Stylist's 100 Women on weight - 81 to 100
Women

“I wish for a day where I don’t think about my weight, but I’m not sure that exists for anyone”

81-100 of Stylist’s 100 women sharing their thoughts on weight. Read the others here. Portraits by Sarah Brick.

Trigger warning: This article talks about eating disorders, weight loss and calories

Body positivity, self-love and wellness have replaced the quick weight-loss and fad diets that dominated our youths. But how easy is it to erase the impact of the diet culture we grew up with? Have we really moved on or have our true feelings about weight and body size just become shrouded in secrecy and shame? We held an open photoshoot for Stylist women to tell us – honestly, and without judgment – how they really feel. Here’s what they had to say.

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Emmanuel
Emmanuel

81. Emmanuel, 29, project manager and florist 

“I was always the tallest out of my friends. I developed really early so my body was always different to everyone else’s. It feels like I was bigger, but looking back I was just a kid. In secondary school, I picked up some unhealthy habits and struggled with bulimia for a long time. I hadn’t realised it was bulimia. At the time, media was all about weight loss. It makes you feel like you have to work on your body all the time. Society makes you feel weird about not being tiny, and I also love Parisian style, which only shows this particular body. In my last flat share before getting married, I had my own en-suite, and I realised how often I was going to the bathroom. I did the Steps course, which was really helpful for talking about it, and acknowledged that I had disordered eating. I told my partner about it and he was really supportive. Accepting it and being accountable to someone helped me let go of bulimia and the control it had over my body. When I got pregnant, it was fine, and I loved being pregnant. But postpartum I was waiting for my body to ‘jump back’ and it hasn’t. I had a difficult birth that I’m still healing from. But I’m learning to accept my body and to love my body. It’s all a journey. It’s really sad that as females (and guys go through this as well) it’s been drilled into us to be a particular way. I do find it’s a generational thing. I feel like there’s a lot more representation out there now, which is amazing.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Billie
Billie

82. Billie, 32, Stylist’s fashion and beauty features director

“There is a constant buzz at the back of my brain that is powered by thoughts of my weight, my body and my size. There are moments when it is excruciatingly loud, and other times when it is quiet, but it is never silent. Every birthday – even the earliest ones I can remember – I would wish for my heart’s desire: to be thin. I have been shamed, bullied, fetishised and embarrassed because of my weight. But I have also been happy, successful and loved in this body. I wish for a day where I don’t think about my weight, but I’m not sure that exists for anyone.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Polly
Polly

83. Polly, 27, journalist 

“I am originally from Bulgaria, which is your typical Eastern European, slightly-behind-the-times country in the sense that, growing up, in the media there were loads of really slick-looking women who were very skinny but with big breasts and big butts. You had to be hairless. You had to be really toned. It was a whole thing – the entire world had it. This was the mentality I was growing up with and the mentality my mum subscribes to as well: Oh, you have to be like this and this. And what do you mean you don’t wear make-up? She’s like this to this day! Come on. I’ve had a boyfriend for five years. Surely if he minded, he would have left by now.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Anonymous
Anonymous

84. Anonymous 

“My mother was obsessed with being thin: she did every diet she read about in a magazine and measured her waist constantly, claiming it was to do with the fact that she made her own clothes, but it was definitely about being as tiny as possible. The residue of her hang-ups is still present in my mind, compounded by my own chorus of external pressures: comments made about my thighs in the playground and role models on TV that were waif-like. I wish I could say I’d managed to shut it all out as I hit my mid-50s, but I still think about my size every day. I want to be smaller, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Annie
Annie

85. Annie, 30, Stylist’s email content editor

“As much as I tell myself that I’m confident with my body, I would be lying if I said I was actually happy with what I see in the mirror. When I was a teenager, super skinny models and heroin chic were the norm and although I’ve always been slim, I definitely didn’t fit in with this image. The feeling of being ‘too big’ has stayed with me my whole life (being the tallest girl and getting hips and boobs before anyone else in primary school will do that), and even in my 30s it can still be a struggle to focus on the good, rather than seeing all the things I wish I could change.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Emily
Emily

86. Emily, 24, fitness business owner 

“I had really quite big spinal surgery 10 years ago, and from that I got a whacking great scar down my back. The surgery was for scoliosis, so you have a curvy spine, one lifted hip, and your shoulders are uneven. That was quite hard to go through at school: my relationship with my body used to be quite negative and I felt left out and that I had curves in the ‘wrong’ places. It took me a long time to love my scars and become empowered by them. And it’s probably only over the last four or five years that I’ve started to see my scars as a big marker of where I’ve come and what I’ve been able to achieve, and speaking to other people who aren’t confident and pulling them up has made me feel a bit better.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Helen
Helen

87. Helen, 42, Stylist’s entertainment director

“I distinctly remember one of the first times I was aware of my body; I was about six on a family walk and we were talking about Geoff Capes – he was a 1980s world’s strongest man, bear with me here – and I can still feel the shame and sadness that crept upon me as I convinced myself I would be too fat for him to lift up (this is a man who can deadlift 1,000lb). What the hell was I absorbing at that age to feel like that? And why can I still recall that feeling so vividly? EURGH! It’s depressing, frankly, the amount of time I, and so many women I know, have spent, probably still spend, thinking about the shape of our bodies, wanting to make them smaller and more palatable, and easier to lift up. I really hope one day that changes for us all.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Kat
Kat

88. Kat, 39, Stylist’s digital news editor

“Growing up very tall, it felt as though my only options were model or superstar. Unfortunately, I was neither thin nor very talented. For a long time, I felt very lost. Media focused on small girls, in all senses, and it was never going to be physically possible for my skeleton to become that. What was ‘a healthy size’ when you were a foot taller than most of your friends? Ironically, things got better as my health got worse. I was dealing with hip dysplasia, undiagnosed ADHD and infertility. My body felt like a costume, and I was three kids standing on each other’s shoulders. But all the health stuff meant that I did at least have to think about my body as part of me, and who I am. And I do admire it, if not love it. I’m original! There’s no one else like me, nor like any one of us. We could appreciate how utterly strange and luscious that is. When I have my hip replaced next month, I am going to have to spend time really focused on my body as I recover. That feels terrifying and delightful in equal measure.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Tracie
Tracie

89. Tracie, 42, vintage clothing seller

“I’ve hated my body for years. I had one boyfriend who said to me, ‘You’re too skinny; you need to put on weight.’ I’ve always felt insecure about my size, since I was young. It was only when I got into my 40s that I thought: I just don’t care now! I am who I am. I’m not voluptuous or curvy, but I’m me. Women come in different shapes and sizes, we shouldn’t be made to feel like we’re not good enough.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Anonymous
Anonymous

90. Anonymous 

“I’ve always fought hard to silence the negative thoughts that can so easily creep in about how my body looks but since having three daughters, I’m even more determined to do so. (I’ve always told them that your body is really useful because it moves your brain around.) My body has lost a lot of the tone it once had, and my thighs and lower stomach wear the stretch marks that came with carrying three babies. I can’t pretend that I don’t miss the younger, firmer body I had in my 20s but I’ll never say that out loud as I want my girls to grow up knowing that wobbles, blemishes and saggy skin are completely natural. That said, I can’t quite bring myself to wear a bikini as I feel self-conscious and exposed. It’s been 10 years since I wore one to the beach – perhaps this summer I’ll take the plunge and fully practise what I preach.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Holly
Holly

91. Holly, 23, Stylist’s editorial assistant

“In sitting down to interview the women for this feature, about their attitude to weight and body size, I couldn’t help but think about whether my stomach was going to roll over the top of my jeans. I remember thinking the same thing in an English lesson at school when I should have been concentrating on Macbeth. I don’t often hate my body, but it’s definitely a back-of-my-mind distraction on a daily basis and, sometimes, I wonder what I could get done, what I could wear, how I could sit/stand/walk, if it wasn’t. Other times, I think I should probably just buy some trousers with an elasticated waist.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Kejal
Kejal

92. Kejal, 35, PR

“In my 30s, as I became more aware of my parents, their mortality, the conditions they have, I started thinking to myself, ‘I need to get myself to a place where my body is healthy and it’s not being skinny.’ It’s how do I feel when I go for a run, when I go for a walk, when I’m doing my strength training? Do I feel empowered? Do I feel strong? Is my mental health in a good place? All those things are what I need to make sure I’m ticking the right boxes. I’m learning from my nutritionist how much genetics impacts weight as well. That makes a lot of sense because if you look at my mum’s body shape, it is exactly like mine; look at my sister’s, exactly like mine. I do find it hard to lose fat and lose weight, even if I’m on a nutrition plan. Even if I’m training I’m starting to go a bit easier on myself and be a bit more forgiving – to know it’s not my fault that I’m not losing fat as quickly as some people do when they have those transformations. I have never had a transformation when I’ve gone from a size 14 to a size 8. I’ve always been quite consistent around a larger 10 or 12. But I think only really in my 30s have I felt more comfortable in my skin even though I’ve generally got good self-esteem. I feel even more comfortable now.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Morgan
Morgan

93. Morgan, 27, Stylist’s senior beauty writer 

“As a kid, I loved my body for what it could do: run fast, climb trees, beat everyone back to the ball during manhunt. But as I got older and experienced more stress (my dad sadly passed away in 2010), I found more fault in my body and weight, and tightly controlled the food I would or wouldn’t eat as a result. This eventually snowballed into an eating and exercise disorder that dominated my time at university. Now, seven-ish years later, I feel such deep peace with myself, knowing there’s no joy in the extremes. I don’t diet or track my food and actively run away from anything that’s actually diet culture wrapped up in wellness. For me, true moderation is knowing things won’t always be in equilibrium – sometimes I will eat past fullness or forget about green vegetables. But it’s never forever and my health is an ecosystem in which forms of exercise that make me feel good sit right alongside chocolate biscuits, enough sleep, long walks, stress management and eye-watering negronis.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Anonymous
Anonymous

94. Anonymous 

“I used to think that being ‘thin’ was aspirational, something I should work towards. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised that my body is unique to me. Something that no one else in the world has. That’s actually pretty incredible if you think about it. I’m 31 in October and I can honestly say that I personally don’t believe being ‘thin’ is aspirational any more. I still have days where I feel bloated, tired, restless in my body, but now when I get these feelings I go to the gym to feel energised, stronger and confident in my own skin. Not to get ‘thin’.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Laura
Laura

95. Laura, 34, brand strategist

“Throughout my 20s, I was in a constant cycle of over-exercising, under-eating and drinking too much. Just generally feeling very, very unhappy in my body. It wasn’t until I was approaching my 30s that I started to reassess and actually what I need to be doing is changing the way that I view exercise, like trying to get stronger rather than smaller, and stop drinking so much. It’s still a work in progress, but I do feel it’s interesting: society has changed its narrative a little bit, but I do think that partly it comes with getting a bit older and understanding more about who you are.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Poppy
Poppy

96. Poppy, 26, Stylist’s senior designer

“When it comes to weight, I have definitely become easier on myself the older I get. But it hasn’t been easy. Being at an all-girls school from the age of seven to 18 has ingrained a certain construct in my mind about what we are ‘meant’ to look like. Constantly comparing myself to the cool sports teams girls and religiously following the Victoria’s Secret models from a young age instigated a bit of an obsession with what I ate. It wasn’t until I hadn’t had a period for almost two years that I realised I was putting my body at risk, particularly my fertility. This obsession has definitely faded (after nearly 10 years) and converted into loving who I am instead and exercising as a way to actually enjoy myself rather than punish myself. I think being in a very happy relationship with a foodie has also helped me to accept that eating what you want is a privilege we should never take for granted.” 

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Anonymous
Anonymous

97. Anonymous 

“Growing up, my friends would always comment on other people’s weight and food choices. It always made me conscious and affected me, on reflection, way more than I realised at the time. I used to have a really bad relationship with food but after many years, and finding and surrounding myself with people who have a way better outlook on their bodies, and absolutely no thoughts on anyone else’s, my own body image and relationship with food is so much healthier. It’s not perfect and will always be a work in progress, but I’m OK with that.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Becky
Becky

98. Becky, 25, retail manager

“Relationships definitely had an impact on how and what I was eating. Am I more comfortable because I’m in this relationship, or am I just hiding how I’m feeling through that? A little over a year ago, I was sexually assaulted in the middle of the street. I was on my way home from work and a guy came up to me and grabbed me. I actually ran after him because I was really pissed off, which he definitely didn’t expect and I ended up falling flat on my face because I wasn’t looking where I was going, but I fucking tried! That completely flipped a switch. I dumped my boyfriend at the time; I was like, I’ve had enough, I want to make sure that I’m OK and put me first again. That was a massive thing. At the time, I wasn’t really going to the gym and I was very complacent in my life, and then I thought OK, I want to be stronger. I want to be able to run faster so that I can catch the next one. Now I’m a single, strong woman.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Amie
Amie

99. Amie, 31, business development manager 

“Like perhaps a lot of people, from a very young age, I was very aware of my body size and shape. I had a lot of people point it out to me unfortunately, as happens with kids in school. I’ve had a very complicated relationship with it throughout my life. I saw a dietitian when I was very young. I’ve had personal training to try and help me lose weight. I very much fluctuated up and down. I’m still working it out. I’m seeing a body therapist at the moment to try and work through some of the demons. I found that a lot of the things I think about my body have actually come from external places, and I’ve often looked for external validation anyway. Because of this fluctuation, I think I need to dive a bit deeper to see what’s what’s going on.”

Stylist's 100 Women on weight - Emily
Emily

100. Emily, 28, marketing

“I read something that said you’re never ever happy with your body. I was thinking about it the other day and I guess it’s kind of what prompted me to come. I was definitely a lot skinnier when I was 17, 18. I played university rugby, training six times a week, I was the fittest I’ve ever been. And now I’m definitely heavier than I was but I care less. One of my colleagues was saying the other day, it just gets better. Everything gets better as you get older and you care less. I know that I’m one of the heavier people in my friendship group. But I also don’t care enough to worry about it day to day. I have other friends who definitely do. I wouldn’t say it affects me on a daily basis. Why think about it?”