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Archive for September, 2011

Sex on Legs

When people are asked the question ‘who would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?’ I never knew who I’d say until I finished a book called Hungry, and my answer is, quite unquestionably, Crystal Renn.

Before I begin my review of Crystal Renn’s autobiography, I would just like to say that I haven’t given up on When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, I just needed to have a break from that and read something I thought might help get me through Graduation.

And this book did. Sort of, I mean I still felt shit but when I was in my hotel room alone – which was a lot more often that I should have been – I read this, and felt comforted by her story.

At the age of fourteen, Crystal Renn was shown a picture of Gisele in Vogue by a model scout, who first introduced her to the fashion world and the inevitable thinness that comes with it. She immediately became interested – and I mean, what fourteen year old girl wouldn’t? – but was told to lose several inches from her hips. She focused on that, and her story from normal,
healthy teenager to anorexic, sick teenager started. She succeeded in slimming down, and continued to lose weight until she was 95lbs (6.7 stone) at around 5’9. Woah.

Back When She Was Sick

Hungry depicts her story as she struggled to stay thin and strove to be thinner for the sake of her modelling career, then after deciding enough was enough, started her career as a plus size model. Her career only really took off when she stood out from the crowd as a full figured model, and demanded high fashion jobs, rather than commercial and catalogue jobs more associated with plus size models.

I totally sound like a pro, right? I mean I used to watch America’s Next Top Model as much as the last girl, but got pretty bored pretty quickly. My point is that although I knew some basics through watching that show, the way Crystal talks about her passion for fashion is actually quite inspiring, and the parts I thought I’d find boring or irrelevant were actually insightful.
As a bigger girl I have never really thought about fashion on a body like mine, but now that I’ve read Hungry I’m kind of amazed that I haven’t.

And that’s not the only reason the book inspired me. She chose to become a plus size model. She chose to put on weight. How many women do you know would intentionally put weight on? Not many. But it wouldn’t be difficult to put on the weight, considering her Sunday exercise routine included 8 hours of working out. Ouch. I’m glad that went straight out the window when she decided to get her health back.

Jean Paul Gaultier's Runway Show

And the best part about her story is that only after she put on weight did her career sky rocket – She was photographed for American and Italian Vogue, walked the runway for Jean Paul Gautier wearing a dress he had designed for her, and posed for a Dolce and Gabbana ad. And that’s just a few things she’s accomplished.

Not only does she talk about her life in and out of the modelling industry, the book presents well-researched statistics mixed with her own opinions on body image, weight loss and diets. I daresay a lot of that research was done by the co-writer Marjorie Ingall, but you can tell by the writing that Crystal is passionate about the size debate, and the way people view fatness.

This is one particular passage that I found incredibly poignant. I can relate to being fat as I am now at 21, and I can relate to
being a fat teenager. My mum would shop at places like Tammy, hoping to find something I liked, because I was too embarrassed to shop for myself – after all, everything I liked and tried on didn’t fit me, or looked horrendous on me.
I remember there was a phase of bootcut, patchwork jeans and I had to have some, because they looked amazing on my ultra skinny friend – who is still ultra-skinny but not a friend – so they had to look good on me, right? I never found out, because the largest size wouldn’t go past my thighs. I cried. My mum didn’t know what to do, and I started shopping in the adult, petite clothes section of shops, because there was just nowhere else to go.

V Magazine Shoot - Straight Size Vs Plus Size

‘Some people believe that manufacturers shouldn’t make cool clothes for plus-size teenage girls, because that will send the message that it’s okay to be fat. That’s like saying that teaching kids about gravity will make them want to throw themselves off a building. Take my word: Depriving girls of cute outfits will not make them lose weight. Shaming people is neither productive nor kind.’ Hungry, Crystal Renn.

I’ve never read a book that has resonated with me as much as Hungry has. I related to her struggle and understood, despite not having that type of eating disorder, the absolute, exaggerated necessity of doing the gruelling workouts, of punishing her body for craving food when everything depended on avoiding it.

Crystal Renn September 2011

However, I can’t help but feel a little tricked. I finished the book yesterday and I was so ready to sing Crystal’s praises, but then I saw an article on Crystal’s weight loss. In her book, published in 2009, she confronts the whispers about her weight loss since the start of her plus size modelling career, and rightly defends herself that her weight fluctuates but she is still plus size. But
today I saw photos from last week, and she does not look plus size.

I can’t deny that I feel disappointed, but I’m keeping in mind that she’s suffered with anorexia and anyone with eating issues will expect weight to fluctuate more so than people without. Her body is hers and she can do whatever she likes with it, I just can’t help but feel she inspires so many more people with her softened curves rather than her razor-sharp shoulder blades.

Emma

🙂

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I haven’t posted a new… post lately, because last week was my Graduation, which I should be epically pleased about… but I’m not.

I was in full I-hate-my-body swing.

Going to Graduation was kind of a tough ask of me. I mean I went voluntarily, but its miles away from what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months – firstly, I actually had to leave the house. This has always been difficult for me, because I hate my weight so much that I don’t want anyone to see me. I leave the house and I see people staring at me like my roles have fat have individually offended everyone I meet. I know that I’m being paranoid, because although I am classed as obese, I dress well for my body, and not everyone is as weight obsessed as I am.

Secondly – I had to meet up with people I haven’t seen since June, and I’ve put on weight since then – I estimated about a stone, as when I weight myself last month I was 2 stone heavier than what I weighed in April. I mean, for anyone who’s struggled with their weight, a 2 stone weight gain is positively traumatic, and I didn’t want all of my friends to see me again, and instantly see the 2 extra stone. I would have still wanted the ground to have swallowed me up if I’d lost 2 stone, so a gain is just …

Thirdly, on top of all of that, I have to walk around in front of people. I don’t know what it is about graduation but they sure like to
see you walk a lot. On stage, around the room, in pictures… what is it with walking in front of hundreds of people that they love? I don’t get it. I felt like a walking, talking whale. And the worst bit of all was that I seemed to have failed with the fake confidence method that I try to use when walking into a room or anything. I just felt too bad to hide the fact that I was dying inside; to stand up in front of all those people in a cap and gown, trying to show them I was proud of myself?

What should I be proud of? My academic achievements?  Why should I be proud of myself for that when my biggest, most relevant goal in life is to lose weight and finally be happy, and I have yet to achieve this?

At breakfast that morning, I had to deal with a guy who, to quote Peter Kay, looked at me like I’d just pissed on his kids at Christmas. He was sat in front of my on another table with what I assume was his wife – both slim – and he couldn’t take his eyes off me. And I knew it wasn’t a she’s-got-red-hair stare, or a the-croissant-she’s-got-on-her-plate-looks-good stare, or even an I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off stare, it was definitely a you-are-fat stare.

I’m pretty sure he studied my parents as well, because although they’re not huge, they too are overweight, mostly from being in their 50’s and working full time, unable to afford the gym and just about able to walk on the treadmill for half an hour after work.

His stare made me want to leave my croissant on my plate, pack my bags and go home and never leave. But unluckily for me, when someone looks at me like that, I don’t want to leave the food I’ve been trying to eat, I want to take it to my room and scoff it and 10 thousand more croissants to fill the hole that this guy has just burned in my sizable bum as I walk away.

I tried to shrug all of these things off, and tell myself to try to enjoy it, because my mum and dad were (and still are, obviously) genuinely proud of me – and they’re not the type to think a degree is everything in life, but they’re still glad I had a whack at it – and really I stood up there on the stage because I knew they’d want that moment, and I knew that someday I’ll want to look back on that moment too. At the moment though, I can only see my face, shrouded in fat and plonked on top of black robes. I really hope I can look back on those pictures in a couple of year and not want to cry, but right now I can’t see that happening.

…I hope that didn’t depress you too much.

Emma

🙂

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I’ve wanted to post about When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies for a while now but frankly, I’m struggling to get through it. I don’t know whether it’s a cultural thing but this book is …Unabashedly corny. I fundamentally agree with the idea that people, men as well as women, shouldn’t punish themselves for the way their bodies are, even though it’s sometimes easier to do this, but we should try to make ourselves feel comfortable in our bodies.

One of the exercises the authors proposed to their non-dieters group was the standing-in-front-of-the-mirror exercise. I agree with standing naked in front of the mirror and trying to accept yourself a little bit more every day – we did a similar thing in Body Image Group Therapy, and it was incredible how much the mood in the room dropped when we heard that this was our homework. It’s a really tough ask, and although I couldn’t do it at the time, I do think it’s a great way of working through your insecurities. However, I draw the line at talking to my body. And I’m not talking about saying something like “Emma, you’re damn gorgeous just the way you are.” Even though I’d feel like a complete tit. I’m talking about the women in these groups rubbing their arms and talking to them – having conversations with them. I’m sorry, but I have too much dignity to watch myself talking to my arms in the mirror.

There are a lot of things I agree with in this book, but a lot of things I disagree with. For instance – yes, body acceptance is a huge part of becoming happy with yourself, but I also cannot agree with the fashion exercise I just read. They say wear whatever you want, buy a whole new wardrobe in your actual size, not the size you want to be. I totally agree, if you’ve got the money, do it. However, don’t forget your shape. Fundamental rule of looking good – dress for your shape. I love wearing leggings round the house – comfortable as anything, but should I wear leggings instead of jeans in public? No I should not. I accept that my thighs are big, and yes they are difficult to dress well, and in accepting this, I know that I can wear leggings, but when I have a dress or skirt that covers my knees. Showing all the lumps and bumps on my thighs in leggings may be comfortable but it will make me look horrendous.

I support the idea of wearing what you want to wear, but I don’t support wearing something that won’t flatter you. If you hold most of your weight on your tummy area, belly tops are not for you. It’s a bit disappointing if belly tops are your thing, but then for everything that doesn’t suit you, there will be something that does. For instance, if you are an apple shape, leggings probably suit you. Win. And in dressing this way, you’re not drawing negative attention to yourself. Bigger people have to be careful, because the sad fact is that there are knobs out there who do shout stuff in the street, and if you want to avoid this humiliation, the best thing you can do is dress to suit your shape.

Rant over. I’m going to continue to claw my way through this book, because I want to give a thorough book review, and it’s about time, too.

Emma

🙂

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On my new journey of trying to discover women who are confident in their bodies, I did some research. In my last post I mentioned how I looked at plus size models and realised that these girls appear to be comfortable in their own skin, and able to wear fashionable clothes. So I was reading some stuff about plus size models and I stumbled across American Apparel’s plus size modelling competition, and how UK size 16 Nancy Upton felt so insulted by the way the competition was handled that she entered the competition as a joke. And won.

I totally lolled when I saw her pictures. And yes, I just wrote lolled. She’s drenched in ranch dressing in one, eating chicken in a swimming pool in another and in my opinion, the best of them all, holding a cherry pie over her noony. I mean, bar any social messages, that’s just funny. And she totally won!

In her contest entry she said “I just can’t stop eating.” Brilliant. Nancy’s competition entry was bold and fantastic, and although I sympathise with the plus size girls who entered the competition with genuine hopes of winning, I think Nancy’s entry was necessary. It was the equivalent of sticking two fingers up to American Apparel and telling them exactly where to shove their skinny jeans.

I can’t help but think shops like these; American Apparel, Topshop, Jane Norman genuinely think plus size girls are desperate to wear their clothes. It’s almost like we’re put into the category of the wannabe: we’re fat, therefore we must want a figure like Victoria Beckham.

On the American Apparel website on the UK shop version, the sizes range from:

Large

Medium

Small

Extra small and smaller.

They do also do some clothes in XL and XXL, which is great! But my question is, what’s smaller then an extra small? The size guide states that their ‘extra small’ is a size six (US size 0), so does ‘smaller’ mean size four (US size 00)? Seriously, how many of these clothes do they actually sell? I mean, the UK average dress size is size 16 and American Apparel, like a lot of other shops, don’t stock over a 14.

Business’ are renowned for wanting to make money, and I’m sure they’d made a lot more of it if they entitled women of the average dress size to wear their clothes, but then it’s down to tiring social views and snobbery as well.

Personally, the clothes they sell aren’t my style; I’m much more into figure hugging, feminine clothes. But for those women who do, I genuinely feel bad. The average dress size, and plus size have the same right to wear fashion forward clothing as a size six, and I’m glad that finally, this message is starting to get attention.

( Check Out Nancy’s blog – http://extrawiggleroom.tumblr.com/ )

Emma

🙂

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I have been a grumpy pants over the last couple of days, because I’ve been wrestling with the issue of anonymity. My friends don’t know the web address to this blog, although they know I’ve got one, It’s referred as ‘the eating disorder blog’. Although some have asked to read it, I’ve refused to give them the address, because I want to be completely honest and write exactly what’s on my mind, and I’m not brave enough to let the people I know, know how I feel.

But I’ve been reading When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, and I’ve been seriously thinking about self acceptance. During therapy I was constantly reminded that I needed to accept my body, with all its flaws, exactly how it is. I was the perfect student in doing this, trying to treat my body after long sessions at the gym; painting my nails when I feel down, making sure I haven’t got brown roots before my red hair starts, the usual. But the reason I did these things was not to accept my body as it was, but to accept it enough so that I would be happier and therefore lose weight.

Even as I’m writing I’m thinking that this sounds like a damn good idea, however, if that’s what I’m thinking, then I’m not actually accepting my body… right?

After watching Cherry’s Body Dilemmas and being overall frustrated with it, I discovered a whole new aspect to why I shouldn’t hide behind the name Emma – which is, incidentally, my middle name – and why I should try to genuinely be confident as I am. I look at plus-size models and Beth Ditto and think: “How? How can you be so comfortable in your own skin when I’m screaming to get out of mine?” And I felt the same when Kirsty Lou’s fashion blog, Fatty Unbound, featured on the program. She talked
about how she’d felt shit about being fat, but wanted to dress fashionably, because, well, who doesn’t?

And after a couple of trips to her blog (www.fattyunbound.blogspot.com), I totally bought what Kirsty was selling. She looks great in the clothes she wears, and the best part is she’s got the balls to wear it! (Not literally, of course.) I have complete admiration for Kirsty, and click onto her blog often to see the latest outfits she’s bought on the cheap. It opened up a whole new world to me; I suppose I could never accept that I would ever be happy being bigger, so I never put effort into styling my clothes fully – I’d pick an interesting cardigan, or shoes, but never a full outfit that I felt conveyed my personality.

Despite hating having to shop in Evans, I actually found it quite refreshing. Shopping in a plus size shop was easier because I knew I’d find something that fit me. The best thing was that they make clothes to flatter a bigger shape, rather than having clothes designed for skinny people, but just in bigger sizes. I love wearing dresses, especially as I’ve got a small waist in comparison to my hips, and I felt amazing in the dress I bought – better than I’ve felt in years.

And so, on my first step to self acceptance, I have decided to do a fatty-unbound-style blog post, where I show the outfit that I felt
great in… albeit without showing my face. Baby steps guys, baby steps.

Emma

🙂

Cardigan - Bershka / Dress - Evans / Belt - Dorothy Perkins / Leggings and Heels - Evans

 

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I watched a program on BBC Three the other day called Cherry’s Body Dilemmas, and naively thought “finally, maybe someone will mention something to do with compulsive overeating, or binge eating”… nope. It was another programme about a skinny woman who feels fat. Poor thing.

I was immensely frustrated. As I blogged the other day, I have recently purchased a treadmill and I literally work my ass off on it every day. I’m striving to be a healthy body weight, but also a normal size so I won’t have to fuel my eating disorder and feel so shit about myself all the time. And you know what makes me feel awful about my body, apart from the little voices in my head telling me I’m ugly and fat and disgusting? People staring at me because I’m overweight and therefore lazy, slobbish and gross. I know I have issues with my body, and I mind-read and assume people feel as repulsed by my body as I do. But there’s no point pretending like it’s all in my head; they don’t say thin is in for nothing.

I recently found out I’d put on two stone, and if I’m honest with myself this means that my sizes have changed. I have bigger thighs, and I’m now a size 20, a size I swore to myself I’d never be, and I’m a 16 on the top. I walk into shops to search for something that 1) fits me, and 2) flatters me.

I had to find clothes for a job interview the other day, and for the first time in my life, was forced to look in a plus-size shop, Evans.
Never before have I had to go into Evans, because I’ve always managed to find shops that have more of a range of sizes, like Dorothy Perkins – they range from a size 6 to 22. However, their clothes are designed for a smaller person who is fine with showing their legs, and doesn’t have any issues with their arms.

I felt awful looking in a shop especially for bigger people, because I felt like I had failed in my life goal of becoming slim and staying slim. I had to buy my entire outfit in that one shop, and although I loved the outfit and will wear it again, buying the outfit made me feel so hideously disgusting that I wear it with a sense of exhausted acceptance; I strive so hard to be a healthy body weight, but despite all my mental and physical effort, I have failed.

And this is something that this presenter, Cherry, will never understand. Being thin but feeling fat is nothing, NOTHING compared to actually being fat and feeling fat.

Emma

🙂

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