About the Episode

In this episode, I’m sharing five practical summer self-care tips for folks in larger bodies. We’ll be exploring the definitions of self care, and what self care practices can mean for folks in larger bodies. We’ll also discuss the barriers that marginalised bodies face in accessing self-care and the need for allies to challenge these barriers.

Key Takeaways

  • Exploring self care through the lens of diet culture
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Creating simple self care practice
  • How to stick with your self care practice
  • Ways in which self care can lead to burn out
  • Creating a self care menu, and journal prompts

Journal Prompts:

What do I need?

What are your core values, and how can these influence your self care practise?

Am I sacrificing my own needs on behalf of others? If yes, explore

What does success mean to me?

Do I expect too much of myself?

Are these even my expectations?

What am I most passionate about?

When was the last time I felt inspired?

Topics discussed in episode 005


00:00 Introduction and Summer Series Update

04:06 Exploring Self-Care and Barriers

10:06 Honouring Your Needs and Making Autonomous Decisions

11:47 Breaking the Rules and Challenging the Status Quo

18:28 Start A Simple Routine

22:33 Get Inspired Instead Of Motivated

26:48 Choosing What to Prioritise in Your Self-Care Practice

31:09 Define Your Version of Self Care

34:13 Journal Prompts


Melanie [she/her] (00:00)
Welcome friends back to the Culture of It All. We are at episode number eight, halfway through our summer series. Just a few episodes left and I will then be taking a few weeks off, just a few, to round out the end of summer with my kid. He will be on summer break, so I will be focusing my time more on that, more on him, and also getting ready for my favourite time of year.

and getting ready for the next chapter of The Culture of All. I don’t quite know what that looks like yet. I have some ideas, I have some thoughts, I have topics. I’ll be revisiting all of that in August and coming up with a plan for the rest of the year. But today, as we continue this journey into our summer series, I’m going to be sharing with you five practical summer self -care tips and

Stick around because I’m excited to explore some of these tips with you. They’re really, in my opinion, they’re unexpected. And I think that’s because I have a lot of big thoughts about what self care really is and what self care means. But before we get into all of that, I just wanted to sit down and have a little chat, just catch up on things, let you know what I’m working on, just share some of the things I’ve been thinking and feeling over the last couple of weeks since we, since we last spoke over here.

I’ve been working behind the scenes on my Summerween sticker sale that is now live. You can access stickers out over at OutlawCreatives .com and I have bundles together. I put bundles together and there are also discounts across all of my other stickers or almost all of my other stickers. And I’m really excited to share more of that work with you. Alongside

working on these creative projects, I’ve been thinking a lot about entrepreneurship, a lot about the last eight years since I started a business, creating content and what that looks like. Funnily enough, when I was outlining today’s episode, one of the tips that I’ll be sharing later on really got me thinking. I was like, ooh, I need to sit with this. I love that kind of stuff. I love when I share something with the intention of helping other people, but actually I really need to listen and hear it too. So.

I’m gonna be exploring that, I’ll let you know which one it is, but yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about entrepreneurship and the way in which coaching has fucked with me and the way in which things like self -doubt and imposter syndrome and even my inner critic have felt so overwhelming at times and I have been so unhappy over the last eight years at times when

it seemed like everyone else could just move on and get through things and I was just plagued with this self doubt and this noisy, noisy inner critic.

So yeah, last week felt a little bit crunchy. Let’s just say that it felt a little bit crunchy, I felt creatively blocked, and

By the end of the week I had kind of talked myself around, I was like, you know what, I’m good, it’s okay. And yesterday I sat down and opened a letter that I wrote to myself six months ago. That was really interesting. I couldn’t remember what I’d written. I find it fascinating that six months has flown by. I couldn’t remember what I’d written, but it was exactly what I needed to read and hear yesterday. And yeah.

So now I’m sitting here having spent the morning outlining today’s episode, feeling really good about it, catching up with a friend yesterday who was like, when I listen to you, the podcast just flows. Hi, Hillary, if you’re listening. And I just was like, I’m good. I’m good. So.

Today we are talking all about self care and as I said it might be a little bit unexpected in the ways in which I want to talk about it. I don’t really have any triggers as such I am going to mention weight loss but within context. I know that self care in itself can be a very crunchy topic for many many folks especially folks in larger bodies, folks in marginalized bodies.

Because similar to last episode, there are real barriers that prevent fat people from being able to access just the most basic forms of self -care. Things like unbiased medical care, hygiene, right? We are not talking about massages and spas today. They’re great, but that’s not what I’m talking about. But as always, you can pause. You can dip out. If this isn’t the episode for you.

you are allowed to pause and leave, that’s okay. And next time we’ll be talking about something totally different. So let me just kind of start by saying that self -care is not just for thin folks, right? Self -care is not just for thin folks. We are allowed to embrace the little pleasures or the bigger pleasures because we deserve nice things too.

So just keep that in mind, I’m sure it’s not going to be the last time I say that during this episode.

So even though we have many many thoughts and opinions on self -care, in the aim of research I was like let’s google it, let’s google the definition of self -care. And as expected, perhaps, I found lots and lots of answers, lots and lots of posts. I was surprised how many posts there were that were recent. Self -care feels like something that I’ve been aware of for the past.

six, seven years, it became really popular a number of years ago. And I guess it just hasn’t lost momentum. Lots of posts written in the last 12, 18 months on the first couple of pages of Google, but all of them were slightly different from one another.

but there were some key phrases that really stood out to me.

The first one is that self -care is an individual practice. And I get that that’s probably obvious because it has the word self in it. But I liked the way it was phrased. It’s an individual practice, right? This is something that we do for ourselves. Self -care is looking after mental and our physical health, right? There are mental and physical aspects to it. Self -care is about decision -making.

self -care can be in collaboration with healthcare practitioners. But the one that really stood out to me

Was it self -care is to preserve or improve mental and physical health?

And honestly when I was reading some of these self -care descriptions I had to like laugh out loud, kind of scoff I guess if you will, because I was like really?

I absolutely agree that self -care is about preserving or improving our health, mental, physical, all of it.

But I’m just going to say it, dieting and the pursuit of thinness and all of the negative body image that comes with it, in no way preserves or improves our mental or our physical health. And it left me with this question, which I do not have the answer to. I just, I want to plant this question out there. I’m curious. Is it even possible to truly practice self care if we’re also pursuing thinness?

If self -care is about preserving or improving our mental and physical health, and the pursuit of thinness does not do that in, what is it, 98 % of cases, if we know that pursuing thinness,

does nothing to improve mental or physical health and often leads to eating disorders.

Can we practice self -care whilst pursuing thinness As I said, I don’t have the answers, but I thought it was something to think about.

I remember a few years ago, there was this blog post that went viral. I think it went viral. It certainly went viral within the communities I was a part of. And it was one of my first introductions to self -care that kind of went beyond the physical form, right? It was beyond bubble baths. I seem to remember there was this sentence within the post and I couldn’t find it, but it was something along the lines of like, self -care isn’t bubble baths and chocolate cake. And sure, fine.

The blog did not, like thinking back, the blog did not get it right at all. There was definitely some anti -fat rhetoric in there. But I remember things like setting boundaries and saying no. Those things were explored within this blog post. And so it was exploring the fact that actually true self -care isn’t about having a bath or a massage or what we eat. It’s actually about the decisions that we make.

And I think that’s really interesting and definitely something to hold on to as we kind of get into today’s episode. Quality self care can take on many forms. It could be ensuring we get enough sleep every night or stepping outside for a few minutes with some fresh air. I know that I feel mentally and physically better when I take a break from my desk and get outside.

It can also take, mean taking time to do things we enjoy, right? Self -care can also look like giving yourself permission to have fun with the things that bring you joy.

And I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working through the intuitive eating framework. Part of the framework is recognising and honouring our own needs. And the way I see it is that this very action is part of my self -care practice. Checking in with myself, recognising my feelings and my emotions, asking myself what I need, and then making an autonomous decision based on the tools and the resources I have available to me in that moment.

and then allowing that to be enough.

Allowing that to be enough is so important because making the autonomous decision is great, wonderful, autonomy always.

But how many times have we made autonomous decisions and then kind of felt shame about it, felt guilty for doing that, maybe because it challenges diet culture, dieting rules. So allowing it to be enough is kind of the full cycle.

Another really common debate that I saw come up time and time again in my research is whether self -care is selfish or not. You’ve probably seen this. You’ve probably seen the posts all over social media. Self -care isn’t selfish. Self -care is this, that and the third. So is self -care selfish? Well, the simple answer in my opinion would be no, it’s not selfish, right? But it’s not really about the act of self -care. It’s our perception of self -care as a practice. What we’re told we should be doing instead.

There is so much of a focus on what ambition and success should look like that we can find ourselves pursuing goals and self -care practices that actually just lead us straight to burnout.

And that kind of leads me very nicely to my first practical self care tip. So the first tip I have is to break the rules and challenge the status quo. Now, as an Aquarius, I’m an Aquarius son, and I wear that badge with honor. I am very rebellious by nature. I’m also a rule follower, which is very complicated, right? Very complicated, often very emotionally draining.

A few years ago, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I was really in this strange place. I was kind of changing what I was doing within my business. I was working on something new and I was struggling with how to share my, my brand, my feelings, my thoughts through my content, how to connect with people. And I did this quiz, which was supposed to be like your

brand archetype and I came up as 50 % rebel, 50 % the regular gal. And I remember reading the answers thinking, yep that makes sense. I’m like, I wanna like fuck shit up but at the same time I wanna make sure everybody’s taken care of and everyone’s okay.

And it’s this, it’s this weird dichotomy of feeling like I want to fight for the things I believe in, but I also want to be considerate of people’s feelings. Again, very emotionally draining. And around that same time, back in 2020, I was feeling very lost within my business. I was so fed up with the way things had been done in online business at that point.

I was so fed up with seeing the same old things repackaged and sold. I was really tired of seeing the same people making more and more money and sharing these strategies or tactics that were incredibly unethical. It was the rise of bro marketing. I was just a very generally pissed off person. And at the same time, I had been learning a lot more about outlaw country music.

And it was this kind of sub genre of country music back in the 60s, 70s.

And it was formed because this group of artists, they didn’t want to lose their artistic integrity. They didn’t want to be packaged into what was popular in Nashville at the time. They left, they went to Austin, Texas, created their own brand of country. And then Nashville came calling and wanted them to come back. And that’s a very brief version of that story. If you want to hear more of it, my other podcast, Entrepreneurial Outlaws, that I

ran for a couple of years, there’s a whole story about this. I think it’s in episode one. But at the time that’s how I felt. I felt as though I was just swimming upstream. I was so tired of seeing the same old things. I was tired of using marketing tactics that weren’t working for me. And I started talking about it publicly. I started talking about the things that were just really irking me. And

That’s how entrepreneurial outlaws came to be, and from there Outlaw Creatives, which is my shop. So much of that work is still so incredibly important to me, because Outlaw Creatives, being a creative outlaw, it’s really how I have felt without really knowing it for a long time, like I mentioned earlier, being in a larger body

was always challenging, but because I was also trying to not be that way, it felt as though I was fitting in. When I really wasn’t, I never really felt like I fit in. And recognizing that no matter what, I’m never really gonna fit into society’s standards of who I should be or what they want me to be. Really leaning into actually that being okay, and actually I don’t need to fit in. But that’s kind of how the term

I use the term outlaw in my business. And I really hold true to the fact that I want to break these rules. I want to challenge the status quo and the stereotypes that have always been put in front of me. But conformity often wins out, right? As I said, when I started my business, when I was younger, we’re still discovering who we are. And I really don’t feel like I knew who I was until a few years ago.

But we’re already breaking the rules, right? By listening to this podcast, by being on whatever anti -diet journey you are on, you’re already breaking the rules. You’re breaking the rules by ditching diets. So I mean, like, let’s keep going, right? We can challenge the ridiculous fashion rules that have been imposed on us by previous generations. We can challenge what it means to be feminine. We can challenge the rules that we have.

around food and movement, challenging the food police in our life, challenging the fat stereotypes presented in the media, challenging what it means to be soft, to slow down, to rest, and challenging what it means to take care of yourself. And I do have a request, if you are listening to this and you are in a straight -sized body, please, please, please challenge this on behalf of your fat friends. Challenge these things on behalf of your fat colleagues.

family members, friends, strangers, whomever like challenge this stuff because challenging this this when in a larger body is exhausting and only ever comes up with… hate. Simply put, right? When I challenge these things online I’m inevitably opening myself up for

bullying, harassment, hate, as are so many other fat creators. So please, if you are in a straight -sized body, if you are in a thinner body, please also challenge these things and challenge them for your fat friends.

One of the questions I ask myself time and time again, and I encourage you to do the same is who does this rule or belief belong to? And who benefits when I follow these rules? Who benefits when I follow these rules?

So my second tip is to start a simple routine.

I used to put off taking care of myself in really basic ways. There were so many times I would say to myself, I’m gonna do this when I’m thinner. I’ll just wait until I’m thinner, as if like, I don’t… When I think about it, it makes me… It makes me sad and it makes me roll my eyes at myself a little bit, because I’m like, what did I think was gonna happen? I don’t… I know why I thought it was gonna happen, but like, we also know it’s not gonna happen, so… Anyway.

But there were so many times that I put off taking care of myself.

As I said, self -care is not just for thin folks. There are multiple barriers, right? There are multiple barriers for us and for marginalised folks when it comes to self -care, cost, time. And even the way products are marketed, when I researched my bonus episode, which I run through my entire hygiene routine from start to finish, I found time and time again that there are so many products available that will

help folks in larger bodies to stay dry, to stay clean, to stay fresh, but they are not marketed for that purpose. And I didn’t know what to look for if I wasn’t looking for things to help me and my body. There are more and more products being marketed for larger bodies. I say more and more. There’s a few. More and more is an extreme. There are a few brands that are doing the work and they are marketing their products.

focus on larger bodies. But when products aren’t marketed towards us, and we don’t know that they’re available, we can’t buy them. So creating a simple self -care, like hygiene routine, has been an absolute game changer for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about this these last few weeks is the weather has been getting hotter and hotter. I haven’t loved it. I have been uncomfortable. I absolutely have. But it’s also been more comfortable, like the summer has also been more comfortable.

So I’ve been less uncomfortable than I was a year ago. And I think part of that is because I’ve been really prepared. I’ve been more accepting of myself, absolutely, but I’ve been more prepared for simple self care. Like when the weather is hot and I don’t want to even get dressed, but I have to because I have to go out in public, what can I do? Like the bare minimum. We talked about this last time, bare minimum. So I f –

I listed out, right, three things, key things, I think at the bare minimum.

For a simple self -care hygiene routine, a good antibacterial soap. What do I mean by good? Okay, so what I mean by that is it doesn’t have to be expensive. Firstly, that is not what I mean. Antibacterial antifungal soap, something like that that’s gonna really get the bacteria and sweat off of our bodies.

cool setting on your hair dryer or your blow dryer. Now I was thinking about this earlier, you probably could use a handheld fan. If you don’t have a blow dryer you could probably use a handheld fan. I don’t know if it would have the same effect, but it would, you know, maybe. I’ll try it. I’ll let you know. And an all -body deodorant. All -body deodorants are becoming more popular. I’m in the UK, there are very few choices. I have found one

kind of common brand of deodorant that does a body deodorant and it’s pretty good, it’s by Mitcham. I will link to that in the show notes. I know that Dove in the US do one, I am obviously, I think it’s Luna, they do one. There are a few different brands available. I’ll also link to the May bonus episode that I put out on Substack because that has the complete breakdown of my routine.

along with all the products that I tried, the products I researched. So I’ll link over that in the show notes as well. Number three is to get inspired instead of motivated. I honestly think this is a great self -care tip, not just because I came up with it myself, but because it just rings true. It’s something I’ve really held on to for so many years. Because the word motivation, it kind of makes me feel really uncomfortable. I have a similar feeling when people use the word goals. “Set goals!”

I’m like, ugh, ugh, makes like full body shiver. Because when I hear it, I think of all the times that I’ve punished myself and punished my body for not being motivated enough, right? And for some folks it might seem really silly, it’s just a word. For me that word has been associated with some really, really disordered and toxic behaviours. So I try to avoid focusing on words that make me feel

uncomfortable. You know, I try not to set goals, I try to set intentions. Instead of getting focused, instead of getting motivated, sorry, I get inspired.

Motivation is a push energy. We can become motivated through different things but often it can be anger, pettiness, inner critic and negative thoughts. It’s kind of like this I’ll fucking show you energy.

Whereas inspiration is a pull, energy. Inspiration is always available when it comes from living.

Motivation often pushes us into taking action. We get here from a place of anger or frustration our inner critic. Sometimes this can be exactly what we need. For example, being motivated to create change, right? But within the context of self -care, inspiration is what pulls us towards the things we actually want to do. It comes from a place of positivity and a place of passion. It’s a desire to pursue the things that bring us joy and contentment. Inspiration exists

outside of our to -do list and I know it can feel kind of woo at ethereal but sometimes we really need that to help us move through the harder bullshit, the heavier conversations. And I was thinking as I was writing my outline for this episode like what am I really inspired by at the moment and it’s unsurprising I’m always inspired by all things spooky witchy and dark

But I’m also really inspired by the other creators that I see showing up online. I’m inspired by their commitment to their work and their content. I’m inspired as weird as it might sound, I’m inspired by myself, I’m inspired by my own experiences. Things that I’ve overcome, things that I’ve navigated, things I’m still working on, that inspires me, kind of inspires me to keep doing this, inspires me to keep having these conversations.

I’m inspired by the stories I read. When I read these incredible love stories. I’m reading a new book at the moment and it’s a dark romance. And it took me like a minute just to get into it. I haven’t read something like this for so long and I’m only a few chapters in and I kept thinking, somebody wrote this. Like she wrote this, this is so good. The writing is so, so good.

And I think she listens to the show. But I was like, it’s so good. And I’m so drawn in and hooked and it was really inspiring. And I can tell when my inspiration is flowing, because I can sit down and I can just create. And I can just kind of be.

myself and that’s kind of how I’m feeling today, whereas last week not so much. I think, you know, again this episode clearly is what I need to hear. I think last week I was really trying to motivate myself, I was pushing myself to do things and I really needed to just let it be. This week I feel inspired and here we are. So, number four, choose what you want to prioritize.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. I feel like this is another word that kind of makes me sort of want to cringe. Prioritising and what we prioritise, I feel like it makes me feel a bit icky. So hear me out. We do the things that we prioritised. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that that statement is true. We prioritise something, we put it first, and we do it.

The issue is that diet culture breeds guilt and shame, and the diet industry shames folks into pursuing weight loss, hustle culture shames folks in, especially women, into doing more, doing it all, being the best, doing it all of it thin The wellness industry wants us to be productive machines whilst we drink our yak butter coffee and have a four hour work week. It’s a lot and it reeks of privilege and it’s just bullshit. So

let’s kind of back it up, right? We cannot prioritize everything, nor does everything need to be a priority. And again, I’m talking in the context of self care.

One of the things that came up for me when I was thinking about priorities is my relationship with movement. By movement I’m talking about exercise in particular and that’s probably where some of this kind of this discomfort comes from but

Having come from the fitness industry and having the knowledge, the qualifications, but also not wanting to do that and not wanting to pursue exercise in that way has been very uncomfortable.

And for a while, years in fact, I have had this persistent need to do something. This ongoing narrative that I need to figure out. I’m not sticking with anything and then getting angry with myself and shaming myself. It’s been persistent. It’s been years. I am still not any closer to quote figuring it out. What I have figured out.

is some ways in which I can challenge that, right? Break the rules, challenge it. Question I’ve asked myself a lot is, what does it mean if I don’t move my body? What does it mean? Who am I? Who am I if I don’t move my body?

Not what does society and diet culture tell me it means, but what does it mean to me? What does it mean to me if I don’t move my body?

And also looking at it from the perspective of what are my priorities right now. Because I like to over commit to things sometimes. I don’t do it as much anymore. I used to do all the time. Put too many things on my plate, too many ideas, too many projects, too much stuff going on at once. And I used to have like the actual things I wanted to prioritize.

And then the things I thought I should prioritize, and it was just a mess. It was too much. There was too many things. And inevitably it led me to burnout.

it would always lead me to burn out. Which is really complicated in itself because you think, well I’m prioritizing all of these things and I’m doing the things I should be doing but I’m still burning out. I’m taking care of myself but I’m still burning out. And the reality is that it’s because I’m prioritizing too much but I’m also prioritizing things I don’t really give a shit about. Right? Prioritizing things that we don’t actually want to prioritize is a waste of energy.

So yeah, reframing these things, like what does it actually mean if I don’t move my body? Who am I if I don’t do that? I’m the same person I am if I do do it. Like it doesn’t, you see? Like who I am doesn’t change, but perhaps my fear of what society, what people might think of me, does.

So my fifth and final tip for you today is to define your version of self -care. I feel like we’ve come full circle because we talked about self -care at the beginning, what it means, what it looks like, the different things it can be. I’ve shared with you some of my personal self -care tips, things I will be using this summer.

Defining your own version of self -care is so important because it’s unique. And I think especially when we look at it through the lens of honoring our needs, right, when we think about it from honoring our own individual needs, if it’s an individual practice, then the practice should be individual. How we determine what we need in that moment is going to change, it’s going to ebb, it’s going to flow, but it’s also ours. You know, maybe it’s saying no, maybe it’s reading a book, maybe it’s sitting in silence, cooking, napping, eating something.

socialising, getting a haircut, getting creative, setting boundaries with a loved one. Maybe it’s ending a relationship or booking a medical appointment. That list is not finite. There are so many other things it could be and it could be one, none, or all of those things. And whilst you definitely can’t prioritise all of them, please don’t try that. Defining what you need and starting there is going to

is going to help you make more progress than focusing on what society tells our self care should look like.

Being able to hear what we need, listening to ourselves, it changes everything.

And if you like to see things written down, if you want to have more of that kind of physical relationship with your self -care practice, a friend of mine, she suggests creating a menu of sorts. A self -care menu, right? Once you’ve got clear on what you need, at least right now, because you can make changes later, write them down. Do it in a journal, put on a post -it note in your phone, wherever, it doesn’t really matter where you put it.

but list out those priorities, those things that you’re prioritising your self -care practice.

Because now you can choose one or more when you want to practice self care.

I hope these tips have been helpful. I hope that, as I said, it might be unexpected. They might be a little bit different to what we tend to associate with self -care. And as I said, self -care is so unique, it’s individual. And oftentimes…

I think if we can navigate the mental and emotional pieces of self -care, what it means to practice self -care, especially in a larger body or a marginalized body, it makes it that much easier to then do the things that we actually need to do. So as always I have some journal prompts to finish up this episode. So I’m gonna go through those with you now. The first one, unsurprisingly,

is what do I need? What do I need? I ask myself this question all the time whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed. What do I need right now? What do I need in this moment?

What are your core values and how can these influence your self care practice? What are your core values and how can these influence your self care practice?

Am I sacrificing my own needs on behalf of others? If you are, explore that.

What does success mean to me? What does success mean to me?

When was the last time I felt inspired?

When was the last time I felt inspired?

What am I most passionate about? What am I most passionate about?

And do I expect too much of myself? Are these even my expectations?