“Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m sick of playing by the rules of someone else’s game…”
If you’d said to me a few years ago that I would spend a hot, Summer evening sitting naked with two strangers in one of their living rooms, being recorded for a podcast talking about my body image, having been abused physically and emotionally and various other things for a podcast that anyone anywhere in the world could listen to, I probably would have said that that is bollocks. But a couple of weeks ago I did just that, I headed to Jenny’s flat to record for The Naked Podcast, having put myself forward to do it.
Just after recording my episode of ‘The Naked Podcast’ for the BBC with Jenny and Kat. And yes, all totally nude. Photo from The Naked Podcast.
For most of my life I’ve had a difficult relationship with my body image. For a long time I thought I was fat and how could anyone like or love that, but in the last 6 months I’ve actually found a peace within myself and a comfortableness with myself that I could not have imagined before. The beginning kernel of this change in attitude started in February when I sent out a request to some of the women I know from school. I messaged them saying that I’ve been thinking of writing something about body image, this is how I thought of myself back then, what are your memories of me and how did you feel about yourself when you were a teenager?
Today I woke up at 5am crying. I’ve had about 15 hours sleep at most in the last three days, I’m hot, clammy and now I feel like someone is hacking apart my insides. Why is this? I got my bloody period again, that’s why.
When I started going out with the last boyfriend I went back on the pill, it’s a marvellous thing, not only would it help to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but it was one that I took everyday so it effectively stopped my periods and therefore stopped the period pain that went with it. About a year and a half ago I stopped taking the pill because I had stopped having a boyfriend, after he stopped having sex with me, and so didn’t really need it in terms of preventing pregnancy. I’d forgotten about the pain relief aspect. I actually went cold turkey, apparently that’s not the best way to do it but I did, and for about three weeks I was moody, snappish, irritable and horrible to be around. I suppose this was part of my hormones re-balancing, but it really sucked.
But let’s go back to the beginning. In the summer of 1996, when I was twelve, I went on a morris dancing holiday around the south of Ireland with my Mum and her team. On the Tuesday I woke up with terrible pain in my belly, went for my morning wee and was horrified to see blood when I wiped. It was truly traumatic. And the worst pain I could ever remember experiencing. I was surprised that it was happening, although Mum had told me about it a few years before, something along the lines of “One day there will be some blood between your legs and it might hurt a bit, but don’t worry it’s normal.” I didn’t tell her when it happened. I was in pain and a bit ashamed and scared and so I stuffed toilet roll into my pants and said I didn’t feel well so they went on a sightseeing day and left me in bed.
Last night was part three of my Sparkle Dress Comedy Challenge and a trip to Sheffield’s City Hall for ‘Lefty Scum’.
I worked all day in Meadowhall, got changed into the sequins in the staff room behind some mannequins (getting semi stuck in the previous dress as I went) and headed to the tram stop, hoping to get to the venue on time. I found my seat, but had to take the long way around to get to it and missed out on a trip to the bar – but then the queue was long and I have very little money left at the end of the month, so never mind.
I chatted a little to the couple to my left (naturally) about recent things they’d been to, I’d been to, how they’d moved up here from London recently and are looking for more stuff to do and to meet new people. They seemed lovely and, coincidentally, the lady I was sat next to on Thursday came up and said hello to them – she the girlfriend of one of their friends, they told me. Foolishly, we didn’t exchange names or details to meet up, but they might read this, so ‘Hello!’
The gig was kicked off by Josie in some great dungarees doing her bit of ‘chatting’. I’ve never seen her live before, I’ve heard some of her podcasts: Short Cuts, Robin and Josie’s Utter Shambles, Book Shambles and as a guest on others like The Made of Human Podcast with Sofie Hagan.
I last posted in September with big plans for streamlining the blog, actually writing something for a change but then I got confused and distracted. Writing just didn’t seem to be high on my list of priorities, but some things have happened and I’ve got a new love and enthusiasm for it.
So firstly, I got two part time jobs, one in Meadowhall and the other at Sheffield University Student’s Union. They couldn’t be more different, but I’m working with lovely people at both, I have a relatively steady, but meagre, income and I’m feeling happy again. I’ve also been making some of the felt pictures, more on that in a later post, and trying to build myself a social life again after becoming a relative hermit from habit and poverty. As part of my self care, building my social life and getting out doing fun things more…
…let me introduce you to The Sparkle Dress:
The Sparkle Dress was something I saw online one day in September but couldn’t think of obtaining. I got a job and The Sparkle dress became something I gazed at as I walked past Simply Be on my way to work. The Sparkle Dress called to me because it had all the colours of my hair. The Sparkle Dress was something I couldn’t afford because I had to pay for other, less frivolous things, like rent and food and travel to work and Netflix.
I bought it on sale, no refunds because it was a bit broken (something I could easily stitch up. It made me so happy to get it and wear it to Christmas. At Christmas I got a ticket for Greg Davies’ show ‘You Magnificent Beast’ as a present – thanks Liz and Richard. I decided that the Sparkle Dress should not just be worn once, but should be worn out and where better to dress as a giant glitter ball from G.A.Y. than a show called ‘You Magnificent Beast’?
Name: Jen Gale
Company Name: Make Do and Mend-able
Make Do and Mend-able is an online resource to promote Making Do and Mending as an alternative to buying new, and to facilitate the learning of new skills. On the site you will find tutorials, and inspiration for all things Make Do and Mend, as well as a nationwide Directory of classes, workshops, repair and re-use events, and pre-loved and ethical craft supplies.
I live in Wiltshire, but the site is nationwide!
Make Do and Mend-able
FB: Make Do and Mend-able
Name: Louise Checkley
Company Name: Garment Technologist at Mountain Warehouse
Company Description: Budget Retailer of Outdoor Clothing & Equipment
The WI Walks: