Lads, I’m overweight. And I’m not happy about it.
Now before y’all start with the polite usually expected cries of “Would you goWAY out of it, sure you’re only a tiny thing, shut up t’fuck or I’ll slap the fringe off you..” (I have very colourful friends) and all that shite, let me say this: I’m not fishing for reassurance, or platitudes. Well, not this time anyway. The fact is; I’m very overweight for my height, and I know this because of science. So there’s that. Also, I’ve come to realise a few things in my thirties. I’m very aware of my mind, and my body, and how fucked up the relationship is between the two. It’s basically Sid and Nancy up in here, but without the stabbings and heroin overdoses. For now anyway. Fuck knows what’ll happen in my forties.
(Self-portrait. At least my arse is smaller here.)
I’ve never been particularly obsessed with chasing the Body Beautiful, unless it was on a 6ft plus hunky man-beast covered in tatts who had a thing for shorties with big bums (I’m sure there’s a magazine or website that deals with that). I guess when you’re as far away from society’s idea of female perfection as I am, it’s quite liberating really. I can’t try and dress the same as a woman who is 5ft 8in and 8 or 9 stone and still expect to look my best; all I can do is become the most happy, confident, sexiest version of myself that I can be. There’s no danger of looking ‘almost but not quite’.
(Tess Holliday – Goddess. I wish I had a tenth of her self-confidence. Click on the pic to find out more on how awesome she is)
I looked elsewhere for style icons and role models, and I found that my soul did little happy skips whenever I saw unbelievable looking women of all shapes and sizes rocking alternative styles and particular the 50’s and Rockabilly era. They mixed raven-black hair with shots of savage daring splashes of fantastically slutty fire-engine red lips, nails and scarves, or went cartoon-style with hair colour and wore daring, almost drag-style make-up, with eyebrows that should have had their own acting agent, so dramatic were they one and all. And the best thing? ALL shapes & sizes of women looked fucking awesome in this stuff. Curves were celebrated, as were slim figures. It was just about being a self-confident, striking, sexy woman, whatever shape you were. It was perfect for me.
Until I became uncomfortably overweight, then nothing felt right.
Apart from being only 4ft 9in, I was never skinny. It tormented the shit out of me during adolescence, as did my height, which I now realise was because at that age I always thought I was going to get a growth spurt and stretch like a string bean like everyone else on the planet seemed to be getting, the jammy bastards. That’s the kind of thinking that a lack of knowledge about genetics and general laws of physics will get ya.
I would grumble and grouch every few years about my shape without doing very much about it, and I was lucky enough that I didn’t digress very much from a certain point on the scales. When I entered my thirties, I really enjoyed my shape. I liked that I had curves, I joked about my sticky-out bum, but secretly liked that I had something to work with. I was smug as anything when the big booty craze kicked off and all the Kardashians ran around swinging their badonka-donks in people’s faces. I was totally fine with being both petite and plus-sized. But in the last year, there’s been a slow and very definite creeping up of pounds happening that I’ve only truly realised in the last two months. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed, it’s more that I was ignoring the changes that were happening because I didn’t care about what I was doing to myself. There’s that wonderful mind / body toxic relationship again.
Particularly in the last four to five months, I think I was probably in a bad depressive phase. Looking back on it with a clearer mind, I would eat lots of food at really odd times because my sleeping pattern was fucked, like I would cook a dinner for myself at 2.30 in the morning and devour it like it was my last meal on Death Row. I also developed a sweet tooth which I never had before; I could put away a Wonka Factory-sized amount of Kinder chocolate in a single episode of House of Cards, and not even taste it. All my serious stresses and anxiety and financial worries and personal issues all got drowned out by the sound of me chomping on carbs and sugar and cans of full-fat Coke. Who’d have thought that none of that would solve my problems??
I’ve found myself coming out of the fog of what was a pretty shit time, and not without some baggage. Unfortunately for me, that baggage was an extra 2 stone trying to find a way to get settled on a body that essentially had no room for it. Being under 5ft, every extra pound looks like 2. I took a good, long, hard look at myself cosmetically, and physically. I weighed myself for the first time in aeons, and nearly died of shame when I saw the number staring back at me. I’m not going to tell you what I weigh; that’s not important, and also it’s all relative. All you need to know is that it’s not a number someone of my height and build should be carrying if there was a history of heart problems and blood pressure issues in their family.
Suddenly lots of things made sense to me. My asthma had been a lot worse in recent times, which hadn’t been a problem when I first moved into town because I walked everywhere around town. Come March / April of this year, I was finding myself out of breath and needing to use my inhaler by the time I made it upstairs and in the door of my flat. I didn’t feel like me, like I was wearing a layered-up fat suit under all my clothes and I couldn’t relax in myself. I was overheating all the time, the slightest exertion had me sweating and breathing like Tony Soprano. I know – I’m a sexy fucker. Calm yourselves, lads.
(Nerdy but life-saving. Click pic for the Buzzfeed’s take on the joys of living with asthma.)
When the opportunity arose to work in Dublin covering social media for the International Literature Festival, I went for it all guns blazing. However, I’d forgotten one very important thing. Dublin city centre is fucking HUGE, and all the festival events were spread out EVERYWHERE. Timings and street layouts meant that you could head back to Limerick on The Green Slug in the time it would take to try and get a bus from one place to another, so walking – correction, brisk walking – was the order of the day. Suffice it to say that I nearly collapsed and died a few times and arrived at various cool artsy events looking like I was about to go into labour. That inhaler earned every penny that week. It was also the reality check that I needed to be able to admit to myself that yes; I had gotten fat.
So here I am now, all pudge and no pride. I’m angry that I left myself go as much as I did, but I also know that I couldn’t do anything about it until now. My mental health is stronger than it has been in quite some time, so it’s a good time to kick my own ass and make small manageable changes to fix myself. My self-esteem is in the gutter at the moment because I don’t like what I see in the mirror, or how I feel physically, but I’m dealing with that. I find the whole process easier if I can treat it as a kind of project; taking the personal stakes out of it and looking at it from an outside perspective. I guess that’s why I’m blogging about it too. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not fishing, I’m very realistic about the fact that I’m unhappy with how I look and feel, and that I can look and feel better if I make a good solid plan…and revitalise my big sticky-out bum 🙂
I think I’m writing this in the hope that maybe a few months down the line, I’ll look back on this post as a shiny, upgraded, fitter version of myself and remember what it felt like to be standing at the foot of a mountain (already out of breath and sweating, I’ll bet), and getting ready to start the climb up to where I could be happy in myself and a whole lot healthier. I’m not looking to be skinny; like I said before, I LOVE being a curvy girl. I’m just not healthy or happy in my skin at the moment. I’m sharing these thoughts with whoever’s reading this in order to unburden my soul and take ownership of my current situation by laying down a marker for myself. So, in a way, this is my ‘Before’ snapshot. When will the ‘After’ one be posted?
Who the fuck knows – I mean, they still sell Kinder eggs in shops don’t they? Bastards.