11 September 2014
Indeed, I grew up as a classic tomboy, fighting my darling Mum every step of the way when she wanted her little girl in sweet little dresses, ribbons in her hair and lacy-topped short white socks. But in my world bruises, dirt, scabby knees and falling out of trees (I was great at climbing, rubbish at getting back down) were a more regular occurence... much to poor Mum's horror.
I dabbled briefly with a marginally more 'feminine' phase in my teens, but didn't really feel comfortable nor that it suited me and I certainly couldn't be fussed with all that hair-do messing about, nor make-up nonsense! So I firmly settled into being more of the rock-chick type, in hippyish bell-bottom jeans (that my darling despairing Dad used to say had been painted onto me!) and a ratty old tee-shirt... er, while I could still fit into such wondrous things, that is.
Then, as a fat lass adult (first fat, then growing steadily fatter), my main priority was to conceal my increasing bulk as far as was practical. I guess it was rather hard for me to begin to feel feminine when I thought that I closely resembled an object capable of sinking the Titanic.
So, sombre colours, shapeless tops and long skirts (well below those chubby knees please) were the norm for me back then. Disguise me please - so should I wear trousers? Nope - that was definitely a case of 'does my bum look big in this', so no fear! Then, let's slide around the perimeter of a room, speak and walk quietly, try to blend in to the wallpaper and don't attract anyone's gaze if you can avoid it. Bare skin? No way, Jose! Yes, 'draw no attention' became my motto and my mantra. And, as I didn't like 'me' and hid whenever possible it really didn't matter what my hair looked like, did it, so I left it long and straggly, and often chopped bits off it myself. You can imagine the result.
Roll forward to the present day, and there's been something of a revolution (and a fair degree of revelation, come to that). I sit here typing away in a flared, pale pinky-beige knee-length skirt, with a fitted short-sleeved tee-shirt (OK, I also have a little cardigan too as it's getting autumnal). My hair is neatly trimmed, and about to be even neater once I've seen my hairdresser. My shoes are neat - in fact, I now actually possess 'pretty' shoes with heels (although wearing them can kill my poor dodgy knee!). My toenails are nicely shaped, and often painted - most recently with a subtly pinky-lilac varnish. What's more, even though I still don't 'do' make-up, I had a manicure as a special treat a while ago... and liked it. Whatever is the world coming to, I ask myself.
So, here I am, not far short of 55 and, for the first time in my life, I find that I am capable of feeling girly and feminine. I'm comfortable enough in my skin that showing some of it (er, maybe not those very saggy bits if you please) doesn't really phase me.
This may sound odd, but the sheer sensory bliss of dabbing on a really nice perfume is something I now understand too - a bottle of scent isn't just something to grab and spray to mask any potential whiff of sweaty bodies. Ah yes, I was almost always, always, ALWAYS too darn hot when I was at my largest, and constantly terrified that I might sweat too badly and smell.
The other day, someone who's known me for ages, in both my larger and smaller days, asked me what I liked most about having shed a lot of weight, and my first reply (without a moment's thought) was the health improvements which it brought. Actually, I still stand by that and it is indeed THE most important thing.
But, d'you know, afterwards when she'd gone and I stopped and thought a bit more about it, I really quite like being able to walk out and about with my head held high as a girly sort of girl these days too.