I love the sunshine, I love sitting in a nice beer garden with my friends drinking Pimms or having a cheeky barbecue and I especially love escaping home to Sussex and being near the beach. As someone who has a real problem with her upper arms and her legs though, I wish I could spend the summer wearing a giant head to toe kaftan so nobody has to see the wobbly bits that to my eyes at least, are disgusting.
I still remember the day when my friend of many years, the lovely Belles, was quite taken aback at the appearance of my upper arms. She’d never seen them in over five years of friendship, I think she had started to believe they didn’t exist. I’ve only bared my shoulders once in the UK as an adult, when I was feeling particularly brave at Kings of Leon in Hyde Park and I even hate wearing short sleeved t-shirts. So I had mixed feelings when the yellow ball of gas in the sky suddenly exploded and showered us in sunbeams. On one hand, it was brilliant waking up in the morning with a sunny day smile on my face, escaping into the sunshine at lunchtime and spending time in the garden of an evening. On the other hand though it was awful as I sweltered away in my usual uniform of jeans and a baggy blue cardigan covering me up, I had sweat running in rivulets down my back and was the very definition of hot under the collar.
One day last week I could take it no more, and looking round the office to make sure everyone was engrossed, I slipped the cardigan off my shoulders and braved wearing a short sleeved top in company. People looked. Of course they did. I tried so hard to convince myself that it was because my upper arms are such a very rare sight that they wanted to take a glimpse before they were covered up again, a bit like getting up in the middle of the night just to catch the tiniest glimpse of a shooting star. My negative Nancy-ness won out though and I convinced myself that they were looking because they could see the baggy hammocks of skin that swing under my arms and were disgusted by them, disgusted by me. I lasted as long as I could before I couldn’t take it any longer and decided I’d rather broil myself alive than sit there feeling so exposed and uncomfortable.
Ridiculous isn’t it. I confided in my friends that I couldn’t be like them and wear little strappy tops and sundresses without feeling like I wanted to hide away and they were brilliant and understanding and made me feel much better than I had done before. Today I decided to try and face it head on so didn’t put a cardigan on, although it was in my handbag as I’m not that brave yet, and was touched when Barney caught up with me at lunch and said she was so pleased that I was getting over my fear of my skin and that it was okay and they looked normal and that people didn’t care. It was an uncomfortable chat because my head was screeching that she was wrong and OF COURSE people were looking and judging, thankfully my rather more rational side kicked in and reminded me that I am not the centre of the universe and people have far more to worry about than my upper arms.
I got to thinking, and I decided for better or for worse the best way to get over a fear is to face a fear. The only thing to fear is fear itself and so this feels like the right thing to do. If I show you how bad it is, if I just get it out there and show you what years of stupidity and sadness and inability to cope without stuffing my face and then being saved and losing a person’s worth of weight has done to part of my body then I can move on and hopefully put it behind me. Here:
At this point in time I can’t imagine not paying someone to slice off the baggy hammock skin when I’m a bit smaller. It sounds so defeatist and lame that something like this could hold me back but it does but for the foreseeable future my baggy bingo wings are here to stay and I need to learn to live with, or even at a stretch, love them.