Years ago, I used to make fake fur handbags to sell at markets. They were crazy bags, an explosion of colour and texture. My favourite, that I kept for my own use, I nicknamed Grungetta (after Oscar the Grouch’s gf on Sesame Street). The body of the bag was lime green fake fur with red and purple maribu feather trim. I wish I’d taken a photo, you’d love it 🙂
Selling at markets, you get a lot of immediate feedback and the overwhelm reaction I’d get was: ‘I love it but I’d never be brave enough to use it’.
That always struck me as strange. Handbags aren’t scary, you don’t need to be brave to use them. These are things that are scary: dentists, birds, people dressed in animal costumes, clowns, ventriloquist dummies, possums. Not handbags.
When I painted the lounge room in my old flat bright yellow, people said ‘I love that colour but I’d never be brave enough to paint my house that colour’. When I bought my purple car – ‘I’d love a purple car but I’d never be brave enough.’ I’ve never considered any of these things particularly brave. I see something I like and I go for it. It’s bright, it’s pretty, it makes me happy.
Some things that take real bravery. Sometimes bravery is getting out of bed in the morning and going through the motions of the day, smiling and pretending nothing’s wrong. Other times, bravery is opening up and saying something when the voices inside scream for you to kept quiet.
It’s the little things: fronting up to a gym or putting on a pair of runners and heading out the door for a walk when all your life you’ve only ever associated exercise with humiliation; turning up to a barbecue with your own (healthy) food when you are known as the Cheesecake Queen; refusing seconds; signing up for a fun run; walking into an exercise class you’ve never done before; deciding to do it anyway when your exercise buddy lets you down; ignoring the excuses you’ve used every other time; knowing you are going to be crap but not caring.
On the surface, getting started towards a healthy lifestyle doesn’t seem like that big a deal – it’s the smart option and much better than ruining your health and your looks – but beneath it all, it’s hella brave and hella scary. It isn’t just about eating right and doing some exercise. I hate people who say that, like they’d tell an alcoholic all they need to do is stop drinking! The hard part, the gut-wrenchingly scary part, are those moments when you dig deep into your soul and defy your own perceptions of yourself.
If you’ve spent years, maybe a lifetime, being the girl who mocks exercise and orders desert, it’s a huge turnaround in who are. I come from a family where our memories revolve around overindulgence. A good night out is one where you have to unbutton your pants. We take food seriously.
You have a role to play, and that role has never been the voice of reason or the voice of healthy choices. And within any group, these roles stack up like cards in card house. You move one and all the others shift. Sometimes the whole structure collapses.
Bravest of all is taking a long, honest look at yourself and realising you have to change. Being obese in our society is like farting in an elevator. Everybody knows but no one acknowledges it. You put on your poker face and pretend it’s not you. For years, I’d hide the shopping bags from Fat Shops and take the label off of my clothes. If I shopped with friends, I’d say I only needed shoes. If nobody knew I bought fat clothes, then they wouldn’t realise I was fat. You can’t change without acknowledging what you are.
Everyday I see examples of people being brave, people who challenge themselves and push themselves, who fail yet get up and try again. You all are wonderful people who have said some mighty complimentary and head swelling things to me lately, without the motivation and support you give me every day, I’d be nothing. We are all brave in the steps we take, the small things we do every day and we should be justifiably proud of us.