Body Image

The last time I felt really great about my body was in 2005. October to be precise. It was my first week of my undergrad at Imperial College, and there was the “Fresher’s Ball” coming up – a fancy, smart event for all the new undergrads to meet each other, make out, and catch Freshers Flu’. Clearly I needed a hot new dress, and so my classmate Kat and I headed over to Barkers department store on Kensington High Street. I remember picking out a cute dress in size 14 (US size 10) and heading to try it on. Kat grabbed me, and said, “you don’t need a 14, take the 12.” I looked at her, I’d never worn a size 12. I’d been 14 as long as I’d been buying my own clothes, but I took her advice, and headed for the changing room. It was a perfect fit.

Sadly, it’s been all down hill from there. I hit size 14 again pretty soon after that, then 14’s became tight. I wavered around the slightly loose fitting 14 for a year or two, then found myself needed a 16. Then the 16’s became tight. A story I’m sure many are familiar with. Around that time, I found my self with a Job, some spare cash, and a desire to get back into some of my former clothes, so I started personal training at Aegis in London. My trainer, Jenny, was phenomenal – I saw her twice a week, and she really pushed me on both the exercise and diet fronts. My body rapidly reshaped, and within a few months I was back to the 14s – not easily, but I could make most styles work. It was good, but I still had a way to go to hit that size 12. That summer with the Whuffaoke just weeks away I purchased far too many size 14 dresses (9, I think) from Karen Millen. With a hold of breath here, and a squeeze of body there I made them fit that entire trip. That was the second last time I was happy about my body.

After that summer I started expanding again. Back to a 16, and beyond. I resorted to baggy hoodies, free geek t-shirst (which are almost always huge) and jeans. Buying clothes above a 16 put me firmly in the “plus size” range – not something I wanted anything to do with. I had enough body dismorphia already. I never really broke free from here, I tried restarting my exercise and diet regimes over and over again, but with no success. It’s now almost 2 years later.

So that brings me to today. Or last Friday night to be precise. It was an ordinary night out with my room mate, Eris, boozing, flirting, and heading home for pizza, ice cream and Doctor Who. Shortly after Eris passed out, I found myself sliding the pizza box from under her for those last few slices. And then the Ice Cream, and the more pizza. And then it hit me. This *has* to stop, and it has to stop now. I couldn’t sleep that night – I hated myself so much – so as the sun came up, I rolled out of the bed, removed from sight all of remains of the previous night, and set about the tasks of setting myself up to hit my goals.

Is that size 12 dress my real goal. It could be – I still have it. But I know, from where I sit now, that is a long way off, possibly a year or more. Fitting into all of my size 16 dresses is my first goal. Then my size 14s shortly after. I want to walk into any store and know that I can buy any dress and not worry about the largest size not fitting me. I want to not worry about going to the beach this summer. I want to be tall and skinny. But most of all, I want to feel great about my body again.

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