real life

'We can’t keep accepting crumbs.' The reality of being a plus-size woman of colour in Australia.

If I had a cent for every time, I felt devalued as a plus-size person I would be rich. 

If I were to collect a cent for every passive/microaggression — and if I’m honest, sometimes explicitly aggressive commentary and insinuations — I get for being an individual belonging to the mixed-race, Indigenous (BIPOC), first-generation community, I would be, you guessed it, rich. 

Not quite Kylie Jenner rich but own my own house with several dogs and have no financial burdens or worries kind of rich.

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

I often wonder about the person I would be if I didn’t have to count out every cent that’s weighed me down over the years. Speaking my truth and living up to my own values and morals I can reflect upon the years of body dissatisfaction and discrimination I adhered to as a young child, a teenager, and now a young adult. 

Years of which have seen me put in hours of work in the therapy chair, at home alone or even in the time it takes me to walk from the fast-food store to my house. Clutching the paper bag I’ve learnt provides me with a harmful, self-soothing crutch.  

If you are in any way different from the westernised, niche box of ‘beauty’ standards that we have been programmed to believe is correct, then you learn to grow up in society as a palatable version of your true self. Sacrificing individuality to minimise humiliation or prejudice. 

Then as adults, we begin the exhausting journey of unravelling this curated persona forged in an effort to survive and be accepted to fit into the western aesthetic. Simultaneously, we begin to wonder where we lost ourselves and why this road had to be walked… And who else is walking it alongside us? 

For me, there is a very thin line between being the “angry brown fat girl” because I ask for equality and the girl who’s too westernised for her ethnic culture, colonised.

A girl who is just “too lazy and obese” to lose weight but has disordered eating issues that border on an eating disorder.

I am a woman who has a diagnosed mental health disorder and in the 28 years of my life, I’m only now just beginning to understand that my thoughts are a result of the systemic and systematic ideas forced upon me. 

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The media industry has curated a perception about me, and those thoughts are not fact. They are flawed and in truth, they are not my own. This nation, my culture, self-identify women, men, and myself, we deserve better.

I am also someone who is learning that my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is thoroughly connected to my PCOS diagnosis and there is not enough conversation circulating around that.

I have always wanted to be a model; I love the storytelling of it all; I love creation. Personally, I love that I can be the representation in a campaign or within a magazine for any self-identifying girl out there who sees herself in me.

We fail humanity if we continue to pin body sizes and abilities against one another. We underestimate people’s health and we give way to a process that can lead them directly to body dissatisfaction. 

There isn’t only one prototype when it comes to beauty in Australia, especially since we pride ourselves on our cultural diversity. 

I happen to think that what makes us so different in terms of diversity within our nation, is also what makes us so special. 

On Mamamia’s candid, in-depth interview podcast No Filter, Mia Freedman speaks to a mother of a woman with an eating disorder. You can hear her perspective below, post continues after podcast.

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Being on Indigenous land with surrounding Indigenous cultures and having 53 per cent of Australians from or with a parent from another country is Australia’s greatest treasure. 

We are all unique; we are all different in every way. 

Me and the people I represent (or the people who also fall into this ‘diverse’ box we’ve been forced into), cannot wait for change to come. 

We can’t keep accepting crumbs. Not for us, not for the next generation and certainly not in respect of the previous generations who carried the same conversations around diversity, inclusion, and the need for change. 

For businesses to stay relevant and alive they know they must be innovative and diverse; it is a major teaching in business school. 

As a business graduate I do not understand why so many lack contemporary practices, why can we not move ahead? We have to be the new wave that crashes and alters everything, creating something similar but new. Something for all of us. 

Our society shapes us in so many ways and promotes the idea that a perfect body is guaranteed to receive a passport to popularity, success, and self-confidence.

It is critical to learn to accept and love the bodies we are in and remember that our bodies do not define our value or who we are.

We need to get serious about changing the picture on how we “should” look. We do not need to “fix” how we look, we need to fix the message. 

Anyone looking for support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673 or email, [email protected].

Butterfly launched its #ChangethePicture Campaign in response to a spike in body dissatisfaction – which is one of the risks for the development of an eating disorder – affecting younger Australians.

Body dissatisfaction is a serious issue especially for our young generation. Studies show that body dissatisfaction in young people impacts them in many ways; including withdrawing from sports and other activities; not participating in class or group activities; and damaging relationships with friends, peers, and partners.  Enquiries for Butterfly school services were up by 150% during the first school term of 2021, compared to pre-COVID term 1 in 2019. So far this year Butterfly has reached 30,000 young people, compared to approximately 10,000 in the whole of 2019.

Moreover, our beauty industry is also lacking plus-size representation and needs to open new conversations around body inclusivity.

The campaign will run throughout June; more information and video content on #ChangeThePicture is here.

Feature Image: Supplied.