Okay, I say builders, but this is a loose term. I really mean anyone who drives a big van with a ladder attached, has a hard hat, and doesn’t wear a top when it’s sunny, even if they have a beer belly or not. This is what I will define as a builder, whether or not you actually build is besides the point.
My first recalled encounter (by recalled I mean, the first encounter that stuck in my mind, I’m sure I met builders at the age of three and stuff) would have been when I was about 15, when my puppy fat decided to regroup as boobs and curves. It was a momentous summer and I spent it outside, stalking boys. I remember walking past builders and getting leered at and thinking: “Oh my God. They must be those paedo things.”
During my slimmer years (where slim was a size 14 – when the curves came I literally jumped from children’s clothes to a 14) builders were scary men that licked their lips, wolf-whistled and shouted something along the lines of: “Get yer tits out!” In fact, I believe my personal favourite was: “I’d like to speedboat those puppies.”
Unfortunately, when the fat girl inside me went a little bit mental and took over my body (think invasion of the body snatchers) their ‘affection’ for me quickly changed.
For a time, I went unnoticed. My figure was neither boner-inducing or offensive. I was quite happy. I had a boyfriend. I didn’t need builder love in my life. I trotted around outside without a care in the world.
Then I ate too many pies.
The first time it happened, I was out with the boyfriend. Holding hands. Chatting away. May have been eating an icecream but that is not the point. I was happy. It was sunny. I had no care for what I looked like at all. Then came:
The worst part was, I actually thought to myself: “God. How mean. Poor love. Wonder who they’re talking about.” The look on Stephen’s face quickly decided that for me. It was me.
I remember standing absolutely still and the icecream dripping down my hand. I threw it away and blinked back tears and felt EXTREMELY sorry for myself. I was wearing white linen trousers at the time and I still cringe when I put a pair on today. Black is good. Black is slimming. White? Not so much.
I remember Stephen being so mad and having to hold on firmly to his arm. My hero was waxing lyrical about how he was going to kill them and, while he’s a big guy at 6″2, I couldn’t help but think: “No babe. I think they would totally fuck you up. They have tools. And a ladder. And hard hats.”
|Why can’t they all be more like Bob, eh?|
I have to say, ever since then, when I see a builder-type, I automatically freeze up. I tug my top down. I bury my head in my chest. And I hope that they don’t notice me. I don’t really walk with confidence anymore and any shop window or reflective surface is an opportunity to make sure my fat is cleverly concealed. I wear Stephen on my arm like a piece of arm candy. He makes me look good. If I were a male and he were female, people would think: “Oooh, he must have a big willy.” I think the female alernative is a nice personality.
Anyway, this morning, I was walking to work, quite happily. It was sunny. My iPod was blaring out Glee and I was pretending to be Rachel Berry. There was a queue of cars on the other side of the road and I saw a man, in a van, join the queue and turn towards me, leaning out of his window.
I froze. My mind went blank. He was going to say something. He was going to ruin my day. He may even throw a spanner at me.
He opened his mouth and…
I was gobsmacked. I looked around and realised it was either at me or a little old lady in a full-on winter coat. I took a gamble on me. He then proceeded to blow me a kiss and stare after me as I walked past him.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Why? Because for the first time, I could see one of them for what THEY were. A chubby guy in his thirties, with a burnt face (sunblock babe) and what I imagined to be a builders bum squashed into his van. But I don’t point this out to him. Because I have a heart.
Yes, I’ve lost weight, to the point that I actually have just the one chin these days, but it doesn’t change who I am. Besides, I’ve got a cracking rack either way.
NOTE: I am not a builder-hater.