Does My Face Look Fat in This?

(Wearing Primark ‘Hate’ earrings, rest all Vivienne Westwood – World’s End shirt, Red Label shorts, Gold Label ‘Animal Toe Courts’)

These are photo’s you wouldn’t usually see. I have tons and tons of photo’s which go straight into the trash folder. Why? Well to be honest I’m just like everyone else, I cringe when I see a bad photo of myself. Who hasn’t panic jabbed the ‘untag’ button on facebook when a ‘friend’ posted a photo where you looked fat/ bad hair/ tired/ smudged make-up … insert issue of your choice. As it no doubt happens your friend thinks you are acting like a lunatic and she thought you looked gorgeous in the photo, so has no idea why you are screeching ‘How could you do this to me’ down the phone! But when it comes to body image we are always our own worst critic.

As most of you know I suffer from a disease called Psoriatic Arthritis, which is an inflammatory condition affecting the joins and tendons. I have spent the last two years battling this, there is no cure, only medication which can attempt to get it under control. For the last few months they only way I have been able to get out of bed every day is to be pumped full of steroids, injected in the butt. Each jab spot has left a half golf ball sized dint which may or may not go away over time – one of many possible side-effects I risk every day. Every time I trial a different drug there is a list of possible nasties which I might have to deal with but when the other option is to end up crippled and bed ridden you welcome a dimply butt with open arms.

We are lucky really that there are drugs on offer we can try, many diseases don’t come with that option. So yes I am grateful I can get access to health care – even though the drugs in themselves can leave us dicing with death, the untreated disease would be much, much worse. When you use steroids over a long period of time however there are two side effects which are almost unavoidable, weight gain and ‘Moon-face’.

I’ve spoken a lot already about weight gain and how with a lot of effort I managed to get it pretty much under control but the one thing which crept up on me which I have absolutely not control over is ‘Moon-face’. Had you asked me about Moon-face before my illness I would have only thought of the character in Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway tree, but it is a common side-effect of long term steroid use also know as Cushings syndrome. It is characteristic by unusual distribution of fat around the face, causing a round moon shape often with chubby ‘hamster’ cheeks. In addition to a build up of fat at the back of the neck a ‘hump’ and around the tummy. In very serious cases it can cause skin thinning where huge, gash-like stretch marks occur.

As I usually hide behind my mane of hair you wouldn’t notice that much of a change in my face, but I have been increasingly paranoid about the round, double chin effect which has started to happen. Since I had my hair up in these photos, under really bright sunlight you can’t disguise the fact I have Moon-face. On the plus side I have now stopped the steroids in order to trial yet another drug, they were only a temporary stop gap, so the face should go back to normal in a few weeks. I was going to ditch the photos and not mention it but that was until I read this article:

Steroids save lives, but we have to face-up to their side-effects

The author Dorthy Byrne also takes steroids for an auto-immune condition, she talks about her own experience with their side-effect. But also how we are very rarely really talked to by our doctors about this kind of side-effect, they aren’t going to actually harm us such as risk of stroke for example, so are often just included somewhere in the small print of the information leaflet in the bottom of the box. Yes of course we all realise we need to take these drugs, fact, but should that mean we shouldn’t be made fully aware of the way it can effect our bodies? Having to learn to accept you have an incurable condition is hard enough, but the emotional turmoil you suffer as you body changes out of your control is never broached. It isn’t just about looking fat either, hell I’ve been overweight of my own accord and whilst it got me down it was my own fault for doing no exercise and drinking pints of larger – oh yes traditional student life style. But deep down I knew I could do something to loose the weight, it was in my control and of course eventually I did. This is very different, the fact you can wake up one morning and hardly recognise your own face is very upsetting. It isn’t any thing to do with vanity, it is the feeling of loosing control which is the scary thing.

The first comment on that article was what made me want to write this, a rant about how vain the author was and how silly she was being scaring people and putting them off life-saving drugs. But she misses the point, anyone in enough pain to be given steroids, like me will know a puffy face is the last of their problems, however this does not mean they shouldn’t be prepared for it. So I felt it was important to share this, because there are so many people out there in the same position as me. We aren’t vain worrying about this, we are just dealing with yet another issue brought on by having an incurable medical condition and some times it is nice to know you aren’t alone in this.

The Fat and Thin of it?

Kelly Osbourne has never been one to keep her opinions to herself, yet during a recent interview she let rip against arch rival Christina Aguilera.
ÔÇÿShe was a c*** to me,ÔÇÖ said Kelly, ÔÇÿShe called me fat for so many f**king years, so you know what? F**k you, you’re fat too!’
I can understand it if Christina had been taunting Kelly for years that she might want to hit back and feel like Christina was getting a taste of her own medicine. But why is weight so often used as ammunition? And why is it used by other women to attack each other?

I have been at both ends of the weight spectrum like Kelly and Christina and I can tell you it does make a difference to how you are treated. When I was a size 18, don’t forget I am only 5.2″, I was at my biggest. Within 12 months I dropped to a size 6 – which was so unhealthy, then I leveled out at a sensible size 10. This year due to my illness I have gone up to a size 12, which isn’t much, most people wouldn’t notice, but I won’t lie to you it really gets to me. It gets to me because I can’t wear some of my favourite pieces but also because I don’t feel like me. I feel bloated all the time and just uncomfortable in my own skin. I know that once I get my health back on track I will be able to get some exercise and get back in shape, that getting better is the most important thing, of course but still it is upsetting.Previously I had put on weight at uni during my undergrad, eating junk, not exercising, boozing all the time. During that time I had people ask if I were pregnant, some bloke in a bar said ‘you would be quite pretty if you lost some weight’. I couldn’t go and buy whatever I wanted to wear as it didn’t come in my size. When I gave myself a stern talking to and set of on my venture to loose weight it was a hard and lonely process. You would think people, friends, would have been supportive but in fact I was met with quite a lot of the opposite. Jealously I guess, that I was achieving this. So many people ask how I was doing it, like I had some magical formula I was selfishly keeping a secret from them. Honestly? I ate a very low calorie 1000 per day, diet and exercised for 30mins to one hour every single day. Either on my cross trainer or a Mr Motivator DVD. That is it, it took me about a year. It was very, very difficult to summon up such will power. I didn’t go out for a meal once in that entire time, I never ate unless at home so I had total control of my food intake. It took about 6 weeks before I could even notice any weight loss, a reason why many people give up after a few weeks.

These photo’s of me were taken about 14 months apart– in t’olden days where photos came on paper!
So it makes me laugh when people say ‘oh, its alright for you because your thin’ when talking about all manner of topics. Loosing weight didn’t make my life any more perfect, it did make me a lot happier but only because I felt good about myself on the inside. Yet no matter how frustrating not being able to shop at Topshop might have been, it was the sheer nastiness I experienced from other people that hurt the most. Being fat doesn’t make you a bad person and it certainly doesn’t mean you have no feelings!
We often hear how ‘sizeist’ fashion is, but life is sizeist too. Why can’t Christina be a size 14 and be a pop star? Why can’t Kelly loose weight and try her hand at modelling? I don’t have the answers, but I can say that if you are happy then it really doesn’t matter what size you are.

Thoughts? Rants? What do guys have to say?