Until I was 21, I was wearing size small t-shirts. I’m five foot six, and was relatively skinny. I wasn’t healthy by any means, but my weight was under control. Up until this point, I’d got away with eating heavily and never exercising.
But fairly rapidly, things began to change. I began to notice my clothes tugging a little round the edges. I moved onto buying medium t-shirts. Soon after I started to breathe in deep for photographs. It wasn’t too long until I moved onto large shirts.
And around this time, I started to avoid being photographed altogether. In the last four years, there are barely a handful of photographs of me. I’ve avoided them because I’ve been ashamed about the way I look – a shame that hasn’t been helped by rather relentless concurrent hair loss.
For a couple of years, this carried on fine. The number on the scales got a little higher, and the waist sizes on my jeans got a little bigger. My pot belly protruded incrementally further.
Eighteen months ago, I bought my first extra large shirts. My last ditch attempt to hide my weight gain and my ever expanding stomach. Being short, and with almost all my body fat developing around my middle, they hang awkwardly on my frame – sagging loosely around my neck and shoulders. Worse still, they do a fairly poor job of masking my belly anyway.
Then, ten months ago, I had one of those awful moments people dread. I’m not a smart dresser ever. The idea of wearing a tie is stomach churning to me. But sadly, for work, I occasionally need to make the veneer of an effort. One such time, I had a series of back to back meetings with journalists. I was wearing my one remaining shirt I could squeeze into. Two minutes into the first meeting, I start to feel a breeze around the base of my stomach.
I subtly check out what’s happening with my left hand. To my dismay, I realise that by an unfortunate turn of events, I’d transformed into cartoon character. I discover that not one, but two buttons on my shirt have popped off from the tension caused by my undersized shirt wrapping around my oversized belly.
For the rest of the meeting, I strategically cross my arms to cover the newly formed gap. And afterwards, I put a jumper over the top which will not move for the rest of the day.
Christ alive. How did I get here? How did I go from being almost definitely too skinny to literally tearing through the fabric of my clothes with my own body mass and my BMI telling me that I’m obese. Something had to give.
The point of this is that although I’ve only recently decided to take action to sort out my health and my weight, realising it’s been a problem has been a long time coming. It’s been a long journey realising and understanding that I am a fat bastard. And part of that journey has been the ongoing attempts to mask my weight gain through buying ever bigger clothes, while casting my old ones to the back of the wardrobe, knowing it will be a long, long time before they ever fit me again.