Michelle Elman is a body positive blogger who’s getting real about what it means to be the “fat friend.”
The British confidence coach has built a large online following due to her honesty surrounding body confidence, but she hasn’t always loved herself. At just 23, Elman has had 15 surgeries including procedures to remove a brain tumour, punctured intestine, obstructed bowel, brain cyst and hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid fills the brain.
TW: measurements, weight Do you remember when you were younger and your parents’ friends would come over and exclaim “wow you’ve got so big!”, and you would beam with pride as if growing, and ageing was a personal accomplishment? Well I wonder when big becomes an insult. I wonder what age, growing suddenly becomes a health concern? For me, it was when I was 11 and had been gaining weight having been in hospital for 3 months not eating. I still remember the numbers to this day. I went into hospital 52 kg and 3 months later, I left 42 kg. I had been banned from eating for 3 months due to infections and so understandably, my body went into starvation mode. 3 months after hospital and I was 72 kg. 30 kg in 3 months is not normal. But nor is being fed by a drip that only contains necessary nutrients for 3 months. That’s when the “wow you’ve got so big” turned from being a compliment to a concern. This is the danger of associating weight gain with unhealthiness. My weight gain was a sign of my restored health but because we live in a weight obsessed society and I, at the time, lived in a beauty obsessed boarding school, all the warnings were set off and teachers were told to have a word with me… “for my health” of course. This is why we need to stop applying blanket rules about health. This is why we need to see health and weight in its context. This is why weight is not a barometer for health . #ScarredNotScared
A post shared by Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) on Jan 30, 2018 at 11:13am PST
At age 11, Elman started to become aware of her size, admitting this is when her self esteem started to plummet. After being hospitalized for three months, it was in her six-month recovery that she started to gain weight.
Now, her honest post about being the “fat friend” — and the stereotype around it — is striking a chord online.
“She’s the one who sits on the sidelines and never joins in. She’s the one perpetually single and sits silently while all her friends discuss their love life because god forbid, if she actually find a boyfriend, she would never be comfortable naked or in the bedroom. She’s the insecure one, the one constantly complaining about her body and talking about diets,” she wrote. “I couldn’t call bullshit more on this stereotype.”
There's a stereotype around being the "fat girl" in a friendship group. She's the one who sits on the sidelines and never joins in. She's the one perpetually single and sits silently while all her friends discuss their love life because god forbid, if she actually find a boyfriend, she would never be comfortable naked or in the bedroom. She's the insecure one, the one constantly complaining about her body and talking about diets. I couldn't call bullshit more on this stereotype. Since the age of 11, I have always been the "fat" friend but I have never been THAT girl. Even with all my insecurities around my scars, and my body in general, I was never the girl who sat inside – I refused to because of my pride and ego and my surgeries never let me be the person who missed out on life. The difference between now and then is that there's no hesitation, there are no second thoughts and when my friend suggested jumping in the Fjord, I was all "Hell yeah!". Before I would have said yes reluctantly, spent the time hiding as much of my body as possible until the last moment, definitely worn a top and definitely wouldn't have taken photos, let alone been in them. Now, I'm the one suggesting photos, I was the first to whip off my top and the thought that my body was different wasn't there. The fact that I know many girls, fat or skinny, would miss out on opportunities like this is what fuels my body positivity. Body positivity isn't about being able to take underwear selfies, it's about not letting your underwear or your swimsuit be the reason you aren't taking part. And ultimately when you are around the right people, you won't EVER feel like the "fat friend". I don't look at these pictures and see me as the odd one out. I look at the pictures and see the memories and the three bodies that we had fun in! #ScarredNotScared Swipe for a video of me high pitch screaming as I jump in!
A post shared by Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) on Apr 1, 2017 at 11:04am PDT
Elman admits she has always identified as being the biggest person in her friend group but she has never let it stop her from living her life.
“When my friend suggested jumping in the Fjord, I was all ‘Hell yeah!’ Before I would have said yes reluctantly, spent the time hiding as much of my body as possible until the last moment, definitely worn a top and definitely wouldn’t have taken photos, let alone been in them,” she wrote. “Now, I’m the one suggesting photos, I was the first to whip off my top and the thought that my body was different wasn’t there.”
A few days ago, I posted a tweet: “If you remove the caption from your body positive post, and it looks like a fitspo/thinspo post, then you are doing body positivity wrong” The twitter trolls have been coming for me since but if you watch my stories, you will see I’m 100% OK and I entered the new year having fun with them and utilising their tweets to release my sarcastic nature. (PS I’ve decide 2018 is going to be sassier, more sarcastic and passionate than ever before!). Anyway, one of them, being a smart arse tweeted this photo back to me and said I was being hypocritical cause this looked like fitspo… Ok… if you say so. ♀️ So here’s my top fitness tips to achieve this position: 1) Make sure the gym is as close to your bedroom as possible, to pre-empt your fat arse giving up and not exerting unnecessary energy to return back to your bed 2) Take yourself to the gym. Make sure to bring paper airplanes with you to fly into the mouth of anyone gawking at the amazement of seeing a fat person working out 3) Play loud music. My chosen song choice was “Funhouse” by Pink to mourn the fact that the gym used to be my funhouse and it ain’t anymore 4) Lie on the floor to do hip thrusts and be glad no one is watching you whilst you gyrate the air. Also secretly hope that someone was watching so you could stare them down until they felt awkward. 5) Do 2 hip thrusts… ya know, cause fat people have no perseverance 6) Wonder why there isn’t a spiderwoman?! Seriously. 7) Take matters into your own hands and become spiderwoman and climb the walls your damn self. Be the change you want to see in the world. 8) Check your beautiful self out in the mirror 9) Take picture to capture a position you will never replicate again Done. Congrats. Oh and to the trolls, I never said thin/fit, I said thinspo/fitspo. If you don’t know the difference, find a dictionary. (Probs an urban one, cause they won’t be in the Oxford one). I stand by my statement, no caption can undo a triggering picture. If you want to get your egos hurt, go for it but if you keep coming for me, I might just take my fat arse + sit on you + trust me, that will hurt more. #scarrednotscared
A post shared by Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) on Jan 4, 2018 at 5:38am PST
The blogger is inspired by her followers, saying she wants to encourage them to live life to the fullest, regardless of their body type. Knowing everyone has insecurities inspires Elman to continue breaking down negative stereotypes and damaging standards.
“The fact that I know many girls, fat or skinny, would miss out on opportunities like this is what fuels my body positivity. Body positivity isn’t about being able to take underwear selfies, it’s about not letting your underwear or your swimsuit be the reason you aren’t taking part,” she wrote.
The post resonated with her followers — quickly racking up likes and comments from readers who praised Elman for her inspiring realness.
“My heart is radiating after reading this. Thank you for shining so brightly. You are a brilliant inspiration!” wrote one follower.
“You are so inspiring! Thank you for setting such an amazing example. I really needed to be reminded of this,” added another.
Every single person gets body shamed at some point in their life. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. So can we get rid of the idea that you are being body shamed because of what you look like? If that was true then Victoria secret models wouldn’t get body shamed. But they do, less than a fat person but they still do. They might be the ideal image of beauty in our society but look in the comments section and damn, the opinions: “too skinny”, “she needs bigger boobs”, “her legs are too long”, “her stomach looks weird”, “but her face”. Bluntly put, if you left it up to everyone else in the world to decide, your body will NEVER be good enough. So if every single person gets body shamed, then how is changing your body the solution? Body shame is not about your body. So what can we do? Become body confident? Confident and insecure people face the same level of body shame. Fat women are body shamed more than thin women. That is a fact and not up for debate, but a confident fat woman is body shamed just as much as an insecure fat woman. But there is something that body confidence grants you: body shame resilience. Body confidence does not make the number of times you are body shamed reduce but it makes the impact of them less. Body confidence won’t stop people from being arseholes, but it will guarantee you will spend less time on the arseholes. AND THAT, my darling, is a worthy reason. Body confidence helped me decide who deserved my time and energy, and trust me… it ain’t the arseholes ♀️ #ScarredNotScared • : @sophiemayanne for @behindthescars_
A post shared by Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) on Dec 28, 2017 at 10:31am PST
Elman also gave a shout out to her supportive friends, reminding followers that anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself most likely doesn’t deserve to be called a friend.
“Ultimately when you are around the right people, you won’t EVER feel like the ‘fat friend.’ I don’t look at these pictures and see me as the odd one out,” she wrote. “I look at the pictures and see the memories and the three bodies that we had fun in!”