Fatness, Fitness, Fearless

(TW: fatphobia, Slimming World, disordered eating)

So…it’s been a while.

I was hoping that with all of this time to focus on my blog, particularly given that I’m not super busy with my freelance work right now, that I’d have been able to write more for myself.

Aside from the half-finished notes on my Google Drive, that didn’t happen.

My mental health has gradually been getting worse through the pandemic, and it’s been a rough ride.

I’m thankful that it’s not the February kind of Bad (my god, that was a bad month for me), and I’m so grateful for where I am, even if most days it’s a huge effort of will to make a cup of tea.

I’m also thankful that I’m a freelancer, and I’ve even picked up some clients during the pandemic. Weird, right? It’s been rocky, and I’ve lost clients because they’ve not had the money to outsource, but I’m trying to count the good things. Like how every client who’s asked for me to write a trial article for them has actually paid me for it.

(Yep, one of the most sucky things about freelancing is the amount of clients that will try to get you to write things for free, claiming it’s a “trial”. I actually wrote an article about how shitty this practice is)

Saying that, though, my mental health is definitely worse than it was before we went into lockdown in April.

And I’m so, so proud of myself for pushing my doctor to put me back on antidepressants in February.

Even if the first thing I saw when I went into the waiting room was a huge ass slide on the TV proclaiming that I could get 3 free weeks of Slimming World if my BMI’s over 25.

Even if the nurse practitioner spent the entire time telling me that I was obese and needed to lose weight, that losing weight would make my depression easier, and that I should just try and exercise. Even though I told her I could barely muster the energy to get up and downstairs. Oh, and also she sent me for a blood test to “check my thyroid levels and blood sugar” because she wasn’t convinced that I was depressed, and that I must have some kind of thyroid condition.

And then I came home and cried for two hours and Nick had to convince me that I deserved to eat something, because I was starving but wouldn’t let myself eat.

Medical fatphobia is a bunch of fucking laughs.

Anyway, getting back on track, after doing writing for my clients I had no energy to pay much attention to working on my own things.

And then, when I didn’t have any client work on, I was so stressed that I wasn’t earning any money and being a huge burden on my partner that I was barely treading the line of having a functional brain.

But the time away from writing got my brain ticking away in the background, and I found that I knew what kind of things I wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure how to put pen to paper. When I started writing, my inner editor would take over immediately and I’d pretty much give up if I couldn’t write down exactly what I was thinking on the first pass.

Like I still have reviews for gifted products I received months ago to write, and I’ve just had no drive to do it. With everything going off in the world, it feels really superficial to write about a tea brand, or a lovely face mask. I’m still going to do it (obviously) but the idea of adding to a feed full of important information on Black Lives Matter protests, trans rights resources, LGBTQ+ content, and links to fundraisers with a post about a really tasty tea that I was sent felt…wrong.

So the time away gave me space to think about what I really want to do with this blog.

Because at this point, I haven’t been to pole class for about 4 months. And it’s hard to be a blogger who exclusively writes about pole when you don’t have a pole at home, can’t get to the studio, and even if I could, I didn’t have enough serotonin to do more than just exist.

After all, this blog was created in 2018 as a creative outlet, and I wanted to be a space where fat folx could find pole resources that didn’t mention weight loss or becoming smaller. Honestly, a big focus of mine was writing things for folx who were in the same position I was in 2017 – who wanted to start pole dance, but were specifically worried about how they’d fit in as a fat person.

But the pole world gave me so much more than a blog and the drive to help out people like me. It opened my eyes to body positivity, which drove me forwards to learning more about fat liberation, fat acceptance, diet culture, and fatphobia.

I learned not only how systemic fatphobia exists throughout almost all aspects of society, but how there is literally a £2bn industry built to profit from yo-yo dieting. How fatphobia intersects with racism, ableism, and inherent biases. And how so many systems within our society that we see as normal create and prey upon these biases profit.

So here I am, nearly three years into being a pole dancer, and now a bleeding heart liberal.

I’d say I was a Tory’s worst nightmare if it wasn’t for the fact that I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth and I’m straight.

I’ll just go with “enough of a bad dream to give a Tory night sweats”.

So that brings us to today.

While I’m writing this, I’m in the middle of a depression day. I’ve been hit hard by the UK Prime Minister’s “war on obesity” and the amount of news stories that show headless fat people whenever they talk about the impact of COVID-19 on fat bodies.

I literally found this example on the first news story I clicked on about this new obesity initiative, so that’s fun. Also preach it, Sue

I was on our regular family Skype call last week when the conversation turned to Boris Johnson’s plan to ban the advertising of processed foods before 9pm. I muttered under my breath about how it was bullshit, and my partner was about to engage in the conversation before I told him not to bother.

Because it is bullshit. Instead of looking at how weight stigma and weight-focused healthcare is actually doing more harm than good – which multiple studies have covered – and how non-processed foods and exercise are often difficult to access or inaccessible for people who live on or below the poverty line, the Prime Minister is effectively saying “haha bikes go whrrr” and coming up with plans for GPs to prescribe cycling to overweight patients.

And surgeries will be providing those bikes.

Surgeries that are chronically underfunded because the NHS is chronically underfunded.

Because of the fucking Tories.

Moving on from politics.

I’m going to be focusing more on what my life is like as a fat woman who enjoys pole dancing, weight lifting, crafting, and getting ridiculously excited about animals of all kinds.

I’m also going to be discussing how the pole industry needs to work harder to support folx in marginalised bodies. And being fat is only one “type” of marginalised body. As with privilege, it’s a compounding thing. Am I fat? Absolutely. Do I, as a smaller fat person who typically wears an 18-20, experience the same level of fatphobia as someone larger than me? Of course not.

And I’m still white, still cis, still very lucky to be in a financially secure position, and I’m not disabled. I have a body that society sees as matching up with my gender identity.

There are many other folx out there who are marginalised and have it way worse than I do.

Which is why I want to talk about them and their experiences, too. So if you have a story you want to tell, please get in touch with me about writing a guest post because nobody can tell your story better than you.

I’m going to be talking more about the wider fitness industry, the weight loss industry, and how diets are intentionally designed to be unsustainable.

I’m also going to be getting a bit more personal, because I want to write more about my mental health and generally, what I’m up to in my daily life. This will, for obvious reasons, be a bit more limited right now. Mostly because nobody wants to read me ranting about my trauma, partially because I don’t feel comfortable writing about it right now, and also because I’m kinda doing shit all with my life apart from writing, doing crochet, drinking, and eating biscuits.

Oh, and also constantly forgetting I have my Grammarly set to American English (as that’s what most of my clients want me to write in) and getting pissed off at the constant red lines that show up across my work.

As for my publishing schedule, I don’t really have anything set right now.

I used to love publishing weekly, but with the content I’ve got planned, it’s not really possible any more. I’m looking to do more in-depth pieces, which are going to take more time to research and write.

I might get some smaller bits out in the meantime, but that’s not a dead certain thing. I’m going to be publishing as and when my schedule allows me. The stress of feeling like I need to publish on here has kicked my ass over the last few months, and with me finally getting consistent client work, I need to figure out a schedule that works for me.

With all that said, I’m going to wrap this post up and get to work on whatever the hell’s going to be next.

Most likely I’m going to finally get those product reviews out, and then I want to dive into all of this “war on obesity” bullshit which will, no doubt, be a very difficult thing to write for me.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me over the past few months, and especially if you’ve been with me since the beginning. I can’t believe Sass and Clacks will be turning two in a few short (hah, who am I kidding) months. I hope you’ll all stick around a while longer.

See you all soon!

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