Bikini Bodies: (part 3) Bobbing, Boggarts and Body Shopping

A whole year after I had 3 mini epiphanies that set in motion the whole body positivity thing for me, and I’m still trying to find my way. Some days it’s like I’m following a beacon of light and other days it’s like I’ve been given a map with no names on and no idea where I’m heading. Some days it’s like I’ve set fire to the map, blown away the ashes and just gone back to bed. It’s not easy and some days I have to accept that I need help or reassuring. Being on holiday, for me, is one of those scary but reassuring things. The usual dread of, “Holy shit I’m about to get my wobbly bits out in public!”, is usually placated by the time you realise that no one actually gives a shit and that they are enjoying the sun and free beer too much to worry about whether the chubby girl next to them has her stuff on show. In fact, I imagine that they may probably worry more about their own wobbly bits, although the Europeans (our hotel consisted of a lot more Germans and Dutch than ‘Brits abroad’) are much more daring in their choices of swimwear – I saw a lot more ‘bottoms’ and ‘breasticles’ on show than you ever would at Herne Bay sea front!

There was also a strange pool, which I liked to refer to as the “basting pool” where the real sun worshippers would reside. It was like a giant ‘Bain Marie’, full of cooking humans. I am virtually a vampire, so wouldn’t even consider getting in this, but also I was also frightened of being so exposed and of putting my body out there among the ‘beautiful’ bronzed and baking people. All those couples in the pool laughing and cuddling… obviously a fat girl can’t be seen doing that!…LIKE FUCK … I was in that pool, wrapped around Husbandface, feeling weightless and living my best life. It felt marvelous! I LOVE being in water, it’s where weight didn’t matter one jot, I got to float, bob and even pick up my husband in a hilarious role reversal. I got to sit and float on a marvelous giant pink flamingo, feeling glorious and alive and my body didn’t determine whether I got to have fun, laughing so loudly and joyously that it drew attention as well as reciprocal smiling.

My BoPo road map had become a little bit creased and torn, upon arriving in Spain, so I brought some tools with me. I made sure I had some BoPo literature to help bolster my BoPo sensibilities. One book had some really interesting points, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being sold another ‘life-style’, not unlike ‘diet culture’. The second read was the follow up to the book that I credit for helping me to find BoPo, by Jes Baker. This giant second helping of ‘truth pie’ was just what I needed.

In her book, ‘Landwhale’ Jes Baker talks about her past and the influences from her childhood that sparked her self-hatred. I spotted in myself the other week that I can be a bit of a ‘big fat cheater’, now I’ve binned off my scales, stopped measuring, tried to stop feeling my belly, I’ve started to do something else… I ask Husbandface how I look, I get him to be my measuring stick, my scales, my mirror. I was all ready to write a post on what a big fat cheater I was (see screenshot below) and how I was sneakily bordering on addict like behaviour, getting him to make a measure of my body and replacing the scales with Husbandface’s opinion. However, upon reading Jes Baker’s take on it, she describes how her fiancé likens it to an episode of Ghost Busters, where a creature turns itself into your fear and how sometimes he needs to fight her self-loathing for her, when she’s too tired, sad or empty. Fascinated by this, I had Husbandface read this chapter. I was like, “this is you, this is what you do for me”. He agreed but pointed out it’s more like a (big Harry Potter reference here) ‘Boggart’ for me – you may need to Google this! I don’t know what my worst fear is until it climbs out of the wardrobe that day and confronts me. It could be my fatness, my fear of failure, my fear of being unloved or secretly hated….and let’s not forget my self-loathing….threatening to overwhelm me. Sometimes I’m too tired to fight my own Boggart, so sometimes I need Husbandface to be my Professor Lupin and jump in when my Dementor for that day is just too strong. Sometimes I need to turn it into something different, give it some roller skates, or as I tend to do, take a selfie, or write something. I sometimes just need to remind myself that the Boggart is just that, a nasty monster feeding off my fears. It doesn’t get to define my worth, my creativity or my very existence.

So the Boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a Boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears” (Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Akzkaban)

Whilst reading all these BoPo books, as well as the awesome and fascinating ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman, I caved in to one of my guilty pleasures. I picked up a copy of ‘Now’ magazine from an area in the hotel where people left their finished books and magazines etc. I was drawn by a headline about Davina McCall and also the fact that I used to love a bit of gossip. However, I was highly amused by the fact that I picked up the magazine, and before I even got my grubby little mitts on it, Husbandface had his nose in it.

I read the article and it made me mad, firstly as she was being body shamed, but also as Davina herself made remarks to the tune of ‘wanting to look good in a bikini in her 50s’. I was a tad disappointed with Davina. Now it might be about HER body issues, but ANYONE can look good in a bikini regardless of age, weight, size, scars, ability, ethnicity, etc. Weirdly the magazine was all over the place with how it dealt with body issues, in some articles it was bigging up ladies who’d been body shamed and in the next was giving out advice on diets etc.
I just think the damage these magazines are capable of is HUGE. I admittedly used to love to see ‘stars’ being ‘exposed’, but now it makes me really uncomfortable. It doesn’t make me any less fat and these are actual human beings being publicly judged and shamed. It is damaging and toxic for our young people to see this, it teaches them that they are not ok, but also that it is ok to judge and say cruel things. Stacey Solomon this week called out ‘Now!’ magazine on a particularly cruel headline about her, and damn fucking right!….And don’t even get me started on “Revenge Bodies”… Like what the ACTUAL fuck!!??!!

I used to do this thing, admittedly sometimes I still do, where I would shop for a new body. It’s particularly easy to do when you’re by the side of the pool. “Oh she has a nice flat tummy”, “ooh she’s got a bum that works with that thong”, “ooohh perky boobs”, “she must be a size (insert size I’d want to be at that moment)”, “I’d love her legs”, “even her tummy hair is perfect (yep, I’m a weirdo)” etc. I can’t be the only one. I’ve even ‘body-shopped’ myself, looking at pics of me at 21 and thinking “ohhh … I’d kill to look like that” (that poor girl thought she looked disgusting). Anyway, at lunch, I was wistfully looking out of the restaurant terrace, out towards the pool. Right in my eye-line this beautiful, elegant lady in a long dress appears at her sunbed. Long, tanned limbs and hair pinned up, messy, but chic. She slid the straps off and just stepped out of her dress, folded it and sashayed to the pool. I envied how together she was, how graceful. I turned to Husbandface and explained the lovely lady’s entrance to the pool. We laughed about the fact that if that was me, I’d trudge up to the sunbed, get the dress caught on the way down, probably trip over it and would walk to the pool with a piece of loo roll stuck to my foot! My question….”why can’t I be like her?”. Husbandface “…because you’re you and YOU are wonderful”. So it’s just that, I can shop as much as I like, but I can’t change my physicality or my essence. Even looking back when I was 21, I’m not her anymore, not in looks, body, personality, tastes or anything. I’m me, and I’m ME NOW! And she’s pretty ok, Boggarts and all.

By the way, did I tell you…? It’s ok to have Boggarts and it’s ok to not always have the strength to fight them yourself. Find your spell or your Professor Lupin and keep them at bay which ever way you can, because you are wonderful just as you are.

Fancy Furniture is not for Fat Bums

On holiday in Majorca recently, I had the pleasure of staying at a very nice resort. However, HOWEVER, the lovely resort, did not think through their rather fancy and expensive terrace furniture (we couldn’t help but Google them!). There were these really weird sofas and chairs, that looked like stones. Could I get my fat bum to sit comfortably on these bastards? Could I FUCK!!!! The sofa was about bareable, but the single chairs either rendered me practically half laying in a pose that would have a drunk hobo blushing, or sitting so upright, I looked like a mannequin. I thought I’d share these bizarre torture contraptions with you.

The stools were also another source of delight. Tall, tiny topped, thin things which my tiny little legs couldn’t reach , so on my first night of trying to thrust my chubby bum on to this platform of doom, I managed to pull the entire table and thustly my wine over. My entrance was spectacular to say the least. So the verdict is… me + classy furniture = not so classy!!!

Best Laid Plans

As I came away for my lovely holiday to Majorca, to get away from a house in disarray and the last lingering memories of being at school, before I start my new job, I packed several activities. A few books, that I’d been saving (“The Power” … Highly recommended, a thriller and a couple of BoPo non-fiction types), my sketchbook, to start illustrations for my kids story and my art collaboration and a list of ideas for a blog post or 6. I had everything sort of planned out, finish one book, the one I’d started, which I wasn’t massively enjoying, but I wanted to see it through to the end. Then Friday, I was going to atone for my blog tardiness by getting my write-on. I was pumped, I’m surrounded by all these bikini bodies, a veritable smorgasbord of delights to write about; the confidence, the styles, the myriad of cute swim wear choices I’d brought with me and the absolute no-fucks-given vibe. But nope, it would appear that one of my dietary choices would scupper my plans absolutely! I’m trying, despite being on an all inclusive holiday, a thing called ‘Intuitive Eating’/, listening to my body and giving her what she wants. Now, my mum gave me a valuable bit of advice for being on an all inclusive holiday. She said “the key to not getting bored with the food, is to not load your plate with ALL the food, but to scout it out, and pick a meal”. Now this fitted right in with the whole “intuitive eating” thing. I perused the food, and decided I needed all the salad and perhaps some meat, wait, no those langoustines look tasty, healthy and fresh… Yep, I’ll go with those. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE. I didn’t know it but I was a ticking time bomb.

So later that night we attended the ‘White Party’ by the pool and indulged in a few rums whilst getting accosted by awesome ladies on stilts. All fine, a little too much indulgence, but a bit of fire poi and some contortionist acts later and we merrily go off to bed.

The next morning, it must have been instinct, but Husbandface left me to sleep. Then it hit, the langoustines revenge! I thought it was just all the over indulgence, but that was me for the day. Sick as a dog and confined to my hotel room. I couldn’t settle, I couldn’t concentrate for more than three seconds, so reading or writing was out of the question, so I was stuck with cat videos on Facebook and Fake Britain on ITV, because, god forbid the Brits go abroad without English telly!

I can’t remember the last time I felt like it, I was feeling so sorry for myself. Luckily the weather gods decided that this would be the day it would rain, so I only missed out on a wee bit of actual holidaying….and my body has now returned to normal. I’m laying here on my sunbed as I type, awaiting the time until it’s considered a respectable time to start drinking. Probably about 10am?

I shall continue to take shameless selfies, plot to take over the world from my phone, and maybe squeeze in another post or two, to make up for my absence! Until then I bid you “adieu!”

By the way, did I tell you…? Even the best laid plans can get ballsed up, and do you know what?, that’s ok! I’m now back to living my best life again.

Out of The Mouths of Babes

I left my job this week after 3 years of working there. I was stunned by the responses from the kids and staff. I think I was the most hugged person ever this week. I was overwhelmed by the things students had written to me, about me. “You have made this school unique, you have made people feel positive about themselves and you have made me feel positive about myself” was written by one of my young ladies, a beautiful young girl, with a heart of gold. But I never expected to read such lovely things. The power of those words reduced me to tears and had me brimming with pride. If my words had had this affect on just one student, I’d made a difference in this world. However, it kept coming! The fact that students were able to tell me that I am “beautiful” “kind” and “inspirational” meant that the work I’d done with them had got through to them. A young man wrote I’d made him “love his body for the way it is”. This blew me away, the honesty, the candid remarks and the gratitude, when I felt like I was ‘just doing my job’.

So I shall keep all of these very close to my heart and on hand for those days where I don’t feel worthy, or I have lost my way a little. Because “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” Now I’m not a religious person, but this makes sense to me. My ‘enemy’ being my capacity for self-loathing. And those powerful words, by those wise and innocent young people, could help me to steel myself against the enemy. To stand tall and say ‘not today Satan!!!’ (Satan being my self-loathing). I will remember those kind words and remind myself, that no matter how small, I made a difference.

I am honoured to have made an impact on these young lives.

By the way, did I tell you…? you make a difference, you matter and you are AWESOME ❤

Why We Need to Teach Our Children Body Positivity.

This week I have headed up a BoPo event for some young people. It was a HUGE learning curve for me, not only did I discover that I can actually get over my crippling fear of public speaking, but kids are so receptive to the truth. I revealed to these lovely young people, that from a little girl, I have had awful self esteem. I stood there in a hall full of teenagers and laid myself bare. I talked about how I wanted to be a magician’s assistant and how that a friend’s comment about me being too fat really resonated. To this day I can still picture the whole scenario. I talked about how it just might feel like a few words to them but how it can actually have a massive impact. At the end of this talk, the kids surprised me with a spontaneous round of applause. I was a little stunned, but proper chuffed.

During this week I ran art based self-esteem workshops. And again, here, I shared a little more of my story. This is what I told them:

“A few years ago, my self-esteem was at rock bottom and I went to see a lady to help me. She asked me to start doing affirmations in the mirror. Firstly I did not know really what it could do for me, secondly I was too embarrassed to talk to myself and thirdly, most importantly, I was struggling to look at myself in the mirror altogether. So together we worked out a different way, I made a piece of word art. I started with words I could handle, like “creative” then over the next few weeks I would add others I felt comfortable with. Later I would add what people had said to me, and generally they were the more challenging ones! – That I was “beautiful” or a “good singer”.

The young people listened to this intently, I mean they were slightly amused by the image of me trying to talk to myself in the mirror, but they were awesome. We played ‘compliments consequences’, where the students had to go round to everyone else’s sheets and write something positive about them – no “OKs” or repeated words. They then turned this into artwork and the responses were simply lovely.

In addition to this the students were playing ‘BoPo Bingo!’, where they had a series of body positive tasks. It created a really lovely buzz, especially on non-uniform day and I went above and beyond for the theme ‘Bright, Bold and Beautiful’. As the kids kept telling me how beautiful I looked, I’d say, “you can tick that off of your ‘BoPo Bingo’ card” as one of the tasks was to tell a member of staff something positive about themselves. They looked delighted at the thought of unconsciously completing a task and being recognised for it! The capacity for children to be awesome, is so much greater than their need to chastise. We just need to foster it.

I arranged a ‘Parent’s BoPo Summit’. The turn out wasn’t great but the quality of people there was amazing. These parents were keen to ensure their children are body confident. I told my story, and the little gasps of recognition when I told my story, told me that they understood. Alongside me, I had my ‘BoPo Partner’, Vicki. She told her story. Not only did she tell her story to the parents, but she told it to the girls when we did our ‘boobies talk’. To say I was proud of her was an understatement, as I type I’m welling up. She made a slide about her struggle with anorexia, and the struggle within about whether she was ready to share was apparent. Regardless of whether she actually went ahead and told her story, the fact she had even considered it was so fucking brave. I think I could say, for the both of us, it was actually an amazingly cathartic experience and gave the kids and parents context. And I love that woman! What a legend!

So the hugely important thing I’m trying to say is that our young people need to be taught body positivity from the get-go! This might be teaching some of you to suck eggs, but here’s my main BoPo tips to help our kids:

  1. Avoid buying magazines or watching programmes that engage in body shaming.
  2. When watching programmes where appearance is the main focus (*cough cough ‘Love Island ‘*) – talk to your young people about body image and superficiality.
  3. Avoid using the words like fat/thin/sexy/odd with qualifiers such as “too” “so” “awfully” etc. All of these words are valid descriptors, for example “I am a fat lady”, but please don’t come up and call me that, I’d probably get upset. Especially if there’s a “so” or “incredibly” in front of it.
  4. Avoid body shaming anyone else publicly or privately. Sometimes we’re not even aware of it. Especially when it comes to people’s clothing choices “Well, she’s definitely too fat for those shorts”. That’s a lady just living her best life in the summer.
  5. Remind our young people that if they decide to body shame, it says more about them, than the person they are shaming.
  6. Finally. HUGELY. Try not to project your own insecurities on to your young people. Avoid saying how “fat” you think you are or feel. Trust me, young people pick up on it. So bugger it…. Get your bikini on and jiggle about in front of everyone!

By the way, did I tell you…? You are fucking awesome and it’s “easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” ❤❤❤

Exciting Things Afoot!

Hello my lovelies. Apologies for being a little on the quiet side, but end of term has had me beat! Next week I shall be standing in front of an audience of children and telling my story and asking them to participate in a variety of body positive activities. I am so very excited and terrified at the same time!

For said event I have spent this weekend baking self-love cookies, among other things. Hoping to decorate them with affirmations, if I have time.

Other exciting things afoot, which have kept me busier than a busy body in busy bodying season, include sorting out my new website, which will hopefully be up and running soon. And I’ve been getting my BoPo Art on! After going to an amazingly awesome event a couple of weeks back, The Anti Diet Riot Fair, I’ve felt inspired to pick up my paint brush once again. I have designed some marvellously sweary affirmations mirrors and keepsakes box. I’m really excited! And on top of this there’s a top secret collaboration about to happen, with another set of artists from my Secret Girl Gang! This is set to be one of the best summers yet!

And as penance for my tardiness of delivering “My Story (Part 9) New job, New Orleans and a New (ish) Me”. I offer you some joyous pictures of me in my new pool, bought as a surprise by Husbandface ❤ I gots my bikini body on!

By the way, did I tell you how bloody marvellous you are?

Chucking in the Towel (or swimsuit)

We’ve already established that I’m proper Hoardy McHoarderson, so it won’t come as a surprise to people, that I am a dreadful clothes hoarder. I keep things that old, sentimental, could be used for “dressing up” and the ultimate one… Things that do not fit me, for whatever reason. Things I’ve bought and thought “I’ll slim in to that, it’ll be an incentive” (it wasn’t). Things I’ve bought worn and thought “bugger, I’m not confident enough to wear that, I’ll slim into that, it’ll be an incentive” (it wasn’t). Things I’ve unfortunately grown out of, but I’ve kept because “I’ll slim into that…” You know where I’m going with this right? These clothes being a badge for my self-perceived failures, a reminder that I haven’t made it, that I’m still fat and I’ve let myself down. By not making my body small enough to fit into these holy grails of fashion, abandoned in my wardrobe and drawers, I was letting the clothes down and fulfilling their true purpose.

I was having a tidy up yesterday, in fact I was putting away the mountain of washing we’d accrued throughout the week. It’s a thankless task and one of my least favourites, I’d go as far as to say I loathe doing it. Now there are a couple of reasons for this:

1. I am messy by nature and therefore the clothes already in my drawer are not exactly folded neatly, because I’m a rummager.

2. I have a small shopping addiction and therefore have ALL the clothes, this coupled with my hoarding makes putting clothes away more like a challenge on the Krypton Factor.

3. It’s just fucking boring innit.

So yesterday in my bid to make our bedroom inhabitable again, I put away the washing, I mean PROPERLY. Not just stuffing it in and hoping no one will find out my dirty little secret. I tidied what was in there first and then placed my nicely folded washing on top. In my pyjama drawers (yes I have two…. Please refer to point no. 2 above…), I found a swimsuit, one I’d kept apart from all the others. The reason being, it didn’t fit. I bought it in Boots because it was too cute, but I was probably the top end of a size 16, closer to an 18, and it was on the small side. Not only that the legs were quite high and that’s not for me, I’m not comfortable with that. So away it went in my drawer with the invisible label of “to be slimmed into” attached to it. Now, it’s a pretty design, red polka dots (my favourite) and when I bought it, it was fairly rare. Everything was lairy prints and bold colours. I loved it the minute I saw it and couldn’t let it go, despite it not being right for me, which sounds suspiciously like some of my past relationships!

So I decided it was time to give it up. Not because I am giving up on myself, but the polar opposite. I need to let go of the things that just aren’t right for me anymore, like I did with Slimming World and like I’ve done with the scales. I’m not chucking in the towel, I’m just chucking out some clothes. Those clothes that secretly taunt me, those clothes that make me feel not good enough, those clothes that are a badge for my self-perceived failures. I am going to clear out and sell them or give them away. These clothes that are hidden away don’t get to define me, it’s the other myriad of beautiful garments and accessories that fit me, complement me and make me feel beautiful are the ones that get to do that!

So my lovelies, it’s time for a clear out for the sake of our mental health!

By the way, did I tell you…? You do not need an incentive, you are wonderful just as you are! Xxx

My Story (Part 8): 2012: The Sequel (Download, Therapy and the Light at the end of the Tunnel)

So my 2012 cataclysmic year wasn’t just filled with doom. There was hope in that story. Firstly despite feeling dreadful, my first act of “Single life rebellion” was brought on during a girlie night of takeaways and wine. Designed to aid my recovery from the events that were destroying my soul (2 deaths, a break up and an horrendous Ofsted experience) we started talking about “Download Festival”… Used to be “Donnington” when we were kids. And it felt like “Donnington” came back to life just for us that year. Metallica were headlining along with a load of 90s rock that soothed our ageing souls. We were going. WE were going to relive a better time. Well, we thought we were, but this never happened. Now, there may have been some reasons for this….

1. Me and my group of friends, now over 30, couldn’t deal with festivals because we were so comfortable with our homely lifestyles.

2. We had totally forgotten how to recreate the never-say-die abandonment of youth.

Or, it was possibly down to the uncontrollable third option……We had no accounting for how HORRENDOUS the weather would be.

So, there we were on our way. Singing and moshing along to Enter Sandman in the car (reference – the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World) and we were all hyped up. It was grubby weather but I had my awesome skull print wellies and expensive pak-a-mac. When we got there, we were shin ( yes, I said SHIN!) deep in mud and had to abandon most of our stuff in the car, including most of our booze! We then walked for over an hour and a half in apocalyptic weather to our campsite. One of our team lost the entire sole of his boot to the mud, another’s plastic anorak was in tatters and some of the others had to rescue a crying girl who desperately needed a wee. We reached high ground and pitched our tent, it was all hands on deck to ensure we still had a tent. I started to realise the pretty dress I’d packed, just “in case”, was utterly redundant. All beautifying was pretty pointless but regardless we sat down with one of the few cans of cider we’d managed to salvage and put our faces on. It was more like war paint, we needed the strength! We’d been on the road since 5am, we’d been blown to bits, but WE WERE THERE! We had made it. We even had our own toilet tent, although our weird little camping toilet was not fit to sit on, as one unlucky crew member found out to her detriment.

So… here we are making our way to the main arena, it took another hour and a half, as it was two steps forward and a huge slide backwards. Yet somehow I still found a moment to panic about my victory rolls.

Seriously…. we were walking through what I can only describe as chocolate mousse, littered with the broken remains of gazebos, that just hadn’t made it….and I was fretting about how my hair looked. Suffice to say, all that make-up I’d slathered on was mostly smeared down my cheeks. Utterly pointless, but it felt necessary. Well, we stayed in the arena for all of about two beers, headed back to the tent and promptly left the next day. Before we left we managed to bequeath some of our ‘car booty’ to the brave few of our crew that remained behind. We also had a little car picnic and drank some of the booze we had not been able to take in. Weirdly though, when we got home, after my shower, I didn’t cook myself a glorious meal, I had huge bowl of Super Noodles. That’s what we were supposed to be eating all weekend, but it didn’t happen. Apparently this left me craving them, like nothing else would do! But that was a lesson learned…. Drunk+newly single+wine+credit card = regret x 1000. However, 6 years later we can still laugh about it.

Also that year, I had to undergo throat surgery to remove nodules that had formed on my vocal folds. I had nodules way before Adele went and made them all fashionable. This resulted in 3 weeks off school, two of those were to be without booze AND without speaking. I had to use a whiteboard to communicate. This, for any of you that know me, was an utter bastard. People treated me like I was hard of hearing because I couldn’t speak and they acted weird in shops when I wrote on my board. Luckily, when one of my besties took me to the local Miller and Carter for a treat, she managed to fill in both sides of the conversation and the waitress was amazing, although slightly bemused. Luckily it was only a temporary glitch for me but it was an odd feeling. It certainly gave me time to reflect on the fact that although it was only temporary for me, people have to put up with far worse than that permanently.

On top of that I had started singing in a band, I got a new job and I started seeing a counsellor…and boy did I need that counselling. It had been a roller coaster of a year, with more lows that highs. I needed help. My first visit to the counsellor, was of course in true “Me” style. I had been to see my exceptionally talented friend who’d practiced a marvellous vintage style on my hair. So I turn up for my first appointment looking like a million bucks but feeling like crap. My therapist must have thought I was barmy! (yes, I see the irony).

Anyway, this would be the first step on an incredibly eye-opening and important journey for me. We explored a number of my issues but mainly focused on my self-esteem, she once told me, “it must be exhausting” to be in my ‘own head’ all the time. That ‘voice’ constantly putting me down and telling me I wasn’t good enough.

We worked through my self-worth issues and could pin point the worst of it coming from age 13. As an exercise she asked me to draw a portrait of myself at age 13, again, in true ‘me’ style I left it to the last minute and did it after a few wines with my mates the night before my session. I drew a curly haired girl wearing a Pearl Jam t-shirt, looking sullen. In the first session my therapist asked me to talk to my 13 year old self. I couldn’t do it, the overwhelming guilt and shame I felt about what that poor girl felt about herself came crashing down upon me. I couldn’t look at her and I turned the picture over, thinking I’d never be able do whatever it was my therapist was asking of me. That picture was always on the table, face down, as I entered my therapist’s room. And it stayed that way. As the weeks went on I started doing affirmations, albeit in a slightly different way. I chose to draw a word cloud of positive things about me, things I thought, things I knew and things other people said to me. I was making better decisions and breaking some really crappy self-flaggelating habits. I was starting to show signs of loving myself. I’d like to add “again” there, but it was fairly virgin territory. Eventually, after a while I was able to turn that picture over and face my 13 year old self, tell her how beautiful she is, how clever, creative and funny she is and ask her forgiveness. It was the most gut-wrenching yet freeing experience. I sobbed my heart out, but a weight had been lifted. It was a total paradigm shift in my little world. I had discovered that I didn’t have to hate myself.

Hand on heart, I can honestly say that this therapy was the best time and money I have ever spent. It opened up a whole new world to me, at the risk of sounding corny. Without it, I might never have had the guts to be myself and tell my then not-yet-Husbandface that he did, in fact, fancy me and that we should definitely go out. I was liberated from my own brain but, like my Body Positive journey, it is something that needs regular maintenance and updating…..but I’m getting there.

In addition to therapy, I had (still have) awesome friends and one awesome cat. My best bud kidnapped me and took me on a date to cheer my weary soul and even sneakily managed to pack some pj’s and knickers so we could stay over night in Greenwich after going on the London Eye. I went to a psychic evening, with my House Wife Hayley, where the woman was determined I had a spirit dog following me around…I NEVER had a dog. Perhaps this is how you get one? However, she did predict ‘meeting the man of my dreams’ that Christmas and then ‘going on a big holiday’. If what she meant by “meet” was to actually decide you fancy a colleague, after a slightly saucy dream and then harass them into eventually marrying you, as well as booking a trip to New Orleans, for shits and giggles, with your best bud – she would be BANG ON!!

Christmas that year would prove to be equally interesting, as it was the year of the “Shit Christmas”…. Gastroenteritis would have me floored for virtually the whole school holiday. I stoically carried on, despite my insides wanting to constantly be on the outside. I smeared my make-up around my clammy face, rolled my hair up despite beads of sweat rolling down my cheeks and ‘carried on regardless’. I bloody love Christmas but, and those of you who know me know, it’s generally a disaster. However, that’s a whole post on its own. I was delighted to see the end of 2012 and it ended, quite literally, shitty.

So my lovelies, therapy can be terrifying….but so worth it.

Oh, and by the way, did I tell you, and not in a L’Oréal way, you too are SO TOTALLY WORTH IT? Xxx

My Uncle Colin

My Uncle Colin wasn’t my actual Uncle Colin, he was not blood, or my uncle by marriage. In fact he was my Step Great Uncle But I always considered him my uncle, he never made me feel that genetics were an issue. My uncle Colin was there for a lot of Christmases. He didn’t mind, in the slightest, when he was bundled by a huge crowd of us to take a picture, because he knew we loved him. He’d happily just sit and take in the bustle that is the madness of our Christmas over in the Payne household. Never grumbling or griping.

He was there to offer advice when we needed it… Mainly when I inherited 1930s furniture, we couldn’t get it up the stairs and he casually stated that the furniture just “comes apart in the middle”… This was luckily before we’d planned to hitch the whole caboodle over our banister with a mission impossible style winch. He was dead chuffed with the amount of time and effort he’d saved us and found it amusing that we were so daft!

Racing was our best way to connect with Uncle Col. He loved being around the family and the gee gees, and of course was always willing to share his “hot” tips. Although there was the time he quite literally found his ‘Kryptonite’ when he gave everyone a tip for a horse bearing that name but then he changed his mind at the last minute….and it came in winning everyone but him a load of cash. We had our annual Faux Ascot Day at our local working man’s club last year and Col loved it and, bless him, put up with yet another round of incessant selfie taking with him, he even blew a kiss for the camera. There was a Colin Shaped hole in our day this year and although we toasted and put a bet on in his honour he was sorely missed.

The absolute epitome of a gentleman, with his kind words. My Nan was saying the other day, how he always made an effort to speak to you and just took a little bit of time to find out about your day. Another thing that was always said about Col, was that he was “a good old boy”, never a truer statement.

Christmas, ‘Days at the Races’ and ‘Fish and Chip’ nights are going to seem a little different from now on. Uncle Col, we love ya loads. Rest easy.

The Evil Within My Bathroom: (Part 3) The Lure of the Scales

In her book, ‘Body Positive Power’, Megan Jayne Crabbe had a challenge about Tummy Love. The challenge was to caress and touch your tummy, feel the softness and shapes and enjoy them. Give them respect rather than ignore them, berate them or even poke, prod or tug on them. I thought… Easy peasy! Every morning I unconsciously touch my tummy and feel the soft roundness of my belly. However, today it occurred to me as I felt my belly, that I wasn’t giving it love, I was measuring. Measuring to see if it felt bigger or smaller, whether there are more stretch marks, is it over-hanging more than usual? Am I OK? Do I approve of the shape I have today? Well this morning the answer was “YES”. Now, after my bout of self-doubt last week, you might think “Yay! Good for you” which was my initial reaction. I felt my tummy, I was not magically a size 8, but I felt less bloaty, I felt that I might, maybe, could have lost some weight. So do you know what my first thought was…? Can you guess what I wanted to do to celebrate waking up and not hating my body? Stroke it and tell it that it is my body, it is beautiful and I love it for keeping me mobile, healthy and alive? Treat it to some pampering? Slather it in almond body butter and massage it in to my skin? Put some nice underwear on and parade around the house delighted with myself? NOPE. No… My immediate reaction was to head for the scales, to jump on them and let them tell me if I deserve to feel good about myself.

The lure of them is almost intoxicating, like a mermaid luring a sailor to his watery demise. Almost hypnotised by their call, I started towards them, THEN something happened. I stopped. I broke the spell. I backed away and thought about what I was about to do. I was about to jeopardise all my positive feelings this morning, I was about to leave the decision about whether I was going to carry on loving myself for the rest of the day down to a machine. A machine that doesn’t care for my mental state or if I have had a heavy meal or not had a poo that morning, it will just give me the cold hard facts. The numbers that it registers and chucks out are a measurement of how much body mass is stood on that tiny glass surface. Those numbers can have the ability to change my mood for the whole day. If the numbers are less than before, I pat myself on the back and tell myself I’m a good girl. If not if they have increased, instant shame. I then think everyone can tell and that that number is somehow tattooed on my head like a scarlet letter.

This also reminds me that I have a Wii Fit that I don’t use any more and there is a reason for it. I started tracking my weight on it when I started Slimming World, for the millionth time, back in 2015. I thought it was funny, at first, when I stood on it and the scales said “ouch”. I also liked designing my avatar and personalising it. But I hated to see it skinny and suddenly get fat as it registered my weight and BMI. Why couldn’t it just be my shape? Why did it have to be a slim version of me, showing me what I could have won? Why did I listen to a fat shaming machine to try and motivate myself? So no, I don’t use it any more, as it’s not funny that it exclaims when I stand on it AND it’s certainly not OK for my avatar to be a false representation of me, just so it can balloon and make me embarrassed to be who I am. So my dear Wii Fit you might be joining the rest of the junk going to the boot fair! (Although I do love a bit of an Alien shoot ’em up).

So I think it’s time for me to try and break the cycle. It’s not going to be easy, as all my self-worth has rested on the reading that little machine chucks out. These scales don’t care that I’m smart, creative, prettyish, sometimes brave, healthy, happy, loyal, generous, funny, stylish (some might say), friendly, cheerful, joyous…. And most importantly LOVED. I am going to try to place my self-worth based on those things and that little glass platform can fuck right off!

By the way, did I tell you your body is an amazing piece of artwork and machinery that shouldn’t be shamed or measured? You are awesome! ❤❤❤