Plastic Fantastic

plastic

I have fake boobs.

[Pauses for dramatic effect]

I grew up surrounded by well endowed female adults. On top of that, I was a reasonably solid build. So I took it for granted that I too would hit that magical, awful, awkward stage of puberty, and come out of it somewhat unscathed, and sporting a fabulous pair of my own knockers. But the damn things wouldn’t grow.

Well, one of them did, somewhat more than the other. So I sort of had one boob, but even that boob was pretty disappointing. I would optimistically say that I was capable of filling out a ‘B’ cup, but the reality was that the only thing filling it out was the shoulder pads I had cut out of an op shop blouse that I had bought because it was “totally grunge”. I hid my shame, and my lumpy, shoulder pad filled bras, under baggy band t-shirts, and flannelette shirts from Lowes – it was the 90’s and I was the epitome of 90’s angsty teen fashion. I convinced myself that I was a late bloomer.

I was not a late bloomer.

My state of flat-chestedness became an all-consuming preoccupation. I would not wear singlets, they were too hard to pad convincingly. I loved playing sports, but I hated wearing sports bras- they took what little I had, and made it non existent. So I wore padded bras under sports bras, much to the amusement of teammates when it was discovered. Even as I grew into a young adult, I was painfully aware of my titless status, and my wardrobe was carefully and painstakingly chosen to conceal my exiguous chest- draped tops, halter necks, cowl necks, any neck, as long as it alluded to the illusion of breast tissue.

Being a titless wonder affected me socially. I was terrified of intimacy. I would complain to my friends that I was perennially single, while simultaneously sabotaging any opportunites of the relationship kind that arose. I was terrified, that if I let a man too close, he would discover my secret, and that I would be exposed, both physically, and as the breast fraud that I was. It terrified me right through the first couple of years of my relationship with the man who became my husband.

It wasn’t just the lack of cleavage. I am tall, broad of shoulder, and until having three kids, reasonably slim of hip in comparison. I had other friends as titless as me, but they made up for their lack of breast with distinctly feminine figures, broad hips, narrow waists, slender legs. It felt to me that I had lost the lady lottery, in all respects. Instead of curves, I had leg muscles and a pair of shoulders that could carry a small fridge with ease. As practical as that may be, I felt epically ripped off.

On more than one occasion, I was addressed by a stranger as “sir”.

It probably didn’t help that I worked in a traditionally male industry. It also didn’t help that this industry required me to wear a uniform that was pretty masculine in appearance.

 

Most of the time, when a random male (it was always men) addressed me as such, it was usually to my back, and they would recoil in embarassment the minute they realised, apologising profusely, muttering about my hair being tucked under my cap, or something similar, as they made their hasty retreat. But occasionally, the commenter was a real arsehole, and would laugh in my face. Or even worse, call out to their mate.

“Oi, Davo! It’s not a ‘he’, it’s a ‘she’!!!!”

“No shit, Bazza!”

Chuckle, chortle, snigger. You get it.

I mean, it didn’t happen often. But it bloody well did happen.

At 25 years old, I did what I always promised, and nobody expected: I took myself off to the hospital, and got myself a boob job. It wasn’t a secret. It was a celebration. I gave my boobs a party, complete with champagne and a titty cake. I bought them a new wardrobe, complete with padding-free bras, and plunging necked tops. I wore those silicone beauties with pride and confidence.

I’m 34 now, and I have had fantastic boobs for nearly ten years. Three pregnancies have definitely changed them. I still love them. The shiny newness has worn off, and these days I guess it isn’t common knowledge that my assets are far from natural. Generally, when I mention my boob job in passing conversation, it is met with complete surprise.

“Wait……. whaaaaaaat? You had a boob job?!?!!!”

[look of shock] “You’re kidding me, right? You?”

“Can I touch them?”

“You have fake boobs? But you don’t seem like the type!”

I get the last one a lot. I’m not ‘the type’. Since I have fake boobs, I guess I am ‘the type’, but I do understand what they mean. ‘The type’ is pretty, perfect. With a 365 day spray tan. ‘The type’ always has their eyebrows waxed, fingers manicured. ‘The type’ doesn’t only wear makeup when she can be arsed to slap it on, she artfully applies it every day. Her hair is shiny and straight, and is only shoved back into a pony tail while she does yoga in a fancy gym. ‘The type’ is always dressed in clothing that is 100% on trend. No, I am certainly not ‘the type’.

I also find that people like to question why I bought boobs. Like, did I do it to attract men? No, I really didn’t. I was already in a long term relationship, with a man who already loved me. I didn’t need boobs for that. I have even been asked if I was trying to prove something – a question which confused me. Prove what? And to whom? Again, no. Not the reason.

I did it because when I looked in the mirror, the person who stared back didn’t look like me. In my mind’s eye, I had breasts, not porn-star big, but big enough, all along. I did it because I was tired of feeling like my body didn’t accurately represent the person I wanted it to. I did it because I am a woman. I did it because I wanted to.

Plenty of people find the idea of plastic surgery abhorrent. I am sure that many people who are reading this think that I’m vain. Or conceited. That’s OK.

I don’t care.

You can think what you want, about me, about my silicone breasts. It doesn’t actually matter to me. Because my boobs are one of the best damn things I have ever done in my life. I’m proud of them. Proud of myself for making the decision to do what I wanted.

This is my body. I am privileged enough that I had the chance to do what I wanted with it. I still have that privilege every day – I dye my hair bright purple, wear the clothes that make me feel happy. I don’t have tattoos (I’m pointedly ignoring my obligatory tramp stamp), but I wouldn’t discount me getting some in the future. They are my choices to make. My choices. My body.

Plastic surgery is more common these days, even more than it was ten years ago. You can get rid of your mummy tummy, buy a designer vagina. You can even get the fat sucked out of your arse, and injected into your breasts, like every old joke about migrating fat turned into reality. And perhaps, it isn’t for you.

But maybe it is, and that’s OK too.

 

 

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The Smallest Vexillologist – taking back the flag.

This story starts with a council cleanup, a discarded Australian flag, and a curious toddler.

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The original Flagga, in all its glory (and a hilarious JJ hat).

It was the kind of flag that attaches to the window of a car – a white plastic stick (miniature pole?), with a thin fabric flag sewn to the top section of it. I’m not sure where it came from, we are not the type of people who attach such things to our vehicles – not in January, not any other time. So, when I found it in a pile of random crap in the corner of our garage, I didn’t hesitate when I placed it on the “chuck out” pile.

When my small person, JJ, came across the pile of crap, and the random flag atop it, he became enamoured instantly. This was what he wanted. This flag, cheap, insignificant, uninteresting. “What it?” he asked. “It’s a flag.” I replied. “Flagga. Flagga!” said JJ, his tiny voice full of wonder.

‘Flagga’ quickly became part of the family. It is tradition in my family to be non-traditional: and Flagga was proof that weirdness is born, not bred. Where other children had a small blanket, or a soft bunny, as a comfort toy, JJ had Flagga. It went everywhere with him – still does – and the word quickly became part of the family vocabulary. “Where is Flagga? I need it now, we are going! I can’t find friggen’ Flagga anywhere!” “JJ took Flagga in the bath with him tonight – so Flagga is a little damp.”

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Even when completing puzzles, Flagga is a constant companion.

JJ quickly became known around our frequent haunts as ‘the boy with the flag’. At the gym, reception greeted both him and Flagga by name. The lollipop lady at his sister’s school, the staff at the swimming centre, the residents at my grandmother’s nursing home. JJ and his Flagga made everyone smile.

As Flagga became worn and over-loved, it became apparent to us that we were going to need a replacement flag. Never before have I had the inclination to purchase such a patriotic item, and it quickly became apparent that Australian flags are only easy to come by in January, or in the lead up to major international sporting events. However through researched shopping, and generous donations, JJ soon possessed quite a collection of flags, from a variety of nations and causes. Flagga, the simple Australian flag, was still the original though, and the best.

At times I briefly wondered what other people thought about my child proudly displaying his Flagga for all the world to see. I worried that strangers might associate us with groups like Reclaim Australia, Australian Settlers Rebellion, and all the other ‘patriot (racist white supremacist)’ groups that are floating around social media these days. That they would associate us with the original ‘patriot’, Pauline Hanson. And even worse, that these groups, that have taken the flag, and turned it from a symbol of a country into a symbol of hate and exclusivity, would see my son, and his flag, and think to themselves, “Look, there goes a good white mum, raising her white kid right.”

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Flagga in the springtime

Well, the other day, it happened.

I had been made aware of a group of ‘concerned citizens’ that were meeting at the site of a proposed community centre , to express their ‘concern’. These citizens had taken issue with two things: firstly, the community centre was to be opened in a building that had previously been the home of a much loved Ex-Serviceman’s club. Secondly, the community group who were planning on opening the centre happen to be Muslim. Since it was a day I wasn’t working, and the kids and I were in between social engagements at the time it was on, I decided to head down, stand back, and take a little look.

We stood at the back, the kids and I, with a couple of other people who were also just curious to see what all the fuss was about. I took photos of the kids, in a bid to keep them entertained, and me occupied – I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I am unintentionally honest at times, and I feared that my ‘cover’ would be blown if I did. And I was eavesdropping, just a little, on the people standing near me. Words such as ‘muzzie’ and ‘raghead’ were being uttered. I heard the phrase “they’re bloody trying to take over.”

As I was teasing the kids for their silly faces, the people I was sort of listening to turned to us and smiled. A man, with a southern cross tattoo on his arm, leaned down to my little JJ. “You wave that flag with pride, son.” He looked at me, and smiled his approval. Against his leg, leaned a sign protesting the development. I realised, quite suddenly, that this guy thought that I was raising my kids to be tiny bigots ‘patriots’. I felt a little ill.

And then, I felt mad. Really mad. Strangely mad. Never before had I cared so much about the Australian flag. Why did they get to claim it, for their agenda? It was my flag, too! It was JJ’s Flagga!

We left not long after that – the protest was pretty unimpressive – but the issue of the flag weighed on my mind. That the ‘patriots’ seemed to think that it represented them, and them alone. That my son’s love of his Flagga meant something to them that it didn’t to me. So I made a decision:

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Just chillin’, with my big bro and my Flagga

I’m taking back the Australian flag. It is mine, just as much as it is theirs. Actually, it is more mine, because I understand what it represents. It represents a country that, for better or worse, was built on immigration and multiculturalism. A country where the majority of the population can trace their roots back to a specific time when their ancestors came, by boat or by aeroplane, to call Australia their home. A country that was multicultural long before it was colonised by the English.

So, ‘patriots’, leave our flag alone. Stop trying to associate it with the hatred that you peddle. It does not belong to you, and your ‘way of life’ is not the kind of life it should represent. This is a country of so many cultures, so many fabulous, interesting people, and our flag should represent this diversity, not the small mindedness of your beliefs. I am proud of our diverse little nation, and if you are not, perhaps this flag is not the one for you.

‘Patriots’, leave our flag out of your plans. Because little boys like JJ deserve to love their Flagga, without fear of being branded something they are not.

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Let me love my Flagga in peace!

 

 

Get your bikini body now – just ask me how!

bikini-body

Well, spring is sprung, the grass is riz….. and sure as the earth orbits the sun, and sleep deprived night shifters orbit a chocolate cake, social media is awash with fabulous “new and improved” eating and exercise programs, so that you too can be bikini ready by December. And, for just three easy payments of $29.99, you can gain exclusive access to the online community, too!

Now, before you are overwhelmed with concern, I am not about to attempt to sign you up for my latest ‘kale and carrot smoothie’/’coffee up your arse’/’eat only foods that begin with q, x, and z’ diet/cleanse/socially acceptable eating disorder. I am also not going to go into the public toilets, strip my kit off, and take a photo of my body, stretch marks and all. I don’t need to. It’s been done, and the fantastic women who did it did it far better than I could. Plus, the lighting here is all wrong.

In my adult life, I have been a whole bunch of different sizes. I have weighed 65kg. I have weighed 95kg. And, I have been just about everything in between. And, while people make assumptions about happiness, and insinuate that thinness is a requirement to obtain it, I can’t say that I agree. I know many people who are thin and miserable, and I have met just as many overweight people who are happy, and full of life.

At my thinnest, I was 65kg. I’m 175cm tall, and pretty solid, with broad shoulders and big, muscly legs. So 65kg is positively skinny for me. It was a brief period of my life. One where I could comfortably fit into a smallish size 10, and even the tightest of my size 12 pants would quite literally fall off my non-existent behind. It was probably the closest I have ever gotten to being a legitmately “hot chick”. When I tried clothes on, it often felt like they were made for my long legs and lanky arms.

I was 21. I had just come out of the awkward chubby years that had endured since my HSC. I had discovered controlled eating, and exercise. I was childless and single, and outside of my working hours, I had two hobbies: exercise and partying. Especially partying. It was something I had an extreme talent for – I still would, if I had the time. I was, however, extremely unhappy.

Hard partying takes it out of you. I was out every weekend, from Thursday to Sunday. Smoking at least a packet of cigarettes a day. Prioritising money for for booze over money for food. I would often get to Sunday, and realise that I had consumed less than five food items since Thursday, and those items were generally not meals- potato chips and a slurpee, the free biscuit from the top of my coffee. I would frequently turn up to work on less than three hours sleep, only to make it through and go out all over again.

In true 21 year old style, my friendships were tumultuous, and my relationships more so. I had just ended my first ‘adult’ relationship with he who would become known as ‘Worst Boyfriend Ever’. My friends and I bickered constantly. My best mate and I could go from virtual sisters to sworn enemies in the space of three days. My relationship attempts were pathetic – several “sort of boyfriends”, who would let me tag along as their “kind of date” to a few things, before eventually giving me a manly pat on the back, telling me I was a great mate, and asking me to hook them up with one of my friends. I was lonely, and my self esteem was pretty much in tatters.

I don’t have many photos of 65kg me. It was the early 2000s, and digital cameras were both new, and shite. I also despised the look of myself, and destroyed as many photos of myself as I could. On the outside, this was thin, popular Rissa. What a pity it is, that it was a giant sham.

69kg
69kg me. At a 30th birthday party, where the theme was “B”. I came as big tits.

This is 69kg me. I’m 25, and in a pretty great relationship with a guy who will eventually bend to public pressure, and put a ring on it. I have just gotten a great new job (one I still have today), and I have just handed in my resignation at my old job. I’m not going to lie, things are going pretty well for me here. It’s also probably the first period in my adult life when I was genuinely happy with the way I looked. I’m not an idiot, I am well aware that Vogue is not planning on hitting me up for a cover any time soon. But I’m fit, and healthy, and it shows.

This photo comes off the back of some pretty shitty times, however. It doesn’t show that I had spent the last 2 years in a job where I was sexually harassed, on numerous occasions. It doesn’t show that the sexual harassment got pretty serious. It doesn’t show that, when I reported the harassment to my superiors, it was swept under the rug. That I was told that my harasser was blameless, because he was going through “some stuff”. That I was told that my outgoing nature and relative youthfulness had been the problem, and that I was, therefore, indirectly to blame.

When the harassment occurred, I did what I assumed was the best thing to do: I admitted it to my supervisor. After blaming the whole situation on me, my supervisor apparently took it to the rest of the supervisors. Not to address it formally. To address me formally. My reporting of the issue had  labelled me a trouble maker, and led to me being bullied, for two solid years, by the entire management team. I was micro-managed, often punished, and regularly threatened with termination. I was not trained adequately to perform my duties, and then disciplined severely when I made mistakes I had never been taught not to make. I was unofficially demoted from the role I was hired for, and given lesser duties, more often than I was contracted to. It was workplace hell.

It wasn’t always bad. The role I performed was diverse, and required me to spend most of my time on the road. Given the nature of the organisation, my employment came with a heavily discounted gym membership, as well as ample opportunity to run through my frustrations on the beach-side paths of Cronulla. While my job made me miserable, challenging myself physically made parts of my life pretty tolerable. And as a result, by the end of two years, I was fitter and stronger than I had ever been. And while I wasn’t happy with everything in my life, by the time this photo was taken, I was getting close.

90kg

This is me, two years ago. This is Rissa, at 90kg. Other than my brief, pregnant tipping point of 95kg, this is about the biggest I have ever been. See those tired eyes? They are the eyes of a mother of three. See that smile? It is as genuine as it looks.

Was I happy, with my body, at 90kg? Not really. Not because I mind being overweight, specifically. More because I was aware of what my body had been, and what it could be. I missed being the person who would set off for a run, and made it at least 5km before stopping. I missed the pleasant side effects of healthy eating and regular exercise. However, I was also realistic. This is me, having had a baby five months previously. I had three babies in five years. My body had worked hard, while gaining this weight.

I knew, from previous experiences, that it would eventually fall off. I knew that despite all the claims that breastfeeding would make the weight magically fall off, it didn’t always work that way, and wasn’t going to for me. I knew from experience that the minute I stopped breastfeeding, I would lose my appetite, and the weight would fall off me rapidly, with only a little effort on my part.

The woman in this photo has three kids, all of whom are pretty fantastic. On the night this photo was taken, this woman was having a night out with a group of friends, who happen to be some of the best friends one could ever have. The kind of friends you hope stick around for a lifetime. And at home, this woman has a fabulous husband, who is parenting her kids like a boss, while she goes out and has (more than) a few schooners at the local club. The woman in this photo has a life that is pretty damn good.

76kg
The top of me

This is the most recent photo I have of me. I’m about 76kg. I took this photo after running 5km, just before I ducked in and picked up my eldest from her school. I am generally the one taking the photos, not in them – so it’s hard to find a proper photo of me. Here are my legs, though:

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The bottom of me

That’s kind of like an actual photo of me, right? I’m a big head, and a couple of rainbow legs. This is not me at my thinnest, nor is it me at my fattest. But am I happy with my body? You know what? I am, pretty much. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind dropping maybe 2kg. But it’s not really a priority in my life. And it isn’t exactly going to break my heart if I don’t.

I am strong, I am healthy. My friends and I have featured regularly in our gym’s Instagram feed, as well as appearing on marketing material. I train several times a week, and not in a desperate attempt to become bikini-ready: I just like to. I like being the mum who has the fitness and energy to run around with my children. When we go to trampoline parks, my kids wear out before I do – I like having that kind of energy. Recently, my 7 year old and I did Little Big Dash, and both of us ran the 3km with energy to burn. Our entire family plays soccer, we ride bikes, go hiking. It feels good, being this person.

Is my body bikini ready? Probably not, because it’s something I would rarely wear. I’m pretty pasty, so the more skin I cover up, the less I spend on 50+ sunscreen. Rashie ready, more likely. However, if I were to feel the urge, I am not afraid to flaunt it. In my humble (admittedly hetero) opinion, people of all shapes, sizes, and gender identities, are capable of rocking a bikini. Without needing to spend the entire of spring trying to convince themselves that kale chips in coconut oil are a satisfying substitute for the odd bag of Smiths crinkle cut. No coffee enema necessary: just a healthy amount of self confidence and support is required.

The moral of this post? Don’t get sucked into the hype. I have, many times, and the truth is this: being thin won’t necessarily make you happy. Being happy will make you happy. Instead of focusing on being bikini ready, focus on doing the things, and being the person, that makes you happy. And there you go. Bikini ready, all along!