Danni, 35, from Scotland lives and breathes body positivity. She is a body positive advocate and founder of The Chachi Power Project, which she founded in 2017 to help people everywhere become more body confident via blogs, events, talks, workshops and retreats.
Danni’s passion is routed in coming to terms with and conquering her own body image struggles. She joined the Be Real Campaign as an Ambassador to use her knowledge and personal experiences to help tackle negative body image, especially in young children so they can grow up and become body positive adults.
“I was a big kid, bigger than my friends and I kept getting bigger every year, until I got to my biggest at 16 years old.
“My problem growing up was that I was useless at listening to my body and understanding what it needed. It’s understandable. Listening to our bodies is bred out of us at such a young age. We have set meal times and are told to finish what’s on our plate, food is abundant and tastes so good so we get overwhelmed. That was me.
“At school, kids, mainly boys, started being mean and calling me fat. Even at such a young age it had been engrained that I was to feel shame associated with that word and so, I was hurt. To console myself I turned to food. The shame I felt about my body, plus the image based bullying, plus the disassociation from my body all went round and round in a vicious circle.
“Over years of having a body that just wasn’t what it ‘should’ be, I just stopped caring. I felt like I was beyond help, that I was never going to be good enough. And because of the way our culture puts pressure on women to be valued by our looks, my self-worth was severely low.
“I remember one incident which really altered my relationship to myself and others. A family member took me aside when I was about 12 years old and said: ‘You know… if you stay big… boys will be scared of you.’
“This incorrect, ill-timed and downright cruel ‘intervention’ didn’t have the effect the family member thought it would. It just made me change the way I felt I could be treated by others, especially men.
“Once I became an adult the biggest battle I faced was the concern I had around other people’s thoughts about me and my body. The worry and brain energy it used up was perpetual and exhausting. I realise now the concern I felt actually equated to low level anxiety. And that anxiety affected my true confidence and self esteem.
“Worrying about other’s thoughts about you, is a very difficult thing to switch off but I’m amazing at it now. And the Body Positive Movement helped me recognise so much. It helped me realise why we live in a judgmental world and how, once we recognise the causes, we don’t need to buy into it anymore.
“I want everybody to be able to see the beauty in everyone and everything. That’s what I’m trying to do with my project and by being a Be Real Ambassador.
“Accepting myself for who I am wasn’t easy and I went on a number of self-development courses in 2016. I told everyone I was going on them to be a better person and get ‘tools’ for all the stuff I might have to deal with in my life like births, deaths, relationships, that sort of thing. What I didn’t tell anyone is that I was actually going on the courses to learn why I wasn’t skinny, why I had never been skinny and figure out how to get skinny.
“What I realised on those courses is that I had been equating my body with what my ‘life’ was. Previous to the courses my perspective was: my body is how people see me and judge me, it is how I carry myself through the world. In other words my body was my life.
“What the courses helped me realise is that my life is huge and it’s so much more than my body. My life is made up of what I say, what I do, who I am to others, what I create for the world. My life is also made up of all of the people I have ever met and will ever meet. My life is massive.
“My life is not my body, but my body is a crucial and valuable part of my life.”
“Looking back at my younger self I struggle to think what could have been said or done to help me accept myself for who I was. I was told all of the usual things: my body was a gift, I was told to respect it, I was told I was beautiful, I was told I was special and wonderful. But sadly none of those things were believed because the shame was just too great.
I’m a big believer in ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and, in reality, if I hadn’t had such difficult experiences when I was younger I doubt I would be in the position I am now. And I love me now!
Do you feel inspired by Danni? Find out how you can become a Be Real Ambassador.