Hey, loves. I was inspired to write today’s post as I was watching the Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out documentary, and one I feel like I’ve written, re-written and edited so many times. If you haven’t seen the documentary and are based in the UK, you can catch it here. I’m not sure if it’s being shown worldwide, but you may also be able to catch it on YouTube. Matt and I watched the documentary with his parents on the night it aired and we were all so moved by the stories told; I cried and felt so much empathy towards Jesy, and I also related so much to many of the things she and the other people said throughout the documnetary.
Jesy Nelson is one fourth of Little Mix; the UK’s biggest girl band right now; and she is someone that you just see everywhere. She is a household name with a large social media presence along with the other three members of the band. Her face is on the side of buses and billboards around the world, and Little Mix’s songs are played in pretty much every store you walk into. They have a high presence in the charts, so are always played on the radio, and their songs are super catchy. They’re often on TV, taking part in interviews and, from an outsider’s perspective, it looks like they’re all living their best lives. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily a fan of Little Mix’s music, but I’ve always admired what they have achieved and how much girl power they bring to a historically male dominated industry.
As a young girl watching their original X Factor auditions back in 2011, I would say that at times I might have felt a little jealous throughout their success! All four girls always looked so happy, they were travelling all over the world and their lives completely changed overnight, which should have been the dream. That’s literally what little girls dream of; it was like a real life version of the Cheetah Girls, hah! Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out shone a new light on this time, and the experience that Jesy herself had in her sudden fame. All of those times that she looked so happy, she wasn’t. All of the times that she looked like she was living her best life, she wasn’t. The main reason being that she was bullied, victimized and trolled over her weight and her body. She saw messages every single day calling her ‘fat’ and telling her to lose weight. She began to pick herself apart more and more, then sadly when she did lose weight (which she didn’t need to) she was still trolled for being ‘fat’.
It was disgusting to hear just a handful of things that Jesy was told every single day, and she shared in the documentary that she wanted to commit suicide to get away from everything. That is heartbreaking; a young girl who should have been living her dream felt like she was living her nightmare, all because of how other people made her feel. She began to hate her own body and therefore tried to hide it away, and now she struggles to watch any video of herself at the start of her career because of the way she looked then. But, Jesy’s documentary was so powerful because she rose above it. She shared her story. She came out the other side. SHE MOVED ON. Jesy was never overweight; she looked like a healthy, normal girl then and she looks like a healthy, normal girl now. So many young girls of all shapes, sizes and builds looked up to her then and still do, and I can’t help but wonder how they’re feeling right now. Jesy met with many young people on the documentary who had experienced a similar thing; they had all been bullied because of the way they look and began to hate their own bodies.
Bullying is a whole different topic that is not really what I want to dive into in this post, but it did make me think about the way we talk about body image in general, and why people think it’s okay to comment on how others look. Magazines use photos of celebrities, just like Jesy, who have often been photographed unknowingly, sometimes in unflattering positions, with headlines like “is *insert name* eating for two?” Or “*insert name*’s crash diet has taken a nose dive” (Yep, they’re genuine articles). Even if a celebrity – or anybody else – has put weight on, it’s nobody else’s business and should never be topic of conversation! The media are known for being harsh, critical, unfair, unjust and downright rude in many circumstances. They want to sell their magazines and newspapers and they never once thought about how those people may feel reading that. This kind of culture has then led to regular people thinking those kind of comments are okay in everyday life. They are not. Whether we’re gossiping with our friends, writing it on social media or even thinking it in our head; it is wrong. It’s time that we took a stand; for each other and for ourselves.
I was thirteen years old when I first looked in the mirror and thought “I look fat”. I don’t know where it came from, thankfully it had not come from someone else, but from then I began to look at my body in a different way. When I started high school in year nine, many of the girls already had boobs and hips, and I didn’t really have either. At some point during that school year, I developed hips that I then began to loathe for the next twelve years. Up until I’m writing this post, to be honest. After growing up in an oversaturated media-filled world, I thought you were either one body type or the other: ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’. I felt ‘fat’ because my hips were wide and stuck out awkwardly, and it made me have a big bum which I’d never had before. But, I didn’t have boobs. In my head, I was ‘skinny’ on the top, and ‘fat’ on the bottom. How crazy is that for a thirteen year old?! Or to be honest, any age.
I spent my teens trying out fad diets, comparing my figure to my friends and celebrities, restricting what I ate, hiding my body sometimes, showing it off other times and finding a love of yoga that’s grown with me. I took every opportunity to whinge to my friends, and to myself, about how I didn’t look good in *insert clothing item*. They did the same, and I think that’s a large part of how we bonded back then. It was just normal to be unhappy with how you looked and I never realised how damaging it is to your happiness. In my opinion social media played a huge part in this; comparing ourselves to other girls was just part of a regular day. I grew up in a time where social media was just finding its feet; I had Piczo and Bebo, then opened Facebook and Twitter accounts, before finally jumping onto the Instagram bandwagon. We competed for likes and other people’s validation that we looked good, and for many of us it was, and maybe still is, an unhealthy place to be. Social media does not have to be a dangerous or unsafe place; I personally love to use Instagram to connect with people, to see new places, to admire photography, to find other bloggers and so much more. Social media can be a happy place, you just have to learn to protect yourself.
I didn’t actually realise how obsessed I was with my body image until I started to put on weight in my twenties. By the time I had turned seventeen, I was ‘skinny’ but still had big hips and no boobs, which I had to just take some kind of pride in. I felt validated when people told me I looked “so skinny” or “tiny” and it stayed like that for a long time, but as soon as I started to notice weight gain last year I freaked out. I started to have conversations all the time with Matt and my mum about how gross I felt, and constantly compared pictures from when I was ‘skinny’. I knew why my body was changing; I changed my pill and my hormones went crazy. I also have got older and I’m sure my metabolism is changing. My diet isn’t always the greatest and if I want ice cream, cookies, chocolate or gummy bears, you can bet I’m going to eat them! Recently I just changed my pill again and was half expecting to wake up one morning with my old body, but that’s just not how life works. Or hormones.
I might not look like I did in my late teens and early twenties but right now, today, I’m proud of my body. No, I don’t always love every part of it. No, I don’t always treat it how I should. No, I don’t always feed it how I should. But, my body allows me to live; I get to spend time with my boyfriend, family and friends, I get to drive my car, I get to go to work, I get to go shopping, I get to do yoga, I get to travel. My body is healthy. And from gaining a little weight I’ve suddenly developed actual boobs, which is always a bonus, right? Matt tells me every day that he thinks I’m beautiful and instead of thinking about something I dislike about myself, I’ve started to accept his compliments. I’m even starting to believe them!
It’s time we change the dialogue we use, and we need to start from within. Body image and body confidence go hand in hand. Let’s stop paying attention to the size of our clothes. Let’s stop finding validation from what society thinks is acceptable. Let’s stop beating ourselves up. Let’s start loving and accepting ourselves. Let’s start dressing for ourselves. Let’s start empowering other women and complimenting each other. You are beautiful, and I hope sharing my story has made you feel somewhat comfortable with your story. Did you ever feel so critical of your body? Maybe you still are, but I hope you find your way to self acceptance and love so soon, we’re all in this together.