It’s my birthday next week, which means this coming Monday marks the start of #shannonsbirthdayweek. To those that haven’t been following me for very long – welcome to the best week of the year. There’s no doubt that the week in the run up to #shannonsbirthdayweek is usually a turbulent one. This year, however, I’ve gained weight.
Let’s analyse this time last year, for example. I spent days scrolling the internet for the perfect dress and narrowed it down to 6. I showed Tom and asked him to pick his favourites. Not because I’d listen, but because I wanted him to tell me I’d look nice in all of them… Nothing could have prepared me for what followed. Instead of telling me I’d look brill in them all, he said that he couldn’t see me in any of them and then uttered the worst words a girl could ever hear… ‘You are not J Lo.’
Shocked, I stared at him in silence. A few minutes later, the tears came. HOW DARE HE?! How dare he tell me that I am not the queen of all things beautiful and sexy?! It was August 6th 2017. A day not to be forgotten.
But how a year changes things, huh? In hindsight, Tom’s statement was closer to the truth than I gave him credit for. Although I have a J Lo mentality, I am, in fact, not J Lo. Adding dresses to my basket and then thinking that I’m going to look like some A-list celeb is totally insane.
Since then, I’ve gained weight. Like to the point that my jeans don’t fit me anymore and I haven’t worn a bikini in 12 months. I’m actually far more unhappy with my body now than I was this time last year. But, the difference is, if the events of August 6th were to replay themselves now, I wouldn’t cry. In fact, I wouldn’t even add the dresses to my basket in the first place.
I’m not fat, so let’s lay that down. I have no doubt that in amongst gossip those words will have been uttered about me: ‘Oh my god I saw Shannon the other day, she’s got a bit fat, you know!’ But the truth is, I’m not fat. Yet.
A whole array of things have led to the weight gain: working from home, not exercising as much and the need to comfort eat as a result of a negative mental state. And, as the weight gain slowly crept up on me, I wasn’t unhappy. The moment hit a few weeks ago when I realised that I have been suffering with a severe case of body disassociation. I hadn’t looked at myself in a full-length mirror in months and I wasn’t looking at my body as my own, let alone treating it like it was.
The moment hit when I sat on the bed and felt a part of my back that I had never felt before. A new roll had sprung up and, in doing so, it had alerted me to the presence of my own body. You know, the thing that’s attached to my head. The thing that I dress up in clothes every day. The thing I cover in oils and creams and then write about for a living. I looked down and thought: “Fuck! This is the SAME body that I always had but it looks totally different!”
The truth is, the last year has forced me to accept change. I left a job that I saw as a massive comfort blanket, my parents moved out of the house I had grown up in, I decided to go freelance, I moved out of my flat and into that of Tom’s parents… the list goes on. I’ve spent 12 months accepting change, asking no questions and just getting on with my life. Turns out, that’s a bloody fantastic mindset to have when it comes to most things but not so much when it comes to your own body.
So yes, I have gained weight. Yes, I know it. No, I’m not happy about it, but I am working on it. And that’s all I can do really. I’m not here to start dieting or take up a crazy exercise regime. I’ve got to balance some stuff out because, in reality, I’ve bigger fish to fry than trying to decipher how many Pringles is too many. But, I’m aware. And I’m willing to make changes.