Proud2Bme | Instagramming for Change: An Interview with Megan of Body Positive Panda

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Instagramming for Change: An Interview with Megan of Body Positive Panda

By Kimberly Neil--As described on bodyposipanda.com, Megan from the UK is a “recovered anorexic, recovered self-loather,” and also “your average 22-year-old, taking a stand against a world that profits from teaching us to hate ourselves.” I got to ask Megan a few questions about her journey with recovery and activism, and I think it’s safe to add a few adjectives like “bold, beautiful, unique, and inspiring” to her above description.

By sharing her personal recovery story, Megan is an outstanding example of the ways social media can be used for good, combating the endless messages of negativity that can be so detrimental to recovery. Megan has used her perspective to bring body positivity and inspiring content to Instagram, as well as to her website.

Kimberly Neil: What does body positivity mean to you?

Megan Crabbe: To me, body positivity is the kind of mental freedom I never knew existed. It's being able to walk down the street without worrying how other people are seeing you. It's posing for a photo without being terrified that a tummy roll might show up in the shot. It's eating what you want, when you want, without having automatically calculated what effect it might have on your body. It's having the confidence to know that you look fabulous, but more importantly know that it doesn't matter what you look like! Of course, body positivity should teach you that the things you've been told to see as 'flaws'—your size, or shape, skin color, etc.—are actually incredibly beautiful, but it should also teach you that you're so much more than those things. That you don't exist to be looked at by other people, and that you deserve to live your fullest life without worrying about how you look living it.

KN: Recovery is hard work. What’s the most valuable lesson you learned throughout that process?

MC: I think that my most valuable recovery lesson, and something that isn't talked about enough, is that there's a big difference between being weight restored and being recovered. Of course, in a lot of cases weight restoration is a crucial part of recovery, but to assume that someone is back to being healthy and happy because their BMI is back in an acceptable range is a bit like a fire brigade passing by a house being internally engulfed by flames because the paintwork on the outside is unscathed. 

It is okay to not feel recovered despite everyone around you assuming that you're fine because of your body. You aren't weak, you aren't abnormal, and you aren't alone. Eating disorders are a mental illness, and you really can't tell whether or not someone is struggling from one from their body type; they truly do affect people of all shapes and sizes (I recommend following @chooselifewarrior on IG who campaigns for ED awareness and recovery for people of all sizes, and is a general megababe). Please, never be scared to reach out for help because you think you don't fit the stereotypical image of an eating disorder, or because people think you're already recovered so everything's fine. You deserve support and understanding, and you are worthy of recovery no matter what your body looks like.

KN: Do you have any advice for Proud2Bme readers who might have a toxic friendship (like the one you talk about on your website) in their lives?

MC: Toxic friendships can be difficult to recognize, and with the culture of competition among young women especially I'm willing to bet that all of us have had at least one. Some are completely innocent—the friend I wrote about on my website and I had no idea we were damaging each other so much; we really thought we were comrades in our internal battles with ourselves. Others can stem from a place of jealousy and grow into something quite insidious; they might start with backhanded compliments or whispers about you to other friends.

After recovery I had one friend who would make comments about me being “the bigger one,” and even once held up a pair of my underwear on webcam to a male friend and laughed at how big they were. I realize now that she never truly saw me as a friend, as someone to love and look out for; she only saw me as competition for male attention. Which isn't even her fault, it's what we're all taught—that our value lies in how attractive we are to other people.

If you think that you might have a toxic friendship, ask yourself: How does that person make you feel? Do they lift you up and make you feel like the badass superstar that you are? Or do they break down your confidence and lift themselves up by standing on the broken pieces? Always remember that you are a spectacular human being, and you deserve happy and fulfilling friendships. You deserve better than someone slyly putting you down or encouraging you down a dangerous path. You are strong enough to survive without that person, and even if it doesn't feel like it now, there will be other people out there who will treat you with the love and respect that you deserve.

KN: Do you have a favorite inspiring quote or song?

MC: "She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her."—Naomi Wolf

KN:  What are some ways readers can learn more about feminism?

MC: Reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf was pretty much my body-positive feminist awakening. I'd never thought of myself as a feminist before and generally believed the lies that society tells us about feminism—they're just a bunch of overly-sensitive man-haters, right? Then I read that book and everything made sense.  I understood why I'd hated my body for so long, and I understood that it wasn't my fault. I understood all the times I'd been made to feel like an object, like my looks were the only important thing about me and my body was just there to be used by other people. It all made sense. Feminism is the key to teaching women that they are worth more than what the world makes them out to be. And trust me, feminism is not a dirty word! www.everydayfeminism.com is an amazing site and has a body image section as well. There are loads of great feminist IG pages out there, and some of my fellow body posi warriors who talk feminism too are @yourstruelymelly, @mswink, and @thechristinecho.

KN: All of the positive affirmations on the right side of the screen on your website are amazing. Which one is your favorite, and why?

MC: My favorite affirmation from my website has to be “you do not exist to be looked at by others,” because everything changed for me when I realized that. I used to be too scared to even answer the front door without makeup on; I never truly enjoyed a holiday because my mind was too preoccupied wondering how I looked to everyone else there; I never really lived my life for me. When we spend all our time worrying how we look through other people's eyes, which is called “self-objectifying,” we're never really living in the moment. We're not appreciating the beauty all around us because we're too fixated on the lack of beauty we perceive ourselves to have. Well screw that! You are not an ornament, your life is not a museum for other people to walk through and pass judgment on you--you are capable of so much more than looking good for other people.

KN: How has social media (especially Instagram) helped you to empower others?

MC: Whenever I tell people that my main platform for body positivity is Instagram, they automatically take what I'm saying less seriously. Yes, IG is full of artsy shots of someone's dinner and millions upon millions of selfies (which is great, by the way! #selfiesforselflove), but it's actually an unbelievable platform for campaigning about whatever you believe in. It lets you reach right into people's lives, and all they have to do is click and scroll to something that changes their whole life. When I found the body-positive community on Instagram, I couldn't believe my luck. There was this group of people of all sizes and shapes, all skin colors and all genders and all ages and all they wanted to do was lift each other up and make each other feel good. There aren't many places in normal everyday life where you can find that kind of pure support and positivity, and there it is right in the palm of your hand. My account really started as my own therapy, my own way to work on my relationship with my body, and through that I've met so many magical people and been able to share my life with so many people. Pretty good for just some app on your phone, eh?

KN: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would you say?

MC:  If I could tell my younger self one thing, I would say that it isn't her fault that she feels this way about her body, and that one day she won't have to anymore. We all need to forgive ourselves for how we've mistreated our bodies and been our own worst bullies in our minds, because it isn't something we've conjured up ourselves, it's something we've all been brainwashed into feeling by the toxic media and societal messages we learn as soon as we go out into the world. We don't deserve any blame, and we certainly shouldn't waste any more time on beating ourselves up and making ourselves feel unworthy. Forgive yourself, then you can begin the journey to self-love that you've always deserved.

About the blogger: Kimberly is a student at Mount Holyoke College, a women's liberal arts college in South Hadley, MA. Her interests include ballet, performing, choreographing, writing, binge watching documentaries on Netflix and taking too many pictures with friends. She plans to pursue grad school (hopefully overseas!) and research mental illness, specifically eating disorders. She also hopes to one day work to change laws around mental health in the United States and promote the idea that women around the world should have autonomy over their bodies.

For more interviews, check out:

Writing for Recovery: An Interview with Author Neesha Arter

Style Has No Size: An Interview with zacheser of Chubby Guy Swag

Embrace Being Different: An Interview with Olympian + Author Jessica Smith

Images via bodyposipanda.com

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