My Story (Part 2): Bette Midler, Garfield and Guns N’Roses

The late 80s/early 90s

For teenage me in the late 80’s, early 90’s there were several influences on my life and feelings. I was entering secondary school. I was shit scared of having to go to BIG SCHOOL, mostly because I was terrified of PE, as well as being a plump little fish in a HUGE pond. I was scared stiff of the possibility of having to publicly shower with other girls, I had already been tormented during swimming lessons at primary school for being a little more, well…. “developed” shall we say. Turns out showering was a myth perpetuated by American films and I was glad to find out, that following PE, we just sprayed our sweaty bodies down with Impulse and Soft & Gentle. MMMMMmmmmm Hygienic!

Anyhoo it was here that I started to experience the pressure of a different type of subtle body-shaming that I didn’t notice, but I felt under tremendous pressure to respond to. SHAVING. I begged my mum repeatedly to let me shave my legs and under my arms, and rightfully she was reluctant, I was her baby. But it was something about my body that I could change to be in line with all the other girls. I never went as far as the fad of arm hair shaving, but I was incredibly self conscious of my arms, wearing long sleeves in summer, because I wasn’t a hairless dolphin like my friends. Although I’m sure they regret that now, I can’t imagine what the re-growth must be like. I am not damning shaving, I am still that lady who, on her wedding day, demanded that I be so smooth and shiny that when I kissed my husband at the altar I would be in danger of sliding out of his arms!

I had funny little role models that I gravitated towards in these formative years, clinging on to the grumpiness and sarcasm of Garfield, obsessed with this fat cat who was funny and narky. I had a T-Shirt that said “I’m not overweight, I’m under-tall” and a plush toy that said the same but instead of overweight it had “fat” so the joke made no sense whatsoever. Thinking about it at the time, I might have been trying to find away to embrace my chubbiness.

Bette Midler was another role model, I absolutely adored her (and still do). She was beautiful, loud, bright, sassy, had fuzzy hair, didn’t always fit in, has a wonderful voice and just never seemed to give a shit. Watching her films I found what I wanted to be just like her…. BEAUTIFUL and AWESOME. But I wasn’t (in my head), but I liked to pretend and even dressed a little like her before I hit the Rock/Grunge Years. I wanted my hair like her and Mum obliged. But in rediscovering my love for Bette recently I realised something, one of the things I identified with was that she was often portrayed as being “the chubby one” in the films. I was watching ‘Big Business’ today and there was a joke about a corporate photo taken of the two main characters. The joke was that the photo must have been taken with a wide lens, but Lily Tomlin’s character points out that she “looks thin”. In actual fact, looking at the film, Bette is not in anyway fat. Like fuck me… I would give up my internal organs to look like she does. It’s insane that even then in the 80’s, such a bright, gorgeous woman was portrayed like that. That beauty ideals were so brutal even back then, and that was before Heroin Chic was fashionable. I love Bette and I have a huge lady crush to this day. AND I WANT THAT POLKA DOT SUIT DAMMIT!

So then shortly after there was the Guns N’ Roses years and this was the first time I started to find my niche. I always felt a little out of the main stream and me and my friends found it… Rock music and then Grunge. I did love the fact that the fashion meant that I was able to wear all the black t-shirts and plaid shirts to cover my butt. Oh and not forgetting the biker jacket and DMs (Mum loved it because it was practical, a pair of DMs every two or three years, and also hated it… “do you have to wear those bovver boots with that lovely dress?”) I included some of my diary entries during this time in the pictures, because we started meeting boys and getting crushes. OK they weren’t Axl Rose, or in my case, Slash, but they were boys and they started to be interested.

But no matter what I still didn’t feel beautiful or good enough. I started body bashing myself again and starting on another attempt at dieting.

“Dear Diary, I’m trying! I’m on a diet. I just hope I can stick to it so someone will love me.”

What kind of shit is that? Another entry states

“I hate myself, why can’t I be slimmer and prettier? I might have been able to keep {insert boy’s name here}. I’ve got an awful feeling I am gonna be alone for a very long time.”

Where the fuck did I get that from? I had no proof of this. I want to go back and give that girl a hug and tell her everything is going to be OK, it’s not going to be easy, but she’s ultimately going to do some amazing things, meet and be loved by amazing people and also (not that this is the be all and end all) but you will get your fairy tale ending.

Well done if you made it this far. Here’s some pics for you to enjoy (click to see them full size). Despite the title of my diary my life wasn’t crap… I was being a bit melodramatic.  Anyway go back and give your teenage self a bit of a hug, and remember to be kind to you today and always.


#bodypositive #mystory #giveyourteenageselfahug #bettemidler

#madamemunki #ukblogger #iblogger #BoPo #bodypositivity #loveyourself

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