- You don't have to be thin to achieve your dreams! | Oslofjord Folkehøgskole

– You don’t have to be thin to achieve your dreams!

Sonja had to move to Oslo to experience that it is ok not to be slim. Negative comments on a bikini photo she shared changed everything. Now she has over 70,000 followers on Instagram, and is happy with her own body. She developed a lot during the year at Oslofjord Folkehøgskole.

– A friend was about to start folk college just outside Oslo. I knew nothing about what it was, but everything she told seemed exciting. Both planned study trips and living close to Oslo are tempting, she says.

Thus, Sonja also applied for a place on the line “Social work in Oslo” at Oslofjord folk college autumn 2017.

– I had no expectations for the folk high school year, mostly because I knew so little. It was completely new to me! I didn’t know anyone who had gone to folk college, and had never thought of it as relevant.

As soon as she arrived at the community college, she was pleasantly surprised. The class visited many interesting organizations during the year, and Sonja learned a lot.

It wasn’t just the line choice at the folk college that changed Sonja’s direction. Living in a larger place, with a short distance to the center of Oslo, became important.

It did something to me to see that there are many different types of people in the cityscape, and that it is perfectly fine. Here you may not stand out as much as in a smaller place, she says.

– At the same time, there were many different students at the folk college. I probably learned a lot from living with others.

Own Instagram

After the secondary school year, Sonja went on holiday with some friends. On Instagram, she shared a bikini photo, without thinking more about it. She was not prepared for the comments that came.

– I received an incredible number of hateful comments under that picture, all of which were based on the fact that I was fat. Of course it hurt, she says.

– At the same time, I think we must be able to show different types of bodies, without it being wrong. I therefore quickly decided that more of this is needed. I had to go on!

For the past two years, she has therefore had the Instagram account @sonja.iren, where she shares photos of herself. Completely without filters or retouching. The number of followers has grown steadily, and there is great commitment to body positivism.

When she posts photos today, there are over 70,000 followers.

– The first pictures I posted were with a message that I feel good in my own body. It may not have been true at the time, but the images and lyrics have influenced me too – not just others. I have simply become happier with myself!

There are still many comments on what she posts. Both positive and negative.

– It is quite clear that more photos like the ones I am sharing are needed. Many people think I only do this for others who are fat, but that is not true. We simply need to correct society’s view of what it is to be fat, she says.

Dare to take a seat

In recent years, Sonja has also dared to take up more space in several channels. Sometimes she has written reader posts, other times she has been asked to contribute a text. She has been interviewed in VG and on God morgen, Norge, but the most important thing for her was to contribute when NRK Unormal made the film «What is an ideal body».

– That film was made for young people, and that’s really who I would most like to reach. They need to hear that we are all different. That it’s perfectly fine not to be “like everyone else”, she says.

– My message is also that it is important to eat healthy and exercise, but for reasons other than “getting thin”.

In that area, she believes society is failing the most.

– We simply have to have a different view of exercise and diet. It’s about taking care of your body, not getting thin. Everyone can’t look the same!

– There is an attitude that slim is the same as pretty. Much of what we say to each other is about just that, but it’s not true! It’s scary to talk about losing weight as a way to look better. Instead, we have to turn it around to feel better, she says.

Read also: – We must dare to talk more about mental health

Long way to go

For the same reason, Sonja feels pain when she receives messages about food or lack of exercise. She is active, exercises several times a week, and feels that she eats healthily. Nevertheless, there are many who believe the opposite.

– People have prejudices when they see my body. They think I just sit on the sofa, eat junk food and be lazy. I get tired of having to defend myself all the time, she says.

– Of course it hurts when I get messages that I have to stop eating at McDonalds, if I don’t want to die before I turn 50.

At the same time, she is motivated by cheers and others who see her as a role model.

– Several say that they dare to put on a bikini and post pictures of themselves, because of what I do. Once I got a message from a girl who said she dared to eat again after seeing my pictures, she says.

– Our aim must be that no one feels that they have to hide away because of their body. That is why I also feel that I must continue.

Sonja Iren selfie, full figure

A positive focus on size has also helped Sonja. Today she is happy with her own body.

Model dream

Sonja likes attention and appreciates being heard. As a child, she had long dreamed of becoming a model or actress.

– I always thought “I just have to get thin first, then…”. The irony is that I got my first modeling assignment because I’m fat, she smiles.

For Russeservice, Sonja fronted clothes in large sizes, and she is happy to accept more similar assignments.

– I think it is particularly important that no Russian should feel left out because of their size, but that they actually have clothes that fit everyone. I am proud to show that, she says.

Teenagers’ focus on appearance is otherwise something she worries about, and one of the drivers for continuing her own project.

– You find uncertainty in so much that is about appearance. I think it’s a shame that it’s so easy to find apps to edit photos. Too many people feel that they have to retouch themselves. <it shouldn’t be like that!

– I am a good example that you don’t have to be thin to achieve your dreams. That is a message I want to get out to stressed young people.


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