I went from being a very skinny kid, to being a chubby teen almost overnight, so my relation with my body as massively conflicted. I always felt uncomfortable, and as thought everyone was judging me constantly. I was always told “its puppy fat, it’ll go on its own” and I think that denial stopped me from being more comfortable with my body sooner.
I generally find the whole thing a bit of a con. We all know the best way to be healthy is exercise and eating the right foods, so fad diets, and “wellness” trends seem more like a way to avoid the actual work, and take people’s money. More attention, time and money needs to be spent on mental wellness and changing societal biases than on the next best wonder food.
TSM: Do you think that the wellness industry has played a part in your perception of yourself?
I would say the images it portrays has had a negative impact for sure. The only time we see people that actually look like the majority of the population are in ‘before’ pictures, and we are constantly told that if we don’t look a certain way we are unhappy and less than.
TSM: Have you experienced any barriers or hurdles in your journey of self-acceptance? If so, what were they and how are you overcoming them?
Every flaw is a barrier in some respects. For instance, I learn to be happy with my stretch marks, and then I’m more focused on how I hate my man boobs. I also think learning to reframe how I view fatness, and seeing through the looking glass to the reality of how biased society is against overweight people is a constant hurdle for me. I still find myself comparing my body to others, and wishing I looked that way, but I catch myself, and unfollow that person on social media so as to remove that negativity.
TSM: Who have been your major influences for realising your power?
One of the biggest inspirations I had in being able to accept my body was the gay bear community. I found a community of men that thought being plus size was a huge bonus, and that can do wonders to a young gay man that has only ever been peddled imagery that says being an oiled up muscle man is the only way to be accepted in the gay world. In terms of influencers on social media, there are shockingly few plus size male influencers, but discovering @_adydelvalle was a revelation to me, the way he owns his size, and queerness is so empowering. I also get inspired by the amazing plus size females I follow, such as Callie Thorpe and Tess Holiday, and also, Felicity Hayward, who I have been lucky enough to get to know a bit, and has given me some amazing advice on how pursuing plus size modelling.
TSM: Have you ever struggled to show up for yourself or for your community? If so, can you tell us about how you dealt with the challenge?
I don’t know if it’s a struggle to show up per se, but I often feel very disengaged from plus size influencers on social media, and struggle to relate to them. I think this is largely because its so female focused, there doesn’t seem to be much support for men talking about body issues, and as mens body image is a huge contributor to male metal health issues, it really deserves a wider conversation and support from the female side of the community. Also, a majority of successful plus size male models are of a more athletic build; American football players, rugby player etc, and I find this alienating, which in turn can lead to a lack of support of them on my part, and maybe I’m a little jealous too! haha!
TSM: What are your ‘go to’ practices to help you feel confident?
My go to is to set my camera and lights up, and take some pictures. It maybe sounds narcissistic, but seeing myself looking fierce really helps me feel confident. I also go back and read the lovely messages I receive from people on instagram. Reminding myself that me being open about my body helps others accept theirs is the best confidence boost in the world.
TSM: If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Stop pretending to be something you’re not, because who you actually are is far better that anything you can fake. Truly accepting and loving yourself will make you happier than anything else you try.
Occupation: Marketing/Influencer Outreach, Part Time Model
Hometown: London, UK