Jen McLellan is a writer and certified childbirth educator who advocates for plus size women. She promotes positive information to empower healthy decision making during pregnancy. Within her blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, she helps women navigate the world of plus size pregnancy, shares tips for embracing your body, and laughs along with the adventures of motherhood. Her work has been featured in major publications such as Yahoo Shine, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, and International Doula. Jen is also a skilled patient advocate, professional speaker, wife, and mother to a charismatic 4 year old. Learn more about Jen here: plussizebirth.com and here: facebook.com/plussizemommymemoirs.
I had never been able to trust my body but when I finally mentally relinquished control
it was magical.
- What led you to Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating?
Growing up in Southern California a fat girl, I struggled with body image for most of my life. Everything changed when I turned 30 and became pregnant. As I watched my body grow and felt my baby move, I couldn’t help but to start falling in love with my every curve.
As my pregnancy neared an end, I planned on having a natural childbirth. This desire for no medication or interventions came from being raised by a mother who always spoke about the power of childbirth. I never could’ve foreseen how this decision would transform my life.
There comes a point during an unmedicated birth where you have to let go and believe in what your body is capable of doing. I had never been able to trust my body but when I finally mentally relinquished control it was magical. My body knew exactly what do to and I gave birth on my knees. As I often say, “I will no longer be ashamed of a body that can do something so amazing!”
On August 24, 2010 I lost the weight of self-hate and there was no looking back! I don’t think I would’ve been open to Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating before becoming a mother. I was too trapped in the cycle of dieting and emotional binging. I’m a much happier person now that I nurture my body with love.
- What has surprised you the most as you have learned to accept yourself?
Sadly, I’d say the biggest surprise is how easily I can deflect cruel comments directed at me because of my size. I’m a blogger with a very large social media following, so the trolls love to attack. When I started to self-identify as fat, that word no longer had negative power over me. One time I was called, “Fatty Mc. Fats” and my first thought was ‘that’s the best you’ve got?!’ I’m fat and I don’t see it as a bad thing. If others do that’s their problem, not mine!
- What are three aspects you feel are the most important to remember when moving toward radical self-acceptance?
1. We listen to our internal voice more than we realize. Our children are also listening to everything we say and modeling themselves after us. Therefore, I feel it’s really important to end the negative self-talk. I encourage people to start their day by looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m beautiful!” You can even do this while brushing your teeth! You may not believe yourself at first, but over time you will.
2. My mother always says you are who you hang out with. While I found this to be super annoying as a teen, as an adult I appreciate these words of wisdom. When you surround yourself with positive people, you become a happier person. This is the same for social media. The “unfollow” feature on Facebook is a wonderful tool. You can stop the flow of body hate posted by your diet obsessed friends without causing drama by unfriending them. I highly recommend taking a hard look at all of your social circles and setting some boundaries.
3. My current soapbox is talking about the importance of hiring size friendly care providers. I hear time and time again from people who don’t see a care provider routinely for fear of being shamed. Please listen when I say our care providers work for us. You deserve to be treated with dignity! You also owe it to yourself to have good healthcare. If you don’t like your current care provider, fire them. Then work hard to connect with someone who practices evidence based compassionate care.
- What is your favorite part of your body? How do you celebrate it?
My big bubble butt! Back in the early 1990’s I was mortified when the song Baby Got Back came out. I was convinced it was written to torment me. Now it’s my anthem! I’ve started a monthly dance party with some of my close girlfriends. I may not be a great dancer but I have the time of my life shaking my big booty.
- What is your favorite food and how do you like to enjoy it?
Sushi and I enjoy it with my buddy Braeden. My son and I go for mommy/son sushi dates where I delight as he tries to master chopsticks.
- What inspires and renews your dedication to your process when you need it the most?
My son! He’s 4 and currently thinks his body is pretty neat. Whenever I slide back to listening to old voices full of body hate, I look at my son. I’m reminded that by learning to love my body I’m also teaching him to love his. I also know that I can instill lifelong positive behaviors by encouraging him to have a healthy relationship with food. Braeden has taught me more than I could ever teach him. It’s an honor to be his mother.
- Radical self-acceptance means…
Believing that you are not broken. Your body is amazing! I can’t share this message enough because as a fat woman I was led to believe that there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. I spent the first 30 years of my life without radical self-acceptance and that’s such a shame.
- What books, music or websites inspire you right now?
I presented at the outstanding Body Love Conference last year and everyone who I met there, including the masterminds behind Be Nourished, inspire me. My life is enriched by these people and the entire body love community.
- Favorite quote or poem?
“She believed she could. So she did.”