THIS IS ME
Where do I even begin with this?
Right, DEEP BREATH. Here we go!
I have always been small, in height, the smallest at school… the smallest in every single friendship group since then. The smallest in the family. When I was working at Eli’s school last year, there were even children almost my height, and they were pushing age 8 (!!), if that. I was often mocked as a child because of my height, “short arse” and “little legs” are the nicer of the names I was referred to. It made me feel ‘picked on’, and singled out to be referred to because of my height. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know I shouldn’t, but I actually really DO care what other people think – to my own detriment.
I had the familiar pang of sadness, that I’d had so many times as a child, when Eli came along. He’s on the shorter side of “the chart” for his age – he’s always followed the same line on the chart. He was born with several conditions too (Talipes, Torticollis, Hypermobility) which in turn could have some kind of effect on his growth. He’s actually only just below average height for his age. Most kids are ABOVE AVERAGE in height; making him look smaller. I became/become hyper-sensitive when we get adults proclaim “Oh isn’t he small!” “Eli is so tiny for his age isn’t he!” “My son is 3 years younger than him and already his height!”. Why are you even referring to his height? Why is it such a BIG THING for you to point out? I’m totally digressing from my own issues here because I’m being defensive and protective of him; but just wanted to point out that your throwaway comments about something like height (and I’ll get onto this now, but also, weight) can actually hit someone in such a bad way, especially when they’re already mega conscious of what you’re pointing out. Instead of referring to my son’s height, how about you refer to how agile and strong and clever and cheeky and funny and how unbelievably caring and creative he is?
Back to it.
My height I cannot do anything about and I wholly accept that. So why oh why have I found body-acceptance so damn difficult?
complete little bit ginger (which again, I was cruelly bullied for as a child), I have a gazillion freckles, I have a rather large nose (which I do now accept and got pierced later in life because I was learning to embrace it… not embraced enough for me to tell my parents I’d had it pierced however!). I didn’t grow up with a good self image. At all. I’ve always struggled to look in the mirror.
I’m ‘petite’ – I’m quite literally 5 foot nothing. I have big old Mothering hips and a bust. I had a big arse well before it was in fash-un. I distinctly remember being told I had a ‘duck bum’ (that protruded as I walked), as a child. Putting on the odd pound here or there makes me look massive because of my height and stature. My body shape is TOTALLY different to how it was when I was 8, when I was 15, when I was 21, heck, when I was pregnant with Eli at 26 and it’s even different to the months and years following the birth of Eli.
When I became a parent, I KNEW, I had to let go of the self-conscious me. I KNEW I had to let go of the cringing in the mirror. I KNEW I had to let go of the posing at my best angle and just live in the now and be the natural me in photographs.
I knew all this and still continued through life with the same mindset – just now being extra careful not to project any of my feelings onto Eli directly. I’m ALWAYS the one behind the camera. Never in front – unless my body is cropped – or unless I take a mirror selfie (the one I post is usually out of around 2000 that I take and cry over before eventually posting). It makes me so bloody sad going through our photos from our recent holiday to Florida; I’m barely in any of them. There’s probably 3 that I let James take of me and I would never ever post them. (He would be the first to admit that he is just awful at taking candid photos – so theres no point wasting phone memory on taking any of me at all). The confidence issue doesn’t stop with the photo-taking though. I also walked around in 40c heat in Florida with my arms covered every single day. I was sweating like I never even imagined I could sweat, but still, I refused to take of the kimono or the jacket or the long sleeved dress. WHY? Because all of these strangers would see my bare arms?! GOD FORBID LASS. It’s nuts isn’t it? It’s actually nuts. I am my own worst enemy.
Since having Eli 6 years ago, my body has changed drastically. I put on 4 stone whilst pregnant with him. It came off quite slowly. I did every diet possible – but in the end I stuck to slim fast and the 5:2. Within a few months, I had gone down to a size 8-10. And I was still miserable. I was still unhappy with my body. The scars, the stretch marks, the wobbly bits. My dumpy little legs and my zero torso cos Petite. I still didn’t want to have my photograph taken. I still didn’t want to look in the mirror.
I’m now 32 and I’m only truly learning what it means to have ‘self-love’. I had a tough time following my miscarriage last year – not just because of the obvious. But because I was blaming this sack of a body I had to get around in. I blamed by body for failing to protect that baby that was so wanted. But my body wasn’t to blame at all. My body did what it needed to. When I realised that, I realised and understood how strong my body really is. How amazing my body actually is. But still, I couldn’t get that emotional response to project onto the outside and transfer into true body confidence.
For years I have watched and admired the confidence of so many amazing women across the media. (REAL women, like you and I). People like @StyleMeSunday and her Body Confidence campaigns – instantly jump to mind. For years I have wished I had just an ounce of that confidence. To be able to dress to my size, to not hide behind the floaty dresses (I will still love my floaty dresses, but not for playing hide & seek in!) , at jaunty angles and to actually feel comfortable within my own skin. To allow photographs to be taken of me… photos of me and my boy. After all, when we’re gone, the only thing that will remain are these photographs of precious times and now all I can think about is the lack of any photographic evidence of us all together. It’s really just so sad, isn’t it? It’s terrible.
So? What’s your point? Well, stranger on the internet, I have began to finally feel better about my body. More recently, folk like @mollyjforbes, @Inpolife, @life_with_Ivycoco, and of course, @CharliHoward, @Erica_Davies & @HannahfGale – have all posted such amazing content with such honesty, how can I not take just a little bit of it on board? How can I not think better of my own body and bones?
About a month ago I went to a gathering organised by @MidsizeCollective – I almost didn’t go. I felt massive. I was beyond nervous. I was going on my own (I did meet up with long-time IG pal @i0wen in the end!). It all felt too much. I didn’t want anxiety to get the better of me.
I’m so bloody glad I went. It was exceptionally inspiring to be in a room with other women who understood me and my body shape. To be able to chat and share in our shopping woes of being ‘middle sized’ women. Because, you know what, we are the forgotten women. Not skinny… but not plus size. We’re NORMAL sized women. But why does it feel like we’re invisible? Why is it so difficult to find clothing that fits us? Why, oh, why, do we find body confidence so damn hard to work with?! Why are we not represented within the Fashion industry… within shops and their marketing? WHY OH WHY OH WHY?
I just want to feel comfortable in the skin that I have. To be comfortable with the skin that I’m in; whatever my size. To have appreciation for my body; and confidence in where my body takes me. We ALL have a body, whatever shape or size or height or colour(s) it may well be. So that’s our NORMAL. No more, definitely, no less. We’re all NORMAL.
And you know what? I heard that THICK THIGHS, SAVE LIVES. So it must be ok!
I also just wanted to give a shout out to @annacarsarina, who has also set up her new account all about Mid-Size and Mid-Age style – she has carefully curated such a beautiful feed full of body happiness and inspiration. So thank you Anna – and thank you to all the other women mentioned above (and to those beyond this blog post) who have shown true and honest versions of themselves in a bid to normalise body confidence. THANK YOU. You are wonderful women and it’s also kind of ridiculous that we’re even having to write about this in 2018, isn’t it? Anyway, again, thank you for being YOU. I wouldn’t be sat here typing this out, without you.
So from this day forward, I swear I’m going to be happier in my own skin – I’m going to ALLOW photographs to be taken of me, candid or otherwise. I’m not about to jump into a bikini and show off all my bits… but I promise that I’m going to beat these bloody body confidence blues and get on with my life. Because you know what? Life is too hard and too tiring and it’s just too damn short to be fussing over what you look like in a pair of skinny jeans or with your arms out… or ON THE DAMN BEACH. Yes I could do with loosing a few more pounds (I cycle every day for almost 2 hours, but I also love crisps and chips and gravy), but importantly, I’m giving up on feeling body-shame and I’m going to embrace what I have, in the now and at the minute. And I would urge you to do the very same.
I cannot imagine what life must be like for those who are bringing up daughters. The pressure must just be so immense surrounding body positivity. I find it difficult enough bringing up a son in this world and talk endlessly to Eli about how we’re all different shapes and sizes and colours and that’s what makes us all so cool! The fact we’re all different and truly unique and diverse. The more we educate and understand and share the honesty, then the more NORMAL this whole movement will become. Hopefully, it won’t even BE a movement any longer – because, we’re all just out there living our best lives.
Additionally, I’m going to be using my social media platforms as a place to shout about Petite styles and fashion and inspiration because no, there isn’t enough of it out there. I’ve always tried to be inclusive of my styling tips/recommendations, but the industry definitely isn’t inclusive of people like me and my size. So sod the industry, and PETITE WOMEN, LET’S UNITE! #PetiteWomenUnite
And there we have it. My body confidence post, DONE.
Peace & Love