Photo taken in 2008
From a very young age, I started hating myself in pictures. I couldn’t stand how huge I looked next to everyone else, how their flared, low-rise trousers looked so effortlessly cool and my men’s straight leg jeans just didn’t compare. I felt awkward, ugly and embarrassed and made every effort to destroy any copies of said pictures before my mum would have the chance to say ‘What are you talking about, honey? You look fine!’, which was, as anyone who remembers being young, THE single, most annoying thing your mother could say to you, whether she was right or not.
As a teen throughout the 90’s, the nightmare, that was clothes shopping (this topic deserves an entire post all to itself), became a little easier when I was finally mature enough to accept that I could no longer fit into an XL pair of black, stretch pants from a “regular” store and I discovered that there were a handful of boutiques carrying plus size clothing, albeit, geared to a much more mature market than me. But it was a start, and it was definitely better than muffin tops over too tight pants, or only being able to fit into men’s Levi’s, which didn’t have a cute term, like they do today with the “boyfriend jean”. So, while shopping became less frustrating, I still hadn’t found my groove and when I look through old photographs from high school (the ones which somehow managed to escape my clutches back in the day), I would describe my style as a mish-mash of poorly fitting jeans, tear-away track pants, too tight & too short baby T’s, matronly silhouettes of navy blue, brown lipstick and of course, chunky heels with stripper-esque platforms. It was an awkward look, to say the least.
As the years passed, the plus size market evolved. By the year 2000, It became less and less unheard of for a fat girl to sport a trendy look, and less difficult to find the components to put one together. Things were looking up! I was probably at my heaviest weight at that point, having just given birth to my first son, but remember going shopping and finding more clothes I loved, than I could afford to buy! This was a first! I remember thinking ‘this must be what skinny people feel like when they go shopping!’. This time, at least, it wasn’t that I couldn’t have it because it wasn’t made for me. For once, I was faced with the same dilemma that normal girls my age faced – Too much choice! I still looked awful in pictures, though. Most of them being taken by my 5’1″ mother who was just short enough to take pictures from the perfect vantage point to really capture all the aspects of my double chin. I remember thinking ‘do I really look like this?’… Little did I know how drastically the way viewed myself would change.
By 2003, I had really started taking an interest in fashion and between then and 2006 I had yo-yoed in size and had lost a dramatic amount of weight in a very unhealthy manner, and gained it all back within that 3 year span. I had a second child and another on the way, and I struggled quite a bit at that point with self confidence. Some days I felt great, sexy even. Most days I just felt like I could never be as beautiful or desirable as a thin girl. But I still always made the effort. I always left the house looking good, even if I didn’t believe it at the time. I would soon buy myself a digital camera. How amazing was it, getting your first digital camera, right?!?! I had used one before, but I had never had my own. Once I got it open and figured out what I was doing, I took a picture. A selfie, which I don’t think was even a term anyone really used much back then. It was just of my face. Nothing major. It was summertime and I was on my way out to get groceries with my kids. Anyway, I remember looking at it, and realizing ‘HEY! I look good!’. I really couldn’t believe that I, ME, the girl who always thought she looked terrible in photographs, the girl who most days, felt too fat to be loved actually looked like a pretty, sophisticated and stylish young woman in a picture, nonetheless! Well… Needles to say, I went on a selfie rampage! Never before was it so easy to weed out the unattractive shots and fine tune the angles at which I took my pictures so that my beauty could actually be appreciated in a picture. I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was attractive! YES! Through taking selfies and seeing concrete evidence that was indeed a pretty, even sexy young lady, I began to truly embrace the way I looked!
I never stopped taking selfies. I am sure some view me as conceited or self-absorbed, but that is so far from the reality of why I take them. I take pictures of myself because they prove to me that I am beautiful. I’m not talking inner beauty here, I have all kinds of that, and that was never in question. I’m talking straight-up physical attractiveness. For some, that comes easily, but for a fat girl, who spent her life not being able to shop in the same places as her friends, who was teased from an early age and who struggled through a series of personal hardships, if they help me to feel good about myself, then I say, why not!?!? My selfies remind me, even on those days where I truly have a hard time seeing it (which are more frequent than I’d like to admit) that I should never feel like I am not worth being desired just because I wear a size 22. They remind me that I have style, that I am beautiful and that, yeah – You know what?!?! I AM HOT!