Body-confidence coach, Michelle Elman, is the positive force we all need in our lives. The 23-year-old runs the successful mindsetforlifeltd Instagram account and is always on hand to provide her followers with encouragement and advice.
According to Cosmopolitan Michelle was only 11-years-old when she began to struggle with her self-esteem after she becoming acutely aware of her larger size. Around this time Michelle also suffered from various health problems which resulted in scarring and caused her weight to balloon.
WHY I AM IN BODY POSITIVITY – I worried more about my head being shaved than a brain surgery – I worried more about the scar that was created in a 12 hour surgery than whether I would survive that surgery – I worried about having a permanent bald patch on my head more than I did about the fact I had a brain tumour – I worried about weight gain when I started eating after 3 months, rather than celebrating the fact that I was recovered enough to let food pass my lips – I worried about my hair falling out from the multiple surgeries more than I worried about the effect of that anaesthesia on my body – I worried about how slow I was running instead of being grateful for my ability to move – I worried more about what people would say about my body than the fact that my body still worked – I worried more about not being treated like a "weirdo" than processing my emotions – I worried if my body would be the deciding factor to not date me than the fact that the person I date must be there to support my illnesses too – I worried more about the stigma of mental and physical illness more than I worried about myself AND MOST OF ALL… I am in body positivity because each sentence above was written in the past tense and that is only possible because of body positivity. My body positivity is intrinsically linked to my hospital experiences. Every serious incident came with superficial worries about the consequence on my appearance. Every day when I should have been thinking about very real life or death situations, I instead worried about what I looked like. It's why I continue to embrace my scars and why they symbolise more than the physical marks on my body. In every sense of the word, I am Scarred Not Scared #scarrednotscared
By the time she was 15, the blogger decided to ditch the ’fat friend’ stereotype and learned to love her body.
But an incident last year caused Michelle’s size insecurities to return after a mate of hers suggested that she was too heavy to go after the guy she liked.
TODAY IS MIRROR APPRECIATION DAY. Ok fine, that isn't a thing but can it be pleassseee? I was scrolling through my phone and found a few selfies and it made me realise how long it's been since I hated my reflection. It's been a bloody long time since I used a mirror as a weapon. It's been years since I was that girl who used them to check for weight gain, pulling at my skin, yanking my hips wishing they would disappear. That girl deserved so much love and I'm so happy that I can give it to her now. I now kinda love mirrors, in a way that it's like seeing an old friend. Whether I'm in the most skin tight outfit I've ever worn whilst trying on skiing thermals or I'm in a sports bra and sweating it out, or completely naked (no picture for this one! ), I'll welcome my reflection any day because I'm ok with saying hi to me. There was a point where I would shy away from mirrors but now I'm in love. I look in the mirror and I see my life. I look at my body and this mother instinct perks up because I'm seriously protective of this body. This body has been through enough and I'm so proud of it for getting us through everything. So today is mirror appreciation day. Thank you for letting me see my smile, my emotions, my body. Thank you for reminding me where I come from with parts of my culture coming through. Thank you for helping me see my Chinese eyes that used to get mimicked, as beautiful. Thank you for helping me realise when they get small, I'm usually grinning my biggest grin and that's what's important. Thank you for helping me see my British unruly hair that used to get me in trouble at school, as beautiful. Thank you for helping me realise that it is symbolic of my personality, as opposed to something that needs to be tamed. Thank you for helping me see my Jewish bum and hips that I was told "would at least be good for childbearing", as beautiful. Thank you for helping me be proud of having my grandma's curves and realising that childbearing wasn't the only positive to having this figure. Thank you to all mirrors everywhere for helping me get to know my body because as my phone case says it makes me SO FUCKING happy #scarrednotscared
Obviously, Michelle swiftly dropped this ‘friend’ and decided to never let her weight stop her from doing the things she loved.
Michelle says "Body positivity at its best is not caring about what your body looks like and not letting your body be the reason to stop you from living your life".
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!
In the post she encourages people to embrace their bodies, make memories and surround themselves with positive people!
She writes, ‘’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’’
That's definitely a message we can get on board with!