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"As I started to develop more self confidence, I realized life is actually so much easier and filled with way more joy when I accepted the body that I have."
Six years ago, I started working with a personal trainer and lost a bunch of weight, which ultimately led to me working in the fitness industry. I started taking care of myself and focusing more on treating myself with respect and became intentional about the choices I was making. Having my weight shift did change how I felt about myself, but it was more about feeling in charge of the decisions I was making around my body.
Growing up, I didn’t have a good relationship with my body whatsoever. A lot of that was because I was bullied really badly in high school.
I had all of these people crap all over what I looked like. And then I got into a relationship – he was the first man that ever gave me any sort of validation. And I thought, “Oh, I should probably marry you.” That was a mistake – maybe don’t get married at 22.
I had a rough childhood and there was a lot of chaos, anger, sadness and frustration in my life. Being bullied through school was just another piece of that. When I look at the decisions I made – when it comes to getting married and all these different things – I was trying to hold on to something that felt safe, little pieces of validation.
I’m like a praise whore. When I realized that I could get that from men, there was all this time that I spent being like, “I’m going to feed off of this, it’s going to grow my ego.”
But that doesn’t work long term, it’s like a drug. It wears off and then you realize you still don’t feel comfortable in your own skin.
As I started to develop more self worth and more self confidence, I realized life is actually so much easier and filled with way more joy when I accepted the body that I have.
I also got into some really unhealthy habits when it came to my relationships with food and exercise, and it became almost obsessive. I eventually left the fitness industry because it was complicating my relationship with my body.
When I first started losing weight and focusing on being healthier, a part of me felt that I was doing it to spite the haters from my past. But that didn’t make me feel better; having guys from my hometown try and take me home at a bar didn’t fix anything.
In 2020, I started a sex-positive podcast called Your Place Or Mine. I thought about how I could share my experiences with non-monogamy and the body confidence that I’ve come into to empower other people.
What I wish I knew earlier is that your relationship with your body is allowed to change, you’re allowed to have good days and bad days. You’re allowed to have days when you look in the mirror and you wish some things were different.
We live in a world where life is harder if you’re overweight. When I was at my thinnest I was treated better, I got better customer service. But I can kill myself to lose weight or I can just live my life and focus on being true to who I am and connecting with people in ways that feel authentic.
In the future, I will lose weight and I will gain weight. But that no longer has permission to change how I feel about myself.
Denise Mcleod, producer, comedian, textile artist
Emma Hewson, musician, teacher
Gelek Badheytsang, communications professional, writer, podcast host
Arianne Persaud, writer, documentary filmmaker
Gary Alderson, sales