I’ve started writing for my work blog and the results have been interesting. I’ve had some really genuine and lovely feedback from people I don’t know very well (as well as close colleagues and friends) – and I’ve had more than a couple of moments of pure and utter anxiety about whether I’ve said too much.
I never want to hide who I am, even in a work environment but laying it all on the table, for instance talking about anxiety or telling an anecdote from my adolescence is different.
That’s who I really am, no messing, it’s me laid bare and it takes a lot to say you don’t mind sharing it with people you pass daily on the stairwell, who might stand behind you to buy a cup of coffee in the morning, knowing you’ve never really grown out of your teenage insecurities. (I greatly over exaggerate how many work mates read my words!).
It might make me second guess myself but it also feels real and that’s a weird one to define. I think it feels good to say you know yourself enough to share it with others. To write a post about your life long journey to accepting yourself for what you really are: perfectly imperfect, fucked up, damaged but still crawling, sometimes back up on two feet, sometimes running as fast as you can without looking back.
So yes, it feels good but I still have the fear. I guess I’ll either learn to put that aside or die trying*.
I feel like I spend most of my summer months obsessively people watching. Watching girls to be precise. I can take or leave men in summer or any month of the year – but women in the sunshine are something else.
The best outfits come out in the Spring as we tiptoe cautiously into the warmer months and I start to think about all the sartorial possibilities. Hey, if she can rock a blue and yellow print midi skirt with a plain navy tee, then I can, right? Hot pink? Why not? Stripey shirt that looks like a pajama top and mom jeans? I’m in.
I love it, it feels like hope and happiness to me. While the sun itself is sometimes my arch nemisis (ginger, what can I say?), I do like what it brings out in other people and I love witnessing women feeling themselves. They inspire me.
And it makes me think about age again but in a more positive way. Of how I don’t think I’ll ever be middle-aged in my mindset or attitude, how even when my body is heading south and my bones ache, in my heart I’ll still be as hopeful and dreamy and dorky as I was when I was 12. There’s very little difference between the girl I was and the woman I am. Except I couldn’t have dreamt I’d have Wonder Woman tattooed on my arm.
I think about how I’ll still listen to pop music, probably the same ten songs I’ve listened to since I was a girl as I walk to work. How I’m happy to grow up but not too much – and how certain things make me feel ten feet tall: jumpsuits, red lips, my rainbow umbrella. Less material things too: kisses and inside jokes, post-orgasmic chills.
I’m in a good place here, things are blessed. Sometimes they’re hard and sometimes I’m tired but I’m always open. To new possibilities, to new people. I’m surrounded by love and good companions, new and old. Young and my age and I’m learning for them everyday. Through them and through myself I am working out who I am and how who I am is okay. Honestly, more than okay.
All this introspection comes with the sun and with watching the girls go by and maybe to me that’s the best part of Summer.
I saw this video yesterday, posted as part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek and like most women would on viewing it, felt very emotional.
Why is it, still, that we’re so quick to trash talk ourselves, yet would never dream of doing the same to our friends or other women? (Hopefully).
Why is it, after all this time, after all the girl power mantras, the compliment-heavy chats in toilets with drunken girls on drunken nights and all the pushing back against the impossible (and ever changing) beauty ideal, we still can’t cut ourselves some fucking slack?
It’s a simple view but I like the idea of trying to speak to myself as I would my beautiful best friends. Of seeing myself every now and again and saying “You’re beautiful girl, look at you!”.
I don’t feel pretty all the time, in fact I’m tired of the negative voice that says I’m worthless, old and lumpy, that I’m a monster who doesn’t even look human compared to anybody else.
The same voice tells me my husband is only with me for a bet (a long bet), and that people feel sick when they look at me.
Every day is a battle to get on top of that point of view and to quash it. To remind myself that it’s just one voice, that there’s a stronger voice in there somewhere, it just doesn’t shout as loud.
I’m willing to keep fighting to be honest. What other choice do I have? I’m not going down with that hateful ship, no way.
I saw a piece of graffiti the other day that really annoyed me.
It doesn’t happen often but this one had a judgmental tone I didn’t care for. I wish I’d taken a snap now but it fucked me off so much I stomped away before doing so, then thought about writing this post afterwards. D’oh!
The piece was small, amateurish and said something along the lines of: “Love and respect yourself before someone else can love and respect you.”
Look, I get the sentiment of it. I’m all for the self-love rhetoric and believe wholeheartedly in the art of being kind to yourself, loving your own body, mind and soul. I’ve more than once posted inspirational memes to this effect.
However, I’m starting to realise how problematic this way of thinking is. I mean, was I the perfect specimen when I met my husband? You’ve got to be shitting me. I was coming out of a very dark, destructive relationship in which I considered suicide and very much did not love myself.
Loving who I am has come ever since that relationship and is an ongoing project. It will never be finished and so what? I’m more than happy to dedicate the rest of my life to loving myself as much as I can and maintaining that.
To suggest that someone is not deserving of love until they’re at peace with themselves is pretty shitty when you think about it. Love and acceptance can go hand in hand and I’m not saying you have to be validated by another human to be happy in yourself, nor do you have to be with anybody at all. You don’t have to be fixed or happy all the time, loving yourself is a great idea and I support it but it’s not for everybody all the time. Think about it, is it not just another impossible ideal we’re being pushed toward?
You have to love yourself! You have to respect yourself! You have to be confident! You have to be sassy!
What if I’m two of those things today, none of them tomorrow and all of them but the last one on Sunday? If I don’t hit my self-love quota will my love license be revoked? Will I go straight to the bottom of the pile in terms of love and respect from others?
What is self-respect anyway? One woman’s sleazy is another woman’s empowerment so fuck off, alright?
Love yourself by all means but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t. Be as kind to yourself as you can but don’t feel you can’t have down days, can’t just be. You are worthy of love all the time and not just magically when you’ve passed the self-love bar and received your self-respect certificate in the post.
I can safely say that this piece of graffiti was not supposed to evoke such a reaction in me but it has. Call me sensitive if you like but my very badly constructed argument still stands.
I’ve never identified more with an illustration found on Twitter before (Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas kindly sourced the artist, who is Suzeart).
This is exactly how I view my tattoos and how wonderfully that’s been put here. Too often I’ve told myself I’ll wait until I’m a certain way (thin, obviously) before I treat myself to nice clothes, a decent haircut – new tattoos. Once I even set myself the goal of a new tattoo at every significant weight loss milestone – how sad is that? If you want ink and can afford it, why wait? Treat yourself NOW dammit.
I didn’t really start to love myself until I started to take some ownership. To witness other fat ladies online doing something as radical as loving the fuck out of their bodies had such an impact that I can’t really put it into adequate words. I knew I had to start taking responsibility too. This involved taking back the word “fat”, using it as a descriptor rather than a derogatory term, accepting what I really look like and not hiding away in shame.
And not putting my body down.
That’s the hardest part for me I think, seeing myself caught on camera by someone else and not freaking out, feeling crushed by how grotesque I am. But nobody said it would be perfect, or easy. Learning and maintaining a strong sense of love for oneself is an ongoing project as far as I see it. I very much doubt you one day arrive at a permanent plateau of total and utter satisfaction for who you are – or maybe some people do.
I started getting more into brightly coloured tattoos about 2 years ago. Before that I had tattoos, but they were mostly rebellious or part of my rites of passage. I was lucky enough to make friends with a tattooist who could facilitate this on the reg and together we changed the landscape of my chubby little arm forever. Although we’ve both moved on and I see Alex now instead, during that time I started to think of myself as less of a useless lump and more of an empowered person, doing what I wanted without permission.
That felt good and although I’m nobody’s door mat, I sometimes find it hard to demand things for myself. Painting the walls and hanging pictures all over my body is a form of expressing exactly who I am, without having to use the words I so often stumble over.
I put myself under the needle again yesterday afternoon and let me tell you that ribs are a whole other ball game when it comes to tattoo pain. Youch. So so worth it though to be able to rock the piece below.
This is my new mantra BTW. When I feel the need to run myself down to others or be derogatory or rude about my looks, I shall stop and remember that I love myself. More than that, I completely adore myself, rolls and all.
It’s fitting somehow that I went through Hell to get this tattoo (not really, my tattooist is very good) – a nod to the journey *puke* from utter repulsion to self-acceptance. None of it’s easy, for any of us but if we can at least get on the right track, we’ll start a happy life-long relationship with someone who will love us for the rest of our lives, and love us better than anyone else can.
It’s okay, I’m going now. I just wanted to share the above illustration and a few of my thoughts on moving into your body fully and decorating as you see fit.
I know tattoos and body modification aren’t everybody’s idea of expression but I think this can translate to how you wear your hair and make up your face, how you dress – not everything has to be permanent or set in stone. I just happen to like my paintwork that way.
Scrolling through Instagram, admiring all the beautiful people and their enviable lives, I came across an account that had posted a screen shot of an article written for Vice. The title grabbed my eye “How to come to terms with your attraction to fat girls“, if you, like I, are a fat girl I urge you to read this article. It is honest and insightful, in fact I urge you to read it no matter your gender or dress size. This well written, no woe-is-me post had me interested immediately. As a plus size woman I have often felt marginalised and fetishised. When I was a teenager and even into my early twenties, no one wanted to admit to fancying the fat girl. We are perceived as taboo. Something you wouldn’t tell you mates you searched for on the internet let alone be someone you willingly wanted to…