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06/11/2014

Life Is A Roller-Coaster - But You're Too Fat To Ride It.


Today I want to talk to you about body fears that are born out of traumatic experiences, something that makes you leave all your confidence at the door and completely strips you of any self esteem you may have.  If you're easily triggered into feeling low about yourself, please don't continue on reading.

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Generally speaking, my body doesn't stop me from doing anything because it's fat.  I'm not limited to wearing unfashionable clothes, I can run up the street (slowly) if I want to and I can attract a man as much as the next girl.  Being fat has never been something that has limited my way of life, it's just been a descriptor of what I look like not who I am.
Around 3 years ago my other half, a massive adrenaline junkie, suggested going to Thorpe Park for his birthday to which I eagerly agreed to.  Having grown up going to theme parks in the summer holidays I wasn't the type to shy away from a roller coaster that would throw me five ways from Sunday and give me a gooey tummy afterwards.  We paid for the tickets, hopped in the car and headed down South for a day at the park.
What I hadn't anticipated was that my large bust and protruding stomach weren't going to fit in the ride chairs.  That, actually, this fat body that had never stopped me from living life to the full was not going to let me click the safety harness in place and let me enjoy the ride.


The ride staff pulled and tugged on my harness to try and get me into the ride, even calling in reinforcements from the queue (because that's not embarrassing at all) and were adamant that they were not going to be the ones to tell me I was too fat to ride.  Eventually I called it quits, thanked the men for their help and sheepishly walked off the ride trying desperately to avoid eye contact with everyone on the way out.  When my other half came off the ride a few minutes later I greeted him with smiles and giggles, laughing it off and putting it down to being too large chested.  What he didn't see was the mascara smudge marks under my eyes from where I had hid in the toilet and had a little cry over the shame of being too fat to ride...
Although this only happened once throughout the whole day, perhaps mainly because from that point I was reluctant to get on any ride at all, the experience was enough to ruin the entire day for me personally and shatter my confidence.  Cue one week later and I was triggered to go to Weight Watchers and desperately shift the weight.


Now, I know that the main message of empowerment from our community is that this issue is ultimately Thorpe Park's problem and not mine.  That society is too conditioned to slimmer people and doesn't accept larger ones, even though its our right to be this size should we want to. But at what point do I look at myself and say, hold on, you may actually be the issue here?
I spent the best part of a year trying to lose weight following this incident, and had slimmed down from a size 26 to a 22 in the process.  But this made me conscious about eating in front of other people, my mind constantly telling me that my slimmer friends and passers-by were judging me for eating something other than a salad.  I dared not eat any cakes or pasta in public, meals out were a nightmare.  I rejected photographs being taken of me and I hated the idea of getting in a swimming costume where people could see my rolls of fat.
It was only when I discovered this community of larger women who embraced their shapes, their curves and their fat rolls in all their glory did I begin to start feeling I could do any of the above again.  Within two months of blogging myself I quit weight watchers (which wasn't working for me anyway due a thyroid condition I later found out I had), I started going out for meals and outfit pictures were slowly increasing my confidence in front of a camera.  I got me back again.

I have a holiday to Florida planned next year and there is still a huge part of me that is terrified that I will go through all this embarrassment again in front of friends and family, forced to step off rides for being too big.  The sheer amount of research that I have done into chair widths and accessibility of these seats is phenomenal, I'm a planner and I'd much rather plan to avoid problematic rides than make myself feel awful in an attempt to get into it.  Logically I can tell myself that I'm smaller in size now and more likely to not have an issue in a country that caters for the larger person anyway, but the traumatic experience at Thorpe Park has completely shattered my confidence when entering the gates of any theme park since that day.



But this time, I won't lose myself again for a year to body shame.  I refuse.





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