Back at the end of my A-levels I started to experiment a little more with my style. I got my navel pierced and this meant I now had to show it off. I was a size 14 and I thought I was enormous, but… BUT… I had done this very cool thing and dammit I wanted to show it off. I remember going into school the Monday, after allowing some fella in the back of a “hippy” shop in Woolwich, to take me into a room that was basically a make shift changing room and stick a large needle through the top of my belly button. I think I was one of the, if not THE, first to get my belly button pierced. I was a minor celebrity for the day, but it meant I had to show people. I was paranoid as hell and even started to only show people through my tights. I then got brave enough on one of our Venue (pokey, crumbly night club in glamorous New Cross) nights out to show my tummy off. But as you can see in the pic above there was not enough Snake Bite and Black to give me the true confidence to allow that to be documented. And especially not by the funny old dude, who used to make a fortune off us by selling Polaroids to drunk idiots! Back in the dark ages. No smartphones then people. God, I’m old.
Pink hair, tattoo and a tongue piercing soon followed. I was on my way to university and I was thrilled, excited and utterly shitting myself. I was that girl who when people asked what I was studying and I told them Art, the response was always “yeah figures, you look like an Art student”. As a girl with bright hair, I attracted attention and not all of it was pleasant. Fresher’s week and I was dressed as a St Trinian, I’d been brave and tied my shirt up, but considering the company I was in (all my shiny new extremely slender and beautiful uni mates) I felt like a house. I wasn’t, but I felt it. Then to have what little confidence I had torn out from under me, by some girl in a bar who started picking holes in my appearance. She started with my hair “it’s more like a mop” (after a fella standing near by had complimented the curls and colour). It was a nasty, jealous act, but I was so cut down by it, I shuffled off and had a little cry into my pint. To this day I still replay that moment and rehearse what I should have said. Funny how I remember little else about that first week. So stupid that one small comment still resonates over 19 years later.
The pic above was me on my 21st birthday. Underneath my New Look extravaganza of a dress I was wearing those bloody suck-you-in pants. I absolutely loved that dress but I was so paranoid of wobbles, lines, curves and the dreaded chub-rub. In fact I hated virtually every photo. I look at it now and I feel sad that I looked so beautiful but couldn’t see it. It would take up until the summer of 2017 until I’d finally give up the fight with those soul sucking fat contraptions, which actually, some how magically make me lose my waistline.
University would see me yo-yo and virtually every summer return back home and to my “other” home of Slimming World. Head hung in shame and vowing to do better this time. But dieting is actually fucking expensive and my student loan wasn’t about to cover that AND my beer money. So term time fat and then holidays trying to undo the damage. Although one night in the pub, my mate says to me “Sarah is looking for someone to go to slimming world with her”. So I sought out Sarah, blonde, bubbly, beautiful and curvy and asked to be her Slimming World buddy. Turns out I had approached the wrong Sarah, other Sarah (dark haired and slim) wanted to go. I felt all the air suck out of the room. I was MORTIFIED. I’d basically made the assumption that curvy Sarah had the same hang ups as me. I was wrong.
University would also bring a revelation for me about the other end of body bashing and self-loathing. I’m out shopping for a Summer Prom dress with my beautiful mate L. She was bright, funny, beautiful, slender and cool as all hell. We were in Top Shop (my nemesis as I never really got to buy from there). L is trying on a sweetheart neckline, tutu dress, alla Carrie Bradshaw. I’m so jealous of her petite frame, until I hear her sobbing through the curtain of the changing room cubicle. L is wearing a size 6 dress, but she can practically spin around in it. She was frustrated by her size, she can’t seem to put on weight, everyone thinks she’s girlish and young, when she just wanted to feel womanly and sexy. It never occurred to me at that point that she would have any issues with her body. Why should she? How wrong I was. I’m always careful not go down the “Real women have curves” route. Because body shaming one body type to big up another is hardly supportive nor is it constructive.
So let’s love all the shapes, sizes, colours, curves, stripes, scars and figures. Let’s build each other up and stop tearing each other apart. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but that’s where it stays, in the past.
By the way did I tell you how gorgeous you look today?!
#bodypositive #effyourbeautystandards #mystory