You know the whole One Size Fits All thing? Well, it turns out that a size 16 mother of 3 is not the same size and shape as model and all round tiny, gorgeous woman Alexa Chung…
How do I know this? Well apart from physics, common sense and having a pair of working eyes, I once ended up in a spa with the lovely Chung in New York and what followed was so awful that I can only now laugh about it, years later.
I had gone to New York to see my husband who was working at the time for Arctic Monkeys and Alexa was dating the singer. We had met and hung out a few times and being the thoroughly lovely and welcoming person she is, she invited me on a girly day out with one of her friends.
After a fab morning shopping at Bloomingdales, we met for brunch and I felt like I was in a film, though to be fair, I always feel like I’m on a movie set when I am in America. I am just a normal girl from Sheffield, there was no coolness from me, I was like a giddy kipper. Anyway the plan was to go get our nails done, but when we arrived it was mentioned about going to the day spa. Neither Alexa or I had any swimwear but the receptionist assured us they could supply bikinis, I wasn’t super hyped about this but thought I would go along with it as I DO love a spa.
So we pay and then this smug faced receptionist hands us two small bags, the size of the bag immediately worries me as inside were our swimmers.
“Whose is whose?” I asked. “Oh they are one size fits all!” she chirpily replies.
I looked to my left at the tall, model-like stature of my pal and then down at my chunky arse and wider than average tummy and then back to the receptionist, “You are fucking kidding, right?”
“No” she replies as she shoos us down towards the changing room, “believe me, they’ll fit!”
Before I could even think I am in a changing room looking down at the smallest pair of paper pants and bikini top imaginable. I am considering just doing a runner when I see Alexa’s face is as aghast as mine. “It’ll be fine!” she says with a fake cheer.
We undress. In an open changing room, because seriously, who needs privacy here?! I put on the pants and am relieved they go over my hips but realise that I must walk with my knees together so they don’t rip up the sides and I don’t get arrested for public indecency. The paper bikini top covers my nipples. That’s it. Just nips. I want to fall into a deep hole and die.
Chung puts on her bikini and we stand side by side looking in the mirror. Her pants are pulled up to her chest and the bra is hanging off. For a moment, there is a stunned silence. Then we burst out laughing. We look fucking ridiculous and there is no way around it but to hysterically laugh.
Inside I am dying a little, I am stood next to a gorgeous model, fit to burst in a paper bikini with my stretch marks, big boobs and cellulite hanging out. Then she says to me “my tits look ridiculous in this, yours look amazing”. And I realise that we judge ourselves, we are always so harsh on our own looks that we don’t actually bother thinking about other people. I was scared she would laugh at me when actually, like most women, she was simply concentrating on her own image.
We ended up using both of our paper bras to fashion one mega bikini top to hold my puppies in place whilst she went in her own bra. (Why on earth we both didn’t just wear our own knickers and bras I have no idea!)
As we hung out in the spa in what turned out to be a lovely day, we talked about our sizes and how difficult it was to be in the public eye. She has been slated time and time again for her size, and it made me think about how hung up we are on a woman’s size and shape. You can’t win, you are either too fat or too thin, too wobbly or too muscly. Judging women based entirely on their shape is a tool to shut us up, it is a way to objectify us and discredit our worth.
I am far more than the size of my arse, the number in the back of my dress bears no relevance to my character. Body shaming is everywhere these days and even as I go around the UK talking to women about self esteem and body confidence, the response I get back is often negative towards thinner women. The term ‘real women’ pisses me right off, as if those under a size 10 are some robotic alien dolls sent back from the future to make all other women feel shit about themselves.
And ladies, we have to take responsibility for this because we are our own worst enemy. Don’t judge and shame the woman next to you, don’t assume anything about her because of the shape of her body or size of her ass. Don’t be so free and easy with the ‘skinny bitch’ comments. (Most) people wouldn’t dream of telling me to get a salad, yet more will happily tell a slimmer woman to eat a pie!
Let’s just start on loving ourselves. Even when you are in a paper bikini stood next to a model.