What I see when I look in the Mirror

We never had a full length mirror in our house growing up, it’s probably just as well when I think of the hideous 70s and 80s get up I wore and although mum had a working camera back then most of the films lay undeveloped in a drawer somewhere, so when my siblings used their favourite insult of “you fat cow” in my general direction I had no real way of verifying it.

I wasn’t that bothered about being called Fat anyway, I’d always reply “well if I’m FAT then you’re UGLY and I can go on a diet!” I was kind of a strange child anyway, I loved dancing and dressing up, but I also loved climbing trees and playing football too, so I rarely thought about my image or what I looked like. I was too busy building camps and thinking up money-making schemes to be worrying about my hair or my nails. It turns out I wasn’t fat anyway, I’ve been looking through old pictures of me recently and I wasn’t even remotely plump at aged 11.

But like most girls the pressure of fitting in as a teenager eventually put a stop to my innocent nonchalance about my appearance and I soon discovered make up, hair gel and 6 inch platforms (I kid you not). I got a job aged 13 and a half in my local Wimpy to pay for my Reebok Classics, belly showing crop tops and Collection 2000 make up, and it wasn’t long before I discovered alcohol and boys too. My dancing (which was my only form of physical activity) took a unceremonious back seat and I found myself seriously piling on the pounds what with the free burgers and my new addiction to watermelon flavored alcopops. I still didn’t have a full length mirror at home to see just how problematic this weight gain was, but there’s nothing like trying to squeeze a size 18 bum into the largest pair of jeans in Topshop to tell a girl that she is FAT.

I’ve spent every moment since on some kind of diet or health and fitness regime. Well maybe not every single moment, but I’ve tried every quick fix going with varying levels of success. I have in fact spent most of my adult life fighting to get below a size 16 and was a hideous size 22 at my heaviest, weighing in at over 21 stone (I was pregnant at this point I must add) so it is indisputable that I have spent the majority of my life with more FAT on my body than desired, and to the outside world simply FAT!!

But eventually (as you know) I found a friend in running, not quite a full blown solution to my weight and food issues but the closest I’ve got to it and the driving force behind this blog of course. I do own a mirror these days, in fact there are 3 full length mirrors in my 2 bed flat – my Fiancé is an actor so what can I say. And I do use them too. I sometimes stand in front of the one in my bedroom in nothing but my knickers and bra looking for the smallest signs of improvement.

You’d think I had spent all these years avoiding my flabby unsymmetrical reflection in the mirror, but surprisingly I have developed this amazing skill that enables me to focus in on the bits of my body that I can tolerate and choose not to see my various problem areas… leaving me feeling somewhat at ease with what I see. For example…I ignore the mass of flab that has taken up residency at the tops of my thighs and instead look at the muscle definition in my calves. I can’t see my double or is it a triple chin…but have you seen those bright blue eyes of mine? I suppose it’s a bit of a coping strategy really. I mean what’s a fat girl to do…you can’t spend decades avoiding the image staring rudely back at you, and/or break into tears when the reality of what you’ve done to your body sadly looks back at you each day.

Besides, my size and my weight…and ultimately my looks do not define me, well not completely anyway. They have not stopped me from having acquired a wonderful fiance, an amazing career, spectacular holidays and a great circle of friends…my life has not been on hold just because I’ve been fat, far from it. I have my moments, just like everyone else…swimwear is a particular problem but I reckon less than 5% of the female species says “hell yeah” when they try on a new bikini in the tiny, badly lit cubicle of a trendy shop. We learn to live with our fat, even if we don’t love it. Even if we have every intention of saying goodbye to it in the near future.

Since having my daughter, I’ve found that my views on my body like the reality of my actual body have significantly changed. I care even less than I did before about my wobbly bits, a bit nonchalant like my 8 year old self again… but I also care even more now than ever but in a different kind of way. I want to be a healthy and happy mum, 100 times more than I want to be a yummy mummy that has people thinking “wow”, I want my daughter to see a mummy that is proud of her curves, and unapologetic for her slightly too large BMI but not naive to the implications of obesity, someone happy to do cartwheels in the park without fear of her t-shirt riding up and exposing her spare tyre. Is that too much to ask?

In all seriousness…I really don’t mind what I see in the mirror these days. I have lost close to 5 stone since January and am almost a size 16 again, not far off what I was before my pregnancy. I still have someway to go with my weight-loss but it’s not the be all and end all anymore. I have far more pressing issues now. I mean when I look in the mirror these days it’s to check I don’t have baby sick on me rather than to see what my bum looks like. I rarely get time to straighten my hair or put make up on these days anyway and I have a uniform of leggings, t-shirt, converse and a cardie that suits my lifestyle of washing bottles and going to playgroup just fine. It all sounds a bit unglamorous doesn’t it? But I haven’t given up, far from it…I have just decided not to obsess about such things for the time being.

The main thing is when Rose looks at me she thinks I’m perfect, and who am I to argue.

This blog forms part of an amazing social media project called “What I see” featuring hundreds of amazing women from around the World. I made a short film talking about what I see, check it out…its one of the rare chances you will ever get to see what I look and sound like!!! Check out the what I see website and explore all the interesting stories from the other fantastic ladies as they let us into their views on what they see in the mirror.

You can also upload your own video telling the word what you see when you look in the mirror and follow the conversation at @whatiseeproject – I am passing the baton on now to Lucie Kerley a London based UK Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger at Lucie Loves check out what she has to say!!!

So come on guys tell me what do you see when you look in the mirror?

6 Responses to “What I see when I look in the Mirror”
  1. What a lovely post Julie! Really enjoyed reading it- I thought you looked absolutely fab when I met you, especially considering you had a six month baby! Thanks again!


  2. mariekeates says:

    I was always called fat too and, like you,looking back I wasn’t fat at all. I blame the diets. Every time I finished one of those stupid fad diets I ended up putting on more than I lost. For me. Eating fresh healthy food and lots of walking (I don’t do running, that’s Commando’s department) has been the answer. We are all more than the sum total of our wobbly bits though 🙂

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