Trigger warning for vivid descriptions of self-harm

I think perhaps self-harm is something that never leaves your blood. I no longer think of myself as someone who self-harms; it’s been a long time since I took apart a razor and longer – years – since I took one to my flesh. And yet as I sit here, my cuticles are ragged from tearing at them with my teeth in times of anxiety, I can see the ghosts of tooth marks on my arm where, months ago now, I bit myself so hard I almost drew blood. And it isn’t so long at all since the last time I let myself be overtaken by impotent rage and pummelled myself with my fists.

I have a cut on my hand just now, which was an accident. But feeling the pain as I press on it, and watching the miraculous day-to-day knitting together of flesh, makes me remember how very, very good it can feel to open up your own skin. It makes me remember the pain which can be controlled, second to second. It makes me remember my flesh crying tears of blood. The subsequent empty numbness and shame which is somehow so much better than the feeling that my very veins will explode with the rage and pain boiling inside them.

Sometimes there is nowhere else for pain to go. Sometimes pain has to become real before it can dissipate. When I used to cut myself, when I bite myself, hit myself, it’s a loss of control. And yet at the same time it’s making something manageable. It’s taking a feeling that I can’t articulate or push away and it’s making it into something concrete, a singular moment of pain that I can understand. I suppose it isn’t healthy, and it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t feel that urge. It’s something you’re not supposed to talk about. The marks can be hard to hide, but you have to try and hide them because people will ask. And the truth isn’t the right answer. When people ask about my old scars on my thighs, I usually simply tell them, “Those are old.” It’s not an answer but it is, and usually they leave it at that. It’s easier when it’s something you used to do. There is no good explanation that doesn’t cause concern and embarrassment all round when someone asks about current injuries. “Oh that? I got angry one day and I bit myself till I bruised.” No one knows what to say to that, and I don’t want to put them in that position. And I know how mad it sounds when I say the words out loud.

Physical pain can be understood and dealt with right away, right in that moment where it happens. Emotional pain can spring up all over again, months and years after whatever caused it in the first place, and you can’t control it. When you cut yourself or bite yourself, it hurts exactly as much as you want it to. The purity of it is gorgeous, cause and effect of pain that can be managed there and then. When you have that pain to focus on, it isn’t confusing and multifaceted and incomprehensible. It is right there. It is real. Sometimes you just need to feel something you can understand.

Just the other day, I stopped myself from biting myself in anger and upset. My arm was at my lips, my mouth was open, and I stopped myself. I didn’t want to. I wanted to feel that pain, that instant moment of release. I wanted my anger to be channelled into something and I knew that, for a moment, it would help. What stopped me wasn’t a desire not to hurt myself, but the thought of the bruises that take so long to fade, and the toothmarks for which there is no adequate explanation. It wasn’t out of resistance to my own weakness that I stopped myself; it was out of embarrassment at being thought weak by others. People don’t talk about this very often. It is the preserve of the angsty teenager, the young person who can’t handle their emotions. Adults don’t lose control like that.

But we do. It is over ten years since the first time I remember hurting myself in anger. I remember vividly the boiling urge, sitting at the computer in my mum’s dining room, and running my long fingernails down my neck, hard. I remember the claw marks and wearing polo necks in June. I remember getting better at hiding it. Because the shame I feel of the fresh marks is still the same now as when I was 14. The way I feel right before I do it is still the same as when I was 14.

I hurt myself a lot less now than when I was a teenager, but the way it feels has never really changed. The boiling, burning desire; the momentary bliss; the ensuing shame. I am someone who can experience pain in a positive way as well. When I have enjoyed being tattooed, or play-piercing, or some kinky sex, it has never been about self-loathing or anger, but about the sensuous experience of controlled pain, and for me that is totally separate from the urges I can experience to hurt myself. Those are things I have done in a healthy state of mind, and not snap losses of control. I entered into them freely, to feel and experience them in a joyful way. When I hurt myself in anger or sadness, it is a totally different thing. There can be a tendency to conflate enjoying some kind of pain with the desire to self-harm, but that isn’t true for me and I suspect it isn’t for many other people as well. The pain of self-harm is almost incidental – it is a lot more about the emotional release. The pain is a tool to control my emotions, not the goal in itself.

I know that this is rambling and perhaps it seems self-indulgent. But I hope that someone reads it and recognises themselves, and feels less alone.

- a 25-year-old woman

Although not written by someone who identifies as a woman, I came across this poem by Cameron Lincoln on twitter – @Cameron_Lincoln – and thought it was beautifully written and worth sharing.

BEAUTY – A Poem

Every inch is delightful, every fold, every curve.
Each mole and each scar, every raw exposed nerve.
Every muscle that stretches, every bone that protrudes.
All part of the radiance your body exudes.

The rubenesque flesh, squeezed into jeans.
There’s nothing excess, and you burst at the seams.
Those toned twin orbs of a gym-fit delight.
That trunk full of junk, it’s fulsome, just right.

Those abs, crunched and honed, are steely and taut.
The top of the muffin, paid for and bought.
That sweet little paunch, it shivers and sways.
The big curvy belly you’re proud to display.

The flat canvas of chest beneath tiny pert buds.
That pair of sweet treats, to squeeze and to rub.
The mighty, firm mounds you chose to augment.
Those huge hanging gifts of nature’s intent.

The dove white complexion, that burnished bronze hue.
The ebony landscape, caramel, you.
Flaming red hair, or sunshine-bright gold.
Pitch-black or brown, a joy to behold.

The spectrum of colour, of shapes and of size.
Every shade beautiful in the right beholder’s eyes.
Yours and unique, a treasured possession.
Wear it with pride, you’ll be someone’s obsession.

Your imperfect perfections are you to the core.
Embrace them, empower, leave them wanting more.
Your dancer’s hips and your two left feet.
Your breath, tart and fruity, and utterly sweet.

The knots in your hair, that lopsided grin.
The rasp in your laugh, your cute dimpled chin.
Your poise and your grace, your oft-clumsy strides.
It’s in every last piece of you where beauty resides.

Some may say fat, some chubby, some curvy
But there’s nothing finer than a confident girlie.
Be skinny, be scrawny, be narrow, be small.
But be you, be yourself, and be proud most of all.

Lincoln’s blog is actually filled with romantic erotica and so for those that might be interested, it can be found here Cameron Lincoln

This piece by Emma Atack, who blogs at The Sun Always Follows Rain, is taken with permission from Pouting in Heels. The original post, with pictures, can be found here.

Hi, I’m Emma.

I might look ‘normal’ on the outside but inside there are titanium rods and screws, repaired disks, muscles that don’t work when they should, muscles which overcompensate and chronic pain.

But do you know what? I wouldn’t change the amazing journey that I’ve been on. So don’t feel sorry for me – it drives me mad when people say ‘poor you’. Instead I hope to inspire.

In 2000 I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, with a BA (Hons) in Public Relations. I had a couple of jobs before becoming a press officer for a government-funded organisation. During this time I was fit and healthy, went to the gym regularly, and even ran the Great North Run.

2007 was a significant and busy year. I moved house, was promoted to PR Manager and also got married. I’d had a few twinges in my back but thought absolutely nothing of it. Then in the November my back went. And I could not move.

Tests revealed I had the spinal condition Spondylolisthesis, something I had been born with but typically only becomes symptomatic in your twenties. I was 28.

One vertebrae had slipped over another giving me a dent in my back, a prolapsed disk, muscles that were constantly in spasm and leg symptoms. This was never part of my life’s plan.

I was off work for a few months, determined that all would be ok. After I while I returned to work, but struggled to drive, I could not sit for long and was in constant pain so the following August I left the office and never went back.

In 2009 having tried every type of spinal injection, physiotherapy and acupuncture, I had my spine fused. I WOULD make a full recovery.

But I was still in serious pain, still walking with a walking stick and then I had a tear in another disk. Anger and frustration led to depression, which I failed to recognise until everything seemed to go ‘bang’.

I can remember crying solidly for 12 hours and my mother-in-law saying it was time to go to the doctors. Of course as soon as I saw the doctor I started crying who said to me ‘I’m surprised you’ve not been earlier’.

He was right I should have gone earlier – I was very depressed.

Part of the reason I had not wanted to admit this was that my father had taken his own life nine years earlier and I didn’t want to admit to being depressed as some say it can be genetic.

I look back now and think how totally stupid this was, my whole world had fallen apart and I was living in constant pain. Like so many I was being far too hard on myself. I should have asked for help earlier.

In 2011 I had further surgery and was determined to make a full recovery, but like many other people, unfortunately I have gone on to live with chronic pain.

But yet, I’m determined to make the best of things and 2014 IS going to be a great year.

I have finally met a fantastic NHS physio who is treating me as a ‘whole’ person. We are getting to the route of my remaining pain and I am becoming physically stronger every day.

My key phrases throughout my experience have been and remain to be ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and ‘Things always work out in the end’ – I truly believe these words and so should you.

Trigger warning for emotional abuse and disordered eating

I remember clearly when I first became aware of my body and how I felt towards it; I was only 9 years old and I was in a taxi with a friend from school. It was summer so we were wearing those cycling shorts and t-shirts sets everyone used to wear, mine probably had dolphins on, and my friend pointed out that when we sat down my legs got fatter than hers. Of course I know now that when we sit down our legs squish out a little, it’s natural, but at such a young age and never even having looked at my body to criticise it and I was confused as to why she had pointed it out.

Of course, 9 years old is when your body starts to change, you hit puberty and you start to fill out. I was somewhat of an early developer but I was cripplingly shy and I recall being mortified at a party when I was 11 years old and a girl from my class poked me in the chest and shouted “Look at your boobs, look everyone!” and so, of course, everyone did look. My cheeks burnt and I wanted the ground to swallow me up; I was a very private little girl and having this attention drawn to me was horrific.

It’s little incidents like this that affected how I felt about myself; I was embarrassed and wanted to cover up so no-one else would point anything out. I wore baggy jeans and avoided any kind of tight clothes, probably up until I was 16 years of age. I got away with wearing hoodies because I was ‘alternative’ and ‘individual’ so no-one ever questioned it. I didn’t think about it so much at the time and it is only looking back that I am aware of what I was doing. I was ashamed of my body and the less anyone saw it, the less they could judge me.

I have absolutely no idea why I felt this way about my body; my mother fed us a healthy diet, she never talked about her weight or going on a diet and I don’t remember ever even noticing how other people looked. Even growing up as a teenager I didn’t look at celebrities and wish I could be like them. I used to complain a little about my wobbly belly but I never compared myself to anyone else; this was my own demon and not because of how anyone else looked. I can only imagine because I was so shy I was scared to be looked at, I didn’t want any eyes on me and if I had boobs or hips then people would look.

It was only as I grew into my late teens and early twenties that I really began to put pressure on myself to change the way I looked. I have to say I don’t even think it had anything to do with how I looked, it was just the only sense of control I thought I had. From the age of sixteen upwards I have been through a lot bad things, things I wasn’t mature or experienced enough to deal with (what sixteen year old is?) and by concentrating on my looks I could distract myself from everything going on around me.

By concentrating on my looks I wasn’t wearing nice clothes or styling my hair, I was wearing a lot of makeup to cover my face and trying as hard as I could to stay slim. When I was eighteen I got into my first serious relationship. I had a boyfriend for a year before and he wasn’t particularly nice to me, he left me with a lot of self confidence issues. I can’t say my next relationship left me in any better shape, in fact it left me a lot worse. I was with my ex-fiance for five years and during that time my weight fluctuated a lot. I went from 8 stone to over 11.7 stone, which is horrendous for my tiny 5’3” frame. I was so terribly insecure and I used to put myself down a lot. When your partner put themselves down it is your job to build them back up again, to tell them you love them and why; because they are beautiful. It wasn’t like that at all, for me. I remember one Boxing Day night when we were supposed to be going to a party; I was upset because I couldn’t find anything to fit me and I thought I looked like a whale in everything I tried on. I was having a difficult time in University and me and my best friend at the time had just fallen out. I was clearly putting a lot of my issues onto how I felt about my weight and when I couldn’t decide what I looked the least awful in, my partner got angry and told me how disgusting and fat I was, that he didn’t know why he wanted to be with me. He went to the party and left me at home, sobbing in bed. I was so incredibly low and I hated myself so much, I wanted to hide away and never be found.

It was about six months later when I started to work full time in my job that I started to lose weight. It was natural at first because I was doing a lot more physical work; I was no longer sitting in lectures drinking hot chocolate and eating a Galaxy Caramel but I was lugging heavy boxes around and everyday I was rushed off my feet. Once I had lost half a stone I decided that I really wanted to go for it, I was sick of feeling disgusting and crying when I saw a photograph of myself, I wanted to fix it while I was still young and could enjoy being slim. Over the next year I gradually lost weight, from sticking to a high protein diet, lost 3 stone and for a while I was happy with the results.

This changed, however, when my relationship turned sour (or more sour than it already was!) My partner had been caught sneaking around with another girl behind my back a fair few times, I know I should have left right away but I was living with him now and it wasn’t so easy to just drop everything and start a new life. Eventually, though, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t spend my life with someone I couldn’t trust, someone who repeatedly hurt me and looking back was emotionally abusive.

The next few years weren’t particularly good, either. I thought I was having a good year last year until that went wrong too. I had another breakdown in a relationship, I was stressed at work and I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed; I had hit rock bottom. I sat at home for a god few months crying on the couch, thinking about how much I despised myself. How it was my fault that everything had gone wrong and I didn’t deserved to be loved, that I was unlovable anyway. In my last relationship I was incredibly insecure, probably down to the fact that my previous one was so abusive. It was another unhealthy relationship and I never felt my needs were being met but being so emotionally insecure and vulnerable I clung on for as long as I could, which I regret massively. I always felt like I was the unattractive one in the relationship, that I was ‘punching about my weight’ and that soon he would realise it, he would see that he could do better. I had stomach problems for a long time and I couldn’t eat without getting crippling indigestion, this was down to stress. Work became increasingly difficult and the stress and depression got worse, which caused me to drop a lot of weight. When I was signed off work I was so terribly hard on myself, I decided that I wasn’t going to put the weight back on because I was ugly enough as it was; I couldn’t be ugly and fat. I genuinely couldn’t eat due to a combination of heart break, anxiety, stress and my terrible depression. I got so ill that all I could do was lie down, even eating became difficult and I couldn’t hold any food down if I even managed to swallow it. I should have been worried but I wasn’t, you know what I thought? I thought ‘maybe I can lose a bit more weight’ which I know now is a horrific idea. I was skin and bones as it was, I just didn’t care. I didn’t feel like my body was good enough; my ex was an avid gym go-er for his work and I simply didn’t have the time, money or energy to get a gym membership. I can’t say it was his fault but I did always think he wanted me to be a bit more active, a bit more like him. He wanted me to get involved in sports and activities when I didn’t want to and I thought this reflected on me and made me look lazy. I felt like he wanted me to be something I’m not, he wanted me to be athletic and as into working out as much as him. There was never a moment in that relationship when I didn’t feel inadequate.

I can’t tell you how I managed to change how I think about myself; I think one day it just clicked. I decided that I didn’t want to hate myself anymore; I wanted to accept my body as it is and show off everything about it that I love.

I got into a new relationship and my boyfriend is more than wonderful. He is so supportive; he tells me how much he loves me and how much he loves my body. Slowly but surely he’s built my confidence back up to the point where I can look at myself and think ‘Yes, my bum is great!’ In the past I have never been comfortable being naked around a boyfriend, I’ve always felt unattractive. Now, however, I’m happy to strut around my bedroom naked, all my jiggly bits on show and wobbling as I go. I have a confidence that I have never in my life had and I love my boyfriend so much for giving that to me. He doesn’t judge me, he loves me. His words when I said I hate my boobs, I just can’t bear them and I don’t think I ever will be able to, he said “I’ll love them for you, then.” I instantly melted, no-one has ever said anything like that to me and the best thing about it was I could tell he meant it. With him I feel like a goddess and that isn’t an exaggeration. I know how attracted to me he is, he tells me regularly and nothing will boost your confidence than knowing the person you are most attracted to feels the same about you.

I try to blog frequently about positive body image and about my journey to loving myself. I would hate to think that one day I will have children and I would pass my body issues onto them so I am determined to figure mine out. I still have the odd morning where I’ll look in the mirror and think “Your belly is poking out far too much.” But it is just a fleeting thought, I follow it up with “But look at those legs… look at your bum.” Because I deserve to love myself, as everyone deserves to love themselves.

It has been a long seventeen years since I was that nine year old in the back of the taxi being introduced to body image and questioning why my thighs were bigger than my friends. I have had so many low points when I have wanted to stay inside so no one could see me but not anymore. Now I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, I can see a future where I fully embrace myself and I champion my flaws. My big hips? My soft, rounded belly? They’re womanly and I am a grown woman, it’s how I’m supposed to look. I gained back around half a stone and shockingly, I feel better than ever. My boobs have gotten bigger and my bum has filled out. My face doesn’t look gaunt anymore, I always hated that, and I don’t bump my hip bones into things constantly. Would you believe that it’s actually painful to lie down when you’re so skinny? My bones used to poke into the mattress, not something I enjoyed.

I’ve been to both ends of the spectrum, overweight and underweight and I didn’t enjoy either one of them. I’m not supposed to be large, nor am I meant to be skinny. I am meant to be me, as I am now. I am a healthy weight, I fit into my clothes and best of all I’m happy; I smile constantly because this feeling of loving myself? It’s great and it’s not something I plan on giving up any time soon!

Author of the blog Back To Me check it out!

“I wear the clothes, they don’t wear me”. My newest & most intimate mantra, and I’ll tell you why.

Like many of you reading this, I’ve had numerous battles with the body confidence demons, since childhood. As a kid I was constantly exposed to females striving to be thin. And I was a pretty fat kid. I’m now a pretty fat adult, but we’ll get to that later.

For my 6th birthday party, I wanted to wear a bridesmaid dress that I’d worn, as a bridesmaid, the previous year. Of course, I’d grown since then, but on the day of my party, when that zipper had to be forced up, I felt horrible about myself. I had an awful time at my party, told my friends that I hated them, and cried the whole time.

That experience was something that stuck with me my entire life. So, fast forward to now, and aside from desperately wanting to give my six-year-old self a hug, and to tell her she is pretty, and maybe buy her a new dress….what’s changed?

Well, social media means we get to interact with a whole bunch of people, at the speed of light. The information super highway gives us access to so many good and positive things, and that’s where the Body Positive revolution steps in.

I’ve taken on board a new way of thinking. Through body confidence networking, fashion bloggers and talking to like-minded people, I have obliterated any body shaming I might once have done, and my confidence has never been healthier.

I am no longer thinking like a fat girl who should obey Fat Girl Fashion Rules. I wear what the devil I like, and I don’t care if it’s “flattering”. To me, flattery implies that we are slowly edging towards some BS ideal of what it’s acceptable to look like, and that doesn’t sit right with me at all.

So since getting my head around that, I don’t care what others may or may not think of me. I don’t waste time second guessing other people’s first impressions of me. I am a shameless selfie whore, I’m body positive, I don’t body-shame other people, and I don’t stress about size labels anymore. I’m happy wearing short things, tight fitting things, sheer things, revealing things. Hence, I wear the clothes, they sure as hell don’t wear me.

- Hayley, size 18 & completely not bothered.

@dirtyhayley

Taken (with permission) from Crocuses In The Snow

Type in any of the following into Instagram: #fitspiration, #instafit and the much talked about #healthie and you’ll see the following things: flawless tanned abs, lithe tanned bodies in the crab pose, lycra clad no-sweat-off-my-back plankers and many more.

I know they are supposed to be inspirational and I am all for anything that encourages healthy, happy bodies.

But these images, for me, aren’t inspirational in the slightest. In fact, it’s the opposite. These images make me feel as though my fitness efforts aren’t enough, that because I’m not aiming for a six-pack or doing push-ups in the snow, I may as well give up and go home. They make me feel as if I met these people in real life they’d scoff at everything I achieve, eye my fleshy, still-a-bit-chubby body up and down and make me feel as though I am lying when I say I enjoy working out.

It made me realize that if these images make me feel this way now, three years after starting my own fitness journey, then how are they making those who are starting out now, as so many in January have? They could be online looking for inspiration and come away thinking that world isn’t for them, and give up. So I decided to write something on what fitness means to me, something for those who turn red as a tomato as soon as they step near a treadmill, people who fart in yoga class and for whom the plank means collapsing on your nose after two seconds.

I used to be as exercise hating as you get. An expert note forger, the girl who got her period four times a month or the one who left her kit behind: anything to get out of PE. And if forced, the one at the back of the running group, huffing and puffing, sobbing that she is going to die and, always, always picked last for teams. And bad PE lessons stay with you, they give you the idea that you are simply not one of those ‘fit’ people, so why even try? Leave it to the hockey captain, the 6-minute miler and use it to form bonds with those like you. “Go to the gym? Nah, let’s sit in and eat chocolate instead…” and yeah, living that way was so much fun. But then three reasons forced me out of my slippers and into my trainers:

1, I’ve never really got the whole “does my bum look big in this?” thing – my policy was always, “it’s behind me, why should I care?” I looked at myself straight on in the mirror and was fairly happy with what I saw. But then one day I made the dreaded mistake of looking at myself from behind wearing just a pair of pants. It was a shocking discovery. My bum DID look big in this but worse were the rolls of fat rippling down my back. I didn’t mind the bum (after all, a chubby bum is surely comfier to sit on?) but, I reasoned, the back was a problem: they really should be flat. Alas, my cider years were catching up with me: it was time to lose some weight.

2, I rewatched Titanic and looked at it totally differently. Rose would have had to be pretty fit to run up that boat while it was on such a steep angle and have good upper arm strength to hold onto those railings. If I was in the Titanic, or indeed any other disaster, I wouldn’t survive. I’d be the guy that let go and slid down the boat, thunking on that big metal thing (technical term I’m sure) on the way down.

3, (the main one) I began working for a slimming magazine. Part of my job was to attend fitness classes with health journalists. I once even had to go spinning with Victoria Pendleton. And there is nothing more humiliating than dying by the warm up, surrounded by those who write about fitness for a living. I had to try and match them, or at least get past the warm up.

In the process I learned a lot of ways to trick myself into thinking of myself as a gym person, of changing that voice in my head that told me I was still the fat, ginger kid writing notes with my right hand so that Mrs Sie wouldn’t recognize my handwriting. And here they are…

1, It’s just you

Thinking back to those school day sniggers I spent a lot of time worrying what others would think of me. When out running I’d avoid the nods of fellow runners, scared they’d judge me for how slow I was going. At the gym I wore muddy trainers so others would see me as a ‘serious exerciser’ and I was so ashamed of how red and sweaty I was at the end of classes. But as I went more often and my confidence improved I realized that it didn’t matter what time that person on Facebook got for their run, or if I can’t keep up with the Zumba moves. I was only against myself. I hate looking at myself in the mirror so I don’t: I look at the instructor and the others in class. And doing that makes me realize that everyone else in class is doing the same. They’re as caught up in their own heads as I am.

2, It’s not fun

Sorry, what I really mean is, it’s not always fun. I got this idea in my head that if I found the right activity for me, the one I really enjoyed then exercise would be a doddle. And in a way that’s true – I would not work out if I couldn’t find enjoyment in any of it (which is why I left the yoga class where the instructor whistled at me like a dog) But this attitude left me shocked when, during hard bit of dance class or running up a hill, I found myself out of breath and gasping, and not enjoying this whole exercise malarkey at all. Then I remembered that I was overweight, hadn’t exercised in years and was throwing myself around the room like a mad man, using muscles that had, previously, been enjoying a lounging life. Of course at times it wasn’t going to be fun. But I began to adopt the attitude that if I didn’t enjoy that certain class or that workout then it was only 45 minutes of my life. And that was OK, it’s impossible to have fun all the time.

3, Mental tricks will get you through

The voice that tells me I’m not good enough, that I am not someone who enjoys working out is still there, daily. So I’ve had to adopt some tricks to drag myself to work out. These include: not going to the bathroom before the gym and not wearing a coat on my way there. That way I am forced to into the gym (which, conveniently is 5 minutes from my work) to relieve my aching bladder and get warm. Once I’m in there I remember, “oh yeah, it’s not so bad in here!” Before a class I’ll always, always arm myself with an excuse to get out of there early. It’s a treat to the old PE hating me. It says, “I won’t shout at you, or force you to do anything you don’t want to, you can do 20 minutes and if you hate it you have permission to leave.” I’ve not had to use one of my excuses once.

4, #healthies are bullshit

The most important piece of advice I’ve ever been given about working out is: “even an Olympic athlete should be red, sweaty and exhausted at the end of their workout. It shows you’ve given it your all. If you look good you aren’t working hard enough.”

So, to inspire you to not be intimidated by that fitness world, here are some real life #healthies…

Actually looking at them again I wouldn’t blame you if they scared you off exercising for life…

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I could tell you all about the day I realized I was fat. I went home, locked myself in the toilet, wept. I could tell you that I kept that up for about three days a week, for about seven years. I could tell you all about the blowjobs I didn’t want to give, to boys who were happy to let me suck them off but wouldn’t touch me in return.

I had never had anyone touch me sexually until I was nineteen. I had, however, given, oh, probably thirty blowjobs?

The boy who said the thought of me naked made him felt sick. The many, many times my mum dragged me to the gym. The way that, to this day, I eat sugary food in private and cry afterwards.

But then, when I was 21, I was diagnosed with Lichen Sclerosus. A rare autoimmune disease that attacks the vulval skin, until it lacerates and comes off. It can stop normal intercourse, can make the clitoris scar over and disappear, and it has no cure.

I may well take steroids for it for the rest of my life.

But!! It has changed me. It has helped me. It has made me love my body, love what it can do, love its well parts, the way they work.

Lichen Sclerosus is an illness that responds to stress, to psychological duress. And so – I think, I caused it, by hating this lovely, lovely body.

Steroids make me fatter. They make my face swell up. I don’t like that.

I do like the fact that when this illness is under control, I am blessed with a functioning cunt again.

I do like:
*learning mindfulness
*properly negotiating sex using words – finding partners for whom my condition is not a difficulty.
*lovely long masturbation sessions
*walking with my strong legs.
*dancing with this lovely, faulty, imperfect, friendly body.

Loving your body is a hard thing. It exists as the physical token of all that you are, and that is hard – we all want to be the best, shiniest token, when in fact most people are looking at our personality.

So, there are days when I am in so much pain I can’t walk. Or days when steroids give me bad Cushings syndrome. Crying days, lonely-till-I-die days, why am I still not thin enough days.

But mainly? There are thank heavens for my body days. My lovely, ridiculous body, capable of giving – and now I am older, receiving – so much pleasure.

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We thought we would check in and write a post as it has been a while since we have. We are so happy and humbled by the way this project has evolved and it’s all thanks to YOU wonderful women/creatures/beings :D

Although Project Naked started about body image and feeling comfortable in our own skin it has become so much more than that – it is about the way we live in our bodies and what has happened to them, how the whole story of our body makes us who we are. We are so grateful to every woman that has shared something with us, all the support we have received, and to those that have taken the time to read through the submissions – we get a lot of messages saying how much the posts have touched people and helped them with their own experiences.

It always helps to know you are not alone.

Sometimes we go through periods of silence but that does not mean we are not here! Project Naked goes on forever. This blog isn’t really our blog, it belongs to all of you; it is your space to tell your stories.

We believe that writing down your story can be a really cathartic experience whether you send it to us or not (but we would be honoured if you did share it with us!) You can get in touch at projectnaked@gmail.com

We are also (still) trying to get better at twitter so follow us and get in touch @project_naked and any advice on the matter would be greatly received!

Lots of love, and thanks to everyone who has supported us over the past couple of years
Megan and Hannah

The Body Image Revolution

This is an amazing project that runs along the same wave length as we do. We would advise to check them out and subscribe. They also do #BodyConfidenceHour, a beautiful exchange of body positivity on Twitter! Next one on Friday the 17th at 7pm – get involved!

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from @ModifiedTease Thanks!

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