BODY POSI PANDA: “WE’VE BEEN TAUGHT TO HATE OURSELVES FOR PROFIT”

BODY POSI PANDA: “WE’VE BEEN TAUGHT TO HATE OURSELVES FOR PROFIT”

(Photos by Grace Hill Photography, Biff Crabbe and Allison Webster.)
I reckon me and Megan Crabbe, body positive activist and soon to be author, could be really good friends, and I’ll tell you why. 1. Just five minutes spent on her Instagram account is all the motivation you need to feel like your selfies are bomb and your body is perfect the way it is – that’s basically all I seek in a friendship. 2. She’s a big fan of dancing alone around in her underwear in her room – me too. 3. She loves art and illustration – hello!

In fact, I think the only separating us from being exactly the same person is her bright, multi-coloured hair, which I am absolutely not jealous of, not one bit, nope.

I truly admire Megan’s confidence to outwardly love her body and to showcase her pride on the internet, especially considering the demons she’s had to battle to get to where she is today – a feat I can very much sympathise with. I spoke to Megan to find out more about her, and why she wants to help others feel as good as their skin as she does now.

What is your own recovery story?

I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 14, and I’m extremely lucky to have made it out alive. After starting my recovery at 16 I tripled my body weight in a year and was convinced that I was the only recovered anorexic who couldn’t even manage to stay thin. That’s when the crash dieting and binge eating cycle started, and lasted for about 6 years. I understand now that the mental health aspect of my anorexia was never really dealt with, I was just labelled ‘recovered’ as soon as I was no longer underweight (which we all know is bullshit, since weight restored is not the same thing as recovered!), and it wasn’t until I found body positivity that I was actually able to start healing properly.

How did the body positive movement help you?

The body positive movement provided me, for the first time in my life, with the option to accept my body as it was. Nobody had ever told me before that I had the choice to love my body without constantly striving to change it. Body positivity taught me a whole new way of seeing myself, food, exercise, and recovery.

How did you discover body positivity?

DON'T HATE THE SHAAAAAKE 💃because bodies jiggle and that's glorious 💜 REMEMBER YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN #DONTHATETHESHAKE ANYTIME! You can use any song, any outfit, and adapt to your own ability 🌟 and p.s. it's not about being a good dancer, as you can tell by now I pretty much have 4 dance moves on repeat 😂 BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE WE'RE CELEBRATING OUR BODIES IN MOVEMENT AND THAT'S ALWAYS AMAZING! 💜💙💚🌈🌞 P.s. my girl @yourstruelymelly is the creator of #donthatetheshake so make sure you go see hers! Plus @chooselifewarrior has been slaying the shake every week too! ✨ P.p.s. the super happy song here is Be Okay by Oh Honey 💜

A post shared by Megan Jayne Crabbe 🐼 (@bodyposipanda) on

Literally by accident! I was actually looking for fitspo on Instagram and instead I somehow stumbled across my (now) friend @yourstruelymelly rocking a bright red size 20 bikini and talking about this thing called body positivity. My whole world changed from there.

What do you think would have happened had you not discovered it?

I think without bopo I would have eventually been heading for a relapse – at the time I was just coming off yet another extreme crash diet where I’d lost 40lbs and still hated everything about myself, I was taking diet pills and working out obsessively, and it really could have been a slippery slope back into my eating disorder.

What is your relationship like with food now?

I knew that my relationship with food was finally healing when I stopped thinking about it so damn much. These days I eat intuitively, whatever that means on any given day, and I don’t have that mental real estate being taken up by food all day long. Food is an awesome part of my days, but it’s no longer the part that dominates my whole life.

Do you think there is an epidemic of self-hate? Why do you think women in particular are so hard on themselves? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Should we be?

I definitely think there’s an epidemic of self hatred, and there’s certainly an epidemic of eating disorders. Women have been the primary target of the diet and weight loss industry for the last century, we’ve all internalised the thousands of messages we’re constantly bombarded with about our bodies. We’ve been taught to hate ourselves for profit, and I think realising that our self-hatred isn’t actually something we’ve made up ourselves, but rather something that has been done to us, is the first step in breaking free from it.

Why do you think people gravitate towards your message?

I think body positivity has become such a huge movement because women have reached a breaking point, we’re just so fucking sick of hating our bodies! And just like I didn’t, so many people never realised before that there’s another option. Now the word is spreading in the mainstream media (often in a very watered down way) and we all want to know how to do it, how to be body positive. I hope that people gravitate towards my account because I show them how – although I know the hair has something to do with it as well!

Have people contacted you directly to say you have helped them? What have they said?

I do get a lot of messages, particularly from people in recovery from restrictive eating disorders thanking me for my account. The ones who tell that because of me they ate today, or because of me they went back to treatment because they believe in recovery again, those are the ones that hit closest to my heart. That’s why I do what I do.

Do you get any negativity on your blog/social media accounts? How do you combat that?

Everyone in the bopo community gets trolls, 99% of whom are right wing, fatphobic meninists with nothing better to do with their time than harass women online. I definitely don’t get as much as people in the community whose bodies are bigger than mine, but I get a fair amount. A few months back me and my boyfriend Ben actually sat and blocked 4000 people in one day because one of the meninists had set his troll tribe on my account.

What is your reaction to those who disapprove of you posting photos in your underwear?

I’m not here for any kind of slut shaming. It really is time for people to realise that nudity is not inherently sexual, we’re allowed to celebrate our bodies in any state of undress that we see fit without it being for the sexual consumption of others.

What is your reaction to those who say the body positive movement has been high-jacked? Is it for everyone?

Body positivity is definitely for everyone, but there is absolutely a saturation of thin, white, able bodies in the community at the moment. I think that becomes a problem when we don’t educate ourselves properly on the issues (particularly fatphobia), recognise our privilege or respect the roots of the movement, which are radical fat acceptance. If less marginalised bodies are going to exist in large numbers in the community then there needs to be a conscious effort to use our platforms to keep raising the voices of the people this movement was really created for.

Do you think you can be healthy and not be skinny?

I’m a firm believer in health at every size! I’m also a firm believer that health isn’t anymore of a measure of human value than size is, we’re all worthy of self love regardless of our size or the status of our health.

I hear you have a book on the horizon (congrats!) what can we expect from it?

Thank you! I do indeed, the book is called Body Positive Power, and it’s basically every single thing I know about body positivity, where our body image issues come from, and how we can overcome them. There are entire chapters on overcoming food guilt and learning to eat intuitively, as well as reclaiming movement, banishing diet culture and of course an eating disorder chapter as well.

What would your last supper be?

My last supper would definitely be pasta with mountains of bacon and cheese. That’s the family meal I grew up eating the most, my dad always used to jokingly be like “Hey Megan do you want any pasta with that cheese?”, cheese is life.

Any advice for those still struggling with an ED?

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder right now, I want you to remember that you are not your eating disorder. You are so much more than that voice, you are so much more than a calorie count of a weigh-in. Don’t lose sight of who you are, because the world needs warriors like you.

Megan’s book ‘Body Positive Power: How to stop dieting, make peace with your body and live‘ is out in September.

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