Awkward things.

Dear Jamelia…


Dear Jamelia,

I was trying to find a nice way to say this, but I’ve decided that it’s unnecessary. I was trying to figure out how to take your feelings into account when you metaphorically beat a bunch of women down with the back of your hand. But I try to be polite, so here’s my compromise:

I’m sorry, but you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

You don’t want larger and smaller ladies to be able to buy their clothes from mainstream shops. You want them to feel bad about their size. You want to shame them into achieving healthier bodies. Well I can’t speak for smaller women, since I’ve never been one, but I used to be a size 24, and I repeat:

You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

When I was morbidly obese, I never once felt like society was making allowances for me. I never got cushy. I never felt like I had a place anywhere. No, not even in New Look, where I could buy skinny jeans and flowery tops, like (shock, horror, panic, alarm!) a normal person. I think that you think that society has built us a place, that just because there are bigger seats and mobility scooters and, God forbid, clothes that fit, we are happy in the world. Nope.

When you’re outside the normal size guidelines, even with easily bought accessories, life is pretty shitty. You get stares in the street, comments, sniggers and worse. It hurts to move, it’s hard to breathe and you don’t even bother entertaining the idea that someone might find you attractive because that would be absurd. It is almost impossible to carve out a normal existence, because you are encased in this body that defines you. Even if you’re able to buy a bikini, society will insist on calling it a fatkini, and half the world will label you brave and the other half will gouge their own eyeballs out to escape having to look at you.

When you’re obese, there is no normal. We are simply not allowed to live like other people. I want you to imagine it, Jamelia. Imagine spending an hour queuing for a rollercoaster, clambering into the seat and struggling to strap yourself in. You tug and you strain and you feel the circles of sweat welling at your armpits. You call to the attendant who informs you, loudly, in front of everyone, that that’s the furthest the seatbelt goes. You suck your belly in as tight as you can and click the seatbelt in. you spend the whole sixty seconds of the ride hoping to God that you don’t fall, hoping to God that if the belt breaks you only kill yourself.

I want you to imagine waiting your whole life to live. You live on nothing but water for one week, apples the next, willing the needle on the scale to go down, down, down so you can be the person that’s trapped inside this mess of a body. Imagine tugging and pulling at the lumps of fat, taking a pair of scissors to your folds, trying to carve out the lard, hating yourself so much that you don’t care if you die from it, because you’d rather die than be stuck in your own skin. You buy unmarked pills off the internet. When you swallow them down they taste like poison and they speed life up, blur the edges. Your heart crashes against your ribs like it’s trying to beat its way out of you and you think that this might be the answer, this might get you the body that fits.

I want you to imagine being the butt of every joke, having to learn to be funny because it’s the only way they’ll leave you alone. You sit in your room and build new identities on the internet, escaping into being someone else, someone that somebody might like, or want, or love. In real life you cross the street, you cower, you hunch. You have problems with eye contact. You say sorry too much. You don’t know how to be yourself because you never got to find out who that is. Confidence feels a lot like audacity. You don’t want to cause trouble by standing out and you don’t fit so you can’t fit in.

I want you to imagine hurting so much that life is like a punishment. I want you to imagine being the fat friend, the weirdo, the loner. I want you to imagine being made to feel like you don’t matter just because your body is different, because society doesn’t like it, because society gets confused between the words ‘fat’ and ‘unhealthy’ and can’t be bothered to think, so throws them into the same pile. Now I want you to imagine being that girl, living that life and finding clothes that fit in a mainstream store. How do you feel now? Do you feel like you fit? Are you happy? Do you want to eat and eat until you break into the next size and the next? Or does it not make the slightest bit of difference, apart from the fact that you can clothe yourself?


Society spends way too much time judging and blaming and it needs to stop. I know that this is an obesity crisis and everyone’s freaking out, but flailing around and pointing fingers isn’t going to help anything. Reactions breed reactions. Basically, we all need to calm down and look at this problem like empathetic grown-ups. I know that you’re not the only one, but you’re the biggest example of a world gone wrong right now, and I know that you won’t read this, but maybe someone will. Maybe someone like you, who’s never ventured into someone else’s head will read this and think and feel and understand. That’s what’s missing from this picture, feeling and understanding. So get out of your own head and into someone else’s, because you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about, but you could if you tried, so you should.


Rejecting Rejection

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.

I was all ready to write something that mattered today, something that was heartfelt and well-observed, something that clicked and flowed and ticked all the right boxes of awesome.




So instead of the soggy piece of wet flannel nonsense that I was writing, I’m going to write a rant about the stupid Catch-22 that I seem to be in, in the hopes of clearing out the crap and unclogging my brain.

Failing that, at least I’ll have produced something that hasn’t been crossed out, crumpled up and tossed into the trash.

Basically, there’s a site that I really, really, REALLY want to write for. I have sent them a bazillion pitches, (not exaggerating) and have progressed from form rejections to personalised rejections. Woo… They’re still rejections. And I’m getting to the panicking point where I feel like I’m running out of ideas, like I’ve wasted my good ones and now I’m down to nothing

And I feel like the world is ending. It’s stupid and self-centred and so bloody millennial of me, I know, but this is IMPORTANT. I am the girl on The Face, crying and humping Naomi Campbell’s leg, because this is the only thing that I can do, and the only thing that I want, and now I’m being told that I can’t.

It’s not the end of the world. I know. There will be other things, other times, and there are a lot of corners and God knows what’s around them, but right now I want to punch Naomi in the face and run away and hide and cry until I fill the room and find the dodo.

But hey, who doesn’t, right?

It’s all part of life, this rejection thing. It just totally sucks. Wouldn’t it be good if we could win at everything? If we could get picked for every team? If we could get medals for spelling our names right and getting out of bed in the morning? If there were no more red pens and frowny faces and men in suits telling us that CVs shouldn’t be written in crayon and include photographs of Nicholas Cage wearing various hats. That would be pretty sweet. But until the world crowns me supreme overlord, I guess we’re stuck with rejection, and maybe we should start getting used to it.

So here are my top tips for dealing with those times when you want to punch supermodels and earn strait jackets…

  1. Do not punch anyone.

No, not even Naomi Campbell, however much she seems to totally deserve it. Violence is never the answer, unless the question is ‘what is not the answer?’ But then we enter into a weird time-travel style paradox that encourages yet more anger and violence.* Basically, if someone rejects you, it’s not because they’re a terrible, horrible, shitty person, but because they have terrible, horrible, shitty taste. Don’t hate them, pity them. They probably don’t understand the value of S Club 7, stick on glitter tattoos and Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. Think of how empty their black and white lives must be.

  1. Give up.

If you’re trying and trying and trying and getting no cigars whatsoever, then maybe you’re never going to fit into their hole. Maybe it’s time to look for a different hole. Not necessarily bigger, just differently shaped, something that you don’t have to suffer to squeeze into. If you’re working hard and producing stuff, then you HAVE to be improving. It’s like the law. So if after a long time trying you’re still no closer, then you might have to admit that you’ve come as close as you’re going to get. Take a few photos and turn around. There are people around who will appreciate your art, trust me.

  1. Go at it with a battering ram.

If you’re really super sure that this is the place for you, then keep swimming upstream, but up your arsenal. I’m talking heavy duty machinery. Bazookas mainly. And chainsaw blow torches. Basically, you need to use everything in your toolkit to get your foot in the door. You have a connection? Stalk them until they panic and give in. You have a good reputation? Big it up. Obviously they’re not getting the message of how epic you are, so make sure they do. If they still don’t get it, there are always power tools.

  1. Stop being yourself.

The usual stuff is not going to cut it, obviously. They said no, so they’re probably going to keep saying no unless you alter your approach. Look for what they like and imitate it, or at least digest enough of it that your own style merges with theirs. Be who they want you to be. I know it sucks that they don’t appreciate your awesomeness as it stands, but if you want it that much, you have to be willing to compromise. It’s not a dirty word, it’s just another trick for getting your own way, but in a different format. Ok, it’s slightly selling out, but sometimes you have to sell out to sell, you know?

But seriously.

If you’re any kind of artist, you’re going to have to deal with this sort of stuff, and in my experience it really doesn’t get easier. Every time someone says no, I am the kid getting picked last for sports. It hurt like hell then and it hurts even more when you’re getting rejected for something you can actually DO. Sure, don’t pick me for hockey. I suck at it and will probably score ten own goals and break your ankle, possibly not even by accident. But if I write something for you, if I pour my heart, soul, blood and guts onto the screen, if I let you inside my screwed up mind and let you look around, then your no feels like a hot poker to everything that matters.

But still we keep swimming towards something we know exists, even though we might never have seen it before.

We write until our fingers ache and our minds are empty buckets.

We stumble uphill in the darkness, our feet searching for ground that might not be there.


We reach the top.

We see the sun.

We get the yes.

And we realise the nos are nothings and it’s been worth every single one.

*Bonus tips: Don’t ask stupid questions and stop trying to make time travel happen, Gretchen.

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