One of the things I find most fascinating about blogging these days is that sometimes it feels a bit like being back at secondary school... and I am not talking about the bitchiness within the community! There are all these different niches which remind me a bit of the goths, chavs, emos etc that used to be spread around my school. I feel I like things that all of them do, but I dont seem to "fit" anywhere.
Over in the food tech room you have the food and recipe bloggers. These guys are amazing. You approach them with a brand, and they ll create a recipe out of it. Just like that, there could be a huge group of them all sent the same product and yet there creative little brains will come up with an abundance of different recipes. You know, sometimes I will hang out with them too but my brain doesn't seem to create recipes. I can follow one as long as its simple but that's about as far as my culinary skills go (However I did get a B in GCSE food tech so I must be doing something right.)
If you stop by the toilets on your lunch break you will find the beauty bloggers. Generally reapplying the newest MAC lipstick, they will be equipped with all the knowledge of how to achieve a full face of flawless makeup in about 15 seconds flat. They know how to apply a lipstick without it getting on your teeth and they can usually do their eyeliner flick standing up without a mirror on the bus. They also usually have perfectly manicured nails and can talk to you about all the latest beauty releases. I admire their skill, and have a bit of a nail varnish and lip product hoard myself but I am never going to achieve the beauty standards and I'm a barefaced hippie at heart.
Then down on the field (or in the gym, or on the tennis courts) are the fitness and wellness bloggers. They rise every morning to a yoga session before downing a green smoothie and heading for a cardio session. They eat their meal prepped lunch of plant based food out of a Tupperware box before heading for a weights session. These are the girls that I always looked in awe of and would punish myself to try and look like them by cutting calories, trying to exercise more (but ultimately when I was alone and no one could see my fat sweaty self) and just thinking I would never be like them.
This is where I believe the problem lies with the current wellness industry.
Wellness and wellness blogging has become synonymous with thin, white, women with abs. It is almost like a members only club where the only way to be famous is to fit in that very narrow mould. Wellness should be about more than just how you look and I feel that a lot of women are excluded from feeling the best about themselves because the whole industry is permanently focused on doing X to lose weight, rather than to feel good.
This came to me one evening when I was listening to the fantastic Don't Salt My Game pod cast and they were talking about Women's Health magazine. Now if you have never picked up the magazine, you may think that this would be all about health right? Well wrong. Its about weight loss. Not always the crude "lose weight in 7 days!" headlines that take up most of the space on women's magazines (and don't get me started on that I could talk about that for weeks ... ) but those such as the "Strong and Sexy ... muscles are hot" which Laura and Pixie talk about in the pod cast. On face value, I thought well whats wrong with that but actually, as the ladies say in the pod cast, we all have muscles. Its a basic part of our anatomy. Just like we all have abs and so what they are actually saying is, lose weight and grow muscle if you want to be sexy because that's the only way to do it. Sexy = thin, apparently.
I also want to talk about the lack of diversity in the wellness industry. Using my Readly app which I absolutely love, I have just pulled up the picture of all the women's health magazines since July 2015. Look at what a diverse bunch they are!! I want to just clarify I have nothing wrong with thin women. EVERY body is welcome in body positivity but on there covers it is pretty much the same woman each time. Thin, toned, white. Ok they have a mixture of blondes and brunettes but thats as far as diversity goes.
The way I see myself has changed. Since embarking on my body positive (I am till not happy with that term, go ahead and check out #bodypositive on instagram and look at the top 9 photos. I can almost guarantee that it will be cisgendered, thin, toned, curves in all the right places white women.) journey I have looked into plenty of health blogger events and been put off because I don't see someone like me there. You know someone who sweats profusely when I exercise. Someone whose belly hangs over my leggings while doing yoga and who's hair doesn't stay in a perfect ponytail while I run on the treadmill.
This is why I want to be part of the change that happens in the industry. I want to see a more diverse range of bodies attending health events. This holistic journey for me is going to be focused so much more on how my body feels, and actually my mental health is number one priority as it should be for everyone. I have loads of content planned for this month and I hope you will join me in celebrating some of the other people who I think are paving the way for everyone to be on a journey of self discovery.
I want anyone to be able to access the wellness industry without being judged on their body. I want fat women to feel comfortable to work out in a crop top and shorts if they so wish. I know I have personally sweated through an intense cardio session in my gym before in a hoody so I didn't offend anyone with the sight of my belly - because god forbid I should be comfortable. The gym for so long to me was a place of punishment. Now I go for yoga and dance because I enjoy them and my body feels good after them, and I know my own limits.
If you are still reading then I applaud you, this has been one hell of a blog post!
Lets change the culture that says exercise and wellness are tools for weight loss and start empowering EVERYONE to do what they want with their body. If it feels good do it, if it doesn't don't