Inside Out

 

_Take off the jewellery.Just be you_ she(2)

I wrote about doing something way out of my comfort zone the other day.  You can read here about how I submitted my photo to Autograph’s online curvy model search. And got a call about being shortlisted (eeeek! At last, an appreciater of the curves!) I wrote all about how I was getting ready to go and have my photos taken yesterday.  It was all a very welcome distraction from some of the other stuff that is going on for me at the moment.  You can read about that too, here if you are interested in lady-business.  All’s well that ends well.  I had my surgery this morning and happily had zero problems with the anaesthetic.  I’d like to thank my six months of stability for that.  Woohoo!

So while I am lying here post op, letting my lady-business recover, I thought I would tell you the story of my day yesterday… thanks to those of you who messaged me to say you wanted to hear all about it!

I was awake hours early, staring up into the darkness and wondering how it could be that I was seriously going to rock up to a modelling agency, big butt and all, and have my photos taken. It filled me with terror and delight and self-doubt. But I let it all the feelings wash over and through me, proud that I am big enough and old enough to know that feelings are fickle.  I reminded myself of the facts.  I did this to myself. I want to try this. They want my photos. I’m me and that is enough.  And I went through the poses in my head, trying to remember everything Tyra Banks ever said about modelling. Ha!  I lay there in the dark smizing at the ghosts of insecurity dancing around my bed. They weren’t impressed that I wasn’t listening to them. I lay there humming in my head “I’m a MO-del, you know what I mean…?”  and hamming it up for the imaginary camera.

I had an early appointment up at our local salon so my hair would look like I was naturally bouncy.  My lovely hairdresser Eff, sent me out with one of those “oh, this hair? I just showered and tossed my hair in the breeze… ” hairdos.  Good hair makes you feel so confident, doesn’t it?  I came home so full of it that I thought I’d take a selfie. I looked up at the light to see where would be a good spot to take it… and just as I was thinking ‘over there…’ my equilibrium woogled it’s wiggle and I took a very inelegant skate along the muddy ground. In my fancy hair.  And my ‘outfit number one’. Because pride does literally cometh before the fall!  Thankfully, the fall was small. And there was loads of time before I had to leave. I cleaned myself up, dusted off my pride and all the grass stains and mud (how ladylike) and took myself up to bed for a little rest.

My best friend Flo arrived to pick me up. She’s so wonderful.  By then my nerves were rising and I was wondering if I should abort mission.  She’s not gushy that girl, so when she said I looked good; I felt a million bucks.  Good hair and compliments you can trust. Essential components for feeling great! She had made me a coffee to-go and so off we went.  Have I mentioned how wonderful she is? She’s deep in the thick of planning a triple birthday party for her kids, and she took time out to be my wheels. I loves her.

62 Models is in a beautiful brick building surrounding a little courtyard. Access to the agency is up two flights of narrow, steep, stairs.  If you are a Dysautonomiac, you will understand why I stood at the bottom of those stairs, quaking in my ankle boots.  I had been warned.  A friend from my online patient forum is a model with 62 Models (the tall, slender kind).  Helena had already messaged me with reassurance, parking tips and stair warnings.  I stopped at the top and used my phone to snap shots while I caught my breath and un-dizzied myself.

Voila!  The door!  Can you imagine, standing at the door of a modelling agency, how much hutzpah it would take to open that door? It swung away from me and inside were five huge flat screen computers around a large table.  Transparent furniture and a funky chalkboard wall. NZ Fashion Week and other campaigns scrawled across it in white grainy chalk.  Behind each screen, an impossibly gorgeous person;  among them, Katie of the groovy glasses, Kelly with the brilliant white smile. And behind them, a wall of more gorgeous-person-photos.  All their eyes seemed to turn in my direction at once.

“Hello!   I’m Rachel Cox”
Kelly, a model, mum and marathon runner, smiled at me and I felt instantly welcome. I’ve seen her in so many catalogues,  but she is even more beautiful in real life than in print. Wow.  I felt like I knew her just because her face was already so familiar. It put me at ease. And I guess we both run marathons, just of different kinds.  😉

She introduced me to the others and explained that the willowy, auburn haired stunner to the right would be taking my photos.  Her name was Marijke. The bits in between the introduction and the end of the photos are all a bit of a blur!  I didn’t feel afraid, just wanted to do the right thing. I stared down the barrel of that camera and thought ‘…here I am.  This is me’. Marijke gave me excellent feedback and advice. It was fun and self-affirming. It was good for my soul. If you are wanting to look your best in photos, here is some of Marijke’s advice… ‘think friendly thoughts and it will show in your expression’ and ‘being natural is beautiful, so just be you’. She was so lovely.  After an outfit change I had to make a little intro video.  I’m not very comfy being on video, are you? Yikes.  I think I managed; I hope they will see my enthusiasm in my short few words.

_Take off the jewellery.Just be you_ she

I told Autograph that I would love the opportunity to represent New Zealand in their curvy model search. That’s it.

But for me, doing this thing is about overcoming all those inner voices of limitation. No, you can’t. No, you’re not enough, no you shouldn’t put yourself out there, no. Just, no.  Women, especially curvy girls, do themselves such a disservice by remaining hitched to those voices. They’re just insecurities. We know we are far more powerful, interesting and significant than those voices tell us we are. We are much, much more. Those little, insignificant mewlings that we have listened to for so long have become loud and insistent because we let them. Well, I’m here to tell you that those ridiculous little voices are actually very small when you stand up to them. They shrink. They scatter.  And what they leave behind is the kind of person I want my daughter to see me be.  Bold. Beautiful. Brave.  And maybe just a little bit bonkers!  Tee hee!

_Take off the jewellery.Just be you_ she(1)

If you are a curvy girl and are thinking about entering Autograph’s Model Search, you can do it here. Do it for you.  Do it to send those insecurities scarpering. Do it because you are beautiful, just as you are. Exactly the shape and size you are.  Not because of your body, but because of who you are. If I can do it, you can too.   Marijke’s photos arrived this afternoon and the woman I saw in them surprised me. I’m wearing my inside, out.  And I like it.

(thanks Michelle for sending me this song the other day!)

The Bold and the Beautiful

I’m getting older, aren’t we all?  And as the years tick over I become ever more conscious of how fleeting life is. Or maybe that is because my kids are growing older and seeing them grow up makes me reflect on how that was me, what seems like just yesterday.  Or perhaps dealing with being sick for so long has given me a better appreciation of the importance of doing what you yearn to do, because tomorrows are unpredictable. They are not to be relied on. That’s what I figure.

Michael Leunig understands Life.
Michael Leunig understands Life.

Speaking of figures, I’ve wasted a lot of my years feeling ridiculous about mine. Have you? Like, embarassed, ashamed, exasperated. Even before I had reason to. In various ways over the years I have castigated myself for the shape I carry.  Too this or too that. And if you added up all the kilos I have lost on various diets, I think I’d have lost my entire body weight. But lately, it’s just been gains. Chronic illness and my medication side effects have made weight control difficult for me.  If it’s not the tummy cramps of my pyridostygmine and motilium, it’s the insatiable appetite and trademark round cheeks I have acquired on high dose steroids. The delayed gastric emptying, chronic constipation, dizziness and especially, the ever present fatigue. ‘Just Do It’ is a huge mountain to climb. Any one of those issues pretty quickly puts exercise at the bottom of my priority list. And, um, I love cake. So, slowly but surely, I’ve gotten rounder.

o-TESS-HOLLIDAY-facebook

And that roundy-ness has made me feel less beautiful. Fat does not equate with beauty in our media; most of the time. But that is changing.  There are women like Tess Holliday, above, who are changing things. She is so gorgeous! Then there are others, it’s a new frontier. Just google ‘plus size model images’ and you’ll be wowed!

In spite of all the reasons why my fat sits there on my frame, I haven’t been good at looking at myself as though I have beauty. I look at other curvy people and I think they look beautiful, but not at myself. Lately I have been following a curvy stylist on facebook. Seeing her daily looks has been inspiring to me.  A fellow roundy girl who celebrates her inner self; on the outside.  She’s bold.  She’s sassy.  She’s awesome. I really like Jenni, from Styling Curvy for her down-to-earth approach to life.  As a cancer survivor (she calls it being a cancer thriver) she sees life for all it’s imperfect beauty. She knows it’s for embracing. And she has changed the way I look at my wardrobe, my body, my self. And I think I’m ready to do this ‘being me’ thing a bit differently. I’m ready to feel beautiful, anyway.

 

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Jenni, from Styling Curvy

I’ve been shopping for plus sized clothing online for years. My inbox receives updates from all my favourite big girl stores, and the other day, one of those newsletters caught my eye.  I love Autograph clothes, they have sensible price tags and comfort, not to mention flattering styles. And they’re online. Half my wardrobe comes from them.The women in the shot were women like me. Women wearing life on their frames.  But they were confident.  I saw them and I thought I want to be like that. And a small voice in my head scoffed at me. It told me to get real. After all, I’m forty. And probably too big even for a plus-size model.  And I’m sick.  Yeah, don’t forget that bit, Rach. I clicked through to the Star Now website. I made a profile. I sent it to Autograph, anyway.

 

Autograph Model Search graphic
The 2015 Autograph Model Search is open all August. Get into it!

And last Friday, in the midst of my downward spiral about my diminishing treatment prospects, I got a call from Vivien’s model agency in Sydney. A very sophisticated scandinavian-sounding guy told me I need to get myself to their partner agency 62 Models, here in Auckland.  I’ve been shortlisted. So on Thursday, I’m off for a bit of a shoot and an interview. Can you believe it?!

It’s probably a foolishness on my part, but you know what?  I don’t care. It has been a wonderful distraction from the upcoming surgery on Friday.  I’ve had my nails done! I have some outfits to take along, it’s been fun having something exciting to look forward to.  I hope I can do this thing, but I have no idea if I can.  There is just this belligerent part of me that recognises how short life is, it calls me to be bold.  I’m not sure if my boldness will equate to the beauty they are looking for, but I’m going to give it a shot. It’s already given me such a boost.

Wish me luck!  Do you wanna see me in my outfits?
I’ll let you know if my boldness becomes something beautiful. x

who am i to thinkI can put myself out there_(2)