Tuesday, 29 August 2017

This is What Recovery Looks Like

* This blog describes bingeing in detail and may be triggering for people who are struggling with disordered eating. 

Copyright @Women Magazine 
I forget. I forget I have an eating disorder. In fact that I 'had' an eating disorder. Right now, I don't have one. I wouldn't qualify for treatment, I am not sick enough. I am in recovery. But it lurks there, in the background, often quiet and in the back of my mind. I can ignore it. That voice, the voice that tells me that I am sick. Sometimes I don't hear it at all. It blends into the background of life's noises and I forget that it is there. But at other times, it screams at me. It shouts over every part of the day reminding me that it still lurks there, waiting.

I was diagnosed with having a Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in April 2016. I wrote about it the experiences of BED here.  I finished treatment 6 months ago this week. I remember the day of my diagnosis so clearly. A friend had convinced me to go. I thought it was madness that I could have an eating disorder. I was neither young enough, skinny enough nor sick enough to have one. But when I started speaking, and I heard from my own mouth the true story of what I had been managing for over a decade, I realised then, I needed help. At the time I was bingeing between 2 -4 times a day, over 5 days a week. My life was consumed by my bingeing. I cancelled nights out with my friends, trips with my family, and dates with my boyfriend. I essentially existed to work and binge, everything else in between disappeared. I was diagnosed as having Binge Eating Disorder, with a Bulimic mindset. Binge Eating aims to manage feelings. It's a coping mechanism for life, a way of sedating and suppressing feelings, and creating a beautiful numbness, which helped me navigate through life. My bulimic mindset made me restrict, to diet, to weigh, to try and change my shape. I used to think I had no willpower and was a terrible dieter, but on reflection, I can diet like a complete champ. Surviving on green juice for seven days? I've done it. I survived for two months on only 600 calories of milkshakes and yet I thought I was the problem. Insane. 

As soon as I got my diagnosis I felt relief. There was a plan for help and I took it. I started Dialectical Behavioural Therapy in September 2016. I missed my first group session as I was sunning my body in Turkey, and when I entered the room and seven other women were talking openly about bingeing, I had to grit my teeth and force myself to stay there. It blew my mind that other people were talking about bingeing so openly. I had hidden my behaviours for so long, the thought of confessing my most shameful moments openly in a group made my chest tighten. I remained in an anxious state of paranoia for the first four sessions and nodded along as everyone else described their binges in the most vivid details. At first I thought the sessions were a load of hog shit. I came back from each session feeling more anxious, more stressed and keen to binge than ever. I was told not to diet, and yet all I did was watch my calories, weigh myself and try and change my shape. On reflection, I don't think I wanted to get better. I didn't want to stop bingeing. 

I remember my first binge as if I had done it only yesterday. I was 21 years old and I had been on a fluid only diet for 2 months. I was malnourished, hungry and highly anxious. I was the thinnest I had ever been and people told me how good I looked, but I was miserable. I hated myself, I hated how I looked, I hated how I was and I just felt sad. I wanted to eat. So I went and bought a chocolate bar. As soon as I purchased it, I felt myself feeling calmer. As I sat in my room and shoved it into my mouth I felt elated, I felt numb. All the sadness I had been holding for those months just disappeared into the blackness as the sugar rushed around my body. It was one of the most enjoyable feelings I have ever had. I loved it. Within 10 minutes I was on the floor in crippling pain as my stomach attempted to digest it's first bit of food in months. But it felt totally worth it. From then on I kept chasing that numbness. The binges got larger as I required more and more food to suppress the new feelings of shame and guilt that were arising. I just didn't want to feel anymore. I wanted to continue bingeing. 

I went a decade without feeling emotion. Whenever I felt, I binged. I binged in the car, in my bedroom, in kitchens when no one could see. I did not want to stop bingeing, because I did not want to feel. I told my therapist I hated her. I hated her taking this from me, making me feel. 

Copyright @Women Magazine
When the emotions rushed back in and I didn't have my binges to rely on it was hard. I cried. I cried a lot. I cried in therapy, out of therapy and in between. I binged too. I binged when I couldn't take it anymore, when the pain felt too raw, too hard to hold, and then I told my therapist and the group and rather than pity or sadness they asked me why. Why had I chosen the easy way out, to block, to be numb, why couldn't I just feel? I learnt that bingeing was my coping mechanism, but it was also a choice. I needed to choose not to binge. 

Over five months of treatment I learnt new ways of coping with my emotions. It isn't easy and there are some emotions I am better at holding than others. My main triggers are feeling tired, anxiety and being hormonal (way to go body)! I find anxiety my biggest hurdle and it hits me like a brick on most occasions. But I don't binge. I sometimes have panic attacks and I feel stupid and annoyed at myself for struggling to cope. But I don't binge. I miss the warm, sleepy feeling of over eating and wish for that release, but I don't binge. I breathe, I take time out, I reassure myself that this feeling is only temporary and then I repeat that cycle until the urges disappear. Recovery has been beautiful at times. I have mended friendships; I have danced, and sung, and shouted and laughed and been silly. I have lived. It has been glorious. 

On the occasions when I have relapsed and fallen back into old habits, I stop quite quickly after and work through why I chose to binge today. I can often find my trigger and know for next time in the hope of sating that voice inside me. It remains there, the voice of my eating disorder. I used to think it was my voice, I was convinced I had no choice but to listen to it, to do what it said, to believe what it thought. I hear it sometimes, and sometimes it blends into the background of life's noises, and that's where I am hoping it stays. 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Let the Fun BeGIN!

I adore the summer; sausages sizzling on the BBQ, British skin sizzling on the sun lounger, the smell of badly applied 'Hawaiian Tropic' in the air. It's glorious. In the summer, we become these new social beings, going for 'drinks' on a Tuesday night and inviting neighbours we haven't spoken to for six months around for drinks and 'nibbles'. We're like 17-year olds on our first holiday to Magaluf, taking every opportunity to make new mates and to seal these new friendships with a drink or ten. And 'Oh the Drinks', the glorious summer drinks that make their way out of the back of the dusty booze cabinet to be consumed in vast jugs with fruit and salad swimming in it like tiny alcohol sponges. 
My favourite summer drink has to be gin. Gin is the type of acceptable spirit that can be enjoyed at all times and at all occasions without excuse. 12pm and the sun is shining, a little gin and tonic in the garden it is. 8pm and flirting on a first date, a gin and lemonade should do the trick. 8am and hungover from the gin the night before, I've got a gin marmalade martini for that. See, it's a respectable drink. So, when the lovely people at the Gin Festival contacted me to see if I fancied supping gin at their Portsmouth event with a pal, how could I refuse? It was all the best parts of summer in one trip. 

The Gin Festival offers events across the country, with opportunities to try over 100 different gins, accompanied by their suggestion of the best mixers and fruity/minty alcoholic sponges. When you arrive, you're given a book filled with all the gins on offer and little descriptors to help you make those all-important decisions. This being a summer gig, I stuck mainly to the fruity numbers at the back of the book and remained faithful to my favourite liqueur of all time, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, on more than one occasion. Although spending time to choose the right gin is important, and choosing gins named after a guy you fancy on a TV series is not the way forward. One of our group chose a glass of Ragnarok in honour of her favourite sexy Viking and nearly singed her eyelashes off in the process - that be some strong gin. The Gin Festival is the perfect place to live that summer life, chatting to strangers about botanicals and attempting to look ed-u-ma-cated during gin master classes whilst the four gins you drunk the hour previously warm your soul. There is food a plenty to soak up the booze and a cocktail bar if you fancy being fancy with your gin mixers. We took a non gin drinker along with us and she left having successfully having fallen in love with Poetic License's Strawberries & Cream Picnic Gin (could you have created a more summer drink than this?)

My only wish would be that they moved the venue in Portsmouth. Full Disclosure: I have been going to the same event for the past two years, and there is nothing less summery than the 1970’s chic of a musty theatre hall. It was impossible to take a sunny outdoor photo without including the shiny caged bars which surrounded the gin drinkers like we were in a tiny boozy jail (I mean not the worst prison to be sent to). Give me a little grassed area, a sun lounger or three, and I wouldn’t have left the festival until they dragged me out. As it was, we left with two hours to go, for a kebab and a sit down. The perfect end to any summer holiday.  

The Gin Festival offer events across the UK. Click here for links to events near you. This is not a paid promotion, however I was given tickets and a few free gins for good measure.

Monday, 7 August 2017

So You Find Fat Women Sexy? So What!

Photo Credit: Women Magazine 
Now I don't want to say I told you so, but what kind of gloating narcissist would I be if I didn't write a blog post about how I am always right and everyone should listen to me more? Let me just pop my 'I knew it pants on' and lets begin. So, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the body positive gang and how I just wasn't buying it. I felt like it was a huge ploy by mainstream media to sell more stuff to fat girls and wrap it up in a bow of 'self love' as long as your fat fell in the right places, of course. Well, this week, the mainstream media have been fawning over a 'body positive' husband and I am calling it what it is, bullshit.

It begins with an Instagram post (link here) by "wordsmith, public speaker and creative activist" Robbie Tripp. At first glance it seems like a perfectly sweet but generally benign public display of affection with him and his wife doing googly eyes at each other on a beach. But take a closer look and you will see a diatribe of ‘bopo’ inspired drivel written alongside this precious intimate moment. Robbie wants us to know that he likes his wife, even though she is a bit fat. Cue the crescendo of likes and the boy's a viral sensation, and it doesn't take long before the mainstream media are crawling all over Rob's 'love of big birds' and suggesting we should be 'swooning' over him. 

Well I am not swooning, my fanny is not even remotely fluttering, and here's why. 

Stop Fetishizing Fat Women's bodies  

Robbie starts his post by admitting that when he was younger he was "often teased by my friends for my attraction to girls on the thicker side..." Lets ignore the fact that Rob's friends sound like complete bell ends, and focus on young Robbie's penchant for the rotund rumpy pumpy. 

If you're a sexual being, then you have probably found things over your adult life that make your genitals gyrate. As we get older and we open ourselves up to new experiences, we are likely to find different things that make us more sexually attracted to the people we want to sleep with. Whether it's a plump boob, a little side roll or that little muscle which appears on their face when their jaw clenches due to holding back tears (Yes, Your Honour, I like my men crying and emotionally stunted), it is not uncommon to search out those things in a sexual partner. But just because you have found the thing that makes your todger tingle, it is not OK to whittle that person down to only the things you find sexually stimulating. 

Robbie dissects his (beautiful and conventionally attractive) wife right down to the things he thinks are sexy. All of these are physical attributes that he admits he fetishized as a young adult. He breaks her whole entirety down to what gets his knob nodding and then reminds other women not to worry because “There is a guy out there who is going to celebrate you for exactly who you are…” Really Robbie? You mean I can find myself a man who wants to spend time with me purely because he has found things attached to me that he can tug his tent house too. Phew, and to think I was getting desperate. 

Stop fetishising fat women. Stop fetishising all women. Whether it's our flab, feet or fannies, stop fawning over us like we're plastic sex dolls and realise women don't exist for your sexual gratification. 

Just Because You call it Feminism, Doesn't Mean That It Is. 

I love me some male feminists. They are my favourite feminists. Men, who are willing to accept that their gender is a privilege and who recognise that there are patriarchal structures that exclude women socially, economically legally and culturally? Yup, those men really float my boat. 

Robbie is not a feminist. He uses his wife for views, likes and personal one upmanship. He displays her like a fat trophy on all of his social media and then expects a slap on the back for doing so.  Robbie knows that millennial women quite like the idea of equality, and so Robster has thrown the ‘F’ word around and hopes that no one will notice that he does so whilst pointing out every one of his wife’s ‘flaws’. 

I am looking forward to his wife’s post where she points out his lack of jaw line, fashion sense, muscular definition, or body hair and suggests that despite Robbie not being in the least bit conventionally attractive or ever likely to grace the front page of GQ magazine, she still wants to bone him. Except that won’t happen will it, because women don’t comment on men’s bodies, men comment on women’s bodies, and that Ladies and Gentlemen is the mother fucking Patriarchy. 

 You're Not Doing Her a Favour 

Photo Credit: Women Magazine
Even though Robbie uses his wife (and her body) throughout his social media in order to build his business and media presence (his insta bio reads “Husband to a curvy goddess), the main message of his piece is that it is his wife who should be truly grateful for their union. Because despite her stretch marks, dimply butt and fat rolls, Robbie still finds her sexy. Can you hear that sigh of relief from the world’s female population, that men find stretch marks sexy? Imagine if our skin had only stretched to make room for puberty, babies and general growth and not for men’s sexual satiation. 

It bothers me that men like Robbie seem to think that accepting women, ‘flaws’ and all is somehow commendable. It perpetuates the myth that women’s self worth can only be affirmed through male attention and that without it we are just all the lonely fat girls on the benches at the school disco. Women don’t need men to get up and dance, and we are quite capable of doing our one-person solo to Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ without a man’s intervention. If you like a woman physically, emotionally or mentally, then big whoop for you, but don’t expect her to be grateful for your attention. 

 So what I am really saying Mr Tripp is, it’s great you fancy your wife and every part of her. That’s fab. I fancy men with big hands, and broad shoulders. So as long as you’re OK with me rubbing my vagina up against them in clubs, catcalling them when their on their own and vulnerable and sending them explicit photos of my labia just because they are on a dating website, then I guess I can be OK with your post about how you fancy your ‘fat’ wife.  

What do you think, is Robbie's post a hit or is he a tit?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Things that Love Island has taught me about life and love. 

British Summertime is here, and with it the smell of charcoaled sausages and burnt flesh lingers in the air. Your wardrobe is a mix of "vest tops that discreetly hides under boob sweatage" and "cardigans that can double up as an umbrellas". But alas, your hen do to Ibiza is still 6 weeks away and your social diary is as empty as your wallet before payday. So what better way to fill those muggy summer evenings than to spend each night in your pants, propped up next to a dozen fans, watching people (decidedly better looking than yourself) find ways to win fifty grand, I mean love. Ah the romance. Love Island is back for its second series (third if we're including the series where Callum Best dumped Rebecca Loos for farting) and I could not be happier. If you think for one moment that this is vacuous trash TV viewing then, my friend, you are terribly wrong. Love Island has things to teach us, and in three weeks I've learnt quite a bit already. 

There's a dating Santa and he takes requests "on paper"

I've been single for half a decade and during that time there isn't a dating website I haven't scoured in search of the ideal man. Different websites and applications have measured my personality and matched me with hundreds of men based on our 'chemistry' but alas my one true love evades me. Yet, little did I know, there is a solution to this. For on Love Island, all of the contestants have access to 'paper' where they can request their perfect match and he gets dispatched to your door like a pervy deliveroo. Amber, Olivia, Chris, Mike, they've all got access to this paper and the dirty Tinder Santa is dropping off hot love matches all over Magaluf. For the love of all that is holy, would someone give me access to this paper, as I'm filling out my request form and sending it recorded post asap. 

Eggs aren't just for breakfast or Easter. 

Chris has three eggs in Olivia's basket, Dom has put all of his eggs in a Jess shaped carrier and Chloe's eggs are splattered all over the floor as she threw them at Mike as he waltzed out the villa door. There is an abundance of eggs in the Love Island Villa and people are moving them around and in and out of each other's baskets like the Easter Bunny on crack. As in the real search for love, your egg sharing is your game strategy, and Love Island is full of love strategists. Like an elaborate game of Risk, you have to decide how you are going to manoeuvre your eggs around the love playing field and hope you don't end up with an empty basket at the end of it all. So which strategy are you using in your game of love? Do you do a "Dom' and pop all your eggs in one Tinder date's basket and hope she doesn't ghost you in preference for the boy with the blue eyes? Or do you do an Olivia and pop a few eggs in all the boy's baskets and hope you can take one of them to bed long enough to smash them and make an omelette? 

Being 'Not Bothered" is man for "I'm Fine"

One Christmas, many years ago, my boyfriend at the time and I sat by the twinkling lights of our fake plastic fir tree and exchanged gifts. I watched gleefully as he delved in and ripped the paper from his array of perfectly chosen presents I had spent months scouring the land (and Amazon) for. He held up the designer clothes, man moisturisers and the little gifts that inspired memories of the year we had spent together. Each perfectly chosen with him at the forefront of my mind. And then it was my turn, and he handed me over the plastic bag, and I gasped in anticipation as I pulled out a 'Top Gear' Annual. A 'Top Gear' Annual. I looked over at him quizzically and he gave a nervous laugh, and said "Well you know, because we both like Top Gear." 

And for the rest of the day, I was fine. I was fine over Christmas dinner, I was fine on Boxing Day, and the rest of the Christmas Break, and I was even fine on New Year's Eve. I was totally fine. Could not have been finer. Exactly like how Sam was totally not bothered when Olivia pied him for Chris. Or when Chris was not bothered when Olivia humped Mike like a rabid Jack Russell. They were not bothered; I was fine and we all developed haematomas from holding in our rage. The end. 

Feminism is dead, long live the Patriarchy.

In the first week, Camilla put a t-shirt on during a gym session and the men applauded and called her 'wifey' material. The following week, Jonny declared that feminism was irrelevant and Camilla dumped him because it's 2017 bitches. Twitter rejoiced. Girl Power! Then Jonny and Camilla went on a date, Jonny pulled out her chair and called her "Darling" and Twitter announced that 'Jamilla' was the best love story since Charles and Diana and demanded a wedding. So what if he thinks you're a hairy arm pitted, bra burning Feminazi Camilla, he's got cute hair and basic manners, give that boy a blowjob pronto. If Love Island teaches us anything this summer, it is that we should put all our values, morals and ideals to one side for a boy who looks good in a tank top. 

I think we can all agree, that Love Island is the most forward thinking psychological experiment of our time. Or it's just Tinder, vomiting in our laps in a glamorous villa in an area of Spain most Spanish people wouldn't dream of visiting. Either way I am addicted and if you like what you have read here you can read my commentary most weeknights over on my Twitter. Which life lesson have you gained since watching Love Island? And more importantly, which current islander would you couple up with?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Will the real 'Jon Drake' please stand up?

As someone who has lurked around a multitude of dating websites (POF, Tinder, Match, OKCupid, Bumble - God loves a trier right?) for near on half a decade, I consider myself pretty proficient at weeding out the porn bots, foot fetishists and fuck boys. If there is a category of dire human beings on the interweb, the likelihood is that I've probably dated them and learnt a tough lesson as a consequence. I have been ghosted so often in 2017 that I am beginning to think Casper 'the friendly  ghost' is a biographical movie of my life. It is no a great surprise to anyone then that my friends often describe my approach to dating as 'guarded' or 'suspicious'. On a night out, I strap on my 'don't even fucking think about it' perfume and pair it with my 'touch me and I'll get the pepper spray' handbag and I’m normally home in bed alone by 2am with a bag of cheesy chips for company. Last week, after another wine clouded conversation with a married friend about my loveless love life, she suggested I retired my broomstick and cauldron and attempted to become a more approachable, less resting bitch face internet dater. 

Please direct this "Jon' to my DM's
So the next day, I swallowed my positive pant pill and opened up my Tinder app and began swiping to my little shrivelled up heart’s content. I matched quite quickly with a beautiful specimen of a human being named ‘Jon’. Dark hair, brown sultry eyes and a jaw line I could shave parmesan cheese with. Yes please! He messaged me shortly afterwards, Shakespeare wasn't quivering in his boots, but he was pretty so I messaged him back. And then, nothing. So far - so standard. Then three days later a little message to say that he had been busy and an apology and then we chatted. The conversation flowed. He was witty, silly and funny and I felt the ice around my chest begin to thaw a little. Sure, there were moments when Negative Nora tried to interpret some of his messages, like the time he said he couldn't take a selfie because his "camera was broke" or the fact he seemed super keen to impress me, sending me videos of his 'man cave' and £90 bottles of vodka. But when Nora raised her head, I squished her down and thought, 'What would Cher from Clueless do?' as I twiddled my fluffy pen in my fingers and tied another glitter scrunchie in my hair. "I shall not be a bitter spinster, I shall not be a bitter spinster."

After four days of 1am texting and giggling like a frigid school girl, I began to think that my new attitude to dating was indeed working and it would not be long before I joined my married mates on coffee date, where we would talk about mortgages, throw cushions and the Next catalogue. And then during the day he sent me a photo. It was a random photo of some work he had been doing on this house he was apparently refurbishing (did I tell you he owned a building company?!).

"Hey!" I said, "Isn't your camera broke?"


"Well if your camera works, I definitely deserve a selfie"


Please direct this 'Jon' to my blocked list
And then a photo came through and I eagerly opened it. Wow, I thought, cute eyes. Then I scanned the rest of his face. It did not look like the pictures I had seen before. His jaw line seemed less defined, slimmer and perhaps a little obsolete. His lips, not so pouty, thinner, less cute. And then those eyes, those big brown eyes in the Tinder photos were now small, bright blue eyes. Positive Polly suggested it was a bad angle, a bad day, perhaps a very old photo. But Negative Nora knew the truth. I had been bloody catfished. Catfishing is the term used for people who use fake online profiles in order to persue someone, usually romantically. And on this occasion that someone was me.

Bizarely, he made me confront him about it. "You're not the same person" I noted. "Well he said, long story but..." He suggested he had broken his phone and was using a friend's Tinder to save his ex girlfriend's feelings, but he had enjoyed chatting to me and hoped I would continue talking to him even though he was a completely different person. It seemed irrelevant to him that he had been posing as a completely different person for 4 days, that his name, his job, his face had all been a lie. He seemed to that because we had gotten on whilst he was ‘Jon’ that I would somehow transfer those feelings to this ‘John Doe”. I called him a few names and then deleted and blocked him. Not without learning a whole new set of lessons about the dating world first. 

1) Never Trust Your Married Friends

Bless them and their rose tinted view on all things relationship. If your married friends' last experience of dating was back when Craig David could still make love from Wednesday to Saturday without a Viagra and a nap, then don't trust a single word of advice they utter. Their intentions are good, they are happy, they want everyone to be as blissfully in love and as happy as them, but they have absolutely no concept of the Jumanji style jungle you are surviving in every time you open your dating app. I mean if a member of the Russian mafia hasn't tried to blackmail you over your nude selfies, have you even internet dated?? 

2) Verify, Verify, Verify

Nice try mate...
The great thing about our generation being so connected is that there are endless ways in which we can confirm the identities of others without even leaving our sofas. As soon as someone hands over their phone number, you can access almost all of their social media sites and check out whether they are who say they are. Even the most hipster anti social media wanker will have an old BEBO or Myspace account you can check out their teenage goth stage out. Sure it's a bit stalkery, but better to do a five minutes of lurking than wasting 4 days on an old man with an iPhone.

Additionally, there are lots of ways of getting live verification from someone without needing to become Columbo. Snapchat, Kik, FaceTime and Skype are all ways in which you can verify someone is who they say there are in less than a second. If they aren't keen to do this, there is probably a reason why. 

Point to note: I did this with the Catfish and I found his Facebook page. 'Jon Drake' did exist, however the only photos he had on his FB profile were the same ones from his Tinder profile. He also only had one friend. One! It's almost laughable how desperate I was to ignore my gut feelings on this one. On that note...

3) Trust Your Gut

Excuse the spelling mistakes, I was raging. 
There is a reason why 'gut instinct' is a universal term for when something seems a bit fishy. Our bodies are sensitive sausages and they react instinctly to when we feel unsafe or in danger. It’s the reason why when we burn ourselves on the frying pan we don’t leave our arm in the fat and wait for our brain to reflect on what the emotional damage might be. Throughout my conversations with ‘Jon’ my gut was telling me there was something not right. For a handsome man, he seemed overtly keen for me to like him. Now I am not saying pretty people can’t be interesting, but normally, good-looking people don’t need to put much effort into getting people to like them.

However, Jon would send me photos of different things he owned, pictures he had painted and would try and keep me engaged in conversations long after I had told him I was going to bed. At the time, I thought it was weird that he was so keen but Positive Polly wasn’t having any of my naysayer attitude, in reality, Polly should have shut the fuck up. Long live Bitter Betty!

If It Seems Too Good To Be True – It Probably Is

Now that I’ve let Bitter Betty out of the closet, I want to ensure you that I do not say this as some old hag who wants you to doubt anything good can come into your life. However, this isn’t ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and Heath Ledger isn’t about to serenade you on the football pitch in front of the whole school. This is real life and people are flawed, faulty and sometimes idiotic beings. Of course we all pump up our statistics on the internet to make ourselves seems a little better (Hello Instagram!) and lying on a dating profile isn’t anything new. But if the guy you are talking to is a 6ft, Thor like creature, who is a top 100 CEO whilst also doing a bit of charity work on the weekends, yet is still swiping madly on a Tuesday afternoon, then he probably isn’t real mate.  

So after five years of internet dating, I experienced my first Catfish. It makes a change from the ghosting, at least these ones text you back.

Have you ever been lied to on the internet? Any hot tips on how to avoid the Catfishes on Tinder? Let me know in the comments below, Bitter Betty could do with your help before she buys a cattery and a chastity belt.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Oh Hay, I am in the newspaper now. Like a famous. 

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, a little article was published about my binge eating disorder in Fabulous Magazine, in The Sun on Sunday. Have a little gander at it here

Monday, 1 May 2017

Can you be "Body Positive" when you hate your body? 

The clean eating fad of 2016 is well and truly dead. Step forward the latest trend in Instagram worthy posts - "Body Positivity". The avocados are out and the cheeseburgers and exposing your flesh is in and we are all supposed to feel mildly happy about this. No longer do we need to work out for 2 hours a day and gulp down spirulina smoothies like little radiant sun beams of health, for the world is ready to embrace us, whether fat, thin, bloated or lean. Brands are jumping on that 'Body Positivity' train as quick as they kicked the Hemsley sisters off it, and we are told it is time to embrace our scars, stretch marks and cellulite and feel positively grateful for their existence. Except, if you spend any time flicking through the body positive or 'bopo' tags on social media, what you will see is a lot of (predominately) white women, with luscious boobs, nipped in waists and back ends you could stack your groceries on. These women are beautiful, and polished and they make me feel anything but positive about my naked flesh. Even as the world begins to embrace the curvier female figure, what do you do, if even your plus size body doesn't fit the mould? 

I have always been aware of my body for as long as I can remember. I am a fully paid member to the flat bum, fat tum squad. There has never been any junk in the trunk, but gut in the gunt, I've got plenty. As I grew up, I became more conscious of what was wrong with my figure and less aware of what was right. I would diet, and exercise and dream of rock hard abs and quickly fell into this pattern of restricting and bingeing, before I fell face first into a fully-fledged eating disorder. As a mental health issue, eating disorders really do a number on your brain and your body. After a decade of starving and stuffing myself, my body was in dire straits. I was overweight, bloated and exhausted. I quickly began to isolate myself from my friends and family, conscious of what people would think about my escalating weight. My life became solely about the way I looked and there was nothing more important than that number on the weighing scales.  I gained degrees and masters, I was promoted and excelled in my career, I had relationships and fell in love, but nothing mattered more than how I looked in the mirror.

As I move into recovery, I am finding parts of my life have begun to come alive again, my friendships are blossoming, my social life is increasing and the importance of my weight slips and slides down the scale of relevance on a daily basis. However, I know how I look remains incredibly important to me. I know how much I weigh to the pound, I am conscious of what I put into my mouth and sometimes I still crawl in bed and envelope myself in my duvet because I can’t bear the world to see me. There are times when I stare at my body and I hate it. I hate its lumps and bumps, the way it moves and jiggles and blubbers about. I will lay on my bed and grab and pull at my belly and at the worst times think about how I would love to take a knife and slice away all the parts I really detest. The idea that I would find an ability to love these parts is such an alien concept to me that when I scroll through the body positive posts I want to scream at all the women at the top of my voice “HOW!?”

In the most part, the bopo movement is about finding acceptance in your self, and as a notion it isn’t the worst. Of course we would all love to wake up tomorrow and look at ourselves in the mirror and skip happily down the road in our bikinis singing “I’m pretty, Oh so pretty” at the top of our lungs. But is that even possible? Like with the clean eating movement, the issue I have with bopo (and in particular brands use of body positivity as a selling tool) is that it is a fad, a way of selling us a shiny glossy slice of a perfection most of us will never achieve. It trivializes our relationships with our body and societies views of our figures as one we can just overcome by sticking on a two-piece and a nice filter. As someone who has spent years hating my body, the bopo movement encapsulates all the pressures I feel to conform, just in this instance, rather than a svelte goddess with a smoothie bowl, we now need to be a curvy queen with a cupcake.

As the bopo movement skyrockets into the mainstream, is there a way in which we can embrace the values of body acceptance and loving ourselves, without the need to conform to the hourglass ideals that fill our timelines? One of the greatest tools I have gained through my recovery is to begin to realise that my body is more than just what it looks like. My body has kept me going throughout everything I put it through, and (minus a gall bladder) it’s coping quite well. My body is strong. I can’t run to save my life, but give me a bench press and I will lift weights until my hearts content. If I were born in pre-historic times, someone would have knocked me over the head with a club and dragged me to his cave years ago, because I would have saved our village during an avalanche. I can move those rocks! The fact is, my body is badass, it can move and jump and dance and it is more than just what it looks like on the outside. This thought process gets me out of bed, even on my worse days because I know I can do anything I want to do, if I let my body take the reigns rather than my brain. I am beginning to accept that I may never be 100% happy with how my body appears, and that there may well be days I lay on the floor surrounded by clothes, but with nothing to wear because I am having a ‘bad body’ day. And actually that’s ok. In the future I hope that by feeling more positive about what my body can do, rather than how it looks, those ‘bad body’ days may become less frequent and I can truly begin to accept who I am. For perhaps, body positivity isn’t about accepting what I hate but embracing what I love.