Evans (my fave fat-girl shop) has not one, but 10 shops in UAE. One in Abu Dhabi. Another in Al Ain (my 2nd destination choice). Suddenly those worries about what to wear are slightly less desperate.
…but my number one concern about (possibly) moving to Abu Dhabi? What to wear. My usual go-to places for such information (Bootsnall, Dave’s ESL Cafe) were not useful in this area, at all. And a google image search brings up photos like these:
Somewhat impractical for day-to-day teacher wear, don’t you think?
Then, FINALLY, I found a most-unexpected resource in ExpatWoman.com.
Normally, expat-based websites are useful for people planning to buy a yacht, or retire to a villa in Spain. And invest in illicit diamond-mining or sketchy pyramid schemes based around carpet cleaners and tacky jewelry. And WAGs, ladies who lunch, etc. Not rumply, life-in-a-suitcase, hostelling, debt-laden me. But Expat Woman looks GREAT. At least as a basic resource for things that matter most to me - clothes! And even if they are all Ladies Who Lunch, the forums seem friendly and positive and all the rest. Hurrah!
About 14 years from now. Maybe by then I’ll be settled somewhere. Maybe.
I will be following back!
Today I’m learning Arabic. Bus sounds like “otto-beess” Which amuses me, for no particular reason.
Also, I already know more than I thought I did. At least hearing. Reading, not so much. Yet.
So, hello. My name is Amy, and I am fat. Overweight. Zaftig. Plus-sized. Obese.
Rubens would’ve loved me.
I used to be fatter. Also thinner. And I used to be more conflicted about my weight. Actually, I used to hate it. In fact, when I look at photos now, of me then, I remember how much I used to hate my body, live in shame, hide - behind my hair, behind my clothes, behind my attitude. And when I look at myself when I was thinner (last year), it wasn’t so much my smaller size that made me smile (indeed, every single day I wished I was smaller) but my life in general. I loved my life.
The experience of having been obese - morbidly obese - death fat in the marvellous terms of fatshionista.com (see links) - and then thinner in London, and then fat and in a new city in the US…follow that? Well the experience of these changes in weight as well as in location has made me think, long and hard, about my fat.
When I lived in London, I was a US size 18/20. That’s the smallest I’ve been (size-wise) since high school - more than 15 years ago. And I didn’t even realise it. Before I moved to London, I was a US size 28. I’m a 24 now. By any standard, I’ve always been fat. Once, I was a size 16, but I was aged 15, and I still had to shop at Lane Bryant. Or Sears.
When I went to London, I was thoroughly and deeply ashamed of my body. I packed a year’s worth of clothes to take with me, because I knew from experience that it was unlikely I would be able to purchase clothing in my size once I got there. My clothes were frumpy, eminently sensible, camouflage. They disguised my fat. Even my bra. It was not made to lift and separate - it was made to bind and gag.
As time went by, and I walked to work, to the bus stop, to the tube station, to the supermarket, to the cafe, to the park, to - well, you get the picture - I shrunk. Once I noticed (and the weather warmed up), I started shopping. And I found that shopping was fun. Oh, I still shopped in the plus size stores and departments (surely there’s a better term than plus size?) - but in London there were shops like Evans. H&M. Even Marks & Spencer had some things I liked. And miniskirts were in. And I was getting my legs back. And London street style (see blog, also in links) is…quirky, to say the least.
People smiled. I met FA people (FA = Fat Acceptance) who, even when their views seemed a little too sexualised for my taste, affected my view of myself. For only the second time in my life, men asked me out - for the first time, non-creepy men. My confidence grew, though my size stabilised and even increased a bit.
A few days before I left, I received my first proposal. Dear Nikolai. I still have his number somewhere.
During a short season in Houston, I continued to stabilise my weight at the size 18 mark and refuse to be quieted (aesthetically, I mean). To perhaps no one’s surprise, living with conservative people in Texas didn’t end well, so I came north, to South Carolina, where I now live with my sister.
I get looks here, too. But they are not appreciative, they are judgmental. Okay, my skirts are short. But I wear tights or leggings or something, so I’m still covered. And you know what? I am inordinately proud of my bosom (my bras all lift and separate and, you know, enhance). But the vast expanse is always covered. The girls don’t come out for work, you know!
I know those looks. Those looks of “What is she wearing?” “Has she no shame, coming to work looking like that?” “Don’t you know you’re FAT, Amy?” They are looks of judgment. They are looks that want me to dress like the other fat girls, buttoned up to the collar and down to the knee. Wear loose trousers and lay off the make-up. (I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but I wear mascara to the pool. Hey, I’m a ginger.) Sensible shoes, please.
And I get those looks Every. Single. Day.
No, I don’t dress especially professionally. But I work in retail. And I have a deep and abiding aversion to khakis. And sensible shoes of the nursing variety. So a dress with a sweater, or a pair of grey trousers (secretly they’re jeans, but we don’t say that, as jeans aren’t allowed) with an empire top, and a giant cocktail ring or a pair of bright teal tights for flavour - well, that’s perfectly acceptable, isn’t it? It’s HOT in South Carolina, and HUMID. And empire is my perfect cut/style. And I think more people should have fun with their wardrobe, a la the Uniform Project (yes, link in my links list).
I just want to stop at the next Look giver and say, “Yes, dear, I’m fat. No, I’m not especially ashamed of it anymore. And as a matter of fact, I do rock these glittery gold shoes and this LBD from Target.”
I’m just getting started in FA, and I would still like to lose at least one of my bellies (preferably the lower one - I have two). But I’m not ashamed of my body today. And I’m not going to be.
….And actually, I have loads more to say about being fat, but I’ve already written FAR too much, so I shall stop now.
Seriously, if I see one more anything, anywhere (youtube, twitter, google, email, telly, work, ANYTHING) about frickin’ Eat Pray Love, I may kill someone. The book was trite, the author is tedious, and there are SO MANY BETTER “Travel Changed My Life” books!!!
- Tales of a Female Nomad, for example.
I know there are other examples, as people have mentioned them elsewhere on the interwebs, but I don’t remember. And Tales of a Female Nomad changed MY life. So when’s HER movie going to be made? It could star Kathy Bates, and it’d be fantastic. I know this, because the book actually IS fantastic. As opposed to All Carbs All the Time, A Superficial Borrowing Of ‘Foreign’ Spirituality, Sex on the Beach. (Sorry, I mean Eat Pray Love.)
My earliest human memory isn’t a very pleasant one, but it’s of getting slapped in the face at the dinner table when I was four or five. Probably five.