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Honey Ross
Courtesy @honeykinny

Honey Ross is the body image activist reclaiming what it means to be fat

TextSapphi Littleton

‘I’m a fat woman living in a world that wishes to invalidate my existence and I’m so tired of it’ muses the 22-year-old screenwriter and body image activist

Growing up in leafy North London, 22-year-old screenwriter and body image activist Honey Ross had a complicated childhood. With both her mum and dad noted for their successes in the TV and film industries, she spent her youth somewhat in the public eye, which she explains gave her a “huge desire for attention, but also incredibly severe anxiety.” So whilst spending her teenage years securing internships and odd jobs in the film industry – which paid off when she landed her first professional screenwriting gig at 18 – her ambition was combined with crippling teenage insecurity and body image struggles. “I truly hated myself growing up,” Honey says. “I think it was a combination of that typical low-level teenage self-loathing, a myriad of mental health issues – some diagnosed, some not – and growing up in the public eye. It definitely doesn’t help your already wilted self-esteem to read hundreds of negative comments about yourself in the Daily Mail online.”

The body positivity movement became a lifeline for Honey, one that allowed her to find love for herself and realise that it didn’t matter what shape or size her body was or what others thought of it. Social media - namely Instagram - became Honey’s go-to space to share her personal experiences whilst also finding and connecting with others who expressed the same self-love message. By posting unapologetic photos of her body, unfollowing toxic accounts and instead following plus-sized models and feminist pages, Honey now sees social media as a place to celebrate the freedom she feels within her body and share her advice to her followers who still struggle with a lack of body confidence.

“I think about the amount of time I used to waste thinking about my appearance, how I wasn’t worthy of love and respect – and now how liberated I feel that I can just exist in my body without giving a fuck what people think.”

Honey now spends her days campaigning with her activist group Pink Protest, founded alongside activist Scarlet Curtis, Grace Campbell and Alice Skinner, for legislative change. In 2017 their campaigning for #freeperiods paid off with the UK government giving £1.5 Million to support period poverty and in 2019 they successfully pushed a bill through parliament to get FGM included in the Children Act. She is currently writing on her dream TV project - which is coming out soon - and above all, sharing her self love wisdom to her ardent Instagram followers. We caught up with Honey to talk all things body confidence. 

Growing up what’s the biggest thing you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome it?
Honey Ross: I do want to start by saying that I think growing up is the most hellish thing and that teenagers should be awarded a medal for surviving and overcoming the multitude of hormonal fuelled challenges that are seemingly curated by a demon overlord. But, for me, I think something I always struggled with growing up was definitely my weight. Which feels strange to think about now, because my relationship to my body is probably one of the healthiest relationships in my life now. But it was definitely not always like that – I truly hated myself growing up. I think it was a combination of that typical low level teenage self-loathing, a myriad of mental health issues – some diagnosed, some not and growing up in the public eye. It definitely doesn’t help your already wilted self-esteem to read hundreds of negative comments about yourself in the Daily Mail online. 

I wish I could boil down the overcoming of this self-hatred into one quick easy solution, but truly, it took years for me to get where I am in my body confidence. I’m very privileged to be able to go to therapy regularly, and on top of that, I have very supportive parents. I think the main thing that strangely undid this toxic thinking was ironically, losing lots of weight – reaching that place that I’d aspired to be for so long and realising that I still hated myself. It forced me to realise that my body was never the problem. The world had told me for so long that all my problems would be magically solved if I was thin, but instead, I was angry, hungry and anxious. I just reached a point where I realised, I was great before I’d lost weight – I was funny, kind and had loads going for me – but for some reason I didn’t see how great all that was, and neither did most of the boys I went to school with. Having that epiphany kicked me right up the arse and set me on a course of aggressive self-love. It didn’t matter what others thought of me, it only mattered what I thought of me – me and body are going to be spending the rest of my life together, we might as well fucking love each other. 

When did you first become aware of your appearance?
Honey Ross: 
I think I became aware of my body and its otherness in our society in my early preteens. But then again, I have a very vivid early memory of trying on a school uniform in a shop with my mum and looking at the way my stomach rolled under those harsh department store lights. I think it’s very disturbing how from such a young age we’re taught to dissect and sexualise our bodies – even if it’s subconsciously. And growing up in the early 2000s when the main media agenda seemed to be to pit women against each other, the room for me comparing my 5’8, size 18 body to my gorgeous gaggle of pixie-esque school friends definitely left me slightly frazzled. 

How would you describe your relationship with your body growing up? How has it evolved over time?
Honey Ross: When I think about my relationship with my body growing up, my heart truly breaks for my past self. I put her through so much shit, crash diets, cruel words and even occasionally self-harm. I just want to hold teenage me and tell her that she deserves the world. But I try and think about it now that I’m correcting the mistakes my past-self made and treating my body with kindness. Even though the idea of self care has been slightly commandeered by the wellness industry, I do really subscribe to the original concept. I just make time for myself and really put in the work to fall in love with my body. I take long baths, make myself nice food and have a lovely wank – I truly believe that romancing yourself is a huge part of loving your body. 

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Honey Ross: When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who’s survived a world of trauma and has persisted despite a world of odds being stacked against her. Also a three-course meal.

Your IG bio reads 'Thicc and tired of your shit' can you elaborate on this?
Honey Ross: I get asked this question a lot and I find it very amusing – because when I wrote the bio I didn’t really intellectualise it, I just thought it was some funny wordplay. But the more I think about it, the more it does reflect how I feel – I’m a fat woman living in a world that wishes to invalidate my existence and I’m so tired of it. And this is coming from a relatively small fat woman, with proportions that are just about deemed societally acceptable. So yeah, I’m pretty fucking tired of the way the world has nuked millions of people’s self-esteem to try and sell them products that will only continue to make them more miserable as they strive for an unattainable beauty ideal.

What does body positivity mean to you?
Honey Ross: Body positivity is a radical movement created by fat women and women of colour to demand respect in a world that has shamed them for centuries. To me, body positivity was a lifeline that allowed me to wake up and see that my body is great as it is. I think about the amount of time I used to waste thinking about my appearance, how I wasn’t worthy of love and respect – and now how liberated I feel that I can just exist in my body without giving a fuck what people think.

Body positivity has become part of the cultural conversation in a way its never before, why do you think this is?
Honey Ross: I think body positivity has become part of the cultural conversation for two reasons – one, people are tired of hating themselves and are looking for an alternative. And two, brands are greedy and are realise that self-loathing doesn’t sell anymore so they’re hopping on the zeitgeist to try a commercialise a political movement.

How do you feel about the commercialisation of body positivity?
Honey Ross: Brands will always try and jump on whatever’s selling, but in all honesty, if what’s trendy right now is the representation of variations of skin tones and body types, it’s quite hard to be mad at the exposure. As long as brands are willing to put their money where their mouth is and truly become more inclusive, i.e. extending their size or shade range – I don’t see a problem with it. 

I do however take issue with brands that hop on the bandwagon without doing their research or backing it up in the way they sell their products.

While social media has certainly paved the way for greater visibility of women of all body types, there seems to still be a discrepancy between what we see online - glamorous pictures of women with curves - and how we feel about our own bodies, what can we do to close this gap?
Honey Ross: My approach to social media has always been to try and convey the most authentic version of myself that I care to share. I try and post as much about my stretch marks and bad mental health days as well as me looking polished. I kind of think that’s the only remedy – follow accounts that are honest and make you feel good. A huge step I took for myself was unfollowing all the accounts that affected my mental health and weren’t good for my body image. I now predominantly follow my friends, plus-sized models, pictures of animals (frogs and kangaroos, if you’re interested) and feminist accounts.

What message do you want your young followers to take away from your Instagram?
Honey Ross: That you really don’t need to punish yourself. Life is hard enough without all these added pressures. Just be kind to yourself and know that you’re not alone in whatever struggle you’re going through.

Can you tell us a bit about your work with The Pink Protest?
Honey Ross: I went through a severe trauma at the beginning of 2018 and was at a complete loss with what to do with myself. I was in very deep depression and Scarlett Curtis truly threw me a rope to pull me out of the filthy cave I was dwelling in. 

I came on board straight after that and we all began work on our #GirlsWankToo movement. We were hoping to start a conversation towards ending the stigma around female masturbation because it’s still very taboo in a lot ways. We held a really beautiful event with a panel of amazing sex educators, influencers and artist, talking about their experiences of shame and joy surrounding masturbation. And it was such a wonderful intimate space that we were able to have a really intimate Q and A after, with loads of young women sharing things they’d never shared before.

What do you stand for?
Honey Ross: I stand for dismantling the patriarchy, supporting marginalised groups and knowing my place as an ally. 

What are you working on at the moment?
Honey Ross: I’m currently working on a TV project that I’m absolutely terrified about. It’s been a dream since I was 17, so I really hope something comes of it. On the Pink Protest side of things, we’re currently working on rolling out more podcasts/ We’ve just launched Grace Campbell’s Football, Feminism & Everything in Between. Hopefully soon the Body Image podcast I’ve been working on with the incredible Nadia Craddock should be out soon. I’m very nervous and excited for people to hear it.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
Honey Ross: I used to be incredibly ambitious, but now honestly, I think I’d just quite like to be happy, stable and surrounded by Devon Rex cats.

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