This week an invitation to an event brought up an age old question for me; one that affects many women consciously or subconsciously, about whether our size or weight defines us and how it makes us feel about ourselves. We know all too well how much other people have to say about women’s bodies, and with all that against you, it can be hard to keep those feelings of self love going, to have body confidence, to be large and in charge.
Today I’m off to a children’s birthday party. One of the children who is celebrating their birthday is our very own Spaghetti Legs. It’s not his birthday for another few weeks but he asked for a party and I wasn’t able to do another big party for him this year, so agreed to go in with some other mums from school on a soft play hell extravaganza. He’ll love it, I’ll hate it, but what my baby wants my baby gets.
I would have been somewhere else today; I should have been somewhere else today in fact. And even though the soft play nightmare has thrown a spanner in the works I’d love to tell you about it and how great it made me feel.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Very, the Liverpool based online retailer that covers all the big names in women and men’s fashion, house and home, kids fashion, electricals and all the rest. And they had asked me – me of all people! Little old me! – if I would come and represent Very at the Liverpool Curve Fashion event.
‘Curve’ covers all the bigger sizes for girls with badoink-adoink arses, or sizeable thighs, chubby arms or pendulous mum tits. Coca Cola bottle shapes, or round as a pound, or somewhere in between. Large and in charge in more ways than one. I’m not here to compare women’s bodies and talk about what society does to every single woman who was ever born in relation to their appearance, though. I’m just here to talk about me. Because I look back and think of a time when I would have felt self conscious even reading that email.
There was once a time that I was stopped in the street and asked some questions by a woman who was recruiting plus size models. It turns out, at the time, that I wasn’t big enough (which begs the question how good a model scout she really was) but my ample ribcage and bust must have thrown her. My point is that at the time I was mortally offended. I told everyone I knew, making it into a funny story but secretly seeking reassurance from my audience that ‘God, no, you’re nowhere near plus size!’. And I wasn’t. I was a size 10.
I’m now much bigger but fuck me what a gauntlet you run once you grow bigger – I currently wear clothes that are anything between a UK 14 and 18 which is the lower end of the plus size scale I know, but people who wear plus size clothes aren’t all the famous show stoppers like Tess Holliday. Some of us are just ordinary almost invisible people who don’t stand out – and sometimes try not to. On the whole, I do find it makes it harder to buy things that are well made and fit and that you actually like.
The difference now is that I was delighted to be approached by Very for the Liverpool Curve Fashion Show. Not just cause I would have got free clothes and met Gemma Collins (not actually convinced I’d really want to meet her although I’m sure she’s lovely) but because I don’t have anything to be ashamed of about being bigger than I used to be.
Because my shape might be awkward as fuck, with my post c section bumbag that I can never quite tuck away, and boobs that pop out of things that might say they’re my size on the label but really aren’t designed for big tits, and that yeah you’re playing with fire allowing yourself a pelicanesque double chin when you’ve got a jawline as slight as mine but dya know what – who cares? I don’t mind what size it says on my labels anymore.
My confidence has grown with my dress sizes and I’m no longer the shallow person who was mortified to be asked if I was plus size. I’m large and in charge.
I can’t take credit for this surge of self love all by myself. Social media, for all its ills, does a pretty good job of trying to hold back the tide of attacks on women’s appearance and self esteem. Just look at Jameela Jamil and her movement on the I weigh Instagram account.
But sometimes you have to be reminded on a personal level, by someone you love and trust, that you’re loved just the way you are. And I know from personal experience that there’s people out there (men, I’m talking about men – and I don’t know if this is the same in same sex relationships so do let me know cause I’m nosey af and also need educating) who will go off you when you put on weight, who will be disgusted by what childbirth naturally does to your body rendering it no less normal than it was before, that colleagues will dismiss you as unprofessional, that people will say you’ve ‘let yourself go’, or all these other negative things.
You might have experienced that, too. But you might not have experienced the ones who aren’t all so shallow. I’m not saying you need others’ validation – you need your own and nobody else’s – I’m talking about more than tolerance or even acceptance.
There is someone who will love you just the way you are. With back rolls. With c section bumbags. With big arses or flat arses or big mum tits or hardly any tits. It doesn’t really matter; it’s only body parts. Skin and fat and sinew and tendons and bone and muscle and arteries and nerves and all that. When you love someone – and this includes yourself – it doesn’t matter what packaging they come in. You love them just the way they are.
When I was younger I used to really love myself. Since then I’ve been through a lot, and each time I come out the other side a bit dazed and confused but I get there in the end. And now, despite the depression and whatever else knocks me down, I really Love Myself more than ever. So no matter what I fit into or what weight I might lose or put on or which buttons I can’t quite do up – I’ll always be large and in charge.