Tuesday, 27 July 2010

From The Shoulders Up.....

I look OK. Passable, or good even for a fat woman, when I can be bothered to apply make-up, do my hair and wear a necklace and dangly earrings. It's hard convincing myself that I am still worth that effort some days though :(

Another story coming up. Bail out now if you don't have the time to read - you have been warned :)

My man and I had been invited to a 'presentation' on Saturday afternoon, at a place out in the countryside, near Warwick. Now, this presentation was a hard-sell of some holiday scheme or other...we knew that...we were aware of the tedious presentation and the sales patter we'd have to sit through for at least 90 minutes, but the carrot they dangled was a free holiday in Europe for a week, for two people, just for turning up. They needed 'mugs' to sit through a personal presentation with one ultra-friendly (and it has to be said - smarmy) sales person per couple. We'd be shown pictures of luxurious holiday resorts and then wonder at the 'marvellous' offer they could make us....which was "for one day only." What a surprise huh?

'Snooze and you lose - this promotion is for the lucky couples selected and the incredible deal we offer you is offered today and for today only' said the ultra-slick, rather over-friendly salesman, giving it all he could to make us part with our hard-earned dosh (or should I say my my man's dosh. I don't have any spare dosh these days.) For a hefty (er sorry...'reasonable') fee forked out there and then, or arranged by a finance company, (nice commission for the sales team) we could holiday for life like millionaires, at top hotels all around the world. Yeah right. The salesman conveniently forgot to remind us there were annual maintenance fees on top of the quite considerable cash lump sum he wanted us to part with, and we'd also have to purchase flights/transportation form airports etc...and find spending/food money when we got there. We'd be tied into this until we battled to get out. If we wanted out there was NO way we'd ever get a fraction of our investment back. (Are you already aware that I have an excellent built-in bull-sh*t detector? I think it's good to be aware and even downright cynical at times :)

We accidentally got caught up at one of these promotional events years ago...Once our joint income had been ascertained (via internet lists we presumed ) we were there for the taking - except we didn't cough up. We needed time to think, which wasn't part of the sales team's deal. We went along as innocents - lambs to the slaughter almost. However, for sitting through the presentation, given by an extremely jovial and glamorous woman, we did get a free weekend in London out of it...and a small portable TV and DVD player, which we thought was a good deal. My son got the free TV as he was just going away to University, and would need one in his room.

My man got the call a few weeks ago, inviting us to another holiday scheme presentation. We knew we weren't going to buy, no way were we going to part with thousands of pounds, but we also knew it was worth wasting a couple of hours listening to a sales pitch, if we got something out of it. We didn't have any other plans, so sad people that we are, we drove out to the converted barn in the middle of the countryside and steeled ourselves for the onslaught :)

(Hey, apologies to any sales people out there! I couldn't do that job for all the tea in China.You have to be a certain sort of person don't you, to convince others to part with their cash for a product you have to flog whether you believe in it or not...and usually all for commission or a bonus on top of a measly salary. That's the way it is in the UK anyway. You need balls to be able to do that...I just couldn't and I almost want to buy any product, just to give the hard-working sales person a bonus.)

Now, back to my 'making an effort'. Of late, since I stopped working I have been feeling soooooo 'poor'. I know it's all relative and I count my many blessings every day. I get by, just, but I feel the pinch often and have had to tighten the financial belt lots and lots. I can't splash the cash any more, and being a woman who loves to shop, that is sometimes very hard. Living on an occupational pension, saved for over 30 years, isn't the same as having a monthly pay cheque coming in! It doesn't go very far when all the bills have been paid. I have to count every penny and think about my budget all the time. I just don't buy clothes, shoes, make-up, toiletries etc as I used to, nor do I get my nails done or visit the hairdresser very often. I don't go on unnecessary journeys, I have to budget for food and I can't remember when I last bought a winter coat or new boots. Even things like books and newspapers I've had to fore-go. I am OK with that - mostly. I've never been 'high maintenance' but equally, when I worked, if I really wanted it, or needed it, I'd buy it! Those days have gone. I'd become a down-market version of me.

But, for this presentation I thought I'd make the effort. It was a Saturday...and style-wise it's usually an any old top day and I'll tie my hair up and wear jeans and trainers and not bother with make-up. However, I wanted to meet the slick sales team, all in suits and ties and looking 'expensive', looking good myself. I know the women selling at such events tend to go over the top - a bit like the unapproachable and ultra glamorous women on the cosmetics counters in the stores. Their hair and make up is immaculate but laid on with a trowel it's so thick. I always feel scruffy and unkempt in their presence...and that's an observation rather than an admittance of inferiority:) I wanted to make the most of myself on Saturday.Weird - yes. Unnecessary - yes. Unwarranted - yes. But an opportunity to look good, look the part...seem like a woman who would, in consultation with her partner, consider spending thousands? Oh yes. This was an opportunity to dress up, and look good.

I showered and styled my hair. I gave myself a manicure and painted my fingernails and toe-nails. I gave myself a facial...and then, with a hand held magnifying mirror (evil things!) and in a good light...right up at the window...I plucked my eyebrows and squinted to find any facial hair. Oh yes...that's one of the fruits of waning hormones and ageing! I am very fair skinned so have been lucky to have light hair anyway, but to my horror odd stray hairs sprout at the edges of my lips...and one fair hair had taken up residence on my chin!!!! They weren't obvious I don't think, but all the same, they were plucked out! Ouch. Moisturiser and foundation were applied..then eye make up...I lightly pencilled in my fair eyebrows, then applied high-lighter to my eyelids and several coats of mascara to my lashes. I added a little blush to my cheeks and then applied lipstick. I like my lips. Although not full and plump I am blessed with a perfect Cupid's Bow shape on the top lip...so I accentuated that. I piled my hair on top of my head and wore silver earrings and silvery blue beads round my neck, to go with the denim-blue blouse I wore. Yes. Making the effort was worth it. I looked good...

Bump. <~~~~ that was me coming down to Earth. No I didn't. Who was I kidding? I looked good in a small mirror..the one over the bathroom sink which reflected my head and shoulders. When I looked in the full length mirror in my bedroom I looked fine from the shoulders up....but I got wider and wider as I went down...My mid-section was still rotund and protruding, my backside still had a shelf on it and my legs looked chunky in 'smart' jeans. I didn't see the face..I saw the whole picture. I long for the day when I can look in a mirror and not feel shame. I used to enjoy preening and looking at my reflection but those days are long gone. OK, so a mirror only shows us what's on the outside. We know the inside is good...but isn't it hard to FEEL good when the outside doesn't look good?

I expect many of us have heard..."Oh you have such a lovely face" or "You'd be so pretty if you weren't so big" type comments. They really do apply..

Anyway, I am big enough and grown up enough to appreciate that despite my shape I am a decent person. My self-worth is still intact, but I just KNOW my confidence isn't what it used to be now that I am fat. Isn't it strange that we can act confidently, project confidence and serenity and seem as though we are OK with what we are...but it only takes a mirror to burst any bubbles we have about looking good. A mirror can deflate us, a mirror can bring us back down to earth and keep us there.

So we attended the sales pitch.  Fortunately, I sat behind a table, so my top half showed. There was a lot of eye-contact as the overly jolly salesman made his pitch. The focus was on us. My face looked good :) I could keep my arms on the table and hide the blubbery tyres of fat round my middle. (I won't say 'waist' because I just don't have one!) Even if I didn't look good in the full-length view, I felt good for having made an effort...for having accentuated my best bits. I decided that I would do that again...more often. We laughed later on in the car about the over-the-top bonhomie and how this ultra-friendliness - almost two hours of it - INSTANTLY dried up as we told the team we didn't want to buy. The smarminess vanished and it all became awkward...as it did for other couples who'd been given the hard-sell. We were of no interest any more. It was all a false front. Even if we'd attended as innocents, we weren't being offered a good deal. We escaped with our voucher and VOWED we'd never do it again. It just wasn't worth it. 

Anyway...long story, but that outing was why I made an effort. I make the effort with my looks on other occasions too, but since I have become overweight I tend to lack confidence in myself. Isn't that strange? With ageing we aquire wisdom, self-knowledge and a certain authority, but now that I am fat I have found my self-confidence is all a front...it's an act. In fact, it's as genuine as the salesman's friendliness.

I am going to have a long wait before I look good in a full length mirror, and although my reflection is disheartening, I can't let it dictate again and again about how I feel about myself. I am hoping that some time next year I won't feel so down when I look at myself. The damage can be repaired, to a certain extent. I'll never have an ironing board flatness, and I may remain slightly squidgy..but I can regain a shape and I can tone up even if I can't regain my youthful bloom. I can regain SOME pride in my appearance. It's easy not to make the effort when you are overweight. I know I go out and hope that I won't be noticed. I don't want to draw attention to myself. But it's also good to accentuate the positive, as I did this weekend. In fact...since  Saturday I have been trying a bit more with my face..not the full make-up palaver, but I am 'grooming' myself more and wearing bracelets and beads...and choosing different earings. My Cupid's bow lips have been glossy..and my smallish eyes have been highlighted. My blonde hair has been piled that little bit higher and it's cost me nothing except a bit of time and effort.

I am worth that time and effort. I gained two pounds at the beginning of last week, and by Sunday they had gone. It goes on, it comes off...or so it seems, whether I make much effort or not. Why can't it just stay off? I am 'maintaining' well...(sigh) and I have to be satisfied that I am not gaining. I know I need to make more effort with my diet and my exercise routine. I don't think we can feel good about ourselves if we don't try. I made the effort with my face and hands....and although it didn't fix my plump body, it helped me feel a bit better about myself.  Now I really do have to work on my body. I think I may feel better about myself for trying that little bit harder with respect to my eating and exercise..every single day. Not trying is a sure-fire way to self-loathing and further neglect.

I came across this as I was browsing and found it quite appropriate and comforting.

“God makes three requests of his children: Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now”  ~  African-American Proverb

OK...you males and females out there...go and do a bit of grooming. Make the best of yourselves. Fat or not, it's good for our well-being to make the effort and not give up on ourselves. In fact, we have to learn to like ourselves, whatever our shapes. Go on - you are worth it - go and accentuate your good bits today! :)


  1. Good advice on the grooming!

    This reminded me that my husband and I did that once. We endured a time-share condo presentation to earn a free weekend at the Lake. Just like yours, except I don't recall what I wore. We had no intention of buying either.

    "Smarminess" makes me cringe. You described the sales team so well.

  2. Yup, I've been in one of those sale sessions, but only one. That was plenty.

    Grooming, yes, I worry about that. I never skip shaving or showering as, being obese, I worry about not looking any worse than I have to.

  3. FG: Missed you. Husband had the smarmy guys to our house for the "fabulous" window presentation/sale. It also turned ugly when we said no. I told Husband "Don't EVER subject me to that again!".

    I feel your pain about the life plan. Progress has been slow for me too. Hang in there...you are worth it!

  4. Thank you. I needed that.
    sincerely, thank you

  5. I am just getting back on the proverbial wagon.. am going to follow you.. really enjoyed this post.. best of luck to you!