I am thirty five years old. I’ll be thirty-six in April. This year proved to be trying and trial, but most years present this way. This year was hell on everyone I think.
I made and did amazing things and despite the global financial situation, and my enormous challenges, I had some really interesting developments. I may write more about these later. Now the story of the little red dress.
In February I was diagnosed with chronic gall bladder disease. Because I opted not to have my gall bladder removed, managing it with a change in my eating habits, it has led to some of the most dramatic weight loss in my life. I’ve dropped from the 16-18 I’ve pretty much been since I was 19, to somewhere between a 8-12. Something like 60 or 70lbs.
The photo you see above you, is in partial celebration of this weight loss. It’s strange to be this small… this ‘thin’. I am about the size I was when I about 15 or 16. Granted, at 35 and after a big baby I breast-fed, I do not have the body I did at 15, but in terms of dimension and proportions, I’m about the size I was then.
My heft, my girth, my weight came after I was raped at age 18. Looking back I see how it was armour I grew to protect myself from male attention (an almost useless effort, because my size stopped almost no man who was interested in me). It did provide SOME shielding however, even if it was only a mental construct manifested in my flesh.
Losing the weight has been an experience in unveiling, revealing, exposing myself again to the frank attention of men, but most importantly, it’s been an inward journey and a discovery of myself as well. I may look a lot like the girl I was, but I am not. I have enjoyed male attention for years regardless of my size. When I was in immediate recovery from my rape, any male attention frightened me, but to paraphrase a friend of mine, it’s become a kind of food the Oshun in me feeds on now… and let me tell you, they look… and look… and look and I do soak it up. Men look at me now the way you look at ripe fruit in a tree, and I just cannot pretend to be coy and say I don’t notice.
The hard practicality of the weight drop, is the inevitable wardrobe fall out. For me it’s bad, since I don’t have the money to shop, so I end up just making do with the smallest of the things I have, and little cheap cotton dresses like the one you see in the photograph to the right. To show you the kind of head teef moments I have had during this oddessy of weight loss, take my ‘skinny jeans’ as an example.
In 1995 (yes, I said it: 1995), I was about 22 and in Miami for a conference, and my dear cousin DMH took me to the awe-inspiring Sawgrass Mills Mall. There, I bought the tightest pair of jeans I’d ever owned, a size 14 petite. In the store, I had to lie down on the floor of the dressing room to pull up the zip, and after buying it, could only wear it for a few months before it got too small. For fifteen years I’ve kept those jeans as a reminder that I could once fit in them.
About two or three months ago, on a fleeting whim and desperate because I had not a single pair of jeans that fit, I pulled those jeans out of the bottom of a bag of old clothes, and guess what? Those bitches were too big. Like hanging on my hips too big. That was like a real crystalising moment for me. Chrysalis…
I looked at myself in the mirror and all I could say was, “Wow!”
That’s what happens to me, when I look at this photo of me in the little red dress. I look at my body, and I see an echo of that wild Sea Child girl… the thin arms, the thighs, the same sort of unrestrained insouciance, precociousness and rebellion I felt as a child… I see it in this photograph. In some ways, it’s as though twenty years of ‘weight’ rolled off of me this year with the physical weight. Emotional heaviness I’ve been living and walking with, it just rolled off of me. I found a deep visually artistic streak gone dormant for almost twenty years, roar back to life in Kiko Life, my business and sim in Second Life.
My body seemed to want to go back to it’s days of voluptuous petiteness, and took me there without my complicity. I’ll never be skinny… as much weight as I’ve lost (as much as I have gained) I’ve always been curvy. I actually miss my Big Girl status… I can’t tell people to kiss my fat ass anymore, cause ya know… it’s just not me anymore.
Yet, I feel like that ripe fruit, that ripe julie mango on the tree that one eyes as it grows more lush are ready for picking. I cannot lie… I am about to get picked. I feel it strongly. Many will try–**cough** ARE trying–but one will succeed.
When I posted this photo as my new profile pic, I caused a bit of a comment storm on facebook. I see me in the photograph, but not the evocativeness of it. I see my new body shape, and am fascinated by the difference in my face… it’s like falling in love with myself, and I’ve never really done that before. It’s a real exploration for me… learning to love this new body of mine. I guess I was a little surprised by other people’s reaction to it…
Although I hate living with the gall bladder sometimes, I am grateful in a way because it’s been part of a force pushing me towards something… and ya’ll, Big Mami’s life is beginning to move again… almost the same way it did before I went to England. It’s picking up steam… and I am getting on the train.
Good for you on the weight loss. I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life and I understand the “weight as shield” from a similar experience. I continue to work on it and I believe that I will be successful. You look amazing…be proud.
Thank you so much Linda-bean! In my case, the weight loss happened without me actually ‘trying’. I just stopped eating the kind of stuff I was eating before… and the rest happened by ‘trickle down’. That gall bladder is no joke…
When the food you used to love HURTS, it becomes less and less attractive… I give in occassionally, but it’s a delicate balance.
When I first saw that photo…. I about fell off my chair. You’ve always been beautiful to me (and you know I love you blond) but wow….You just blow me away. P.S. can you send me those jeans that are too big? LOL
Love it. Rediscovering of oneself and loving the new you is always wonderful.
Anyone who overcomes rape is awesome!
Hmmm this seems to be the making of an interest Autobiography for a Caribbean Lady?
You look gorgeous!
Ndelmiko it is an absolute blessing to bumped into again on fb . Your expressions are fresh and priceless .Continue to live your life with the freedom that is yours . Welcome to motherhood, you will find that there will be no
other life experience that will give you the opportunity to love with purity
and pride .
I look forward to our continued communication . Love Mary
You look hot fi true! Sorry to hear about the rape and how it affected you but congratulations on overcoming it and the gall bladder thing. Respect
hail up girl,i like this rediscovering of Self…..im on that quest after havin my last child.Your article is inspiring…..im lookin for my red dress to wear as I search for my I SELF.I guess it will happen when it happen.
Good vibes Trini-Bajan Gal.
Bless Tallah! Girl… I didn’t look for it, but it happened.
Hey ndela, love the new blog, and I love this piece in particular. I remember you before you moved to England, picking up steam, going through change. I love that you seem so happy, look at you! Slim and sexy, a mum, a successful business woman… You are truly inspirational! One of my few regrets in life (and I mean few!) is that we never got the chance to meet up and shoot the breeze while you were in the UK. All power to you, you truly are a goddess 🙂
Thats great to lose all that weight!!
from the moment I heard your name, your real actual factual birth name, till the day you walked into my kitchen in Christ Church four years ago…I have felt you to be a force to be reckoned with, but someone who like myself was struggling to tame herself in order to be more palatable for the world around us
but my dear sustah what the world needs is US
Straight no chaser
dancing naked with our red tail feathers showing (its an odu about oshun)
you are perfectly lovely in every way & I have never seen anything else when I look at you
Iya! It was FIVE years ago boo…. 🙂 But thank you muchly for your kind words. Peace, Love, Light, Blessings and Good Things!