Q&A: With body positive author @BodyPosiPanda
Body Empowerment Megan Jayne Crabbe is known on social media as @BodyPosiPanda, with over a million followers on Instagram. She’s an eating disorder recovery advocate, anti-diet enthusiast, and believer in intersectional body positivity.
Megan Jayne Crabbe, aka BodyPosiPanda's number one, bestselling debut book – Body Positive Power: Because Life Is Already Happening and You Don't Need Flat Abs to Live It – has taught thousands of women how to stop dieting and make peace with their bodies for good. Here's what she has to say about the body confidence movement.
What do you think are the main obstacles preventing people from being confident in their bodies?
"The fact that we've been taught to see our bodies as problems since the moment we were old enough to be influenced by the culture around us! Most of us are carrying around a lifetime of conditioning about our bodies being flawed, about fat being something to fear, and about our worth as humans depending on how our bodies look.
"Diet culture and fatphobia are all around us, selling us products from billboards, magazines – and now our phone screens – that promise to bring us happiness by changing our bodies. Everywhere you look in the media certain body types are demonised while others are held up as the only way to be good enough, desirable or successful. And, actually, I think the biggest obstacle is that we're still not seeing those messages for what they are: lies.
"We still believe that hating our bodies is just the norm and is largely our fault, when really, this cultural body dissatisfaction is something that's been done to us over the course of our lives, and something that we can rebel against."
How are you using your voice on social media to help people with self-acceptance?
"I talk a lot about why we hate our bodies and how to unlearn that conditioning and actually rebel against diet culture! I also believe that there is so much power in seeing someone existing unapologetically in a body that perhaps you've spent your life apologising for.
"As someone who's come from a history of anorexia and now exists happily in a size 16, I hope that I'm giving others like me the representation that I never saw growing up."
What motivates you to continue being so supportive towards the body-positive community?
"I'm constantly reminded that there is still so much work to do in spreading this message. Whether that's hearing a teenager say that they can't leave the house because they feel their body is so disgusting, or seeing another fatphobic article or brand campaign online that normalises prejudice or disordered eating.
"The body positive movement won't be done until absolutely all bodies – all shapes, sizes, skin colours, genders, ages and abilities – are treated with the respect that they're deserving of, and we're really just getting started on that."
What advice would you give to people who are struggling with body confidence?
"I think that the first step to healing your relationship with your body has to be realising that how you feel about your body was never your fault to begin with. You are not flawed. Your body is not the problem. A culture that's taught you to see your body as flawed is the problem.
"Think back to the very first time you thought that your body was wrong, which for me was when I was a child. Did you deserve to feel that way? Does any five-year-old deserve to believe that they are worth less as a person because of how their body looks? Of course not. Which means that you don't deserve to feel this way now either.
"Recognise that you deserve better, and always have, then go fill your life up with the body positivity that should have been there all along."
Photo: Linda Blacker Photography for Blogosphere magazine