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Anushka Moore is the founder of the Midsize Collective Instagram account, and blogs at Mascara Every Saturday. Here she talks about how seeing mid-sized women on social media every day has helped her in her own quest for body positivty.
It was my first day back at Zumba after the Christmas break and I couldn’t help but wonder, as I used my elbows to fight for the tiny square of space I had to do our routine in, why the class had been so much busier than usual. My question was answered when I overheard two of my Zumba teacher’s ‘Front Row Divas’ talking after class. “NEW YEAR NEW ME!” one of them exclaimed excitedly as I inwardly cringed.
The Front Row Divas were usually the first to arrive at every class, bagged the spaces right behind the instructor and knew the moves to a level of precision that they could put her out of a job if she wasn’t careful. Front Row Diva A was telling Front Row Diva B that she had done three classes every morning that week. “It’s never too early to get bikini body ready, babe!” she claimed as she mimicked the sassy girl emoji. And here I was thinking all one needed to have a bikini body was to own a body and a bikini at the same time.
She then went on to bring out her phone and reference a bunch of bikini photos of her favourite Instagram influencer holidaying it up in Cartagena, while they both commented on how amazing she was for fitting into her size 6 jeans again after having a baby a month ago.
the rest of us, who ironically make up majority of the British population, were completely left out of the fashion narrative
As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t help but think of how far I had come. A couple of years ago, their casual exchange would have left me, a size 14 (okay, sometimes 16 depending on the brand) feeling depressed, inadequate and insecure. 2019, however, truly was the birth of a new me, because 2018 had worked hard to help me get there, mentally and emotionally. 2018 was the year I had started Midsize Collective – an Instagram account that reposted images of fashionable girls between UK size 10 and 18 who had been forgotten by fashion.
If you think about it, scroll through your Instagram Explore page looking for influencers who look like they have a similar body to you at a size 12 or a 14, and all you’d find are the size 6-8s or the sized 18, 20 and above. Not like there’s anything wrong with being any of those sizes as all bodies are beautiful. But the rest of us, who ironically make up majority of the British population, were completely left out of the fashion narrative, especially by the fashion brands we love who may stock our sizes, but still divide us into ‘Regular’ and ‘Curve’ accounts online, leaving the rest of us with no home to go to. Till Midsize came along, that is.
The page is a truly inspiring place not only because it allows you to discover influencers you relate to because they have body types that may look like your own, but because it urges you to experiment with new styles because you can see somebody with a similar body shape rocking it, without worrying about whether it ‘flatters’ her or not. She wears it because she loves it and it makes her feel good. And if she can do it, I can, too!
We also regularly discuss issues surrounding body positivity and body image issues, because it is so important for us to have these conversations for the fashion industry, and ultimately the world, to evolve out of fat shaming and thin privilege and instead, move towards a world that is more body positive, accepting and encouraging of women.
Since starting the page in July 2018 and growing to almost 20K followers since (the first 3K of which happened in the first 24 hours!), I have been so touched to have received messages from women telling me how they had been waiting for a page like this and that this is what had been missing from their lives for the longest time. That they finally felt accepted and celebrated, were experimenting with clothes they never thought they could wear and that it had done so much for their self-confidence and body image issues.
Losing weight is not your life’s purpose and, your weight doesn’t define who you are. You are more than a number on a scale
Perhaps the most emotional messages were those I had received from women who struggled with or knew someone who actively struggled with eating disorders or mental health problems stemming from deep-rooted self-esteem issues. A lot of them said that after following the page and seeing girls who looked like them leading normal, happy fulfilling lives without caring about what others thought about the way they looked, that they finally felt like a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
Six months on, I feel so privileged to have started the page and feel like it has given me and taught me more than I will ever be able to do for it in return. A lot of those messages turned into ongoing conversations that evolved into real friendships. And the lessons it has taught me are so invaluable, I’m going to carry them with me for years to come. Here are some of the lessons in body positivity I learned from starting Midsize Collective, in the hope that you won’t have to learn them the hard way like I did, at first:
- Losing weight is not your life’s purpose and, your weight doesn’t define who you are. You are more than a number on a scale
- Pretty smart, pretty funny and pretty powerful are better qualities to have than fitting into society’s conventional mould of ‘pretty’
- You can wear whatever the hell you want. Who cares if it is flattering? Do it because it makes you feel happy and good about yourself
- Nobody really cares about what your body looks like or whispers behind your back about it. If they do, it says so much more about them than it does about you
- Treating yourself is as important for your mental health as eating well and working out. Maintain a balance and do it to nourish the body that does so much for you, instead of for what you look like on the outside
- You gain some, you lose some – at the end of the day, it is only weight. It is a lifelong journey, so there’s no point in stressing about it
- Mind your language. There are lots people silently struggling with self-image issues around you, a lot of which are caused by people being callous with words. Remember, children don’t just decide to hate their bodies, we teach them to. Be the change you wish to see in the world
- Be your own kind of beautiful. I’ve learned that daring to be unique and confident in one’s own skin is the most powerful revolution in the world
- Influencing needs to be more responsible, with more accounts that advocate body positivity, mental health issues and that are organic, transparent and down to earth so that audiences really relate. We need to remember that influencing is more than just about us, and also about the people that follow us and that influencing doesn’t always have to be about pushing product, but using your voice to make a positive change in the world
- When women come together and support one another, they can take over the world. I’m so proud that Midsize Collective is the most supportive, encouraging space, and even though we’ve had differences in opinion, all the girls handle it with class and dignity and most importantly, respect
I can’t wait to discover the lessons Midsize Collective is going to to teach me in 2019. But for now, I know that I’m going to be striding into the year happier, more confident and more at-peace with myself than I ever have been. Now excuse me while I work my way up to Front Row Diva C in my own way – there’s room for a little more bootay up there!