DAY 82: WORLD…

DAY 82: WORLD…

I had a really insightful and thought provoking experience in a clothing store today that I wanted to share and talk about.

\In my lunch hour I popped into our department store for a quick browse, and passed through World, as I always do, to swoon over their to-die-for fragrance selection. However I found that all of the perfumes had been cleared out and the entire store was having a clearance sale, to allow them to move to their new stand-alone premises in a few months. As a result everything was drastically on sale – like down to $20, $50, and $100. Amazing bargains.

I have only ever bought one garment from World because of 1) Price – nothing is usually less than $400 and 2) Sizing – it all runs a bit small and stops at a Large, which is about a 14. Loose fitting things are sometimes okay, but anything tailored isn’t going to work on me. And the whole thing intimidated me so much that I usually don’t even bother trying anything on, as a result.

However, today, my eyes fell upon a dress that I’d seen a few months previously – the colour was what grabbed me. A most vivid, royal blue, dress. Not only was the colour amazing, but it was in velvet – my favorite of all fabrics.It was down from $500 to just $50. Which is an incredible deal.

The style is cut as a very tight, form fitting, wiggle dress – Joan from Mad Men would happily wear it. Which is a style I do wear when I’m in the mood – but being World I had immediately dismissed it as something that won’t fit so I never closely looked at it last time.

However this time I picked it up, they had it in a Large, and I noticed that, despite the velvet exterior, the dress was actually made from literal wetsuit material – thick knit stretchy scuba. Interesting and unusual – but this actually gave some hope that it would stretch and mold over my curves.

Not feeling the most confident about myself today I hesitated on deciding whether I’d try it on. I didn’t feel in the mood to be disappointed and made to feel shitty and insecure if it looked awful on, or worse wouldn’t even get over my shoulders.

But I was curious, because it was so unusual and I wanted to see how that fabric looked on. So I took a big breath and embarked on the changing room with no hope or expectations. The assistant warned me that it is a struggle to get on, which helped, and made me persevere and not get disheartened as I fought to get it over my bust. And, well, it took a lot of wiggling and holding of breath, but to my surprise, I got into it! I wish to note that this is purely due to cut and fabric and not because I’ve lost weight or anything like that.

It was very tight, but then it’s meant to be, and did wonders for my posture! However I  felt very insecure in its tightness – as I was not wearing the right underwear, my tummy felt very prominent. And although the assistant told me it looked great, I didn’t really believe her.

All I could see when I looked in the mirror were the bulges and lumps in my mid-section. But then I also saw that  it showed off my features – my boobs and small waist – wonderfully and that I was feeling like this because I’m just not used to seeing myself in this shape of dress.

I knew that with the right hair, heels, underwear and accessories (and a couple of gins) I’d feel 10x more confident and strut into the room like I owned it. I still wasn’t sure though.

Usually this is a sign for me to walk away. But the colour and fabric kept drawing me in.

Then I realized that my main considerations on whether I bought this garment had dramatically changed from how I would have thought five years ago.If I’d have been in this exact position five years ago I’d have thought like this:

1. It’s an absolute bargain, just buy it because it’s very cheap and this is a great deal, even if it’s not right you’d be stupid to miss out on this price

2. Buy it for when you’re 5kg lighter. Then you’ll be able to wear it with confidence. It’s not quite right now, but soon it will be. Just buy it now for the future.

Instead, today, my thoughts  went like this:

1. It’s an incredible bargain. But if I’m not going to wear it then it’s a waste of $50, so it’s not about price

2. I have to be comfortable and happy to wear it as I am right here, today. No thinner, not when you’ve dropped a size, or started the diet,  but just as you are right now

I paused, and I considered, and in the end I decided that I do accept myself as I am in this dress. That I would wear it this weekend. That yes, I have a tummy, and hips, and it’s very revealing of my shape, but just as many people will be looking at my good points, as the bad, which I am naturally pre-disposed to fixate on.

And so I bought it.

And I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since because it felt really significant and important because it was a way of thinking I’d never really experienced before, as I’ve been in something of a fashion comfort zone for the past few years, and have until now avoided this dilemma by avoiding this kind of shape.

It was a moment where you suddenly realise how much you’ve grown, changed and become at peace with yourself…all without really realizing. It was fascinating to see how I’d done such a 180 in how I viewed  things.

And it felt really empowering, great, and liberating. I now have this amazing dress that I know I can wear right away, not “in a few months”, or when I wake up as the perfect version of myself (NB: this date is NEVER).

That I accept myself just as I am.
x

DAY 35: LEGS…

DAY 35: LEGS…

CONTENT WARNING: BODY IMAGE, WEIGHT

It was in one of my first ever P.E. classes, in the first weeks of Primary School, that I decided my legs were wrong. 

Decked out in compulsory uniform of scratchy, crinkly, black polyester shorts, white ankle socks, white polo short, and black plimsoles, this kind of clothing was new and unfamiliar to me and my body. My mum didn’t buy me shorts like this. Even at five years old, I was already aware and embedded with self-imposed rules about what clothing was, and was not, acceptable to my body. 


I was kneeling back onto my legs, which were tucked underneath me, along with the rest of my class. The hard wooden floor, was cold, rough and filthy. 

As the teacher talks to us, I stare down at my legs and am absolutely shocked and horrified to suddenly notice bumps of flesh, about the size of my palm, jutting out on either side of my thighs, just above my knees. They weren’t usually there, but now, as I sit this new way, they appear out of nowhere to taunt me. What a cruel deception!

I look up and down the line of legs belonging to other girls in my class, who are seated in the same way. Their legs looked normal, from where I was. My friend Claudia, who was sat next to me, well her legs were skinny, straight and totally bump free. She was pretty and popular. Her Dad owned a sweet shop and she even had a boyfriend, who was also in our class. He was called Simon. He’d always say mean things to me. They were both blonde and perfect, with their lump free legs. No wonder they were in love. 

After all, that’s what legs were meant to be; Straight up and down. I wasn’t good at P.E. but I was good at drawing. And I 100% knew that to draw a person, it was a circle head, oval body, and four lines – two for arms, two for legs. Legs were straight lines. Not lines with big wiggles protruding from them, 

You know who else didn’t have lumps of fat on her legs? Barbie. All of my Barbie dolls had legs like Claudia’s. Thin, straight, tanned and beautiful.

I stared back down, dismayed by what I was faced with. What a shit lot I’d been drawn. I start grabbing and pinching at these pale, fatty, lumps, taking them between my forefinger and thumb. Squeezing, wishing I could just pinch them off my body, and throw them away. 

I also note how my skin is pasty and freckled. I decide that with the freckles and the bumps, my legs look like big ugly potatoes. Ol’ Potato Legs, that’s how everyone will know and remember me. 

From that moment swear to myself to conceal my pale, lumpy, potato legs from the world. Another little rule to add to my list. 

P.E. classed subsequently became a red faced, shameful and dreaded affair. I’d ‘forget’ my sports uniform whenever I knew I could get away with it. And the following year, when it was time for a new pair of shorts, I was sure to stress to my mother the importance that my replacements were long. “Beyond the knee, Mum, they must be long and below the knee.” Thankfully she understood, and empathised, so obliged without fuss, to which I was always very grateful. 

And those poor legs, who did nothing but work hard, carry me all day long, be strong, healthy, and perfectly functional, would not be see the light of day again for many, many years.

x

DAY 25: DIET (VOL.2)…

DAY 25: DIET (VOL.2)…

CONTENT WARNING: WEIGHT LOSS, DIETS, EATING DISORDERS

My second diet was when I was Sixteen.

It was the school holidays. One afternoon I stepped out of my bedroom, during the ad break in Sally Jessy Raphael, into the bathroom and for some unknown, and random, reason decided to step onto the scales for the first time in years. Well, since my first diet.  

The number I saw was TOO BIG. I didn’t know what the number was meant to be. But I knew it was TOO BIG. 
Then I looked in the mirror. I tugged at my clothes and pinched at my full, fleshy, hips, that were stripy with stretch marks. 
My jumper was TOO BIG. No… it wasn’t the jumper. It was me. I was TOO BIG.
So I decided to go for a walk. Then the next day, at the same time, I went for another walk. Then it was a walk, every day, for the next six months. 

I had a special cassette tape, for walking, that I made myself. It was full of upbeat and motivational music that I’d pilfered off the radio. My goal was to get back to my front gate earlier in the tape every time. It worked a treat.

Little games like that got me through. 

I also made myself a secret exercise regime to complete every morning, without fail, in my room: 100 sit ups. 100 leg lifts (both on my side and on my back). 100 squats. And I made some makeshift weights from two cans of baked beans that I’d stolen from the pantry. 

Every spare moment was spent hoarding, and reading, old copies of my Mum’s Slimming World Magazines. She had hundreds. I’d pour over the before and after photos, comparing those ladies weights with my own. “She started heavier than me” WIN. “I’m still heavier than her” FAIL. 

For someone who hated math, I sure became obsessed, and very good, with numbers. 

I memorised the fat and calorie content of every food I came in contact with. I didn’t really understand about how calories worked, so I simply  decided that fat was the enemy. Everything must have zero fat. 

A couple of months in, my Mum went back to England for a month, which was great for my game as my Dad and Brother ate a lot of food I didn’t want. Things like meat, and takeaways. They didn’t care or take any notice of what I ate (or didn’t), so I could just make my own dinner every night. The dinner I allowed myself was always the same: a cup of pasta bows with some canned tomato sauce. It felt like plenty after eating nothing all day.

It didn’t take long before I stopped understanding why people needed three meals a day. One was just the perfect amount. Food stopped having any kind of pleasure. It became a function. A chore. An inconvenience.

I lost about 25kg, very quickly. I was suddenly a size 6 in Jay Jay’s and Glassons jeans. I didn’t really have any boobs anymore.  I had to spend all of my pocket money on clothes from the mall because nothing fit me, which I resented because I just wanted to buy magazines and CD’s. My school uniform hung off me like a gross, daggy, sack. And I was always cold. So so freezing cold. I’d huddle in blankets and duvets in my room, my fingers and toes going numb. 

But all I cared about was what other people thought of me, and since no one – not a single friend, teacher or family member said anything to me about how I looked or had changed, I figured that it wasn’t noticeable, it wasn’t a big deal. That I must still be TOO BIG. I must keep working hard. 

Which is why I was shocked when, later that year, I looked at a photo of myself. My smile was tired. I looked dead behind the eyes, with big dark circles underneath. I looked  old. Not older in a cool way. Just old. And very sad. That wasn’t what I wanted. I was meant to become thin, pretty, suddenly know how to talk to boys, and become super popular at school. But this girl in the photo didn’t look any of those things, and she certainly didn’t look like me… so why couldn’t I see her when I looked in the mirror? Why did I only see TOO BIG? TOO BIG.

Ten years later I showed this photo to my then-boyfriend. He gasped…then told me that I looked “Really hot back then. You should try to look more like that now”.

Yeah, more on him another time.

x

Day 2: Arms…

Day 2: Arms…

The gold and silver bibles, belonging to my Mother, have been smuggled into my teenage room like contraband. Here I hold the guidebooks for my impending adulthood; success, love, wealth, beauty and the kind of sex that you’d imagine Fox Mulder having:

Trinny and Susannah’s What Not to Wear Volume 1 and 2. 


Fifteen year old me sensed that if I studied these two books hard enough, I will be my Most Fabulous Grown Up Self. The kind that they cannot teach in school.

Amongst their countless rules for clothing, style, and personal image, one was drilled home harder, and more frequently, than any other; Bingo wings. 

You see, poor old Susannah has flabby upper arms. Flappy, saggy, sad, old pelican wings. She must cover them up, at all costs, and so must you. Squeeze that rancid, cheap, sausagemeat into a nice cotton and Lycra blend. These misshapen things that you call arms? They have no place in society. How vulgar. How repulsive. No one on earth needs to see those.

Look at Susannah, here, in her fuchsia wrap cardigan demonstrating ‘casual workwear’. Here she is in a green shrug, so tasteful, ready for a cocktail party. Oh Susannah, you look so normal, in your Marks and Spencer 3/4 sleeve taupe linen blazer. Fatty arms be gone!

Now there’s a modern, independent, woman who is destined for a lifetime of six figure salaries, steamy love affairs, glamorous travel and will never, ever, find herself feeling sad, stupid, or lonely.

Fifteen years, and 1,362 Glassons cardigans, later I hear rumours of a man who has quite the thing for chubby upper arms.

Surely such a creature, as mythical and rare as a Unicorn, cannot be real. Trinny and Susannah wouldn’t lie to me. Because if this were true, then why the hell have I been suffering through all of these summers, parties, dancing, and music festivals, with my elbows to my shoulders, sweatily swaddled in cheap synthetic fabrics?

By the time I meet the Unicorn he immediatley devours my naked upper arm flesh so hungrily, so rampantly, so intensely, so absolutely, utterly, wonderfully, that he leaves behind a bruise, large and deep, like a puddle of spilled merlot. It takes a fortnight to disappear.

I examine and photograph his mark each day – a smug and sordid memento of, not only the power of my body, but also that I’d proved those nasty bitches wrong. 

Sorry Trinny and Susannah, but it seems that chubby arms will get you everywhere.

x