Where is my space?
It’s been a peculiar 3 years. I set out on a journey to change the shape and weight of my body for different reasons. Back then, it was about fat shaming, both public and online, but there was also the factor of health. I was unable to walk certain distances without my back becoming painful or being out of breath. Something had to change.
I started writing ‘My Rad Fat Diary’ for women’s collective TYCI about my journey, not only as a plus size woman, but about weight loss. I felt comfortable and safe enough to do so because the women within the collective were open, honest and supportive.
As I work in the unpredictable realms of Social Media as part of my job, I know the perils and positives of putting yourself “out there”. I was at breaking point mentally prior to my quest. I have made it no secret that from a child I was told what I could and couldn’t eat. The conflictions were at times so polarised that I didn’t know what was right and wrong.
Whilst I received the predictable body shaming from people who claimed I was disgusting, overweight, I would never amount to anything or look the way they perceived beauty to be, I was also hit one day with a different type of shaming.
The young woman in question was angry and upset at how I had referred to my body. Unfortunately, she had read one entry and I was extremely down on myself. That was part of my journey and I had to illustrate how the years of abuse about my body had become internalised. There was also a feeling that the body positivity movement was threatened by me choosing to lose weight. I questioned, should fat positivity and weight loss not be able to coexist?
Since then I guess I have never really understood where my place was and is. I have always been used to people commenting on my size - strangers, family and friends. One minute you are told that size doesn’t matter and in the same breath you are congratulated for losing a size.
I have always maintained that anyone else can live in whatever body they wish to, but why can’t I treat myself in the same regard?
The pressures on people now terrify me. There will never be a fully safe space when it comes to the internet. People have been raised with so many ideas of what you should look like, what you should do, what you should eat, how you should present yourself. BUT, there are pockets of people creating communities that challenge these things and indeed body shaming.
I have now started creating my own community and trying to understand my relationship with my body. I have lost a lot of weight, but I am still very much a plus size woman. I admire those I follow now that have such a positive and colourful approach to life no matter their size, shape, colour and orientation. I hope one day I support myself as much as I do them.
Halina Rifai works with the Scottish music industry, she is also a music blogger& podcaster at Podcart, writer of My Rad Fat Diary and recently set up an offline and online mental health safe space called