I've had issues with my weight since I was in secondary school. I used to be quite athletic, enjoying competitive swimming, gymnastics, cross country running, judo and hockey. But then puberty happened and I started filling out, almost overnight. I also injured myself a few times (back, knees, elbow, wrists), which made it really hard to stay as active as I was.
This basically means that I have been struggling with weight, identity and body issues for more than half of my life, not helped by bullying, people trying to be helpful (seriously, telling people they would be pretty if they "would only lose some weight" doesn't help) and snarky comments made by strangers.
It wasn't until I met my now husband back when I was 21 that I realised I actually deserved to be loved for me, at the size I was.
Previous boyfriends had jumped on the 'just trying to be helpful' bandwagon and had pushed me to lose weight. Then there were the guys at uni who thought the fat girl would be an easy lay (my size does not have a direct link to how quickly you can get in my pants).
However, the husband actually found all my curves, rolls and stretch marks attractive, so much so that he has always asked me exactly why I want to go on a diet to ensure that I am doing it for the right reasons. He also tells me to shut up and eat some cake when I really want it but am worrying about the effect it will have on my diet.
This acceptance, support and love has made a huge difference, especially when I was trying to overcome the biggest depression relapse I'd ever had.
With new-found confidence, I haven't been afraid to express myself through how I looked. Rather than the baggier styles that I had hidden behind for years, I actually started experimenting with vintage and rockabilly fashions that I had admired for years but always thought I was too fat for.
While I started to wear this style a lot more when we first got together, moving away from Cornwall, some negative friends and unhealthy working environments - as well as having more money - helped me to totally embrace this look and find myself.
It's amazing what a simple style of clothing can achieve. I had always admired actresses like Marilyn Monroe for totally embracing their bodies and I'm now getting to the point where I can do that, even though I'm at my biggest size ever. I've even inspired a few others to give the look a whirl, which is pretty incredible.
I'm not going to say I'm totally accepting of my body, as there's still some way to go (hence this only being part one), but I've made some major steps, especially in the last year. These have filled me with a confidence I've never experienced before, have enabled me to be more mentally healthy and have helped me to say fuck anyone who wants to be negative about my body. After all, it's none of their damned business anyway.