Megan Crabbe has achieved a tremendous amount in her 24 years. She overcame a debilitating eating disorder, rebelled against the industry that persists at keeping women small, and became a tireless advocate for those suffering and struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. As well as being a leading figure in the body-positive movement, most recently she has published a book on the matter in order to further help others, and work to change the culture around policing and shaming the bodies that don’t fit the industry ideals of beauty. Megan has a huge following on social media, under the moniker “bodyposipanda,” and has used that to help create the change she wants to see in the world. Megan sat down with us to talk about body-positivity, what it means, and what she hopes to see happen in the future.
You started bodyposipanda over three years ago, what pushed you into the body positive movement?
Basically, I had gone on my last ever crash diet over the summer, and I had lost all this weight and had hit a weight that was my “goal weight.” I had always thought that when I hit that weight I was going to be really, really happy, and all of my body image problems would disappear. So I hit this weight, and I’m standing on a scale looking at this number, and I’m still miserable, and I still hate my body, and I think “well, I’m going to have to lose more weight” and more, and more, and more, and more. Then I realized, it’s never actually going to be enough. Then one day I was on Instagram, and I just happen to stumble upon a picture of my friend, Mellie, and she’s a plus size woman living in the US, and she was wearing a bikini and was talking about body positivity and loving yourself as you are. It was just a massive wake up call for me, because no one had ever told me that that was an option before. I thought I had to diet for my entire life, and there she was and I just kind of jumped into it! I knew that this is what I believed in, and what I wanted to tell people about.
For readers that may not know, what is the body positive movement?
The body positive movement is a movement that is fighting for all bodies, all shapes, all sizes, all skin colors, all ages, all genders, all abilities to be seen as valuable and good enough as they are.
How would you say your life has changed since becoming an activist?
Oh my gosh! It’s unrecognizable! If you had told me all those years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing, and also that I would be the size that I am and happy in my body I would not have believed you! I think the biggest difference, besides kind of the Instagram stuff and the events etc. The biggest difference is just mentally because I just feel free. I think it’s that kind of mental freedom that everyone deserves and that we aim for because I just don’t spend any time worrying about my body, or worrying about food. I never thought that I could be in that headspace. It’s just a weight lifted off of my shoulders, it’s wonderful.
You have a new book out in the United States called Body Positive Power: How to stop dieting, make peace with your body, and live. What can we look forward to reading?
So the book is basically why we hate our bodies so much, and how we can change the game and make peace with them instead. It is all about the cultural body ideals, the media’s ideas of beauty, the diet industry and diet culture, and also about eating disorders and fitspo. And how to reclaim our bodies so that we don’t spend our entire lives thinking “I’ll be happy when…I’ve lost the weight, or when I’ve changed how I look.” It is a call to reclaim ourselves as we are.
As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, are there things you still struggle with, and how do you get through it?
I’m at a place now where I don’t really have bad body days because I flat out refuse to live my life believing that I’m not good enough. In my head it is so clear that we have just all been tricked, and we’ve been lied to and told that our bodies are wrong. These massive industries can profit off us, and profit off our insecurities. I refuse to give them any more of myself, any more of my time or my money. So that’s where I am with my body, but I do still struggle with anxiety and I’m very open about that.
The phrase “self-love” is a great one, and used often, but too often I see people writing “but I don’t know how.” What would you say to those folks who don’t know how to get on the path to self-love?
I actually think a lot of the time ‘I don’t know how’ is also hiding ‘I don’t think I deserve this’ underneath it. That has to be the first step for anyone who wants to build a better relationship with their body – truly thinking that enough is enough and that they don’t deserve to feel the way they do anymore. After you realize that, it’s a process of stopping all of the things you do because you hate your body. Dieting, negative self-talk, buying too-small clothes, reading weight loss books/magazines. Then you can fill that space with things that cultivate self-love instead, like intuitive eating, positive affirmations, and body positive books.
Body shaming is practically built into our culture, what can we do to work to change that and work towards a more positive, accepting environment?
We can all help combat body shaming by speaking up when we hear it. Whether it’s about ourselves, someone we know, or a complete stranger (and that includes celebrities). The more we spread the message that it’s not acceptable to put someone down for how their body looks the less it will happen.
What is the most common comment you get from your viewers/followers on social media regarding being body positive?
Probably the most common comment is from people who are trying to rebuild their relationship with food, or exercise, or their body and are struggling. Often they think this makes them a failure, but it doesn’t. Anyone who comes into body positivity and starts trying to change their mindset is unlearning a lifetime of negative conditioning, while still existing in a culture that promotes body hate – that is really fucking difficult. It will take time. It will be hard. Sometimes it might feel like you’ll never get there. But we need to be patient with ourselves in the process of unlearning, because all the guilt and shame for not ‘doing it right’ belong back in diet culture, not here. Anyone trying to break away from their old body hating mindset is doing amazingly already, no matter where they’re at.
What are your hopes for the movement in the future, and your role in that?
Honestly, I just want it to be the norm. You know, when we’ve seen a brand that has done a diversity campaign and it’s a big deal and it makes a bunch of news outlets, I just don’t want that to be newsworthy. I want it to be normal! I want all bodies to be seen as valuable and to be celebrated and for all people to believe that their bodies are good enough. I think we’ve got a long way to go, and we’re making baby steps, but yeah, we’re still a way off.
Do you have any recommendations for people to follow, who are crusading the way you are and that can provide a positive, healthy environment for those who are struggling with these body image struggles?
Absolutely! Some great people to follow on Instagram are: @chooselifewarrior, @scarrednotscared, @yourstruelymelly, @sitting_pretty, @dothehotpants, @glitterandlazers, @simonemariposa, @nourishandeat, @omgkenzieee, & @gracefvictory.
Do you have any message that you’d like to send to the young people out there who may be struggling in silence?
I think what I want young people to know the most is that how they feel about their bodies isn’t their fault, it isn’t something they’ve done to themselves, it’s not because they’re wrong or they’re flawed. It’s something that we’ve been taught, and it’s something that we all learn from growing up in the culture that we do. I don’t want people to blame themselves because the blame doesn’t lie with them. The blame is in our society, and how it treats bodies and how it teaches us to think about our own bodies. So if you are struggling right now and you just can’t find a way out, I want you to know that this is not your fault, and you deserve better.
You can follow Megan on social media by searching @bodyposipanda.