Hundreds of you entered our competition to find our new 'plus size' fashion columnist, but when Callie Thorpe's entry landed in our inboxes, we knew we'd found our winner...
How are you so confident?
This is the question that's posed to plus size woman all the time.
If we wear a dress with our legs out, we're 'daring'.
If we wear a bikini, we're being 'brave'.
If we wear stripes, we're 'fearless'.
The facts are clear: if you are a confident plus size woman, the rest of the world thinks you're an anomaly.
Historically, society has given plus size women a very particular role: be seen (sometimes - if you must be) but most definitely don't be heard. Don't draw any more attention to yourself than you already are doing, please.
Being plus size is like being part of a club that no one wants to be in. The whole entire world is set up to tell us we aren’t attractive, that we are unhealthy, lazy and represent problems in need of being fixed.
Confident is not something that we are taught to be.
Growing up, I guess you could say I was confident. I was chatty, bubbly and I loved to make people laugh. Sadly, deep down, I didn’t really like myself all too much. I was happy with my personality, but not with my size. Through every stage of my adolescence, I was reminded that my body was wrong. It was something to be 'worked on'. And it's hard - it's impossible, really - to really feel confident when all you want is to look like someone else. To be someone else.
Even as an adult, navigating life as a plus size woman, my body wasn’t represented in magazines, TV or film. If it was, they were was as an advert for a diet plan, an exercise video, or somebody playing the sad, self-depreciating, unlovable fat friend in a rom-com. I was taught that being slim equalled being successful, and losing weight was the only way to be truly happy. Body confidence was invite-only, and I certainly didn’t get to RSVP.
Then there came a changing point. After years of dieting and self-hatred, I found a plus size fashion blog in a corner of the internet. Then I found another, and another. Seeing other women living unapologetically, looking like me. They were rocking bikinis on the beach, showing their stretch marks or their scars, and wearing bright, fashionable clothes. They gave me the push I needed to realise that I could do that too.
So I did.
Over time my confidence grew - as did the success of my blog. I too started wearing bikinis on the beach, and choosing clothes that made me feel good. My blog and my outfits began to be featured in mainstream magazines and media outlets. Slowly but surely I began to love myself.
I began to love my body.
I owe a lot to the body positive community. It became a place of sanctuary where, for the first time, I could be myself and feel accepted. Those women have paved the way for the changing attitudes towards being plus size.
So when people ask me how I am so confident, I find it hard to really explain. People talk about confidence as though it's something you can bottle, take a sip of, and all of sudden take on the world. The reality is, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Confidence isn't something you can buy, it’s something you build deep inside.
It's built by rejecting the beauty standards placed upon us by society.
It's built by demanding the right to feel good, and to enjoy fashion as a form of expression - rather than a means of 'looking thin'.
It's built by refusing to talk negatively about your body.
When friends say 'I feel fat', I say, ‘You are beautiful’, and remind them that fat is not - and never will be - synonymous with ugly.
Fat is not a feeling.
The world is changing for plus size women, and I long for the day when a plus size woman (or any woman, for that matter) won’t be questioned for their confidence - they will be questioned for not having it.
Come join the confidence revolution: This time, everyone's invited.
Tweet us about what you'd like to see Callie writing about using the hashtag #MCcurve, and contact her directly on @calliethorpe.