We speak very frank and honest about our mental health when it comes to body image and how we perceive ourselves. I know I have battled with it many, many times.
It struck me one day however....Where are the men who feel the same way? I know women aren't the only ones who feel like this, but they are the ones who seem to have the voice.
While the suicide rates in young men continue to rise and rise, we all need to do our part to show men that they CAN and SHOULD speak about their self-confidence, body issues and hangups (amongst other things).
I have a follower on Instagram. His name is Christopher. I approached him and asked him to tell me his story, and what you are about to read is true, from the heart and something we ALL can relate to.
Hi there, my name is Chris. I was asked to write a piece about myself for the girls at Celtic
Curves, so here goes.
I guess I’ve always been “big”, or what people would characterise as “plus sized”. I also
believe that I have always been depressed since I was about 10 or 11 years old. That doesn’t
mean I blame one for the other, but I’m sure there is some correlation there.
As a child, my depression manifested itself with me eating more than I should and eventually
in self-harming, including cutting and deliberately injuring myself; all of which seemed to go
unnoticed, along with severe self-destructive behaviour, including drink and drug use. That
all spiralled out of control several times on the road to where the next chapter begins, and is
maybe a story for another time.
Fast forward to 2011 when I moved to Ireland. I didn’t have a plan - I was a bit of a mess, but
in good shape considering all that went before and that led to the move. I would say I was
roughly 16/17 stone, which isn’t really heavy for me. I tried living with family in Galway, but
that didn’t work out. So in a town where I knew no one, and had no family I could rely on, I
quickly turned to the pubs to meet people. This is fine, except I was doing it every day and to
my detriment, doing zero activity.
A year later, I had ballooned to likely over 25 stone without seeming to realise, until I saw the photos from my mum’s wedding in 2012. I was a mess, and those who saw me thought I was on the road to a heart attack, or similar, soon.
This didn’t change me at all.
A year later, I turned 30 and this was my turning point. I was sick of being the fat guy, out of breath, always drunk, etc. So I joined Planet Fitness in Galway and started my fitness journey, as it’s now called.
I don’t recall weighing myself at the start. I was ashamed I guess, but I remember after six months or so weighing about 29 stone, which is really big and unhealthy. So I kept plugging away, made a few friends along the way, and slowly but surely I made progress from obese to not-so-much obese, and gradually things changed for me. The depression never goes away through it all; it just takes a back seat and waits to rear its ugly head when you think things are going well.
In 2015 with things going well and fresh off the back of a six week trip around Europe with a good friend, I undertook a fitness instruction and personal training course here in Galway; mainly for my own benefit to help with my own training, but always thinking that maybe if I lost more weight etc. I could maybe fit into that “perfect body” idea that people have of PT’s. Well that didn’t happen, but a good friend of mine with a small gym wanted to travel and suggested I take over while he was away.
Now it was around this time that one of the best and the worst things ever happened in my life.
First I met Michelle, my girlfriend, and then about a month later my brother passed away unexpectedly. I knew I’d be a mess and told Michelle to leave me which she didn’t. Fair play to her; she stuck out all the tears, the drinking, and the temper tantrums related to grief. I didn’t deal with my brothers passing, and just a year later my grandmother passed away, which was another big hit. All through this time, I was running this small gym, training myself to the bone whilst trying to keep my depression at bay. The one big thing I found that got me through, besides the emotional support of my girlfriend, was the gym. Being able to switch off and train and put all my aggression in to training has seen me drop more weight and gain muscle and strength I didn’t think I could.
But I have also come to another conclusion - the gym is just another manifestation of the self-harm, albeit a positive one, that benefits me mostly. I enjoy the pain, the aches and recovery, and eagerly anticipate the next session.
What this means, I don’t know - I’m really not a shrink. What I am is a normal guy with a story; some serious ups and downs who seems to be nearly out the other side, until something else comes along and knocks me down again. But I keep getting up and fighting back and that’s what counts.
To end for now, I want to say its possible to be happy and have depression - it sounds silly, like a juxtaposition, but my life is good. I’m 21 stone, and fit and really strong. I’m as happy as I could hope to be with my body right now. I’m getting married this year to a lovely woman with a lovely daughter. I have a roof over my head, a car, two beautiful dogs and a full time job. Yet I’m on antidepressants again. Why? Because right now I feel I need them, and my doctor does too, and they seem to help me. The point I seem to find in this is - if you need help ask for it. My depression isn’t linked to being overweight, or relationship issues, or having nothing in life - all things that would have been triggers before. It has evolved over time so it’s different for me. I’m just doing my best with what I have, and I think that’s okay.
Thanks for reading. If you got to the end, well done! I feel I rambled and maybe got off topic, but there you go - I never claimed to be a writer!!
(Find me on Instagram)
So I finally quit smoking! Wasn't a #newyearnewme or anything; I'm not into them. My daughter actually asked me "Mammy, will you please stop smoking dirty smokes", so I had to - I've no choice with Thals, I'd do anything for her. I quit 3 days later, once I had money to buy my vape because I knew myself I wouldn't do it cold turkey. I'm currently on the 6mg Donut flavour because I'm craving sweets, and one 10ml bottle is lasting me almost 2 weeks.
I'm doing amazing considering I'm smoking since I was a teenager and it was/is my FAVOURITE thing to do, I'm still gasping for one. I loved 'tea and a fag" and I'm not going to lie; I'm still loving the smell of them. I even stand beside my sister and friends when they light up, just to sniff them. I'm obviously not obeying any "personal space" rules at the moment!!
The worst thing that has happened from quitting for me was the skin breaking out! OMG! I was in so much pain. I naturally have clear skin, but these spots were almost like boils of never ending toxins coming from inside me. I don't wear makeup either midweek, so I just had to grin and bear it. The only thing that has helped is using the L'OREAL Trio face masks every 3-4 days during the time I've quit, and that has calmed my skin again.
The best thing to happen is the energy. The energy you have from about 3 days in is just amazing 😍 I no longer feel groggy waking up, my alarm goes off and I'm straight up out of bed and in good form too. I don't know if anyone else felt this after quitting - I've never heard anyone say it, but I love it!
My biggest fear quitting though was weight gain. It's natural for anyone who quits smoking to gain weight, which is fine because your metabolism slows down. My problem is I already have hypothyroidism, so excessive weight gain unfortunately is a battle I face constantly regardless of diet, exercise or smoking.
I don't own a weighing scales because I think they're evil and people become obsessed with the numbers! I already eat healthy, so I wouldn't be changing my diet because there wasn't a lot to cut out calorie-wise. So for my comparison, I took a picture of myself in my tank top and leggings and swore I would take one a week later to see if there was a huge difference. I figured I'm a big girl already, so I won't notice a few pounds, unless it's there in my face.
They only change I have made, other then quitting smoking, was walking my dogs every day. Not at a running pace or anything; I'd probably collapse 😂Just a nice "brisk" walk. I map it and I walk between 2km and 4km a night, depending on the route I take and time I walk, it's never anything over an hour in duration.
I actually wasn't going to share this because I don't want anyone thinking I'm claiming massive weight loss secrets. I don't want anyone thinking they need to go out now and loose weight because you don't - you are perfect. I won't be turning into a size 0 anytime soon, I am naturally a curvy girl, and I like that about me. We are a curvy group and our followers support us because we are confident and beautiful at any size and that will never change!
I just want to show that unintentionally, without putting any pressure on myself, physically or mentally, I managed to loose a decent amount of weight by just walking.
So if you are thinking I would like to loose weight but you can't afford the classes or seminars or expensive gyms... Why not just try walking? Set yourself some KM or time goals and see what difference you see in yourself. Myself, I would advise the picture rather then a scales or measurements, but each person will have their own individual style.
Two pieces of small advice...
(1) Don't walk alone - company is nice, even if you don't chat, but as a woman I always feel safer walking in 2's or with my 2 huskies
(2) As with any new diet or exercise regime, if you have any questions speak to your GP prior to beginning.
One last thing, extremely important, have support! My biggest support in quitting smoking and walking is my partner Cher ❤️ She has quit smoking with me/for Thals and walks with me everyday! I'm so lucky to have her, so make sure you find your "Cher" for your journey.
After losing 2 stone I wanted to do something to mark the occasion; something exciting and out of my comfort zone. I wracked my brain trying to think of different things to do, then I thought what could be more out of my comfort zone than lingerie - a word that would usually make me shudder. I had seen a few things online about boudoir photoshoots. The pictures of all the women were just stunning and something just told me to go for it.
I called and booked my appointment with Secret Boudoir based in Dublin for just a few days later. I figured the less time I had, the less chance there would be of talking myself out of it.
I did what any woman does when confronted with a scenario that involves photos....I pampered,
primped and preened. I got my tan, hair and nails done all in preparation for my big debut.
The day of the shoot came around in a flash, and I remember feeling so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. I arrived at Secret Boudoir not knowing what to expect. My nerves were quickly settled when I walked in and saw this beautiful room all decorated in pink...it was so girly I just loved it!!! One wall had those old 50's style dressing room mirrors, dressing tables and chairs I felt like I was stepping into backstage at the Oscars. The girls were so friendly and welcoming, and I felt completely at ease. I was offered a glass of champagne or orange juice and was showing to my makeover station. The makeup artist gave me loads of makeup looks and hairstyles to choose from. As I flicked through the pages I thought to myself I hope I look even half as good as these woman.
After my makeup and hair was all done I was brought up stairs to pick out my outfits. They had a huge
range of styles and sizes. I was spoiled for choice something I wasn’t used too. Myself and the
photographer spoke about the look I wanted and the parts of my body I was conscious about. She
reassured me by the end of the shoot I would be bursting with confidence. I chose 5 outfits ranging from
fancy dress to lingerie.
The shoot all in all took about 3 hours. She showed me countless ways of posing to highlight the parts of
my body that I loved but also hid the parts that I didn’t. At the start I was a little bit apprehensive but by
the end of it I was walking around with boobs and butt out and had never felt sexier. The support and
encouragement throughout the shoot was fantastic and walked out with a smile from ear to ear.
I could not wait to see the pics, and after a few days I was sent my personal online gallery. The pictures
were so sexy yet so tasteful. I couldn’t believe that it was me. I chose my favourites, which took me hours
I loved them all. I will have those pictures for a life time, and whenever I'm feeling low I look at them and
build myself back up.
Boudoir shoots aren’t just for a certain body type they are for every woman. No matter what age, size,
look or walk of life. Every woman deserves to feel sexy so what are you waiting for? Book yours now and
How many of us can say that we are happy with our bodies? I bet it's few and far between. What would it take for you to be happy with your body? Thinner waist? Shorter legs? Smaller feet? Skinnier thighs?
Some of these thoughts can occupy a persons every waking moment. From the moment they wake up, they look in the mirror and while they're okay with what they see, they're not happy.
The media can play on this. Photoshop can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. As a plus size model, I've had photos edited to smooth out skin tone, get rid of unsightly lumps and bumps & generally make me look "marketable"; and while I'm happy (no, over the moon!) with the finished product of a photoshopped photo, it's not me. But it's given me a glimpse of the type of body I could have.
I am a very proud mammy of 2. I've grown two babies, and have the stretchmarks to prove it. Like a lot of mothers, they're my stripes that I've earned. Pregnancy is hard - very hard. But NO ONE prepared me for the feeling I had when I saw my body changing.
I was never "skinny". I am 5'10" and I was always a size 14/16. And I loved it. But even back as a teenager, I was fat shamed. Fat shamed on the street, school, by so called friends.....And I know all these years later, it still happens. But I was made of stern stuff and I didn't pay any attention; probably a thing a lot of teenagers can't do. But when I became pregnant, that all changed.
Yes, the object of pregnancy is growing another human inside you. And to do that, your body has to adjust. I wasn't mentally prepared for this. I was 20 years of age and while I knew of the science behind pregnancy, I didn't know about the physical. I gave into every craving I had.... to the detriment of my waist line. I suddenly went from a confident-in-myself size 14 to a very pregnant size 22. I had a Caesarean section which resulted in my stomach developing an "overhang" or "pregnancy pouch". While I slimmed back down to an 18, I was still horribly uncomfortable with myself....and of course turned to food to comfort myself. Next thing I was back at a size 22 (well, 23 if they did that size....not 22 but not quite 24). I. Hated. Myself. The more I hated myself, the more I ate.
Shopping was a nightmare. This was 14 years ago and there literally was next to no shops that stocked past a 16. So I lived in tracksuit bottoms. Lovely & comfy, but not what I wanted. I craved wearing nice heels, a dress, even trousers that didn't show off my massive protruding belly. And because I was so heavy, I couldn't wear heels cos the weight was bearing down on my ankles. Coping with this was a vicious cycle.....Can't wear what I want....eat...hate how I look....eat.... It went on and on.
Then one day, something.....snapped.
I couldn't carry on like this. I couldn't play with my daughter, couldn't fit properly in plane seats, couldn't fit into my biggest clothes.
So I stopped. It was something my Dad said to me actually. He said "You can change a situation by the way you react to it". Wise words that have stuck with me ever since.
My relationship changed with food, and I quickly lost 4 stone. Suddenly the fat shaming I used to get was replaced by compliments on how amazing I looked and wanting to know how I did it. And I loved every single second of it. Don't get me wrong, my overhang was still there (and it will always be there), but it wasn't as noticeable.
And then I fell pregnant again.
ALL of my old fears came rushing back. I knew what was happening with my body this time around and was much more prepared for the emotions and changes. I still put on weight, but I didn't lose the run of myself. I had a second Caesarean section, and they cut into my same scar, so the overhang became a bit more noticeable again. But that overhang coming back made me sink into old habits. I hated it.
I've spent every day of my 20's with major body issues. I am that girl who spent every day thinking about how much she hated her body, picking every flaw out and obsessing about it. And that's no lie. To be honest, I still do. I am a lot more confident in myself, mainly thanks to my beautiful besties in Celtic Curves, and my amazing husband, and their unwavering support. They take me as I am and they don't judge, don't question, and love me for who I am.
I'm plus size. Plus size and proud. I'll never be skinny, as I said, and I have some tweaks that I personally want to achieve for myself to be the most fabulous I can be.
I'll always have that self doubt in me, it won't ever leave me. But I am proud to be a spokeswoman for any woman out there who hated their bodies during pregnancy, or any person whose hated their bodies at all. Plus size ladies (and men!) are the norm now (who'da thunk it!), but society just can't seem to get their head around the fact that bodies come in different shapes, sizes and colours. And I am proud to be in a position to be someone's voice in this emotive subject.
Be your authentic self. Why would you want to be anyone else, everyone else is already taken.
Be kind to yourself; you got this.