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Can wearing black make you fat?

I have forgotten what it’s like to be fat. When I tell people, they tend not to believe me. I don’t have any photos. I tore them up and consigned the memory to the past.

Just lately, two things reminded me.

Thing 1: A flashback

I am 16. Ian Dury is imploring us to hit him with his rhythm stick at The Warehouse disco. I’m with some Cool Girls from the sixth form. I can’t believe they invited me, I didn’t think I was their type. They are dancing with the Cool Boys.

I’m too self-conscious to join them. I’m wearing a black shapeless tee-shirt and my permed hair has gone poodley. I stand at the back, minding their Perno and Ice.

Then I glimpse Seriously Cool Boy and Seriously Cool Girl pointing at me.

He’s coming over. Oh God. Is he going to ask me to dance? My heart pumps with fear or joy, I’m not sure which.

Then he’s right by me, shouting. His Snakeybitey breath steams up my glasses and I feel spit on my cheek.

Then his laughing, drunken words hit me: ‘…their fat friend…they think you’re weird… only asked you so your dad would give them a lift…’

I spend the rest of the night in the loo until Dad comes. On Monday at school I give the Cool Girls a wide berth.

Thing 2: The workshop that spurred the flashback

I am 53. I am on a day course called Colour Yourself Slim. I am slim, and have been for years. As a personal stylist I meet many women doing battle with their bodies, so I’m curious to see what it holds…

Colour Specialist Mark Wentworth
Colour Specialist Mark Wentworth

The workshop is run by Mark Wentworth, part colour therapist, part counsellor, part all-seeing mind-reader. We are talking about colour, one of my favourite subjects, and how we subconsciously ‘paint’ our lives. Colour, like a smell, or a snippet of handwriting, can transport us to the past.

I haven’t thought about that night at The Warehouse for years, but Mark asks us to recall a time that wasn’t great.

It’s surprisingly easy; The Blockheads thump, disco lights flash and I relive the whole thing, spitty face and all.

Mark asks: ‘And if you could go back now, what would you say to the 16-year-old you?’

I don’t hesitate. I barge through the crowd and yank that girl from under the Kotex machine. As we leave, I tip a pint of purple Snakebite over Cool Boy’s head.

Then we run to a field bathed in peach moonlight, where I wrap us in a rose pink cashmere blanket and tell the most miserable girl in the world there’s a fantastic technicolour life ahead of her.

That Cool (but really Idiot) Boy was right, she might seem ‘weird’, but she should just go with it, and one day she’ll find her crowd. Along with her sense of style, which was there all along, she just needed to know how to express it.

That she’ll meet all sorts of amazing people who think she’s amazing too. That she should keep away from discos. Find a place where stars shine bright and owls swoop, and she’ll be happy.

And I promise her: She won’t always be chubby, with naff glasses and a bad perm.

During the workshop Mark took us through a process to discover colours that have personal meaning – and how they affect all areas of our lives, including our weight.

He goes beyond the standard ‘pink is for passion’ and ‘don’t wear orange to an interview’ psychology. He understands rules can be broken, and I’m all for that.

No colour is good or bad, it’s our associations, memories and personal choice that make it so. The shapeless tee-shirt I wore that night started a habit; for years I wore black and nothing else. I took it pretty seriously, right down to my knickers and my nightie. It became my protector, and at the same time, my foe.

I became slim for good when I was 28 (or more precisely, I became active). I stopped wearing black soon after. It was a positive choice to come out of hiding. Consequently, I have come to fear black, as if wearing it would take me back to a place I didn’t want to go.

Like a big black shapeless coat that I might just grow into.

I don’t want to give away all Mark’s secrets, but he showed us how to use the beauties wisely, and how the beasts can become a strength, not just a weakness.

How we can speak to our bodies – and allow them to answer – then use our personal colours to make peace with the past and bring us to a place of balance.

Food was barely spoken about, though colour plays a part in our associations. We can use that knowledge wisely and predetermine our day – or life.

I’m viewing black differently now. It no longer feels dangerous. I don’t wear it much; there are other colours that suit me better. But when I do, I feel strong and fearless, like I’ve tamed a bully and made them my friend.

And I know it won’t make me fat.

Mark Wentworth’s next Colour Yourself Slim workshop is on 2nd October 2016 in Norwich, Norfolk UK. Click here to find out more.

Sarah Morgan Personal Stylist

Author of Being Lois Blog

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PS. Despite Idiot Boy, I still love this…

Hit me with your rhythm stick.
The Blockheads

In the deserts of Sudan
And the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatan
Every woman, every man
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me! Hit me!
Je t’adore, ich liebe dich,
Hit me! hit me! hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me slowly, hit me quick.
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro.
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me! Hit me!
Das ist gut! C’est fantastique!
Hit me! hit me! hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
It’s nice to be a lunatic.
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
In the dock of Tiger Bay
On the road to Mandalay
From Bombay to Santa Fe
Over hills and far away
Hit me

4 comments

  1. Such an evocative memory, which I’m sure so many of us can relate too in one way or another. Thanks for sharing and helping continue to enlighten those of us stuck in new ruts.

    1. Ruts can be stepped out of, Kassie… x

  2. Loving your moving openness. It’s very inspiring. X

  3. Brilliant. Well done. Xx

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