Lady Like - Ingrid Andress

Baby was my mask, costume, alter ego, persona, other self. She was how I disguised and covered everything I didn’t like about myself. I’d contort my body into shapes it wasn’t meant to be. Slip myself into clothes too tight or short or revealing, I still do, but these days I only wear clothes I like, not what I think I should wear. I sometimes but plus size clothing as I’m now a size sixteen at best. The average size in the Uk is sixteen, I googled it. Why? To reassure myself I was normal. I’ve been obsessed with the word normal since I was twelve years old. The moment it all began, when I was asked why I had developed anorexia in the first place when I joined CAMHS (child and adult mental health services) I replied “I just want to be normal and fit in.” Fat wasn’t normal, maybe when you’re older you can get away with curves. Not at twelve . I did what I had to do and I’m always forever proud of that girl. She died a small silent death, never grieved for herself, swiftly moved on. But I think I’ve always been mourning what I lost at that time of life. Innocence, my happy childhood, joy and happiness and trust in other people. I remember my mum crying once and saying she didn’t want me to die, it never occurred to me that I’d die. I felt fine, tired, exhausted even, but fine. I talk about my experiences with mental health a lot, it help me in some way to heal. An untold story hurts you inside. But I’m well aware I’m not alone. Mental illness is so common, and anorexia is one of the biggest killers. I’m sending all my love to anyone out there suffering. A big part of my issues is to do with femininity and achieving an ideal standard. I didn’t want to be too loud or bossy. Stand out from the crowd, draw attention from boys or men, at the same time I wanted their attention for my appearance. I thought I had to be demure yet sexy. Cute, but also beautiful, fit, pretty. I wanted to be the girl next door, the girl I’d first unintentionally modelled myself on so young. Pretty, sweet, quiet, good natured, and never disagreeable. Now I don’t care if I’m outside of boxes set for me. Too big. Too loud. Funny, too vocal, too, outgoing or immodest. I do what I want, wear what I want and post what I want on social media. I want the same for every man and woman. Gender roles are damaging and harmful and affected me very young

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