My cab to the GQ awards was outside my door when I realised I couldn’t face walking the red carpet. I was devastated; I didn’t want to let anyone I admire and respect down. But inside I felt like shit.
I’d spent the a ernoon trying on dresses but, after recently putting on three stone, couldn’t fit into anything that didn’t look frumpy. Every time I looked in the mirror I saw someone else. I didn’t feel like the beautiful, confident woman I wanted to be (that you need to be on a red carpet), more like a trussed up piece of meat.
I was devastated, I had a meltdown. The next day while scrolling through my pictures, I saw a different scene. My best friend and make-up artist had made me look beautiful and I felt like an idiot. It flooded out into an Instagram post that’s now had 11,000 likes and more than 10,000 comments.
I didn’t intend to find myself at the centre of a body positivity debate that made headlines around the country. I expected people to tell me I was being silly, but the reaction has been ultimately positive. And behind the scenes I’ve had almost 15,000 direct messages – from women saying they can’t face their sister’s wedding, or going to work, because of how they feel about themselves, as well as Hollywood movie stars saying they’re proud of me and sharing their terror about the expectations of a red carpet.
I think my honesty struck a nerve. The body positivity movement has done so many awesome things and it’s great we’re seeing more diversity and people being confident about themselves. But it’s still not a one-size-fits-all cure. When I read some ‘inspirational quotes’ they just don’t reflect how I feel – the expectation to feel good about yourself can feel like another standard. What validates us one day, might not the next. Posts that are supposed to relieve guilt can just force more guilt on you – sometimes it should be OK to say, ‘I’m not comfortable, I want to get fitter.’
I put on a stone last year. I’d been busy and eating more than I should, as opening two food businesses and writing a book means giving up any normal routine... I’d stopped working out, through serious lack of time and energy. Then, since January, I’ve put on another two stone. I’m 5ft 10in, I’ve got big tits, bum and long legs, and they hide a lot – my clothes were getting tighter, but I’ve not got a full-length mirror or scales at home, so it crept on.
I put on three stone (embarrassing to admit). I thought I’d get backlash from the body positivity community, but only two people replied negatively. I can’t help how I feel, my emotions about my body are valid.
Seven weeks ago, I started working out and I’ve already lost weight. I’ll never ‘truly’ diet, but I’d like to lose two stone (if it takes years, that’s fine). I’m being practical, not silly – what I’ve put on is unhealthy and I don’t feel my body is operating at its best.
The reaction I’ve had shows we all have weird mental crises about our bodies – it doesn’t matter how confident you are at other times. In the post, I said I felt ‘gross’ which is how I did feel at that moment. I still like myself, I just don’t think I’m the best version of myself right now. It’s OK that I feel like that and it’s OK that I said that.
I would love to see nuanced honesty be part of this new dialogue of what we project and how we interact with it.