‘My best friends asked me to be a bridesmaid and looking back, I hate the way I reacted.’

Carmela Contarino
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What’s the first thing you do when your friend is feeling down? Or is not being very kind to themselves?

What’s the first thing you do when someone offends your friend? Or even looks at them the wrong way?

YOU GO INNNNN.

Yep, you’re their personal cheerleader.

You tell em, ‘shut it!’ Cos you’re ain’t having any of that nonsense!

You follow it up with every compliment under the sun. “You’re fucking gorgeous. Your body is bangin’. You’re stunning on the inside and out. If I was into women, I’d do you!”

At times you even go down the tough love route. “Oh stop it, you silly cow!!”

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Now, what’s the first thing you do when you’re not ‘feeling it’?

Or catch yourself in a pic someone else took?

Or Facebook decides to show you a memory from five years ago AKA ‘a photo of when you were much thinner but thought you were fat and gross and disgusting then too’?

You do not go into cheerleader mode.

You say, think and feel some truly horrid things about yourself.

What a shame.

In the last two years, I was asked by both my best friends if I would be in their bridal party.

Something I felt truly touched by. I was honoured, privileged, thrilled, you name it: I had all the feels. Unlike my sister who has been in countless bridal parties, I have been in a total of three.

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So how did I wear that pride?

“I have to lose weight, like yesterday.”

“Fuck, how awful if I’m this size for the wedding.”

“Shit the other bridesmaids are so much skinnier than me; I’m going to look huge.”

This dialogue went on inside my head for 14 months in the lead up to my beautiful friend Effie’s wedding. Every month I would calculate the time I had left to be skinner, prettier, better.

I feared seeing Effie weeks before the wedding because I already felt like I had let her down. Why? Because I hadn’t organised the Bachelorette party or I hadn’t given a second thought to the wedding D-floor playlist? Nope. It was because I felt I hadn’t lost enough weight.

On the morning of the wedding, the last thing I said to her before we left for the church was: “Do I look ok? I don’t want to embarrass you.” In hindsight, I’m more embarrassed for actually saying that to her. What the fuck did it matter how I looked or felt? This was her day.

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Effie's bridal party. Image: Supplied.

When my beautiful friend Pippa asked me to be in her bridal party, I was determined to get it right this time. I was not going to be fat at her wedding. Oh god, I was even bigger.

I just ballooned in the lead up to it. I had put on so much more weight whilst living in London that when I landed back in Australia two weeks before the wedding, I really had to put on a brave face.

At the time I never said a word to Pippa (a lesson learnt from Effie’s wedding) yet she constantly told me throughout the day how gorgeous ‘I’ looked and she let me get changed half-way through the reception. Am I the most high-maintenance bridesmaid or what? No wonder I never get asked. Ha!

When I got back to London, I was secretly dreading the release of Pip’s bridal photos. I was fixated on what I would look like and I couldn’t stop thinking how once again, I had let a close friend down.

When the photos did finally emerge, what I’d been dreading was to be expected.

Some of the photos I’m in are lovely. Others have so many chins and back rolls, I have to now laugh, otherwise, well you know how this sentence ends.

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Carmela and Pippa. Image: Supplied.

The day I went through her wedding gallery for the first time, I tried to do the cheerleader thing.

“They’re ok babe.”

“Jesus, calm it, they’re not that bad!”

“Look how much love is in these photos!? Who gives a fuck what size you are?”

And a bit of the tough stuff too: “No one is looking at that. YOU are looking at that. Get over yourself.”

But I couldn’t stop torturing myself and admittedly, I didn’t sleep much that night. I was wracked with guilt.

I reached out to Pippa a few times to confess how sorry I was (I felt like I owed it to her). She responded with:

Fuck me. Is this not the worst part?

Isn’t she a diamond? Am I not the luckiest mole in the whole damn world?!

What the hell have I been putting myself through over the last few years? My friends didn’t pick me to be in their bridal party because I take a nice photo. They picked me for so many other reasons. Why couldn’t I just focus on that?

What a shame.

The first wedding I was ever in was my beautiful friend Caitlyn’s. I was 15 to 20 kilos lighter but I felt the same then too.

When will this stop? What’s it going to take?

Kweens, it really is this simple: if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then don’t you dare say it, think it and feel it about yourself!!!

Now, it’s not every day I do this. I’m actually getting a lot better at being kind to myself. I’m definitely a lot better then I was.

These days, I’m better at letting things go. Where before I would see it as I was letting myself go. I would punish myself for having any feelings of self-love (like maybe I was just lying to myself).

Today, I’m wearing skinny blue jeans with a black singlet tucked into it. This is a black singlet I would normally wear under tops to keep everything in and tight.

Lately I have been following some accounts on Instagram where women have been showcasing and embracing their size and curves. Each and every one of these women are sexy AF.

So I feel like the script really is changing. Am I more confident now by chance? By age? Or by the examples around me? The kind of examples that weren’t around me when I younger?

I got up this morning and I put on an outfit that totally emphasised my boobs, butt, waist, stomach and thighs. You should have seen me strutting across London Bridge, I was owning it!

The reality: I packed another looser top too, as I wasn’t sure how long today’s new found confidence would last.

The important thing: you would not have caught me dead in something like that a year ago, let alone five years ago.

Growing up as a ‘bigger’ girl I got used to things.

Like: obsessing in the mirror and securitising every angle before heading out.

Like: pulling at your top every time you sit down.

Like: making excuses when your friends invite you to the beach.

Like: walking down the street and constantly fiddling because your dress is sticking to the wrong parts of your body.

Like: having mini-meltdowns in bathrooms during a party because you feel so uncomfortable.

Like: not getting changed EVER in front of ANYONE.

Like: dreading seeing an old mate because you’re not the same size you were the last time you saw them.

Where was my inner cheerleader then?

Where is my inner cheerleader now?

Well, she’s pretty strong today. She’s getting stronger and louder every day. She’s doing high-kicks and all kinds of fancy shit.

If you’re the same, can’t you see a pattern? You weren’t happy when you were five kilos lighter. You weren’t content when you were 10 kilos lighter. You were still miserable when you were at your lightest.

When’s it going to stop? What’s it going to take?

Will my inner cheerleader always be around? No. But I genuinely believe that if I’m ever going to be truly happy that I need to love her just the way she is right now.

I need to learn to let my inner cheerleader do cartwheels, no matter what size she is!

Will my inner cheerleader be around tomorrow? Oh, I bloody hope so! And I hope yours is too.

Goooo ‘Team You’!! Yaasss!

Carmela Contarino is a fierce feminist, pop culture junkie, red wine lover, dancing queen and karaoke enthusiast with wanderlust. She’s also a former Australian radio/TV presenter and producer. She still dabbles. These days though (thanks to her shiny new Italian passport) she resides in London where she frequently enjoys pints of cider and hot chips with mayo and runs the site ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied...’ where this post originally appeared. You can read the original post here and follow Carmela on Instagram and Facebook

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