Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"Write with your heart, read critique with your head."

There are 7 billion people populating this planet yet it only really takes one to shake your entire world up. Forget falling in love for a moment because I'm not talking about matters of the heart. I'm talking about head-screwing, life changing, simple inspiration.
The kind of inspiration that is hard to come by but impossible to live without once you've had a taste.
Just like Peanut Butter M&Ms.

For me, inspiration has always come from people; I've known I've wanted to pursue a career in writing for a very long time and at 7 years of age, I listed people like J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson as 'role models'. As I've got older, I've discovered people like David Nichols and Caitlin Moran, John Green and Dawn Porter. Beautiful writing comes from a variety of places so I've always filled my head space with magazines, books, song lyrics, fridge magnets with quotations printed on them...writing has always been my first love and therefore, writers have always been my first inspiration.

However, I'd be lying if I said it's always been that way. From the age of 14 to 17, I found inspiration in the likes of Victoria Beckham, Amy Winehouse and Mary-Kate Olsen. Forget beautiful writing, *that* infamous photo of Nicole Richie in the blue bikini was where I got my (th)inspiration from.
The aspiration to be thin graces so many young girl's minds and that scares, as well as upsets, me. I get the 'need' to be thin, I really do. But what I don't understand is why girls are even considering 'skinny' celebrities as a form of inspiration. I'm pretty sure when asked about their ideal career, they wouldn't answer with 'thin'.

'"We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need." - Marya Hornbacher

For me, inspiration should come from the heart and being thin only puts pressure on this vital organ. I'm not saying I think this is wrong because, after all, who am I to argue with whatever stimulates an individual's mind? I'm just saying I don't agree with it.
18 months ago, I know my feelings would have differed. I had photos of girls with their hipbones jutting out and quotes such as "nothing tastes as good as thin feels" plastered all over my wall. I believed that the three most important things in life were being able to handle my drink, having fun and being thin. So when I say I understand what it's like to be inspired by protruding collar bones, thighs with a gap between them the size of Russia and the tiny 0 that labels clothing, I really do mean it. I understand what it's like to look up to women who resemble toothpicks and I get why people are inspired by people who look like they haven't had a good meal in weeks. I understand it all.

Thankfully, I was brought to my senses and I can now look at pictures of size 0 girls and feel nothing but pity; pity because they obviously haven't had a slice of good cake in a really long time.
Perhaps it's because now, 18 months later, I get my inspiration from somebody who is all about the writing. Somebody who has taught me life lessons that give my life nothing but substance and which do nothing but encourage me to be a better person - regardless of my weight.

If I was Prime Minister, I'd make it the law that everyone get their own personal Carrie Lloyd.

Despite being (in my eyes, anyway) one of the best writers I've ever come across, this lady has given me some of the best advice I've ever been given. Forget studying Philosophy for 2 years, I've learnt more from e-mails and texts sent by Carrie than I have reading textbooks on Aristotle.

Obviously I'm not saying that she's the reason I decided to change my lifestyle of 3 years, but she's certainly been a factor of that decision. Encouraging me to strive towards a writing career rather than a goal weight and being the reason my walls are no longer emblazoned with bones, but with her writing and her advice instead.
The fact that she inspires me daily with her writing, her silly little tweets and consistent faith in me is just a bonus.

Having been published in PROPER magazines and newspapers, Carrie's writing is a type of writing that I can only dream of achieving one day. Her blog is saved to my favourites, I'm constantly re-reading whenever I need a little bit of a pep talk/life coaching and despite her forcing me to listen to a Christina Aguilera song in one of them, I can't help but re-read e-mails when I need a boost. 
When I first started speaking to Carrie, she struck me as somebody who could change the world, or at least the little bit around her, with her eyes shut. On a regular basis, she inspires me to be brave, to push personal boundaries and to be positive. A total force of nature who introduced me to the verse, from the Desiderata, that says “you had a right to be here”. 

I know for a fact that she'd be the first person to deny all of this (apart from introducing me to the Desiderata line, 'cause I have a tweet to prove that) because that's another trait I'm in awe of: she doesn't realise that what she's doing is life changing. An e-mail, a little text, a phone call...it's all inspiration. I constantly feel like I'm learning something of value after a conversation with Carrie. 

See, the thing is with losing weight and idolising women who advocate drastic weight loss, apart from it being super unhealthy, is that it's also not permanent. Or it could be, but it's more likely you'll end up dead. You never reach that promise of happiness and the weight of these women will never remain constant. Their weight will change and suddenly that inspiration disappears. I mean, you can't idolise somebody for being 'skinny' when they're a size 16?

That's where having a healthy, felicitous form of inspiration differs from 'skinny' thinspiration. 
Carrie is totally constant. I'm not saying I'm going to force her into e-mailing me everyday for the next 50 years or insist she dedicates every single piece of writing that she does in the future to me (I totally would if I could but I fear even by my standards, that's a bit demanding) but I know that everything she's ever said to me, every snippet of advice and every single piece of writing is eternal. 

"Anyone who broke your heart, needn't break it for eternity. It needn’t be mended by anyone else. It’s your life, your heart." - Carrie Lloyd

Size 0 maybe appealing to some but the idea of spending hours obsessing over my body again does nothing but scare me. Why would I want to waste those hours when I could be doing something productive like reading feeding my inspiration by reading mind-blowing pieces of prose?
If you want to be a teacher, go and shadow a teacher who brought you nothing but knowledge. If you want to be a musician, listen to beautiful music and be attentive to the way the lyrics intertwines with the melody. It's that simple.
We need not be inspired by things as shallow as weight when there are people out there who are able to inspire us with just their being.

There may well be 7 billion people on this planet but in terms of inspiration, for me there really is only one. Despite being influenced by people like Caitlin Moran and Christiane Amanpour, it's safe to say that compared to how much I've learnt from Carrie, they've taught me nothing of substance (unless you count encouraging me to taste my own menstrual blood, obviously. Thanks Cait).
So step down from those scales, quit weighing out lettuce leaves for lunch and make it your mission to find your very own Carrie Lloyd.

Just so you can see that I'm not talking complete rubbish:

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