Friday, 3 July 2009

Chubby Chops - a life in pictures. Part 3

The Student
I arrived in England from Buenos Aires in August 1973, apprehensive, excited, scared, self-conscious, timid – but determined to get a university education. Relatives gave me moral support and pushed me gently in the right direction when I needed it.

.
I worked for a year first as a Spanish Assistant in a comprehensive school in Surrey and joined an amateur South American folk group, Viracocha. Here we are, tastefully posed in front of a washing line.
.
Picture № 7, early 1974, aged 20, with Viracocha (London)
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.I thought it was because I had played the Spanish guitar since the age of ten and had a repertoire of folk music and Joan Baez under my belt, but it turned out that they wanted me to play the bombo – a drum made of hide – and as I was the owner of a guitar and four ponchos, perhaps we could share them at gigs…
.
Ulterior motives notwithstanding, they were a nice bunch, and remained my friends for many years. We played at student venues and only covered our travel costs; it was a very enjoyable time.
.
The ponchos were of course my means of hiding what I regarded as an unsightly body – long hair for the top half, poncho for the rest.
.
I went to the University of Bristol for three years to study Spanish and Portuguese, and was a late starter at learning how to cook in the various flats/apartments where I lived. (During teenage years I would have preferred “come into the kitchen to learn how to cook” rather than “go and tidy your room” - but I suppose I was too goody goody to voice the opinion.) Following frantic requests, Mum sent basic recipes by post, and I chose what I liked. How to make soup or brain fritters didn’t feature prominently among my new cooking skills, and neither did vegetables in my diet.
.
Picture № 8, 1974, now 21, at Bristol University
.
Mars bars did, however, and it was a bad omen that when I was eating one, my eyeballs would roll back and I would go into a sort of ecstatic trance... My student boyfriend didn’t seem to mind, but by 1975 I felt quite gross and had hated having to pose for this picture with fellow students, particularly when the other girl was so slim.
.
The course required me to spend the summer of my second year working in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, and I was to have a wonderful time in Lisbon and Castellón de la Plana during the baking hot and dry summer of 1976 (remembered by all British people who are old enough) – but before my departure, I knew I needed to boost my confidence by losing weight. I read slimming magazines, learned all about calories, and put myself through a punishing routine, the only time I’ve been able to do this – presumably because it was the first time I had tried it. I lost about 10kg or so (this seems like small potatoes now, but it was a superhuman effort to me then).
.

Picture № 9, Benicasim, Spain, aged 22, summer of 1976.
So, I was able to wear a bikini on the beach (only time ever!) and was keenly aware of feeling “normal”. I remember that sensation so well, and have longed ever since to recapture it. Boyfriend came out to join me and we travelled around northern Spain – a happy time.
.
.The following term was difficult – I was having to catch up with studies because I had spent too much time enjoying myself, and my relationship started to founder.
.
Picture № 10, Bristol, aged 23, autumn 1976
.
With that came eating for comfort, and back to the poncho for camouflage – this picture was taken just a few months before we parted company, as the body language shows. I’m perfectly aware now that I was barely overweight at the time, but the lessons from my peers in Argentina had been well learned, and what I saw in the mirror was a fat person – in fact I used to try not to look in a full length mirror unless I absolutely had to. The mirror never lied, but my head told me otherwise.
.
I wasn’t unhappy however – at this point my attitude towards overweight was still the usual (i.e. being able to talk about it out loud ...“ooh look at me I’m so fat, chocolate is my downfall” etc etc…), and more importantly, my approach to food was normal, i.e. a bit over-healthy, but no anxiety had crept in – that came later.
.
Looking for pictures has forced me to remember things I didn’t even realise were in my sub-conscious back then, for example that top of the list of comfort foods was mash potato, the object of my dreams as a malnourished five year-old at boarding school.
.
Meanwhile I was in my final year, and going back to counting calories put me in control once again (that word is always there with slimmers, isn’t it?)
.

Picture № 11, aged 24, graduation in Bristol, July 1977.
Six months on by the summer of 1977 I had met my husband-to-be, got engaged and graduated in July. We were married in October, and he repented at leisure, but I’ll leave that for another day.
.
.


Picture № 12, wedding, October 1977, Buenos Aires

.
.
Meanwhile I started to feel self-conscious again when he told me on our return from honeymoon that at 63 kg I was just too heavy - I had thought I was OK…
.
(To be continued)
.-oOo-

5 comments:

The Dash! said...

63 kg is too heavy? Holy cow, did that man need glasses? You look wonderful! That bikini shot .. you looked amazing. Isn't it weird how we thought we looked big back when we were younger only to realise now we really are!

Simone said...

I can't tell you how fascinating it has been reading your last few posts - isn't it amazing how what we thought looked "unsightly" back then, actually looked fantastic.

I would LOVE to weigh 63kg....good grief!!

You look wonderful in ALL your photos and I really commend you for writing all this down - I would love to do this, your photos are wonderful.....what an interesting life you have had too.

I was only thinking this morning -as we approach swimssuit weather - how I once wore a bikini and how I should have really enjoyed how I looked then.

Again, I wish you good luck with your weight loss journey, your writing is very inspiring.

Very best wishes,
Simone :)

Lonicera said...

Thank you both - You're right, when I looked in the mirror I just didn't see what I see now...
I don't find 63kg too heavy any more (I am after all 99kg at the moment!), but in fact it wasn't only my (now ex) husband who thought it was bad... all my schoolfriends at the time also reacted with horror that I was "as high" as 63kg - they were all perpetually around 10kg less. With the next lot of photos during my marriage, I'm going to attempt to describe how pressured I felt 'not to be ugly'. I'm sure most bandits have been through the same thing.
Simone, what nice remarks, I do thank you. I love the photos on your blog, and if I'm honest, I envy the sheer joy that shines through in your posts. You're evidently an extremely happy person, and you're good at reflecting it - thanks so much for your good wishes.
Caroline

DocSly said...

You are so beautiful, yesterday and TODAY! What would 63 kg be? I will have to look it up but I have the feeling he was like my first husband (nothing would have been good enough)?

Diz said...

I think you look fantastic and full of life. It is so interesting what our own perceptions of our selves are. I wish I could sometimes hear how others perceive me...maybe it would change some of the hang ups I have. You are so cool for sharing this...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...