It’s safe to say that even most slim and stunning among us have felt like the ‘fat friend’ at one time or another. Maybe it’s that you felt like a troll when out in public with a pal who resembles a Victoria’s Secret model. Or perhaps you were just having a ‘fat’ day and couldn’t shake the feeling that you stood out as the chubby one in your group.
But for 23-year-old Michelle Elman, it’s a feeling that has stuck with her for most of her life. At a young age, Michelle underwent 15 surgeries to treat a brain tumor, punctured intestine, obstructed bowel, brain cyst, and a condition called hydrocephalus. The operations left her abdomen covered in scars she thought resembled fat rolls. From the age of 11, she became aware of the fact her body looked a little different from her friends’.
For many years she shied away from bikinis, afraid of showing her belly in public and being ridiculed as the ‘fat friend.’ But now, the Mindset For Life body confidence coach and creator of the Scarred Not Scared campaign has shed those inhibitions — and she’s inspiring others to do the same.
The Londoner recently went on an adventure with friends to a fjord in Norway. She shared a snap to Instagram to celebrate the occasion and it’s gone viral for all the right reasons. In the pic, Michelle and her friend rock nothing but bras and pants — and they both look amazing! But it’s the strong message in the caption that has us wanting to make Michelle our new best friend.
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!
We can’t get enough of Michelle’s body confident attitude! We’ll certainly keep her wise words in mind next time feeling less-than-perfect keeps us from living life to the fullest!