Due to a chronic illness I spent the best part of two and a half years at 37 kilograms. With no “curves“, jutting hip bones and legs that resembled toothpicks, it was difficult to find any nice clothes that fit.
I was fearful of my hair falling out, so I rarely washed it. My skin was too sensitive for face products or makeup, so I wore none. All the ‘trimmings’ that I’d previously used to enhance my womanliness were gone.
As someone who was used to getting wolf whistles and compliments, I was now getting stares that resembled a mix of repulsion, pity and judgement. Walking into a five star hotel, I was stopped at the entrance by a staff member asking me why I was there.
At first I was distraught. I yearned and ached for the woman I used to be. I found an old text message from an ex-boyfriend beginning with “Hey beautiful” and I cried for hours wondering whether any man would call me beautiful again.
I would even hide my sagging bottom from my mother – my own mother – in total embarrassment. I imagined a future life of celibacy, as I believed no man my age would want to sleep with an image of his 90 year old grandmother!
But then something shifted, slowly, but it did. Ironically it was through this testing period of my life that my body confidence grew. I began to accept this woman who, under a crumpling skin, was growing some pretty deep roots.
I learnt to do it differently; I’d walk out in a scarecrow figure but with a smile.
No longer living under a pretence of needing to assume a persona, I started to get more comfortable in my own skin. My writing developed a vulnerability it never had before. My conversations were frank and open. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I was told by many at the time that grace and an angelic quality exuded from me. This, I believe, was true acceptance.