Friday, 10 January 2014

You dancing?

For some reason two very vivid memories have suddenly popped into my head over the past week or so. Childhood memories. Memories that make me really sad.

The first must have been from when I was around 10 years old. It was 1990 and shell suits were the new thing. I didn't want one but my Granny got a black one for my brother and a bright pink one for me. You can only imagine how horrific these things were.  I had no intention of wearing the thing. I hated it. Not because of the colour. Not because it wasn't jeans. It was because I felt fat in it.

I wasn't a hugely overweight child, just a bit chubby and certainly not skinny like most of my friends. The shell suit was not forgiving. It was too tight around my bum and when I sat down my thighs looked like two sausages trying to escape their skins. I hated it. I was forced to wear it one day when we were away for a long weekend in the caravan. There's a picture of me and my brother, sitting on a picnic table - posing for this picture. I'm forcing a smile. At ten years old I'm worried about my weight and being fat. That makes me so sad.

The other memory is of being aged 12 and upwards and not really ever wanting to go ten pin bowling because when it was my turn to bowl, people would see me bending over and be faced with the size of my arse. Dear lord, that is just insane to think, but it's truly how I felt.

I'd kinda forgotten about those feelings. I'm much more confident now and of course, a large part of that is feeling like I am a 'normal' size but it's also down to perspective and realising that people don't really care if your backside isn't the size of pea. I also didn't quite realise how young I was when I so worried about what people thought of how I looked which of course, was pretty normal at the time.

At hogmanay a few of us were reminiscing about shell suits and I drunkenly began telling the above shell suit story - about how I was too self conscious to wear it - to a friend.  It's not the kind of thing I would every share. In real life I hardly ever talk about weight and how I feel about it all. I never admit to anyone that I think I'm overweight.  The words just seemed to come tumbling out.

My friend is a skinny thing and as I told her, I could see this look come across her face. She was totally aghast that someone she considers to be very confident and self assured had these thoughts and feelings and that from such a young age could be worried about being fat.

Looking back I am so sad for myself and I wonder how things could have been any different. I think a lot of my behaviours and thought patterns were learned from my mum. She's been a yoyo dieter all her life but is now much slimmer than she used to be. In fact - she's done incredibly well and looks amazing these days. The woman who used to be a size 24 is now a 14. Growing up though, her being unhappy with her weight was the norm. It was always something in our lives. If  she thought her actions resulted in me worrying about how I looked, she would be devasted. It's not something I need to share with her, or ever will.

I suppose if I ever have children, it's a good lesson for me to learn. Other than that, I don't really have a point to make. I think it's just been on my mind as right now I feel attractive and normal. There's that word again; normal. Today, I could take on the world and I make no apologies for who I am. What if I hadn't lost weight. What if I hadn't taken control? Would I still feel apologetic for how I looked? Would it have held me back?

My mum said whenever she hears the song 'I hope you dance' she always thinks of me. I'm proud of myself that I do. Despite a shocking shellsuit experience and forever sporting a sizeable backside, I always want to dance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance.


  1. This rang a lot of bells with me. I spent most of my childhood feeling fat when the reality, looking back, was that I was a little chubby and sprouted boobs quite early. I have been "dieting" since I was about twelve years old and the legacy is, whether fat or thin, I will never have a normal relationship with food. But I guess at some point you have to make your peace with that. I, too, want to dance for the sake of that sad little girl who never felt pretty enough.

    Thank you for sharing.


    Ps my shell suit was purple!!!

  2. Me too. I was a size 12-14 as a teenager but my mum was size 8 and was always concerned that I might be putting on weight. Different cause, same problem.


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