Memory Lane | Child of the 90s

Though I still look about twelve (woo! 🙄), I’m actually now the grand old age of 31; A true child of the 90s.

A friend and I were recently gabbling away and reminiscing about things from our childhood.

Some were great! And others were…not so great.

Do you remember any of these..?

Babyliss Hair Straighteners/Crimpers

Image Description: Babyliss hair straighteners/crimpers from the late 1990s
Image Description: Babyliss hair straighteners/crimpers from the late 1990s

Many years before obscenely priced GHDs became the go-to hair straightener of choice, we had this bad boy!

A multi-purpose hair straightener/crimper, this clumpy contraption took about an hour to reach a lukewarm temperature. We then had to clamp each section for…oh, flippin’ ages!

Quite why we wanted to crimp our hair, I don’t know. But at the time, we thought we looked ace! On reflection…not so much.

Tammy Girl

Image Description: Tammy Girl shop front
Image Description: Tammy Girl shop front
Image Description: Classic Tammy Girl T-shirt
Image Description: Classic Tammy Girl T-shirt

I kid you not; I owned this very T-shirt and many like it, courtesy of the (not at all) classy pre-teen clothing store, Tammy Girl. Oh yeeaah!

Sadly, Tammy is no longer. I can’t think why.

Despite not wearing cool and funky clothes like this now I’m in my thirties, I remain a ‘babe with attitude’. Well, sorta!

Impulse O2 Body Spray

Image Description: Impulse O2 shower gel (left) and O2 body spray (right)
Image Description: Impulse O2 shower gel (left) and O2 body spray (right)

Bloody loved this stuff!! How I miss the lingering, intense scent of ethanol and limes.

Whyyyy it was discontinued, I’ll never know.

BRING IT BACK, IMPULSE!!

We don’t all want to smell of white musk (eau de old lady)!

Girl Talk Magazine

Image Description: Front cover of an issue of Girl Talk magazine from the 1990s
Image Description: Front cover of an issue of Girl Talk magazine from the 1990s

A highly educational read for pre-teen Carrie!

Every issue of Girl Talk came with freebies, like miniature furry photo frames (we all love those, right?), and posters of goats and donkeys.

I do like to lay in bed at night and gaze at a donkey poster, don’t you?

Animal Ark Books

Image Description: A collection of books from the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels
Image Description: A collection of books from the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels

Now, I had forgotten about these books (sacrilege!), until my mate asked, “did you read those rubbish animal stories that were all the same?”

Yes. Yes, I did.

No disrespect to author Lucy Daniels, but I don’t think she’s ever gonna take down J. K. Rowling with these riveting tales of piglets and pussies.

Blockbuster Video Store

Image Description: Blockbuster video store shop front. "Closing Down" posters shown in the windows
Image Description: Blockbuster video store shop front. “Closing Down” posters shown in the windows

Who remembers VHS? Anyone..? I genuinely miss video tapes and cassettes. You could chuck them on the floor and they’d still be good to go.

What I miss even more is going to Blockbuster on a Friday, after school, to rent a video for the weekend.

Simple pleasures. Happy days.

Woolworths

Image Description: A woman selecting sweets from a Pic'n'Mix display at Woolworths
Image Description: A woman selecting sweets from a Pic’n’Mix display at Woolworths

Need I say anything for this one?!

RIP Woolworths. What has the world come to?!

Kids today are truly missing out.

New Year, More Me!

We’re now in the midst of January, and many are following a “new year, new me” health and fitness regime.

Most of us over-indulge at Christmas. Too much rich food and too much booze.

Everywhere you look, it seems people are trying to lose weight and tone-up. Fair play to them! Do what makes you feel good.

But just to break the trend, here I am trying to put on weight!

Okay, so…I’m teeny tiny. Pixie sized! My weight has always been fairly consistent and never really fluctuated.

Of course, my condition influences this. Muscle weighs vastly more than fat, right? Well, I have very little muscle mass. And so my BMI is always going to be much lower than the average.

I won’t lie, I’ve always consciously monitored my weight and my calorie intake. Not due to vanity, but practicality.

I am non-ambulant and therefore cannot transfer independently. I get thrown around a lot! From chair to chair, chair to bed etc. If I were significantly heavier, life would be much more difficult!

People who struggle to lose weight often ask me how I stay so tiny, considering I’m unable to exercise. Well…

~ Growing up with older brothers helps! I’ve always scraped food off my plate onto theirs. And they were always happy to finish off any food I left.

~ Study food labels and count calories.

~ Self limitation. I’ve almost trained myself to say no when someone offers me chocolate or a biscuit. Bad, I know.

~ It might sound silly but, over time your stomach does shrink and your body adapts. You learn to function on fewer calories.

*Now, to make it absolutely clear, I am in no way dictating, advising or advocating such bad habits! I am very much aware that this is unhealthy behaviour.*

So, why do I now want to put on weight?

When I’m ill, I eat less. When I’m really stressed, I stop eating. In these instances, I am NOT consciously monitoring my weight.

Over the past 2 months, I have unintentionally lost weight. This will no doubt affect my overall health and wellbeing, reducing energy levels and leaving me vulnerable to infection and illness.

Believe it or not, increasing calorie intake is far more challenging (for me) than you might imagine. It’s difficult to break the habit of a lifetime!

Before, I would go literally all day without eating a thing. No breakfast, no lunch. I would then pick at my dinner and that would be it.

I am now constantly reminding and forcing myself to consume food and drink, little and often, throughout the day.

If I can put on half a stone, I’ll be happy. I’ll still be skinny, but I’ll be healthier. That can only be a good thing!

Body Image & Disability

I was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, affecting my body and physicality. I have a severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) which, for various reasons, is not surgically corrected. This causes asymmetry and a shortened torso. Joint contractures mean I am unable to stretch out my arms or legs. Furthermore, the muscle wasting nature of my condition results in extremely thin limbs.

Illustration by Jess Oddi @TheDisabledLife

Now 31, I look very different from other women my age. My pixie-sized stature is emphasised by the scoliosis. In place of womanly curves, are unwanted and abnormally crooked humps and bumps. This visible contrast negatively impacts my sense of self and makes me feel odd, weird, and self-conscious.

I love fashion but fashion doesn’t love me

Over the years, I have desperately sought to hide my body with shapeless, baggy clothes. Anything resembling a potato sack is a winner. I live in leggings because jeans are a no-go and frankly, they are the next best thing to pyjamas!

Clothing manufacturers don’t cater for my body since it doesn’t meet standard criteria. Shopping is not an enjoyable experience. It is a frustrating and disappointing struggle to find anything at all to fit, let alone look flattering. Most of the clothes I buy have to be returned which makes me wonder why I bother at all – well, simply because I can’t roll about naked!

Accepting my unique body

Do I love, embrace and celebrate my unique body shape? Hell, no! BUT – I have slowly and gradually learnt to accept it. After all, there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change it. So why stress myself out over something I cannot control.

Exercise isn’t an option for me. I can’t go to the gym and buff-up. And why should I resort to cosmetic surgery? Why put myself through pain, trauma and financial strain simply to conform to societies high and unrealistic standards of beauty? Okay, it might make me feel more confident to look a little more like the average woman. Then again, it might not…

Societal standards of body beautiful

Our perception of body image and beauty is arguably increasingly influenced by social media, particularly Instagram. Heavily airbrushed, edited and filtered selfies are everywhere to be seen. With a smartphone, we can all look like a celeb from a magazine spread!

But this is misleading, unrealistic and unattainable. I can’t relate to the pouty, posers of Instagram. Honestly, can anyone?!

Diverse bodies are sadly under-represented in the media. This is starting to improve but there is still a long way to go before the presence of disabled bodies on our screens becomes mainstream.

Disability & Self Worth | You are not unloveable

I think most people living with a chronic illness, disability or mental health issue can relate to this quote, at least to some extent. I know I do.

I am limited by my physical disability (congenital muscular dystrophy), despite the claims by some that you can do anything if you just try hard enough. As a non-ambulatory wheelchair-user with a muscle-wasting condition, I’m afraid there are certain things I cannot do.

I am heavily reliant on others to carry out daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, locking doors, opening and closing windows and so on. I also need help with personal care tasks like getting in and out of bed, dressing and bathing. This can be undignified, thus affecting my confidence and making me feel incredibly self-conscious and utterly undesirable. After all, who wants their boyfriend to shower them?!

I HATE asking people to do things for me, as I then feel a burden, a nuisance, an annoyance. Having to ask people to simply open a bottle or a can at the grand old age of 30 is frankly embarrassing (for me).

Sometimes I refuse to speak up and request help. Call it pride or sheer stubbornness. But there are other times I have no choice. Like it or not, I have to ask, to instruct, to explain.

For the most part, I’ve managed to conceal the extent of my disability from those around me. Many people, friends included, think I am much more able and independent than I actually am. Again, put it down to pride. But there are some people I can’t hide this from. Family members, of course, but also anyone I am romantically involved with.

Due to the nature of my disability and all the added extras – care requirements, dependency, restrictions, the inability to be spontaneous – I always believed myself to be undeserving of love. I genuinely thought *think* of myself as an unnecessary burden. Why would anyone put up with me, my weak, crooked body and all of my baggage when they could choose to be with someone else?

As a result of this and a lifetime of rejection, I put up barriers and distanced myself from society; a form of self preservation. Being told repeatedly that I’m not good enough, I’m “no one’s type”, and “too much to take on” has made quite a negative impression on my self-esteem.

Now, I don’t want to ramble or get too personal. But I am slowly starting to trust and believe I am worthy of love and companionship.

They say there’s someone for everyone. The cynical part of me still questions this. But maybe, just maybe, there is.

It takes an extra special person to accept me and my care needs. To take on, without question, a pretty drastic lifestyle change. To see past the wheelchair, the crooked body, the medical equipment and the disability itself, and simply love me for me, unconditionally. To try to convince me every day that I’m not undesirable, unloveable or a burden. People like this are rare, but they are out there!