If you haven’t seen the clip doing the rounds on social media, Sir Cliff recently made an appearance on This Morning, in which he claimed he had once turned down a photo opportunity with Elvis Presley because it was at a time when the king of rock’n’roll had “put on a lot of weight” and as such didn’t “look good”.
The “Living Doll” singer did at least experience some resistance in response to his words when Alison Hammond called him out for his comments with good humour and charm. But why must it always be someone who has struggled with their weight to step in and ask for some common decency?
Larger people judge themselves quite enough without the rest of the world chipping in. At 25 stone and fearing that judgement, I would refuse pictures, hide behind my friends and family, and send panicked messages to others to cut me out of their social media posts. After all, who would want to see that pop up on their feed?
Now, as someone who has shared my journey in losing a large amount of weight, I have felt the pressure of maintaining that weight loss on social media, at times hiding away when I’d gained a little back and fearing looks and comments from those waiting to see my failure.
Some regain is inevitable after dropping the pounds through gastric bypass surgery; medical professionals advise this from the offset. However, there is still a feeling of shame when it’s you and your demons in the spotlight.
I chose to stop sharing photos just to avoid any negative feedback. That was a personal choice based on watching friends in the weight loss surgery community being trolled when posting pictures of themselves after regaining some weight.
And it’s not just the online world either. There was a time when I dreaded going for a run or stepping into the gym because I knew I would see those withering glances. I have been heckled in the street for being a fat girl running and laughed at for trying to improve my health and fitness. Why are we still ok with any comments being made about anyone’s body? Is it because we are so obsessed with celebrities and how they get “red-carpet ready” with the latest fad diet or “skinny jab”?
Or maybe it’s because we decided long ago that weight gain is a personality flaw and so larger people are fair game.
So many of us are self-conscious about our bodies and will carefully curate an image on social media, often to boost confidence. But why do we care so much? At some point, I stopped and returned to the reason why I started documenting my journey in the first place: self-accountability and the hope that I could help or support someone just like me to make positive changes in their life.
I am seeing this more and more; people calling out fat shaming, celebrating their bodies for how amazing they are and gaining confidence from doing so. This isn’t about celebrating weight gain or weight loss. It’s about prioritising health over looks, and allowing people to feel comfortable in their own skin.
I relearn that lesson all the time. We shouldn’t allow others to decide what shape we should be. After all, if one of the most famous and iconic rock’n’roll stars of all time can be dismissed on the basis of weight, what chance do the rest of us have?