Saturday, March 08, 2014

I'm the woman I swore I'd never be

Growing up with an arty, Guardian-reading*, feminist mother, there were two things I spent my formative years swearing I'd never be: An artist or a feminist. *(I always did like The Guardian)

For no real reason other than some sort half-hearted protest or teenage rebellion. I thought I'd wind 'Mother Dear' up and declare 'feminism was stupid', 'art was boring' and endlessly argue the pros of The Sun printing Page 3.

As daughters, our mothers inevitability have an impact on the women we grow up to be. They must find a way to chip away at our contrary teenage minds. They must plant seeds which blossom when we water them and spend time in the sun on our own. 

I guess, if I'm honest, at 14 I had no idea what being a woman, let alone a feminist, meant. My mum came out when I was a teenager and I'm pretty sure I mixed up being a lesbian 'man hater' with celebrating the fact I was a woman. What a fool. 

We all live and learn in our own unique way, picking up on issues, understanding and forming opinions as we grow. Each person we meet and every experience shapes us a little more into who we 'are' and what we believe in. I get that now. 

I was adamant I was EXACTLY the same as the boys in my class, naively protesting that I'd have the same chances, opportunities, pay, respect and worth as them. I think it was in a bid to cover up my lack of understanding of what it was I stood for (and so the said boys liked me!)

I can pick out key memories that have made me the woman I am today. Not all were the easiest times to live through, but they've certainly increased my understanding of the world around me now. I never thought I'd say I was glad they happened, but I am. 

I've been fortunate to have met some incredibly passionate and strong women, to have been taught by inspiring ladies and to have worked with talented and tough females. On the flip side, I've dealt with backstabbers, bitches and my fair share of nasty women too, but each has helped shape who I am today.

Although, for some reason it's taken me a long time to admit I love a good heroine, that I'm thankful the suffragettes fought for my vote. That women coming together to change the world gives me goosebumps. I'm also glad the Spice Girls carved out Girl Power in the 90s and that Buffy was more kick-ass then Bella Swan. I love listening to BBC Women's Hour, reading work of fellow female journalists, meeting inspiring women and hearing even the youngest of girls stand up for what they believe in.

But, I still see a lack of female 'front benchers' in Parliament, I work in newsrooms still dominated by men, I talk to women and girls who've been abused, physically and mentally. I visit companies, councils and courtrooms with an visible lack of women in high-flying roles. I read about rape, FGM, oppression and everyday sexism still happens, well, everyday. 

We must remember, our mothers did have fewer opportunities than us, but my god, if we want equality for our daughters, the fight is still on. We need to rise and speak up for those who still can't. We need to work out what being a woman means to us and we need to believe, inspire and continue to mark International Women's Day until the paragraph before this one is history. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, today I'll swallow my teenage stubbornness and admit that I might not be an artist but I've sort of developed into my own kind of feminist.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

EDAW '14 | POEM: 'Help You See'

I wrote this poem for my Dad just after I started my recovery to try and explain how anorexia gradually tore his daughter apart. I've not shared it with anyone other than him until now, but I hope it helps others see how falling into anorexia's trap feels, from the inside for a sufferer.

Help You See 
By Sarah Robertson (October 2011)

I wish I could help you see, What's going on inside of me
I wish I could show you all, How my life began to fall

How these thoughts, That you can't see
Have always, Been inside of me

How I want to try, How I want to fight
How want to be me, And sleep at night

I wish I could show you more, Help you understand
Tell you how is feels, And let you hold my hand.

It's not your fault, You're not to blame
It was lots of things, That blew out my flame

You know I've been scared, Always panicked and afraid
These thoughts damaged me, And the foundations were laid

The pressure to be perfect, And to do my best
I’ve never felt good enough, Compared to the rest.

I should have of shut up, I could always pretend
I could be a better daughter, A better sister and friend

I've always hated myself, For always causing a scene
I just wanted to be normal, Wished for what could have been.

Terrified of food, Scared of getting ill
The same old fears, Haunt me still.

They add to the pain, And they fuel the fire
They are stopping me having, What I truly desire

I want to believe, What you say I am
I want to look in the mirror, And believe ‘I can’

You say I was perfect, And beautiful before
It wasn’t my perfect, And I wanted more.

I want to be the best, I wanted to be free
I wanted more from life, And wanted more from me.

I felt like I was failing, Not listening to the voice
That if I was able to hear, Then I had a choice

To listen to myself, That bit deep inside,
The desperate voice, That I tried to hide.

That voice has spent, Many a year
Telling me I’m useless, I tried not to hear.

Useless and fat, Set up to fail
Not pretty or talented, Too yellow, too pale.

I was tired and stressed, Too exhausted to fight,
It got to the point, I couldn’t stand the sight

The sight of my stomach, My sides and my face
I hated my body. I felt a disgrace

I thought that by listening, By following my head
That I’d be thinner, better. I’d be confident instead.

Instead of always comparing, And wanting much more,
That I’d be the better one. The one they adore.

I was sick of the guilt, The pain and the regret,
For being greedy and hungry, I wanted to forget.

Forget how I felt, And forget about the rest,
But it wasn’t enough, Because I wasn’t the best.

I should have been wary, Of the promises I made
This pain and agony, Was not a fair trade

I don’t understand, Where it went wrong
When I lost control, Or for how long.

How long ago it changed, From the voice I controlled
To this voice that consumes me. The one that's made me so cold

It was hard to accept, That I lost the reign,
I didn’t like, What I became

It took so much, To come and tell you about me
It was only the start. My step to be free

It’s not going to be easy, Or simple or quick
To fix my fears, Of control, fat and sick.

The only thing I can do now,
The only thing I can be
Is promise you I am trying,
I just wish you could see.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

EDAW '14 | Welcome to Eating Disorders Awareness Week

With at least 1.6 million people living with an eating disorder in the UK alone, I believe everyone should already know about the devastating impact they can have on someone's life, but unfortunately, not everyone does.


It's a chance to talk about eating disorders, all of them - anorexia, bulimia, binge and EDNOS - share our own experiences, bust myths, speak up even more than usual. 

It's a chance to break down misconceptions of what causes an eating disorder, who they hit and why. It's a time to remind people they're serious mental illnesses with serious consequences. It's a chance to break down stigma and change the stereotypes. 

But it's also about raising awareness to the fact that you CAN recover from an eating disorder. It's about letting people know about the charities, services and help that's out there to support their recovery and helping them get on the path and letting other sufferers know they're not alone.

It's about fighting back at pro-anorexia, fighting for more specialist eating disorder services, it's about fighting for parity of esteem in care, for more education to prevent them and so much more..So welcome, I did a little vlog to say hello...

I urge you to speak up, join the conversation, use the #EDAW2014 hashtag everywhere, write to your MP about services in your town. Hold a fundraiser, do your own thing, make extra effort in your own recovery. Talk, tell your story, don't be ashamed, educate and inspire. 

A few links: