[Please note, all links for The 88 & Friends have been removed as the venture has since ended but self love is so important that this post is still totally worth a read]
If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you’ll have seen some of the handiwork of the self love wonder that is The 88 & Friends but who, what & why are they?
The Two Fat Ladies
The 88 – named as such because we are two fat ladies (à la old school, non-PC bingo callers) born in 1988 – comprises of myself & my college, Kayleigh.
We’re a pair of compatible misfits placed firmly in society’s reject bin due to our plus sized bodies, our poor mental health & other irrelevant facts of life that, by no means, make us any less worthy than anybody else.
And the Friends part? Well, that would be you! That would be all of you regardless of your size, shape, gender, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, wellbeing, health, background, lifestyle or location.
None of those things make us view you any differently because we know your worth, which is far more than the sum of your parts.
Once Upon A Time…
We set out in late 2018 with plans of changing the world but, at that point, weren’t quite sure how.
Were we fat activists or size acceptance demonstrators?
Were we mental health protesters or physical health promoters?
Were we fighting for female empowerment or equal rights?
Were we supporting minorities or majorities?
Fact is we were all of these things bundled up into two unrepresented individuals.
We’d stumbled across many an Instagram account that was exclusive only to, for example, curvier shapes or trans women or vegan followers or Scottish folk & while we loved what they stood for by flying the flag for those (often misunderstood or overlooked) groups, we felt uneasy about being excluded as white, heterosexual, carnivorous, Manchester-based individuals ourselves for not ticking their specified box.
So, while we didn’t know in the beginning what we did want to be, we knew exactly what we didn’t want to be; we didn’t want any subculture or civilisation to feel alienated because, quite frankly, there’s enough of that already going on in our day to day lives that we simply don’t need to continue through social media.
We were society’s rejects ourselves & didn’t want to make anybody else feel singled out as one too.
We spent a lot of time & a lot of chocolate breakfast pastries doing research into ways we could support the otherwise unsupported without appearing unsupportive of others.
It all sounds very self-righteous but us two fat ladies decided that the best way to do this would be to create our very own little community of Friends made up of everyone who has been negatively spotlighted for characteristics that humankind in general sees as “flaws”.
Welcome The 88 & Friends!
Celebration of Diversity
As The 88 & Friends we recognise, welcome & embrace all these characteristics in a daily celebration of positivity & confidence, acceptance & diversity &, ultimately, self love.
Because we know that we don’t love ourselves in spite of these things but because of these things.
We started out on New Year’s Day this year as an Insta-Exclusive page in order to be inclusive of diversities beyond just our locality & launched with a giveaway of a self love haul with prizes covering all sorts of self care, from a £50 voucher from Snag for their size accepting tights to a business/career coaching session with Lynsey of Le Keux Events, Cosmetics & Vintage Salon fame, & we couldn’t have been prouder of the response!
But this was always just going to be the first of many pies we put our perfectly manicured fingers in.
With plans to host regular gatherings, we look towards a future of Q&A sessions, guest speakers, pannel discussions, workshops & light-hearted interactivity & socialising between like-minded new Friends in a safe – and more importantly, accepting – space.
Our events will celebrate all diversities through all aspects of self love & will work with a whole assortment of individuals who represent those minorities; bopo activists, suicide survivors, eating disorder warriors, chronic illness fighters, trans beauties, wellbeing enthusiasts, equal rights protesters.
We’re both proud of our open-minded view of life but we can’t speak for those whose shoes we haven’t personally walked in so we’re an open forum of submissions & stories from our Friends, allowing us to all fly our non-conforming flags as one, with pride, positivity & pleasure.
And as well as sharing positive stories of overcoming adversity & raising awareness or normalising the issues we’re facing in our combined lives, we have structured days each week to honour:
- Man Crush Monday, for the men in our lives who celebrate, promote or face adversity
- Woman Crush Wednesday, for the women in our lives who also celebrate, promote or face adversity
- Throwback Thursday, to look back over significant time in the lives of Kayleigh or myself
- Follow Friday, to honour other initiatives, charities & awareness accounts helping fight the good fight for diversity
- Self Care Sunday, to honour ourselves with tips & hints of how to best care for our mind, body & soul
So Far, So Good
In just over five months, we’ve already gained an Instagram following over 620+.
Ok, so it might not sound too life-changing in the grand scheme of things but for two customer service agents working full time jobs while battling with our own mental & physical help, we’re pretty bloody thrilled with that!
Especially when we regularly receive praise & thanks from said following, letting us know how much their own situations have bettered as a result of our self love celebration – now that is just crazy amounts of heart warming satisfaction right there.
And in a continuation of self praise (because The 88 & Friends are, afterall, a big ol’ toot on our own collective trumpet!), our future will only keep getting brighter as we branched out onto our Facebook & our Twitter this month & will finally put wheels in motion next month to host those all-important events. Exciting times for sure!
On a personal level I still struggle to fully love myself & am actively making changes to improve certain elements of my being (predominantly my health & weight as discussed in a previous post) but The 88 & Friends is really making me understand my self worth & I’m 100% grateful to have what I do have while I’m making those changes.
As Mama Ru says, if you can’t love yourself how in the hell y’gonna love somebody else!
Mrs Walmsley| The Unseasoned Wag x