Body Confidence

Before Miss Victory Violet

Last week, my favourite clothing company Pinup Girl Clothing posted about a new competition on their Instagram. Customers can upload a before and after they found PUG and how it’s changed their life. There are 15 incredible prizes to celebrate 15 years of being in business and I jumped at the chance to enter! You can see all the details on the competition here, there’s still a week left to enter!

PUG changed my life


The competition has come with uncanny timing. I’ve been thinking a lot about my past difficulties with my body recently and touched upon it in during the Miss Pinup New Zealand Competition (4.30min in this video).
I am also in the process of organising a Body Confidence Seminar with Rita Sue Clothing and Janelle Fletcher, something I’ve thought about for many months and am excited for it to be finally be happening!

Anyway, as well as all of that, I’ve been meaning to write a blog sharing my story. A few years ago I wrote a blog post on pinupgirlstyle.com which was the first time I’d really opened up about it. If you have seen my entry to the Pinup Girl Clothing Competition, you’ll have a overview of what I went through but I’d like to share my story with a little bit more detail. Eating disorders can be incredibly isolating so I hope my experiences can help someone going through something similar.

As a kid, I never cared what anyone thought of me. I was a total free spirit and would wear the most outrageous outfits to school like leotards, Cinderella costumes and even had my mum sew a little toy bird to the shoulder of one of my tops so I could be a pirate… I LOVED playing dress up!

Then High School and puberty hit. I was 11 when I started going through puberty- pimples, boobs and hips all came so quickly. Up until then I had been a tall, skinny rake so I now felt so ugly. Everyone would always say that I looked years older than my actual age and because of this, I got lewd attention from grotty old men from age 11-12 when I was walking to the school bus stop. It would really upset me and made me quite distrustful of boys.

I remember these first few years of high school being kinda rough- there were so many catty fights within friendships and so much emphasis on being cool and fashionable. I got sucked in and tried so hard to conform to the social pressures!

When I was 16, I met my now husband Matt. By this time I had a little bit more confidence and had lost some of my baby weight but at first I didn’t believe him when he told me I was beautiful. His unwavering love for me and for my body helped me to look twice at myself and say ‘am I really as ugly as I think I am?’

After high school, I started at University doing a Bachelor of Arts but after the first semester I decided it wasn’t for me and started working in retail. I put on weight during this time because I would buy my lunch every day from the food court and there weren’t many healthy choices! I started to feel ugly and unhappy again and could see the weight piling on so I decided to join a gym.

It all started off great, I had a good balance of healthy eating but still allowing treats. After 6 months, I’d lost 10kgs and felt pretty amazing but I still wanted to be skinnier. I started running and decided to sign up for the Auckland Half Marathon. This was the start of the downhill slope! I started to get more and more obsessed with being skinny so I cut what I was eating WAY down. It got worse and worse until I was running around 40km a week (plus strength training) and only eating 500-800 calories a day. Most days I would only have carbs for breakfast then have salads for lunch and dinner. This is not nearly nutritious enough for someone exercising as much as I was.

By now I was very slim (total weight loss close to 20kgs) but I looked like crap. I was cold and tired all the time, my hair was falling out, my nails were weak and my skin looked gaunt and translucent. After a few months I started to crack. With all the exercise, my body NEEDED carbs so I started to binge.

I hated, hated, HATED myself when this happened! I was so obsessed with calories in/calories out, I kept a diary where I wrote down everything I ate, how many calories I burned during a workout according to my heart rate monitor and how I was feeling.

I started to withdraw into myself. Dinner with friends was a terrifying idea (what would be on the menu that was healthy?!) and if I ate just a tiny bit more of something than ‘allowed’ it would completely ruin my day. The self-loathing at this point was so poisonous. I think my family and friends knew something wasn’t right but I kept it pretty well hidden.

When I think back and try to figure out what triggered everything, I think it was that at that time of my life things were a little up in the air. My parents had recently separated, my mum had a brain bleed and needed 3 brain surgeries and I was starting at hairdressing school. So many big changes and stress that perhaps I need control over something.

As the binging got worse, I started to make myself sick. This only went on for a couple of weeks before I realised that everything had gone too far and told my mum what was happening. She was amazing, the next day we were at the doctors and had appointments set up with a counsellor and nutritionist. I found the nutritionist the most helpful since I am someone who likes to know the facts. She taught me about sports nutrition so that I could keep training for the half marathon.  It took a while for me to accept that carbs were ok and that my body needed them, especially before going for a long run. My trainer at the gym Sheree was also so so helpful and I embraced it all and kept training. Unfortunately I was unable to do the event due to a chest infection that didn’t clear up in time. It was disappointing but one of my training runs had been only 1km off the full half marathon so I felt like I still had achieved my goal.

After that, I decided to take a break from the gym and try to enjoy life and food again. I focused on trying to love my body the way it is and not be constantly waging war on it. It was a few months after this resolution that I decided to do a order from Pinup Girl Clothing. I’d found them a year or two beforehand but didn’t have to confidence to make a order. My love for the retro styling had always been there but since I am such a ‘all or nothing’ person, I wanted to be able to totally immerse myself in it! I used my paycheck from my first week full-time at work out of hairdressing school to make a order- 5 outfits so I had enough for a working week! I didn’t go back to ‘normal’ clothes except for the occasional jeans and a tee on my days off. I was totally hooked!

Before and After

For once I felt like clothes were made for my hourglass shape and I wasn’t trying to fit into a mould that was never going to suit me! This first order from Pinup Girl Clothing and all the subsequent ones were what helped take the final step in body acceptance and find confidence from within. I don’t think I have had a fat day since and that sad, obsessive Ella seems like a lifetime ago. I would never have thought that I would be doing what I do now or had the courage to enter Miss Pinup New Zealand.

I cannot truly express the empowering feeling of going through something so dark it feels like there will never be light at the end of the tunnel … and to not only emerge but to feel like the brightest star in the galaxy…. that is what Pinup Girl Clothing made me feel like!

I’m sorry this is such a novel but it’s a incredibly personal experience and a huge part of what has shaped me to how who I am today so I can’t help but want to explain it all. Whilst it was a awful thing to go though, I consider myself lucky in some ways. So many girls go through so much worse! I wouldn’t change anything as I wouldn’t be who I am today.

 

x Miss Victory Violet 

I would also like to mention a special group of ladies on Facebook, the Darling Dames, who are endlessly supportive, positive and beautiful on the inside and out x

Categories: Body Confidence

16 replies »

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m still going through recovery but I’m getting there with my love of pin up too.

  2. The confidence that you exude is so inspirational! Thank you for sharing your story, it’s wonderful reading about beautiful woman discovering their beauty and growing from it!

    But really what I want to compliment you on is the victory roll tutorial that you did on stage for the Pin Up competition. So amazingly creative! I was riveting to watch you do that live and on stage!

    Keep on smiling your beautiful smile and have a marvelous day!!!

  3. Thank you for being so brave in sharing such a painful and personal story.
    I’ve not had an eating disorder, but have struggled with depression and anxiety for years, and find your story of overcoming struggles speaks to me greatly.
    I too adore vintage and felt awkward and uncomfortable in most modern attire, and found the femininity and glamour of retro a perfect fit!
    Congratulations on winning Miss Pinup New Zealand, you are absolutely beautiful and inspiring, and the fact you have overcome painful obstacles makes you even more so.

    All the best,
    Kind regards,
    Vanessa x

    “The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.”
    ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

    • Thank you very much Vanessa! I’m glad to hear you are getting through your depression, isn’t it funny how just being comfortable in what your wearing can make such a big difference? All those years of feeling uncomfortable and like a imposter! X

  4. Thank you for sharing these private moments of your life. It’s wonderful to see how far you’ve come and that you are happy within yourself. Much like Vanessa, I too have struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my life. I’ve never considered myself a “girly girl” and truth be told .. I have never liked “modern” attire. However, when i discovered retro and vintage clothing thanks to my mother.. i fell in love & for the first time in my life I’m finding myself giddy with excitement over dresses make-up styles. I find individuals like yourself to be very inspiring as I always thought that the way women dressed way back when was the most flattering; their hair, makeup and clothes … that’s how a beautiful woman looks 🙂 I look forward to more of your posts.

    Thanks again 🙂
    Victoria x
    (Liverpool, UK)

  5. I love your blog and have just read your personal experience. I have had a similar experience and suffered from an eating disorder from the age 16, I am now 30. I am much healthier now and focus on healthy good food .I love that you focus on body confidence as many young girls need more people like that, instead of body shaming which seems to happen far too often.
    I love the pin up style as it is much more embracing to woman’s varied sizes and shapes and can make you feel very glamorous. I am slowly converting my wardrobe lol as I always feel my most confident in pin up styles. Just need to nail the hair do’s now
    🙂

    Thanks again for an awesome blog

  6. Thanks for sharing your story.. Right now I’m going through that dark side of my life,
    Really do that it becomes very difficult to accept.
    Almost a year ago, I’m on a diet and have lost weight a lot, but I am no satisfied. My family and friends tell me fine, but I think we still need me to reach my objetive.
    I would love to have a body like yours… And mine is not so different, there are things in common, but I still missing. I know.

  7. What an inspirational story. To pull yourself out of the dark is such an amazing thing. Well done.

    I have had a very difficult experience over the last 7 years now. I was diagnosed with hip displaysia when I was 17 I’m now 24. I have endured four invasive depilating surgerys that lefts me in bed from 19-21 and 23. I had to learn how to walk from scratch twice and went from 9 stone UK size 8-10 to 13 stone and 13 lbs UK size 16-18.
    I worked at Costa coffee right up until the month before my first surgery. I was sent home by my boss when they found me throwing up blood due to the extreme amount of painkillers I had to take to get me though my shifts. At the time I was working 10-13 hours shifts and still covering others sick and holiday days. I never called in sick, I was too proud and stubborn.

    Inbetween my 2nd and 3rd I retu to work. I powered though the pain with more painkillers and determined to not fail and scum to this hereditary disabliy I had been handed. Unfortunately I lasted only 1 year and 6 month. I was ashamed that I left the pain get too much.

    It has taken me from my happy go lucky self who worked out and worked full time and studied full time to nothing. Doing nothing at all. I sat in my from the age of 19 – 23 completely depressed hating life. I’m living in chronic pain every single day with out relief and it simply became to much to handle.
    It took me trying to end it all to see life was still worth living and I can turn it around. I came to this conclusion this year in May.

    Since July 2015 I have lost 2 stone and slimmed to a perfect UK size 14. I achieved this though heathy eating and exercise (rehab program at my gym) I hope to get to a UK 12 as I feel I was at my sexiest then believe it or not.

    I don’t know what my life will hold for me but I think I’m on a good road. No one knew my struggle I didn’t ask for help not even my husband (who I met 6 months before I was diagnosed. He has been there from the start.) don’t do it my way. Ask for help.

    Since I have been feeling better I have changed my style. The last 7 years has been joggy bottoms and t-shirts and before that I was a skinny but curvey some what pretty Tom boy. I struggled to fine things to fit my waist and hips as my waist is much smaller than my hips but and thighs. Since changing my style to this pin up I feel more confident. Although I only have a couple of outfits and still struggling to leave the house except the gym, pain therapy and dinner and my god mothers every second week, I don’t need much but I would like more option. So fingers crossed.

    Sorry for the story but 7 years is a lot to cover.

    Thank you for your inspirational honestly.

    • Wow you have been through so much, thank you for sharing your story! I wish you all the best, it sounds like you are heading in the right direction and have the best love and support behind you ❤️❤️❤️

      • I didn’t see you had replied. Thank you that is very nice. I also wish you all the best. Very much enjoying your America trip. Hope you and your husband are well.
        Thank you
        Laura X

  8. These stories are truly amazing. I’ve been interested in the history of the 1940s since I was a teenager, but have only recently started to appreciate the fashions of the time too. The Hollywood pin-up girls of the time looked amazing. It seems that we’ve kind of forgotten how to dress like women, and your pictures give me faith that that’s not necessarily the case – it can be done!

    I feel comfortable and beautiful in the one vintage dress I have, and would love to get more, and actually wear make up again – I’ve rather got out of the habit now, but always used to. I have no idea how to do the hair though!

    I have a daughter myself, and although she is only three now, I hope such amazing posts and inspiring thoughts on body image that you have written here are things I can pass on to her. For instance, I will never have a waist much smaller than my hips – not even when I was very slim, but it’s nice to know there is a glamorous pin-up look that will work for that, and I rather make up for it with a big bust!

    Also, my daughter calls my 1940s reproduction vintage dress my ‘Princess Dress’!

  9. This is amazing to read. I endorse the pin-up style as well, and even so, I was bodyshamed a few days ago by a total stranger on Facebook. I reacted to an article about chub rubs, and some person I don’t know went to check my profile and told me I could stand to lose 10 kg’s and the chub rubs are my fault for eating too much. I exercise three times a week (cardio + powertraining), go for one hour walks with the dogs daily, am a competitive horserider and am supported by a nutritionist to help me stay in shape and cope with the heavy exercise. Like you, I’ve had boobs and hips since I was 12, and have been struggling with my body ever since. Even in my vintage clothes, even with an amazing boyfriend who keeps telling me I am beautiful, I always find some reason why I’m not. Endorsing the pinup style and working with the coach is slowly helping me build up some confidence, and than, just like that, everything crashes down because of one person’s hateful comment. A person that doesn’t know the struggle, and calls me ‘fatso’ when I try to make her realize she shouldn’t judge based on one picture.
    Luckily, I was also drowned in tons of super sweet reactions from friends, acquaintances,… people I never expected to be there for me. The support I got was overwhelming, and so I got over it quite quickly. But I can only imagine what would have happened with someone less surrounded, less extravert also (I got those reactions because I shared that comment and how I felt about it). Girls and women should never have to endure being shamed for the way they are made.

  10. Wow! I would of never thought you had weight issues, you look fabulous.
    I find being in school that pressure to be someone else is always there but now I’m trying to find myself.

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