I was born fat. I have never in my life known what it is like to negotiate the world in a thin body.
For the first few years of my life I was a happy child who enjoyed her food, was active and creative, and had a curiosity about the world - many childhood calamities were testament to that! But at some point something changed when I was 4 yrs old that triggered my mother to take me to the doctor about my fat tummy. I can remember now - almost 60 years later - that consultation in a dim office, lying on a leather couch and the doctor telling mum that she had to slim me down. That was the moment when I was prescribed my first diet - and the start of decades of unhappiness and frustration.
I was a lively child, with many interests, who enjoyed running and playing with other children. I was popular with my peers and loved swimming, dancing, art and cycling. But apparently that just wasn't enough. I had to be thin too.
Throughout my primary school years I was put on diet after diet, each successful for a while (as all diets are) but always ending in putting weight back on. From the ages of 10 to 16 I was on a cycle of prescribed amphetamines, losing and gaining weight like a rollercoaster. The drugs had serious effects on my mood and activity levels often leading to my being punished for being naughty. One of my clearest memories of that time in my life was my mum making me wear 'Panty Girdles' - strong elastic shapewear that attempted to flatten out my round tummy. Oh the agony of them! Every day I suffered the pain of being pinched in at the waist and the tops of my legs. By the end of the day my head felt like it was going to explode. I could not wait to get home from school and rip them off!!
As soon as I was 12, and I was allowed to, my mum joined me up to Weight Watchers and I had to suffer the indignity of being publicly weighed before a room full of grown women every week. There was only me and a fat boy who were child members. Once again I would lose weight, and then, just like all the grown up women, I would put the weight back on again - plus a little bit more. This cycle is the story of so many lives and it is heartbreaking. It would be many years later that I learned about Set-Point Theory and Famine Response and realised I was not a failure at all. The system was.
I can remember mum taking me to the doctor about my inability to keep weight off, even though I was eating very little. He told her "Even if she eats a lettuce leaf a day it is too much!" and that was the start of my mum feeding me endless green salads. All through these years you can imagine the sadness, unworthiness and self disgust I felt growing up. My life was a blur of weighing scales, weight charts on the kitchen wall and being judged for the way I looked. I was angry, I felt unfairly criticised and unloved. The worst of it all is that children need nutrients to grow strong bodies and in later life my body was afflicted with auto-immune diseases. I'm sure there is a link.
As you can imagine my relationship to food was as disordered as it could be. It has taken years of self compassion, counselling, therapy, coaching and huge understanding for me to forgive my parents for what they did to me through my young years and part of my passion now is to do my best to ensure that no child has to go through what I did. Too many already do but I am ever hopeful that we can change that one day.
In my adult years, things got a little brighter - I was in control now and I could stop dieting! By some fluke I was in a bookshop in the 1980s and came across a title on the shelf - 'Shadow on a Tightrope' which was an anthology of writings by fat women. It was a complete eye opener to me and was the turning point of my life. After reading that book I joined the London Fat Women's Group where I met an amazing group of radical women of all shapes and sizes from wide and interesting diverse backgrounds. I was suddenly learning about fat politics, patriarchy, feminism, inequalities, social justice and began reading books and magazines like fury. These writers understood me! They knew my pain! They felt my sadness! They saw the injustice - because these were emotions we all shared.
Before long I found myself part of the team that organised the very first National Fat Women's Conference in London and thereafter I got involved with the South London Fat Women's Group, where I continued to educate myself to the evils of cyclical weight loss and the huge profits made by the world-wide machine that is the 'weight loss industry'.
Over the years I read everything I could about the world of fatness and weight loss, including scientific research that debunked a lot of what I had been brought up to believe as truth. The fact that Intentional Weight Loss was sustainable was the biggest lie of all but I soon began to understand the relationship between perpetuating the lie and making big money for pharmaceutical and food companies. I soaked up almost every book on the subject I found and as Social Media developed I began to follow authors and commentators in the field - Marilyn Wann, Hanne Blank, Lindo Bacon, Lucy Aphramor, Sonya Renee Taylor, Jess Baker, Lindley Ashline, Aubrey Gordon, Charlotte Cooper, Cat Pause, Virgie Tovar, Christy Harrison, Sophie Hagen and many more.
As my expertise grew I began to run my own workshops and courses on the subjects of size acceptance, fat phobia awareness and weight stigma. In 2017 I attended the International Weight Stigma Conference led by Angela Meadows, and it was another turning point in my life - to listen to all these learned academics presenting their research and hearing about the global realisation that Intentional Weight Loss and our obsession with Diet Culture causes more harm than good.
And so this is where I am today. I am in my later years, a wise Crone, who wants to stop people having to live the life that I have. I am passionate about injustice and equalities and I want to help people be strong and resilient in the face of social fat phobia and institutionalised weight stigma. I want EVERYONE to have access to health and wellbeing, regardless of their weight and size. I want to use my social work and coaching training, my therapeutic skills and expertise, to help people see the damage that diet culture causes and help them step safely away from it.
I want to help allies understand how they can help. I want to support people to live a balanced life that does not focus on physical appearance. I want to help you and through NLP coaching, I can.
These days I have a far quieter and peaceful existence. I live on the Southern coast of England. My home is a small seaside town called Folkestone where I have created a joyful life for myself. I have a group of interesting and loyal friends, a beautiful garden which is a haven for wild life, and 2 lovely old sausage dogs as faithful companions. My life is rewarding and I'd like yours to be too xx
'If only she knew then, that she was as lovely as she knows she is now'
You'll find here, on this site, all you need to know about me and the programme of workshops and individual coaching sessions that I offer to help higher weight people become stronger and more able to bounce back from adversity - particularly that associated with diet-culture, weight stigma and fat-phobia.
I was born a fat person and I've successfully weathered many of the stresses and social pressures that being fat brings - from overcoming dieting and disordered eating, improving my wider health and wellbeing, developing resilience and confidence to challenge family members and 'professionals', and as an activist, fighting the social injustice of weight-stigma.
People of higher weight have to negotiate all kinds of micro-aggressions on a daily basis and this - subtle and constant - onslaught can really have an adverse effect on health and wellbeing. By working together within an NLP coaching framework I can journey with you to improve your self-acceptance and feel your worth.
Some of the issues my clients have successfully worked on are:
Ditching diet culture and carving out new and better ways of living
Understanding how beliefs support actions and behaviours
Creating self respect and nurturing practices
Developing resilience to the effects of fat phobia and weight stigma
Preparing for interviews and presentations
Building successful outcomes with medical practitioners
Improving confidence and motivation