I Love Me

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I love myself.

There, I said it. And to be honest, it's no secret - I speak about it all the time across my social media platforms. I am a huge advocate of body positivity and self love and I spend as much time as I can encouraging other people to love and appreciate themselves and their bodies too. I grew up struggling to like myself, let alone love myself, and now that I've finally learnt to appreciate my body, my mind, every inch of myself, I work so hard to make sure that other people are able to do the same.

This was one of the best tweets I ever received... to know that sharing my self love journey so openly online helped to inspire and empower another is the best feeling!

It doesn't help that for years and years and years we have it drummed into our heads that to appreciate our looks is vanity. That to talk about all the things we are achieving and have going on for us is bragging. So often people who love themselves are branded as big headed and narcissistic

Shouldn't we be celebrating the fact that these people are living their best damn lives? These people have been able to rise above everything society and mainstream media enforces onto them about looking and being a certain way and are able to embrace themselves wholly for the person that they are? 

Loving yourself is no easy feat. It's a long, complex and time consuming journey. It's not a straight line from loathing to loving yourself. It's full of ups and downs; somedays you'll look in the mirror and feel bomb as hell. Other days you'll look in the mirror and feel like a blobfish. It's swings and roundabouts but with patience and time you'll get there! What we ought to be doing is helping people to embrace themselves, flaws and all, and assisting them in the best way we can to help them learn to love themselves.

Of course, we shouldn't forget that loving yourself and being proud of who you are and all that life is giving you comes with it's downside; bitterness and criticism from people who just don't understand. They don't share your mind set, they don't love themselves, they aren't proud of themselves and so to them, your actions are alien. And what do humans do when they don't understand something, when something's a little bit different to the norm? They try to destroy it. 

If I had a pound for every single time someone had criticised my looks, my achievements, told me I was big headed, vain or narcissistic, I would be a very rich lady. On the journey to loving myself, I have really heard it all, from people I called friends, people I've never met, even family! I've been called fat, I've been called a whale, I've been called obese, I've been told my boobs are too big, too saggy, I dress like a chav, I dress like a slut, I am a slut, my jobs are rubbish. I've been accused of lying about the work I do, lying about the things I've achieved, accused of photoshopping my body in photos for the likes... the list goes on and on and on.

The fact that I absolutely love myself and everything about my life drives people absolutely wild. 

But guys, come on! Life is so short - imagine if (God forbid) you dropped down dead tomorrow. How much of your life would you have spent stood in front of a mirror grabbing at the excess skin on your hips or your thighs, wishing it would disappear? How many hours would you have spent trying to emulate someone else's makeup or hairstyle in the mirror and ending up in tears because you just felt so gross in comparison? How many nights would you have spent lying there in your bed wishing you could just be so many pounds lighter, so many sizes smaller, have so and so's nose and longer hair? 

And how much of your life would you have spent feeling happy just to be you

Self love isn't about being the prettiest, or being the skinniest. It's not about having the biggest boobs, the sexiest curves, the most precise contour and perfect hair do. Self love is about embracing you exactly as you are in that moment. And it's not just about your looks, either! It's about your skills, your talents, embracing all that your life holds. Self love is about feeling good about you and the life that you're living. Above all that, self love is crucial and absolutely okay. 

But, most importantly of all, self love is unique to everyone. It differs from person to person - which is the beauty, and the exact point of self love. It's not about anyone else in the world, it's about you

You can be whatever size you like. You can look however you like, dress however you like. You can wear makeup, or wear none. Have long hair or short. Enjoy painting, singing, sports or reading. Have qualifications behind you or have none. Be rich, be poor. Be right wing or left. Love animals or hate them. Have children or don't. Believe in God or believe in none. Follow religion or don't. It doesn't matter

To recite an age-old cliche, everyone is unique! It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you, so long as you love you, exactly as you are. And if you alter how you look or how you live your life or what hobbies you choose to do in a week, a month, a year, it doesn't matter. You're allowed to love yourself at any and every stage of your life. Self love is allowed to constantly evolve with you, because lets be honest - what human ever stays the same?

Too fat, too curvy, saggy boobs, bad at makeup, photoshopped... the list of insults I have received about my looks goes on and on and on.

I absolutely love myself and my life. I'm super cute with a great body, I dress well, I'm ambitious, I'm smart, I can hold my own and I'm feisty. I'm pretty damn funny too! I have a number of qualifications behind me that some people thought I wouldn't achieve. I'm a successful career woman who has two great jobs, I live in a lovely house and I am surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family. Come on, what's not to love? 

It's never too late to begin loving yourself - it's something you have to work at every day but it will be the best thing you ever do. It doesn't stop with you, either. Make sure you always help the people around you to embrace and love themselves too. When we all learn to appreciate the people that we are, it's a sure fact that the world will be a far happier place. 

Take some of my thoughts on board, take some time to process them and think about what self love means to you and then tell me below what you love about yourself! 

Love from,
Florence Grace


Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week

*Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse, sexual violence, rape, domestic abuse*

Monday 5th February to Sunday 11th February is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

I find sexual abuse and violence a particularly hard topic to speak about, because I am incredibly passionate about it. Unfortunately, my passion for the topic is not simply down to my compassion for those who go through it; it’s because I have been a victim of sexual abuse and violence myself.

It isn’t something I speak about often, if at all. Only a handful of people in my life know anything about it, and whilst I have written an incredibly long and detailed post about my experiences, as a way of ‘healing’, I have never had the courage to press publish. There are a number of reasons for this; I don’t want to be branded a liar. I don’t want the men who made me a victim to come after me - because they quite easily could. I don’t want people to slut shame me, as so often happens to young women who come forward about being sexually abused. In short, I can’t deal with all the negative stigmas that would be directed towards me once I shared my story.

Which is really why Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week is so important – to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence and also to try to eliminate the stigmas and negative connotations that surround this topic, such as slut shaming. 

I was sexually abused on more than one occasion, and by more than one person, yet each time the feelings were the same. Feeling ashamed, feeling dirty, feeling like it was my fault. In some cases I had been drunk – was that my fault? In some cases, I’d been dating the other person – so did that make it my fault? In some cases, I said no more than once and after being ignored, gave up – so did that make it my fault?

But there’s one key factor to each of the incidents. Every single time, I said no.

And really, that’s all it takes. If you say no, the sexual act, be it oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex or something else sexual, should stop. No means no. Saying 'no' is the withdrawal of consent, and without consent, that sexual relationship you’re having (be it for one night, a few weeks or a number of years) becomes non-consensual, and therefore assault, and rape. 

I was a lot younger than I am now when I was sexually abused. I blamed myself, told no one for fear of being told it was my fault and carried it around with me for years. It wasn’t until I began learning more about sexual abuse and assault, domestic abuse and abusive relationships that I realised what I had gone through was not okay – I had always said no, it had always happened. And that was all that mattered. And just like that, I knew that I was not to blame. Nothing that had happened was my fault. It didn’t matter if I said yes, then changed my mind and said no. It didn’t matter if I was drunk – far too drunk to consent. It didn’t matter that one of my abusers was a partner. It was all sexual abuse, one and the same.

"You're not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor, setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and your raging courage."

After I had learnt this, I began the healing process. I told people – only a few – but it’s true what they say; a problem shared is a problem halved, and once I had spoken about my experiences out loud, I felt so much lighter in myself. Once I had acknowledged what had really happened to me, I was able to begin to process it, to begin healing. And, two years later, I feel like I’m finally in a good place again.

I can openly speak about what happened to me – it’s hard, but if I have to, I can. I have friends who are sensitive to what happened to me and have supported me continuously. I have a boyfriend who is incredibly sensitive to what I’ve been through and always makes sure I’m okay with everything the two of us do (like any decent sexual partner should do). And I am able to share my experiences to help others, the way I am now.

Sexual abuse and sexual violence is one of the worst things I’ve ever had to deal with, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling. But if you’ve suffered from sexual abuse or sexual violence, there are some things you need to remember:

  • It isn’t your fault.
  • It doesn’t make you less of a person.
  • You aren’t dirty or shameful.
  • It can happen to anyone, so there is no 'reason' it happened to you. Children, adults, boys, girls, black, white, asian - sexual abuse and sexual violence doesn't discriminate, it can happen to anyone at any time.
  • It takes time to process it and then to recover and heal – take all the time you need. There is no deadline for healing, and for some it’s quicker than others. This is a journey that is extremely personal to you.
  • You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to but it is a lot easier if you do have at least one person you can confide in.If you feel like you can go to the police, or another person of authority, you should. It is important for me that you all know that in my case, I could not – I did not realise what I had gone through until many years after it had happened, and I knew, having seen it happen so many times with cases like mine before, that I would be torn to shreds in court. I’d be branded a bitter ex-girlfriend, too drunk, a slut and so on. Additionally, for my own sanity I couldn’t bring it all up again, face the people who did this to me, relive it all again. But if you’re in a position where you can, you should

One of the most important things we need to do surrounding sexual abuse and sexual violence is break the silence – something I am doing by beginning to share my story with you all today. However, it is equally as important to begin eradicating stigmas surrounding sexual abuse and sexual violence too. My story, and so many other people’s stories, could be so different had we not been afraid of the stigmas; afraid to be given certain labels or made to feel certain ways about ourselves and what we’ve been through.

If you’ve been sexually abused, sexually assaulted or suffered some form of sexual violence, please know that you are not alone.

And if you haven’t been, and feel you can’t relate to this post, or that it doesn’t mean anything to you, think again. Anyone can work to remove the stigma, to raise awareness, to help and look after those who have suffered.

I know that I can’t end sexual abuse and violence on my own, but I hope that by sharing my own story, I can inform, educate and maybe even help at least one person.

Sexual abuse and sexual violence has got to stop. #ITSNOTOKAY

Love from,

Florence Grace
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