See that? That's my pot belly. That's where I store most of my extra weight, but I also like to think that's where I store all the f***s I don't give about strangers' opinions about my body.
I can play with my nieces all day. I can carry heavy equipment. I can dance at a ceilidh. I can think. I can write. I can laugh. I can love and be loved. And if I do feel hurt, angry, sad, or hard-done-by, I can express myself without directing my negativity at a particular group of people. Without deliberately undermining someone else's confidence to boost my own, say, by wordlessly handing them a card on the Tube that reads "YOU'RE FAT AND UGLY". Frankly, without being a d**k.
I'm healthy, I'm happy and hot, and everyone deserves to feel that way exactly as they are. That's where health and happiness comes from: self-respect and self-love. And that's where lasting, positive, healthy change comes from, not hatred and humiliation. If you've been body-shamed, please remember it says so much more about the perp than it does about you.
I suspect these cards are being handed out as some kind of a publicity stunt – a social experiment or some kind of immersive Hatey Kopkins experience, perhaps to promote some weight-loss product. But the British Transport Police have said they are aware of and are looking into the issue.
As with a lot of fat-shaming, the targets are women. Women who look like me. Women who look like Amy Schumer in the new Pirelli calendar. Women who don't actively conform to what is an unrealistic standard of thinness. NHS worker Kara Florish, who tweeted that she received a card, wrote on Facebook she was "smaller than the national average and not exactly obese...but this is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence and eating disorders".
These kind of actions are simply disguising misogyny as social justice. What's that – fat people cost the NHS a ton of money? What about the drunk and disorderly who clog up A&E every weekend? They could approach men - you know, the ones who are built like brick s**thouses, about wasting NHS money. But I doubt they'll be doing that.
They want to offend as many people as possible, get some attention, and make some money, like Nicole Arbour in her seven-minute fat-shaming video. If you haven't watched, it here's a roundup: "FAT PEOPLE SMELL!", "THEY LOOK LIKE JABBA THE HUTT", "EAT LESS! MOVE MORE!", "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!". And there it is – the rallying cry of the bully. "It's the TRUTH! We're HELPING!". But they're not. They're hurting.
After my blog about my fat-shaming Tinder date went viral, I received thousands of the messages from people who've endured similar abuse. Not one was from someone who'd been bullied into making positive, healthy changes. Quite the opposite.
In many cases it leads to the development of eating disorders, or to sufferers hiding themselves away to eat, and eat, and eat, putting on more weight because they're too frightened or embarrassed or ashamed to change. When an overweight person goes for a run, the knives are out – look at Lindsey Swift (whose kick-ass response made me jiggle my jello with joy). The amazing This Girl Can campaign started because so many women are afraid or ashamed of the way their natural bodies move.
Good health depends on people being positive, not negative
According to Lucy Aphramor, former NHS dietician and founder of Health at Every Size: "In real terms an unhealthy lifestyle is not so much down to diet and exercise as it is to being subject to harassment, to having our opinions devalued, our identity invalidated, our appearance ridiculed, our voice silenced.
"The stress response [to abuse like body-shaming] influences blood pressure, blood stickiness, artery health, insulin resistance and other metabolic pathways linked to heart health, diabetes, and hypertension. If we want to promote good health we need to ensure no one is subjected to shaming comments on their appearance and judged negatively because of their actual – or imagined – health status."
I popped to the doctors last week. Blood pressure? Spot on. Cholesterol? A little high, but nothing a couple of weeks off butter wouldn't fix. I sleep like a baby. And I can get laid any time I like. And I suspect if you body-shamers out there could say the same, you wouldn't have to hurt strangers to empower yourself.
But to those from "Overweight Haters Ltd", the company supposedly behind the cards, if you do spot me on the Tube on my own, do pop over with one of your little notes. It'd be a f*****g delight to meet you.