The truth of how Freda Power came to exist is intertwined with so many personal experiences; but I’ve come to realise that, though those experiences are my own, they aren’t unique to me.
As a teenager in the early 2000s, I was ripe for the exploitation that is diet culture, from watching The Biggest Loser, to seeing Tyra Banks calling women overweight and chubby on Americas Next Top Model, to reading magazines like Heat which outright shamed anyone who didn’t look as though they were photoshopped. I was bought in and in return, I began to hate myself.
It was gradual, but before I knew it, I was working out at least 1 hour a day – cardio only – restricting my diet to 1,200 calories, and to top it all off, I was taking diet pills which I'm pretty sure are illegal but I somehow managed to find online. But I finally did it, after cancelling plans with friends out of fear of what food might be there and restricting myself to exhaustion, I was finally a size 8! I’d reach my (completely unrealistic) goal and so I stopped. I stopped working out, stopped counting calories and thought that nothing would change. Of course, it did.
I put weight back on and after being so restrictive with my food, I was gorging myself, as if to make up for the hunger I’d been feeling for two years. And thus began a back-and-forth, toxic relationship and understanding of both food and exercise for almost 10 years. The saddest thing about this time in my life is I was unhappy with my body throughout it all.
Enter 2020, and the first lockdowns are being announced in the UK. Like many people around the world, the lack of – well, anything – meant that I decided to give the at-home workout malarky a go. I did them mostly with my partner as we were using them to break up the monotony and to have some fun together. And from them, I remembered that I used to enjoy moving my body… not to change my body, but because it made me feel good. My endorphins were boosted, and I fell (gradually) back in love with moving my body for joy. Through this, I’ve also learned to love my body for all its incredible capabilities. I am so much more than the size of my clothes, I finally love that I’m not ‘small’ I used to so badly want to be a petit and small person, but now I relish in the fact that I’m not. I am strong, I am muscular and I love my body's strength.
Around the same time, I was watching Disclosure by Laverne Cox and I blurted out to my partner “I think I’m queer you know?” – he was completely unsurprised.
My sexuality is something that’s confused me for so much of my life. When I'm totally honest, I know that deep down I knew I wasn’t straight from around 9 years old, but I didn’t have the vocabulary or community to explore those feelings in a way that would have allowed me to come out. And it took me until the age of 27, after confiding with my best friend who was the only person I knew at the time who identified as a part of the LGBTQ+ community to recognise that I’m not straight. And then to be able to have a safe space with a partner, to be able to talk to him about it.
I wish with my entire soul that I’d have been able to have these conversations and recognise this sooner, and I’m certainly making up for lost time now. I am so incredibly proud to be Queer, our community is so vibrant and has made me finally feel like a whole person. And yet I see our community so rarely represented in so many spaces. So, when it comes to sports, fitness and the activewear industry, know that Freda Power will always be your safe space.
To the LGBTQ+ Community, and those who have struggled with body image and relationships with food & exercise, I love you, I see you & I’ve got you.
Love, Emily x