This is a personal blog by our Founder on why she is against body shaming in every form.
Body shaming is very current debate that highlights the controversy of calling people out because of the way they look. This subject is now massively frowned upon and I applaud this movement.
I grew up alongside my mum’s younger sister Bethan. In fact, she was like a sister to me being 9 years apart. Bethan had special needs; she was born with a chromosomal abnormality called Prader Willi syndrome. Symptoms include slow development, being constantly hungry, which often leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes and she was all the above. In fact, it caused her to become morbidly obese in adulthood.
Due to Bethan’s condition, she was overweight as a child as well as being different with her special needs, so she grew up facing two battles in life. I grew up accustomed to people pointing at her, laughing at her, whispering behind her back but some blatantly in front of her. There were lots of occasions where she would be at the receiving end of cruel jibes and jokes because of the way she looked.
Bethan had an operation on her legs in her late teens to help with lymphatic drainage but sadly it went wrong and her poor legs became swollen and inflamed, filling with fluid and they became permanently damaged and deformed. They looked like little tree trunks and she became a real-life freak show for strangers because she looked different. There was one occasion on holiday where a bunch of girls were laughing and pointing at her – taking pictures of her legs and behaving openly unkind. My normally placid grandfather went up to them and gave them a good old fashioned telling off, and so very early on I became hyper aware of the effects of body shaming and the negativity it created. I hated how people would behave differently towards her and disrespect her openly. It shocked me how she was ostracised and belittled at times.
And so due to my early experience with a much-loved sister figure, I absolutely despise body shaming and it makes me sad. It’s not just body shaming people who are different because they are bigger, I also loathe the fact that slimmer people are body shamed for the way they look – skinny shaming is not ok. It is so wrong on every level and so I champion this movement and embrace the current diversity trend.
Bethan sadly died at 34 years old due to her morbid obesity and a sudden clot on the lung. I’ll never forget that phone-call when my legs buckled under the shock of her sudden death and it left us all heartbroken. She really was special, had great humour, was kind, innocent and harmless and battled throughout her life. She had a beautiful singing voice and was so fun to be around.
I adopted the name Bethan as one of my daughter’s middle names. She is gone but will never be forgotten and I am passionate to the core about accepting and embracing one and all in all walks of life because this very thing was such an obstacle for Bethan.