About the Episode

We’re kicking off our summer series with what I believe to be the BIGGEST turning point in my personal anti diet journey: body image. More specifically, how body image affects self-advocacy and what is possible when the perspective we have of our body shifts into a more positive area of the Body Appreciation Spectrum.

We explore the body appreciation spectrum, which includes body respect, body acceptance, body neutrality, body appreciation, body peace, and body confidence, and discuss the importance of body respect and acceptance, rather than striving for a singular body image feeling.

As always, we’re finishing the episode with prompts and questions to help listeners explore their relationship with their bodies and advocate for themselves.

Daring Fat Instagram Account

Topics discussed in episode 005

  • Body image is influenced by societal pressures and reinforced messages about beauty standards.

  • The body appreciation spectrum includes body respect, body acceptance, body neutrality, body appreciation, body peace, and body confidence.

  • Advocating for oneself involves recognising and challenging internalised beliefs and seeking products and environments that promote comfort and inclusivity.

  • Body respect and acceptance are ongoing practices that prioritise self-care and compassion.

  • Exploring the relationship with one’s body and challenging societal norms can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of oneself.


00:00 Introduction and Summer Series

01:44 The Manifestation of Negative Body Image

05:59 Body Image & Weight Loss Negotiations

10:08 The Body Appreciation Spectrum

25:02 Prioritising Self-Advocacy and Seeking Comfortable Products and Spaces

29:06 From Pursuing Thinness to Prioritising Joy and Inner Peace


Melanie [she/her] (00:00)
Okay, so before we get into this episode, I do have some content warnings and I do just wanna update you on a couple of things. The first is we will be talking about body image today, quite in depth. We’re going to be exploring how our relationship with our body affects self -advocacy. So as always, if this is a topic that is triggering for you, please feel free to sit this one out.

And as always, you can find a full glossary of anti -diet related words, phrases and terms over on my website, https://www.outlawcreatives.com/glossary I also have some news to celebrate our summer series and so that we can continue having more in -depth conversations about personal hygiene and self care in relation to larger bodies. I’ve put together a bonus episode on Substack.

It is available on all tiers, including free. So to listen in, you just need to subscribe to the show on Substack and you’ll get access to this content. In the episode, I walk you through my personal hygiene routine, discuss products that I’m using, how they work, and I share my thoughts on these products too. I am in no way affiliated with any of these companies. I am literally just telling you about things that I’ve used, things I’ve tried, things I like, things I didn’t like, and also giving you some suggestions for other products.

so that we have a variety of things that can be accessible for us. So if you’d like to grab this bonus episode, head over to culturefitallpod .substack .com forward slash subscribe. This will also be in the show notes and in the description of this episode, so don’t worry.

Okay, I think I’ve covered everything for today, so let’s get into this episode, shall we? Feeling uncomfortable in my body is not a new sensation. For as long as I can remember, actually, I was a young child, maybe eight, nine, and I started to become very aware of my body. I became aware that other people seemed to have an issue with my body.

Even when I didn’t understand what the problem was, I didn’t understand why, but I knew that it was because of my size. I was bullied from a young age, probably six or seven, about my size. I see photos of myself and I’m very confused by this experience and this time in my life and I can only imagine how a seven -year -old version of me was really, really confused.

– not understanding my feelings but not understanding why I was being treated this way. And this was just the start of many years of this. At my 13th birthday party I remember scouring the stores to find a strappy dress that fitted me, something I felt even remotely comfortable in and I seem to remember that I wasn’t comfortable in what I wore in the end anyway.

I paired it with a bolero or like a shrug. I don’t know what they’re, I don’t know what they’re called nowadays but like those like little half cardigan things because I didn’t want to show my arms. I was 13 years old and I didn’t want to show my arms off.

I avoided shorts growing up because my thighs always seemed so much bigger compared to my friends. And this just carried on into my 20s. I remember 10 years ago I was around six months postpartum and it was summer and it was warm. My body had obviously changed. My body was not the same as it was before giving birth and

I remember feeling so uncomfortable. Not only was it hot but my body had changed, I wasn’t happy with how my body had changed, I certainly didn’t like the way I felt. And the desire to almost go back to a body that I had had meant I spent a lot of time trying to find new clothes.

clothes that would be weather appropriate but in stores that really weren’t catering for my body at that time. So I kind of forced my body into clothes that felt uncomfortable, things I really didn’t like but it felt like it was my only option.

Despite having grown up in a larger body, it took until last year when I was 36 to learn about personal hygiene and products that could actually help me stay dry and comfortable, not just in the summer but all year round or at any time when I might be sweating. The products and routines and tips that I’ll be sharing with you over the coming weeks and months

They weren’t something that I thought I had access to until I started advocating for myself.

You see, I didn’t look for products, brands or spaces that would welcome me and my fat body because I had a really poor relationship with my body and I was in constant pursuit of thinness. It felt like the only solution was to be smaller. It never occurred to me.

that I could offer myself compassion, compassion would have felt like quitting. It would have felt like I was giving up on this thing that was supposedly going to make me so happy. So even though I was in a larger body, I didn’t believe I should take care of it or treat it with any respect.

And I certainly didn’t go looking for products to make me more comfortable.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently reflecting on my younger years, trying to remember how I felt in my body, how some of these beliefs were formed. From a young age, I remember bartering my weight loss with my parents. Things like, can I have that leather jacket when I lose X amount of weight or I’m a size whatever. And as I got older, I began negotiating with myself.

You know, because when society tells us that larger bodies are, I quote, work in progress, that happiness and health have a certain size and a certain look, it’s really easy to slip into these body image negotiations. Many of my own negotiations were aesthetic based. They were self -care and fashion related. When I was pursuing thinness, the conditions and the rules I had were

founded in unrealistic beauty standards.

I wanted to achieve things that were actually likely impossible because of my genetics and bone structure. Interestingly, I remember just wishing people would leave me and my body alone. There were fleeting moments where I would think, is my body really so much of a problem? Like, is this how I want to live my life? But you know, you hear something enough times, especially as a teenager, and you start to believe it.

Anti -diet work often requires reflection, which is why I try to post questions and journal prompts in every episode for us. Recently, I’ve thought a lot about where my beliefs were formed. As I’ve divested from diet culture, the relationship between myself and my body has shifted quite a bit. Now, I can’t sit here and tell you that I love my body. Some days I really like it. Some days I don’t mind showing a little bit of skin.

or even showing the shape of my stomach. Other days my relationship is affected by my emotions or my hormones and I just need to dress in a way that feels really safe. This has been an important piece of my journey, an understanding that each day is different and that that’s absolutely okay.

Some people, usually thin people, will try to pep us up with the kind of good old, “Wear what you want! Fuck what they think!” And listen, I am all for hyping each other up. Especially your fat friends. But the impact of these body positive sentiments isn’t always the same as the intention. Right? The impact is not the same as the intention. Please understand.

that the way we feel about our body is not a superficial response to wearing a certain outfit. It isn’t because we lack confidence. I mean, it can be, but it’s actually rooted in years of reinforced messages. Messages from friends and families and partners and magazines and TV shows and even complete strangers. It’s…

reinforced with a set of rules around how larger bodies “should” dress. It’s reinforced by the lack of thought that goes into creating plus sizes, even by stores who only carry plus sizes.

One day I hope to love my body. In the meantime I am actively choosing not to hate my body. And I spend time navigating the middle of what is called the body appreciation spectrum. I choose to prioritize acceptance and respect. It feels more tangible.

and it still helps me to strengthen my self -confidence and advocate for myself.

The body appreciation spectrum allows us to exist in more than one area at once. If body hate is at one end and body love is at the other, there is a whole lot of ground that we can cover in between. Things like body respect, body acceptance, body neutrality, body appreciation, body peace and body confidence.

Now you do not need to pick one area, nor do you need to check off one before moving on to the next. This is a grey area. A middle ground. A space where we can practice divesting from the rules of diet culture and cultivate nourishing relationships with our bodies even if we don’t love them.

Here’s the thing, friend, you do not have to love your body in order to respect it. And all of this is an ongoing practice. Everything we’re gonna be talking about today is an ongoing practice.

If any of what I shared in this episode has resonated, you may well have believed, or even still believe, that your body is only worthy of acceptance when it fits into superficial beauty standards. I’m sure you’ve witnessed this firsthand, I know I have growing up, but please know that this is a patriarchal construct.

As Naomi Katz of Happy Shapes Naomi says, “respect, and more specifically body respect, is a human right. Every one of us deserves comfort, nourishment, love, safety and dignity for no reason other than the fact that we are human.

We don’t have to earn them by performing beauty. We don’t become more or less deserving of them when our bodies change.”

Body respect asks us to take care of ourselves through nourishment, kindness, compassion, simply because we deserve it. And we also need to address internalised beliefs around other bodies. Right, internalised beliefs that we carry around other bodies.

All bodies are worthy of respect. And this means going beyond the relationship we have with ourselves and looking at internalised beliefs we may hold about other bodies, and acknowledging the lived experiences of other marginalised bodies.

There’s a great account on Instagram called Daring Fat. I will link to this in the show notes. And she shares posts with images of folks in larger bodies in different spaces or settings. And a recent post read, if looking at this awesome happy fat babe makes you uncomfortable, you have work to do, not them.

I cannot tell you how much I love seeing these posts in my timeline because posts like this remind us that individual work is wonderfully empowering, but we still need to unpack other beliefs we hold in order to support the collective.

Body acceptance doesn’t mean that you love your body or even accept how your body looks. It’s about feeling ready to move away from wanting to change your body. In my experience, it’s also about recognizing that the ways in which you may have tried to change your body in the past resulted in using disordered eating and exercise behaviors.

Body appreciation is, as you can imagine, about appreciating your body. It goes beyond what your body looks like. Now keep in mind that only appreciating what your body can physically do is limiting. Go beyond what your body does because bodies can change. For example, we’ll often see posts on social media that refer to loving one’s body because of what it does for you. But what if you lose your mobility, for example?

Should you not love your body? No, of course you should. You should be allowed to appreciate and love your body. Our bodies will change. It is inevitable and we can appreciate them for so much more than simply what they do.

Body peace is almost like contentment. I feel like maybe that’s what I should be aiming for this year as contentment is my word of the year or one of them. It means that you might feel okay about how you look, but more importantly you know that your body doesn’t define your worth. Honestly as I’m thinking about this now, realising that body peace, body contentment is absolutely…

where I want to be eventually. Body love would be amazing, but body peace? That would feel really good too. Now, body confidence is a bit of a crunchy one for me, because confidence isn’t something we’re born with or without. Confidence is our own perception of ourselves in any given circumstance, which is why it’s so subjective. It also means that again,

For marginalized bodies, our confidence or lack thereof may well have been reinforced by the way in which people treat us in the world. To give you an example of how this has played out in my own life recently, I have been exploring Joyful Movement for quite some time. It’s a real sticking point for me and in my intuitive eating journey. And maybe I’ll do a whole episode on it, maybe my experience and kind of exploring it. But basically I wanted to start swimming. I am such a water baby.

And the past two years when I’ve been on holiday, I’m in that pool all the time and I’m like, I love being in the pool. I love swimming. I’m going to start swimming and then I don’t do it. Here’s the thing, swimming on holiday with my family in my bikini at a private place, in a private villa is very, very different to going to a public swimming pool back home.

My local pool, and it is very very local, very close to where I live, has a wonderful full -length window area that runs right across one end of the pool. And it also means, and it’s in a hotel, and there’s also a beauty salon, and this basically means that anyone walking around in the hotel, in the beauty area, can just look straight into the pool area. The window…

is slightly smoked but it’s still very clear that you can see people and bodies in the pool. That doesn’t feel so comfortable for me. And a friend suggested a private pool, right? Find a private pool that we can go to. That instantly felt like something that I could do. Maybe it’s manifestation, maybe it’s just luck, but we recently snagged a bi -weekly slot to go swimming. In a private pool. Just us.

Family, friends, we now have the opportunity and I have the opportunity to do something that I feel really confident doing, but perhaps the environment not so much.

Now, I understand this opportunity comes with privilege, both the accessibility of a private pool and the cost, but I wanted to share it with you as an example of how you can actually be confident and lack confidence around the same thing. But the environment is what can affect how we feel about our body, for example.

Which coincidentally is kinda how I feel about the summer. And hot weather, things that would normally not bother me, are exasperated when it’s hot. My social anxiety and hyper -visibility heightens. Combined with being uncomfortable and feeling sweaty, my confidence tends to dip in the summer. Both things can be true. And they don’t define me.

One final thing about the body appreciation spectrum. This isn’t a test. It’s not something where we need to check off boxes, it’s not a step -by -step process. We don’t tend to only have one singular feeling or emotion about our body forever. Body image ebbs and flows, the relationship we have with ourselves will fluctuate. What the body appreciation spectrum shows us,

is that there are more than one or two ways to feel about our bodies.

It shows us that all feelings are valid and we can practice shifting our thoughts, feelings and internalised beliefs. In my experience for those of us in larger bodies, when we navigate the middle, the grey areas where we allow ourselves to feel our feelings, our perspective also starts to shift. As I like to say, our bullshit lens becomes squeaky clean. We learn more about our likes and our dislikes.

We have the opportunity to deepen our relationship with ourselves and create an understanding. We no longer spend time negotiating beauty standards and can instead spend time prioritizing joy, rest and inner peace.

I came across a blog just recently titled Seven Tips to Have a Body Positive Summer and the first tip was fall in love with your body. Now I tried to… I was like I’ll read it first I’m not gonna pass judgment my face scrunched up I chewed on my lip. Once I finished reading the paragraph my thoughts were confirmed. It’s not quite it.

Unfortunately the blog continued in the same vein, it bypassed a lot of realities for folks in marginalised bodies, and even had some sly diet culture phrases thrown in for good measure.

Now I get it, I understand why blog posts like this exist, but they’re not written for bodies like mine. They’re not written for marginalised folks. Yes, I want to have a body positive summer. And I will also just settle for a summer that feels comfortable. A summer where I can become a little more accepting of myself. A summer where I can create memories without my social anxiety ruining it.

So if you’re also up for challenging the culture of it all this summer and beyond, here are some prompts, some reframes, some questions that can help us to explore the relationship we have with our bodies so that we can advocate for ourselves.

As I shared earlier in this episode, I didn’t go looking for products or places to help me feel more comfortable because I didn’t know they were available. I didn’t know that I could advocate for myself. And everything we’ve talked about in today’s episode is kind of what led me to start advocating for myself. Once I stopped hating my body, and even though I don’t love it, most of the time.

I know that I can ask for help. I know that I am allowed to take up space. I know that I am allowed to exist in public spaces, that I am allowed to dress in ways that make me feel good, make me feel safe, make me feel sexy, whatever it might be, whatever it is that I need that day.

One of the ways I was able to do this is by kind of shifting that body shame. Asking myself, does this shame actually belong to me?

In most cases it doesn’t. Whose voice do you hear in your head when that shame pops up? I guarantee you it’s connected to someone or a situation, right? Maybe it’s a parent or a friend or another family member or parental figure. Maybe it’s related to another incident, something happened when you were younger where the shame kind of seed was planted.

But does that shame actually belong to you? Did you choose to pick it up and carry it around?

And as we’ve talked about today, practicing body respect, believing that your body deserves respect and accommodation.

helps us to advocate for ourselves, especially in terms of personal hygiene or products and things that are gonna help us stay more comfortable. Because if we believe that our body deserves respect, even if we don’t love it, no matter what size it is, if we believe that all bodies deserve respect, then all bodies deserve to be taken care of. All bodies deserve to be comfortable and feel safe.

One of the questions that I’ve asked myself a lot as I work on my body image, as I work through this grey area of the body appreciation spectrum is who benefits from this belief? Who benefits from the belief that I’m not welcome here? Who benefits from this belief that I don’t deserve to be in this space or to dress a certain way or…

even who benefits from this belief that I don’t deserve to be comfortable.

I don’t want to take away from lived experiences or the fact that there are just really disgusting people in this world who just want to.

be hateful and hurtful in real life in public and online.

But I also encourage you to explore these questions. You know, who benefits if we’re uncomfortable? Who benefits if we don’t advocate for ourselves?

Another way of looking at this is I wonder if there is something that I that could make this more comfortable for me. I wonder if there is something, a product, that could make this more comfortable for me.

doing this series, doing this episode, I’ve been doing so much research and there’s so many products I didn’t even know existed, which makes me really excited. And it also makes me really annoyed because I didn’t know they existed without having to really look for them. We’re going to get into that in another episode, but it’s been really interesting.

Another way of approaching self -advocacy is if you have a loved one who is a body positive ally, a loved one who is 100 % supportive as you divest from diet culture, even if they don’t 100 % get it, that’s fine. Like I have people in my life who don’t absolutely get it, but are still gonna be on my side when it needs to be. Can they advocate for you on your behalf?

I shared this in an earlier episode, I think it was episode two. I talked about, I went to an event where the seating was really narrow. And the next time I went, I had a friend with me and I asked her if she would talk to the, like talk to the venue and tell them that we needed more accessible seating. And she was more than willing to do it. She was happy to do it. So that’s another way that we can.

even if it’s a situation we feel a little bit nervous about advocating for ourselves, if you have someone who is able to do that for you, that can be a really wonderful way to still feel like you can take up space. And finally, I guess the last thing I want us to think about is, is this event or situation something that you absolutely need to participate in?

Is this something that you want to do or is this something you feel you should do? Right, there are situations where like I’m uncomfortable but I still have to do it. For example, like I could probably do a whole episode on this but the school run, picking my child up from school. You wouldn’t believe the like hyper visibility and like discomfort that sometimes comes with that process but it’s still something I have to do. But…

Are there other situations where I’m getting myself, I’m feeling like I’m not welcome, I feel uncomfortable, but maybe I don’t actually have to participate. And so just having these conversations with ourselves really helps to recognize.

whether these are things that we really want to do, and then explore the ways in which they could be more comfortable for us. And look, it sucks that this stuff is not just available. It sucks that I have had to do, I’ve had to go looking for things. But this is one of the wonderful things about fat communities. Even just on social media.

the amount of things I’ve learned, the amount of products I’ve been made aware of. So I highly recommend, you know, just diversifying the bodies that you see in your feed, because you will start to realise that there is so much available and not all of it’s accessible and a lot of places could be doing better. But for right now, I will take it.

I will take what we’ve got and I will fight for more. So this is just the start. This is the start of our summer series. I hope that this has been –

an episode to help you think about the coming weeks and months. Maybe look at it differently, tackle it in a different way, a different perspective.

I know that from my own experience the last couple of summers have just felt a little bit easier. A very small amount. I’m hoping for a much different summer this year and it’ll be fun to do an episode on the other side and reflect. I’m gonna put that in my content calendar to make sure I come back and reflect on my summer. But in the meantime, make sure you head over to Instagram too, because whilst I will be doing…

episodes every other week here. In between, over on Instagram under @CultureOfItAllPod I will also be sharing short videos and posts about summer products, routines, outfits. I will maybe be taking you on my travels. When this episode comes out I will be on holiday. Obviously I’m recording ahead of time, I haven’t decided. I might take you, do a little travel vlog, who knows, I don’t know, I probably won’t. But I will be sharing.

products, routines, outfits, and everything in between to help you have the summer that you want. Okay, so thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. I’ll be back in two weeks. Until next time friends.