So I got a message from a friend. I was just sitting down and editting a VLOG I’m working on. I’d posted this photo on Instagram earlier:
with the caption: “Does anyone else get this seriousss period bloat? *laughing face* Only happens to me the first few days but I’ve got it real bad today.”
I thought this photo would be an opportunity for me to show the normal side of me. Not the airbrushed or nice filtered side. But the real, authentic side. I feel like shit today. Like many other women do when they’re first on their period. And I wanted to share that.To cut through that Instagram highlight reel with some real shit. I wanted to show that we all get bloated. We all have our shit days.
I got a ping and I checked my Facebook messages.
The message started with:
“I have a bone to pick with you about this post you made and others like it.”
It continued with:
“For some people, that’s the actual size of their stomach when they suck in or relax. Seeing someone post this calling it bloated and making a laughing face it it will make them (feel) bad about it. I know that’s exactly the opposite of what you want and what you’re trying to do, but people who are larger than you will not be comforted or feel good about these kinds of posts.”
I read the message. The whole message. And I read it again. I replied thanking her. And I am so so thankful for this old friend who called that out because in my own head what I was doing was helpful and good. But it was being perceived in the opposite way. She told me that although this could be helpful for some people, it could also be “rubbing it in the face of others.”
At this point I don’t really know what to think. I’m a bit confused. I know, in my heart, that the reason I posted that image- like the reason I run this blog and the Instagram account associated with it- is to help people.
That’s why I started doing this in the first place. That’s what I fundamentaly believe in. And I’ve had messages from people who have told me exactly that. Who have thanked me for continuing doing what I’m doing and telling my story. I hold onto that on days when I lose faith in myself.
I knew from the start that I couldn’t help everybody. That I couldn’t reach everybody. That there would be people criticising me, or judging me, or perceiving me as someone I know I’m not.
I’ve had criticism before about my writing. People saying my articles are a poor excuse for journalism. That I’m just an attention-seeking, know-nothing whore who wants her five seconds of fame. People are entitled to their own opinion. It still hurts, though. That people can get you so wrong. Can completely miss your point.
But none of those comments hurt more than hearing that your content, which you thought would be helpful and meaningful, is actually harmful to some.
Because that is the antithesis to my purpose.
That is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. And I feel like a total failure.
She’s right. I’m fortunate to be within the healthy weight range. But the truth is that I can’t write from the perspective of someone who is overweight (or underweight) for that matter. I can only write about my experience as authentically and as honestly as possible and that’s what I’ve tried to do ever since I started this blog back in 2015.
Does being within the healthy weight range and being slim prevent me from having an opinion about positive body image? Should it prevent me from posting these sorts of photos to relate to my audience? No. But it does mean that my experience is different from those of others and in my posts and my videos and my photos I have to be aware of that. I have to be aware that I’m coming from a place of relative privelege. I have to be aware of the language I use when I talk about my body.
I lost that awareness for a while. And that message helped to shock it back into me. It was the most constructive feedback I could have gotten.
I wish I could help everyone. But I can only be who I am. I can only speak from my own experience. And I can only do my best. I will take advice on board. I will be more aware. I will ask more questions and I’ll try to be as open minded as possible. I want to be better. And I need messages of all kinds to do that.