) there wasn't an online world or a social media community to be part of.

Like most teenage girls have always done, I spent many Saturdays in town shopping with my friends. But I was a lot bigger than all of them so my options for clothing were very very limited. There was literally one shop in Blackburn that I was able to buy clothes from, and that was Evans. Back then, Evans catered for Mums, most of their clothes were flowery, frumpy and a far cry from fashionable. So who could blame me for being embarrassed to take my friends in there as a 14/15/16 year old girl? I felt exactly how Jamelia wanted me to feel. I was uncomfortable, ashamed and embarrassed. There was one "specialist shop" that I could shop in and that was it. So what did I do? Well just like my friends, I had money to spend, I started working at 13 doing bits of part time work here and there and saving as much money as I could. At home things were hard. My father had passed away when I was 4 and my Mum had lost a successful business through no fault of her own. She was going through difficult times and there was very little money around. Little money meant little food but I hadn't gotten to the size I was without being a big food lover! So with a pocket full of cash and nowhere to spend it that didn't fill me with dread, I spent several years buying nothing but shoes, handbags, make up and one other thing - FOOD.

I was too young to understand what low self esteem and depression were, but that's exactly what was going on. And like any good fat girl I was absolutely brilliant at self-medicating. As I trawled through pages and pages of glossy magazines filled with amazing looks I could never achieve, suddenly the only thing that made me feel better was a litre of ice cream or a family sized cream cake. Funnily enough that resulted in me gaining even more weight! So being "fat-shamed" didn't make me get healthier as the wonderful Jamelia seems to think it would, it made me fatter.

I then discovered alcohol and was out drinking with friends at least 3 nights a week. In fairness, I danced a lot of it off but I still continued to gain weight and when you're already way over Jamelia's acceptable size 20, a few more dress sizes really makes no difference at all.

When I was 19 I met my soul mate and partner Simon and we fell madly in love, within a couple of years we were living together with a baby on the way and I had everything I'd ever wanted. That still didn't stop me hating myself every single day, covering those feelings up to the outside world with my humour, boisterous personality and gift of the gab. I had my amazing, beautiful, perfect baby boy in 2004 and had then reached my heaviest weight, fashion was far from my mind and I spent the next few years buying whatever I could find on eBay that would fit and "look OK"

I suffered from horrendous post natal depression and behind closed doors it was a very very difficult and dark period of my life. Getting bigger, feeling worthless and at some points wondering why anyone wanted anything to do with me as I was just so inadequate and quite frankly, useless.

At this point, I was also holding down a very stressful sales job and surrounded by a very negative workforce, that only served to bring me down even more. I ended up having a breakdown and becoming very very ill for 6 months. This was a massive turning point in my life as I had mental space to really think and reevaluate my life. It was then that I decided to take a risk and open my vintage boutique to compliment my online shop
Boy, did this begin to change my life...

Suddenly I was being true to me, doing what I love the most and also giving options to so many women of different shapes and sizes. I stock anything from a vintage size 4 to a gorgeous size 28 and sometimes beyond. I have had women cry in the shop of pure happiness as finally they have been made to feel welcome and feel beautiful, not ostracised. I've also been able to reach out on social media, finding incredible women who write about their feelings and their fashion, things that I can really relate to. I now have so many more shops and labels that I can buy amazing fashion from and it feels great. I've found my inner peace, inner confidence and there is absolutely no stopping me now. I'm even at a point where I now hold confidence and empowerment classes. These have absolutely NOTHING to do with size, they are about women feeling good about themselves and enjoying their life at last, subsequently achieving great things. I've also been HUGELY inspired by the incredible Tess Holliday (aka Tess Munster) over the last year, and she has been a real catalyst for my hugely improved mental health and wellbeing.

And guess what Jamelia? I've actually started to loose weight too, meaning my mental AND physical health is improving. All because I'm learning to love myself and subsequently I don't want to punish myself. And no, this really isn't any of your business but it is FACT, not opinion. The fact is, shaming made me fatter and self worth makes me healthier.

So, Jamelia (and anyone who agrees with her) your opinion is completely flawed and quite frankly, bullshit.