Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: FranHayden

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

During her day to day life Fran works as a marketing assistant for a cruise company! She adores the style of the 1950’s and cats. If you met her in public, you’d find a sweet freshly dressed young woman. Online though, Fran, aka @franhayden  is a powerhouse. She has almost 39K followers on Instagram, a popular body positivity blog and a Facebook page. She shares trials and tribulations of her own self love journey as well as encouraging diversity in the community.

Fran told me her own body love was inspired a lot by other body positivity accounts online. “My own body positivity grew out of respect and adoration of others who professed love publicly for their bodies, and supported others in doing so too. The community is a wonderful source

of encouragement and a journey of self-love shouldn't be done alone. Ingrid, @mswink on Instagram and Melissa, @yourstruelysmelly were two of the first plus size bopo babes that I came across, then I discovered Megan, @bodyposipanda - and the rest, as they say, is history. These strong, astounding women have inspired me endlessly and I owe a lot to them for my own bopo journey.”

Following in these women’s footprints, she started her own online presence. She told me she’s never posted of picture of something she didn’t wear in public. Maybe you wouldn’t see her at the grocery store in her underwear, but every other outfit is genuine. Her pin up style can draw attention in real life not to mention just existing as a plus size woman. “It can be difficult to see people give you disapproving looks or whispering about you - but if you hold your head high and make a point of not letting it get to you, it will become second nature.”

Being online, behind a screen makes it easier for people to be hateful. She says she receives more hateful comments online than to her face, but she doesn’t let it get to her. “People are a whole lot more likely to post a negative comment or to bully someone online than they are in real life - sadly, as we spend a large majority of our lives online, we can all be victims of trolling. It can be difficult dealing with online hate, but I tend to block and delete the hurtful comments. They have no place in my life, online or otherwise.”

While most of the hate is online these days, she has been bullied for her size. “I was told by someone that I asked out that they "don't date fat girls", I have been physically harmed because of my size, a friends house was broken into when we were having a party because some people took it upon themselves to bully me, I was bullied at school - you never, ever forget these things and at the time it hurt. But you know, if I can deal with the shitstorms that I've faced in my life, it shows me how strong I am and the potential that I have within me to overcome whatever I set my mind to.”

Fran is known for posting before and after shots on her social media. These do not show weight loss or gain, but the acquiring of self love. She describes her “before” as someone who would fiddle with her clothes, trying to make them looser over her body, flattening her hair, very conscious of who was looking or not looking at her. You can see in the pictures, the hesitation and the stiffness of the shot. In her “after” Fran is a light with love flowing through her veins. You can see the smile on her lips and in her eyes. You can see her strength and confidence through the camera lens. She also stresses that this road was not an easy one.
“I promise you that you can find self-love. If you’re reading this and feel that you’re at your wits end, please do not give up – if you don’t believe in yourself, then know that I believe in YOU. I never would have even considered that I’d be in the body loving position that I’m in now, so have some faith in yourself, have some love.”

Online and off, she consistently encourages others to love themselves and not buy into toxic societal ideals portrayed in the media. She wants everyone to have self love like hers. “I avoid diet talk, if someone speaks about their low self-esteem I try to encourage and support, directing them to resources that might aid them. (I believe that) support and encouragement of others, banishing toxic diet culture and not reinforcing negative image ideals should be spoken about and rewritten (over and over).” She believes that the mainstream media can help with this as well the body positive community. “I would like to see a more-inclusive bopo community. We could do more to make ALL bodies accepted and noticed by mainstream society, not just those that simply toe the line of body boundaries.”

We all know that body positivity is a daily decision, a minute by minute struggle sometimes. When she’s having a bad body day, she does whatever she needs to do to not let it fester. She stresses that body positivity has changed her whole life, not just the way she dresses or feels when she’s alone. “Body positivity influences the way I eat (without judgement), the way I dress (free from care), the way I speak to others about bodies (gently), the way I am with my partner and most importantly the way that I feel free and able to complete anything that I set my heart on, free from judgement about my shape and size.” Self-care is the most important for not letting negative body ideals stick in her mind - “Whether that's yoga, baking, blogging, reading, going for dinner, sleeping, seeking out bopo inspiration or talking (about it).”

She feels a personal responsibility to spread the word to other people online and in the real world. “Being a part of the bopo community is the most real and wholesome act of bodily kindness. It is somewhere to turn for inspiration, for support, for encouragement. It is a wildfire of positive goodness and I am so thankful that I have found myself amongst a bunch of such INCREDIBLE human beings. I don't want another generation of young people to grow up living under the negative body image ideals that I, and many others, were exposed to. If there are the resources out there for people to educate, learn and rewrite their own body image ideals, then that's a step in the right direction if you ask me. I hope to provide a space for people to go to, to find body loving solitude.”

The most important thing she wanted to include in this interview was a giant thank you – “thank you for the support, the inspiration and most importantly, the love.”
Lightning Round
Favorite Happy Song?
  • Girl Happy or Follow That Dream - Elvis
What’s a movie that never gets old?
  • Grease and Dirty Dancing
What’s a book you could read repeatedly?
  • I could easily read The Girl With All The Gifts and the Girl on the Train over and over!
Favorite ice cream?
  • Raspberry ripple <3
Favorite brick and mortar store?
  • Lush. Such sweet smelling organic loveliness is born there!  
Favorite online store?
  • Lindy Bop - for obvious reasons!
Do you have any hobbies?
  • Yoga and baking.
Drink of Choice
  • Coffee or a nice glass of rose!

Until Next Time,
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