Artwork: Yasmin Salt
Photo credit: Charlotte Price
Meet Charlotte. I’m so excited to give you a slice of her! At more than 75,000 Instagram followers and a very popular YouTube channel, she’s really empowering girls and ladies, by breaking down all sorts of taboos. If you’re *actively* in recovery from an eating disorder, or are just sick of this invisible pressure to be thin even though it makes you miserable and takes away from so much of your life (both of these I can relate)… she’s your new Insta gal. A raw and honest journey of self-love and self-acceptance… just what the sanity doctor ordered. Read on for my (8-question) interview with Charlotte about dealing with body image and the pressure of being exposed on social media/trolls.
Stumbling across this beautiful body-confidence activist happened, you could say, in one of the more random ways… anyone else ‘YouTube’d’ something they’re soon to experience – just to get a nosy about what it’s like? Helps with the mental prep.
So… I was YouTub’ing ‘First time giving blood’ in prep for what I hoped to be doing… (I was however, turned down on the day though, after not being clear of eating disorder symptoms long enough – even more motivation for recovery, right?!) and there she was! Bless her cotton socks. Laid down with her arm out, talking through the anxious before-and-afters… I came away feeling relieved and motivated to donate. Charlotte has this ambitious energy, this real-ness that is quite rare nowadays, even as times are changing.
It was from there I began watching her other stuff – everything from vlogs, hauls, to ‘honest chats’, body confidence… to her ‘mid-size’ try-ons, inspired by Lucy Wood. There’s only ever been 2 YouTubers I’ve ever gone back and watched most of their videos from the start… and Charlotte is one of them. It’s a talent to be able to talk to a camera so casually, and take the viewers through your day like they’re another friend in the room. That, as well as the fact that she’s not a stick insect (thank the lord), nor does she have strict regimes about diet and exercise, which although interesting to see on peoples’ channels… it can cause a divide and a strong pull of comparison, not leaving you feel great if your body confidence is pretty naff. But Charlotte is just ace. And relatable…
- I don’t know about you, but I forever cherish those young days before I ever had a clue what body image was, or what I should feel like in my own skin. When life was just about collecting packs of stickers from WHSmith, beanie babies… and joy from a new pair of jelly shoes.
Do you remember how old you were when you first became aware of your ‘body image’?
What did that feel like and what areas of your body were you conscious of first?
“I don’t vividly remember when my body image issues started, I think they progressively got worse as I grew up into my teens. I started my period years before all of my friends did which has a huge effect on my body. Puberty hit me first and I grew boobs, was taller than everyone in my year and I got picked on a lot for my height. I think I was probably around 13 when I started becoming more conscious of what I wore and began comparing myself to girls in my year (or girls in the media)!
I used to be particularly conscious of my thighs, which my mum always told me that she’s always had thicker thighs too! It’s so weird looking back and thinking how much I used to hate my legs because they are my favourite part of my body now! I love how muscly they are from years of dance and I appreciate them so much for taking me from place to place.”
- Even when kids mean to be harmless at school, sometimes they can say things that stick with you. A couple of things that shaped how I viewed myself negatively were often being called ‘baby face’ and having chubby cheeks – which made me feel like a fat hamster rather than the girl growing into a teenager I was ‘meant’ to be. There was also a time when I was walking home, about 12 years-old – excited to bite into my snickers bar, after an anxious day at school, when some chav biked past and stole it from my hand. Subconsciously, this told me I didn’t deserve to eat – until I became a bubblier person, and not the shy, awkward, hard-working kid at the back.
Were you ever teased at school about how you looked?
(…even if it wasn’t ‘intentional’ bullying)
And if so, what bothered you the most?
“I think my height is what sticks out particularly at school. I had the odd ‘whale’ comment from boys – which is honestly baffling because I was a size 8/10 when they called me these names. The comments were mainly how tall I was and that I wasn’t as slim as most girls in my year.”
- You’re clearly a very driven person, and your hard work pays off. So I’m not surprised you got yourself a first in you Criminology degree – you star, you. Your dedication to your YouTube channel, and influencer content on Insta is also loud and clear.
When you first started your YouTube channel, what was your main purpose? What were you hoping to achieve for yourself with those first few uploads?
“I started a blog in 2014 to clear my head, and mainly because I loved to write so much! I ventured into YouTube two years later in 2016 where I started to build my confidence and not give a sh*t about what people at school would think of my videos. My main aim was to document my life for myself to look back on and also to give advice through my own life/mistakes. As I grew in confidence personally and confidence within my body, I wanted to inject that energy to my platforms. Hoping to make other girls, women and men feel sexy as f*ck in their own bodies. My main aim is to make others feel good about themselves and stop self loathing! Life is way too short to hate yourself.”
- Being the big fan of fashion that you are, and this being one of your main passions through Instagram… when did your account become more targeted towards ‘mid-size’ body confidence?
“I’d say about a year ago I felt like I wanted to focus on wearing what I wanted, and encourage other women to do the same. I wanted people to feel comfortable to come to me if they wanted style inspiration for girls who are in the middle size range. Smaller-framed girls and larger-framed girls seem to get a lot of representation in the media so I wanted to open up the midsize gate and represent all the girls in the middle who may be feeling self conscious about their body/what they wear!”
- People often admire those that ‘expose’ themselves online, sharing their deepest thoughts and anxieties. Since I’ve been in eating disorder recovery, I’ve completely converted to valuing transparency and honesty as one of my new life’s priorities. So, that lead me to obviously start this blog 3 years ago when in an eating disorder unit, and sharing my raw journey. To then, generally sharing my opinions and my art and things with the world. There’s nothing worse than this invisible, intimidating power stopping you from feeling like you can be yourself. Even me, with little fame in comparison to yourself, have experienced some trolling. ‘Troll’ just describes the people they are quite accurately. Ugly and weak, to hide behind a computer screen and rant out stuff they would never say in real life.
I know you’ve been honest about your sometimes very upsetting experiences with trolling, specifically about your weight (bloomin’ ridiculous!) when you’ve bravely shared unapologetic pictures of your body on social media. I take my hat off to you for dealing with this regularly as your channels have grown… and still making the decision to keep on with it. (thank you SO much for that, on behalf of a ‘self-acceptance searching’ community… )
Hopefully you’ve come to realise that there are those evidently sad people out there that have nothing better to do. But when and why has this trolling upset you the most?
How do you pull yourself back from that?
“I’m not all self-loving so negative comments about my appearance can certainly make me take a step back. Sometimes I’ve considered deleting my photos and videos that I’ve created because it’s gotten too much in such a short space of time. I usually have to have some time off social media, or in particular turn off Instagram notifications on my phone. One of my favourite things about Instagram was interacting with people so to have to stop looking at comments/DMs for a while makes me sad but it’s so needed for my own mental health. I have less bad mental health days that I used to so I’m very blessed that most days I can shrug awful comments off. But there have definitely been some days where I’ve considered having a huge old social media break because I can’t take the awful things people feel the need to say.”
- Has the trolling ever knocked your body-confidence so much that you’ve not filmed something you’d planned or gone for that photoshoot?
Are there times when it’s easier to brush off troll comments? If so, what influences this?
“It genuinely just depends on the day for me, whether the comment knocks me or not. I’ve definitely avoided taking photos or shooting content if I’m in an awful mood from comments which is upsetting. However, I always bounce back with something even better and sometimes, weirdly, I get inspired by the negativity to create more positive content!”
- For people reading this that may feel like failures because they’re not like their ‘skinny friends’, or they’ve been on a yo-yo diet for years and are still not happy and just want to be confident/feel beautiful in their own skin… what would your advice be?
“My number one tip is to have a huge social media clear-out. Remove accounts (or mute accounts if they’re your friends) that make you question your own self worth and draw out the comparison demon. It has done so much good for my body confidence journey and will help you see more accounts of body types similar to your own. Following other midsize girls has normalised my body type and made me realise that my body is unique, lovable and worthy of being accepted.”
- In my later years of recovery, I realised how important it is to control everything you’re exposed to, in order to feel your best self. For me, that’s meant unfollowing many people on social media, and instead filling it with people that look happy whilst being a healthier or larger weight.
For anyone else realising they need/want a spring-clean of their social media to fill it with people similar to mentioned above… which 3 Instagram accounts or YouTube channels would you recommend?
“I’d definitely say following (if you’re looking for accounts that will leave you feeling amazing about yourself):
My favourite body acceptance accounts for sure!
Pringles or Doritos? “Doritos”
On-point Eyebrows or Beautiful Nails? “Nails”
Starbucks, Costa or Caffe Nero? “Caffe Nero”
Stationery or Jewellery? “Stationery”
Dogs or Cats? “Dogs”
Charlotte is certainly keen to genuinely help people through social media. She exposes lumps, bumps and all the normal body bits to lift that shame we all press down inside (this suppression of shame can be mentally very unhealthy for us over time). She’s normalising what should ALREADY be out there… and already is, just under lots of clothes and not celebrated enough. So, if you want a dose of her in your life (course you do!)…
Here is where you can find Charlotte…
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Huuuuge thanks to Charlotte for being a fantastic collaborator for this blog post!
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