Sweaty, Happy, Proud

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The most surreal moment of 2015 so far happened at about 1.30pm on Saturday 14th March. I was drenched in sweat, twerking in a room full of strangers to All About That Bass with a massive grin on my face. I wasn’t drunk, on drugs or at a rave. I was at Les Mills One Live in Glasgow – which is like Glastonbury for fitness fans. Thousands of likeminded folk had descended to try out the latest releases of the phenomenally successful Les Mills workout programmes. I am not a fitness expert; I am barely a class participant, so how did I end up there?Read More »

18 Months

September 15th 2013: the day I became a member of the Dead Mums Club. It’s a day that’s still so vivid it’s tattooed on my soul. Every sight, every sound, every smell is still with me. I threw away the clothes I wore that day because every time I looked at them I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.

I have been through so many emotions from the day of the cancer diagnosis to this; the most consistent is anger. I get angry over the stupidest things. I cry, I throw things, I swear, I rant and rave. I know it wasn’t mum’s fault, no one expected her seemingly innocuous stomach problems to be cancer but I am angry that she had symptoms for months before she saw a doctor. I am angry that even after her diagnosis she always put everyone else’s needs before her own.Read More »

The Elephant in the Room

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Hefty, sturdy, solid, sumo, chunky, lardy and dumpy. They sound like plump Disney dwarfs. I was called all of these (and worse) as a teenager. All by so-called friends and even my brother. They could have just said overweight or plain fat. I was fat. If you believe the wonderful BMI calculator I still am.

As a baby complete strangers would squeeze my cute chubby cheeks. Fast forward several years and those chipmunk cheeks made me a target for every bitchy girl at school. The bullying started at primary school when I was the first girl in my class to get a bra. By age 11 I was a 36C and became a walking freakshow. The straps were pinged countless times a day, to the point I started wearing a vest under my bra so it wouldn’t hurt as much.

When I would stress over outfits my mum would say “it’s school, not a fashion show.” That was easy for her to say. She wasn’t a teenage girl. She didn’t burst the zip on her school skirt and have to hold it together with an elastic band. I had grown out of children’s sizes before I reached high school and was wearing a size 14 skirt, which clearly no longer fitted. My friends were skinny with long legs that could easily slide into Topshop jeans. Their thighs didn’t chafe in the summer when they wore shorts.Read More »

A Letter to My Dad, the Accidental Feminist

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Dear Dad,

You might not know what the word means (it’s not about women refusing to shave under their arms) and this morning you may have joked that “every day is International Women’s Day” but whether you like it or not you are a feminist.

The foundation of feminism is equality of the sexes. You raised my brother and I as equals. You brought me up to believe I was capable of anything I put my mind to. You were more disappointed than Mum when I left school at 16 because you felt I was throwing my life away. Now you brag to your friends about how hard I work when you think I can’t hear you.

You taught me how to cook and secretly enjoyed putting on an apron to make rice crispy cakes after a hard day at work. Despite getting up at 4am every day you always sat with me after school, helped with my homework and answered endless questions with minimal teeth gritting. Although I am still waiting on a satisfactory answer to “why is the sky blue?”

When I studied the Second World War at school you watched the entire series of The World at War with me (all 22 and a half hours). You cried watching the tapes; it was the first time I had ever really seen you upset. Now I see you cry all the time – at the end of Erin Brockovich, watching Call the Midwife, Toy Story 3, The Green Mile… Of course you swore me to secrecy on the tears because it’s not the manly thing to do (sorry).

When I left home at 17 you didn’t attempt to stop me. You made it clear that I had to make my own mistakes and learn from them. At the age of 20 I stood on your doorstep with a couple of bin bags of my belongings, fleeing an abusive partner. At the time you had no idea that opening the door to me and allowing me to stay actually saved my life.

You are by no means perfect but you gave me the tools to survive in a world where women are still seen as the weaker sex. When I suffered from depression you did your very best to understand what I was going through. Since Mum died 18 months ago you have had to fill both parental roles. I don’t ever say this but you’re doing a good job.

Thanks for the stubborn streak and encouraging me not to back down in a fight.

Love from your “pudding”

xxx