Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Woolridge Grant?
Maybe this picture will jog your memory?
How about this YouTube video?
No? Can’t place her?
Well, she was voted best dressed female at Glastonbury this year by BBC3 viewers and she’s a bit controversial. But she never used to be until she came out of her shell, transformed from a shy 21 year old into a super-pouty vixen redhead and started singing about little red party dresses, video games and being born to die.
Yup, that’s Lana Del Rey in June 2009, before she was any good. To be fair, the beginnings of that spine-tingling voice are there, but the song is completely unremarkable and the first album flopped.
What Lizzy did next was reinvent herself. She came up with the whole Gangsta Nancy Sinatra thing and changed her name, uploaded a massively stylised video to YouTube for ‘Video Games’ and an internet legend was born. Her first album as Lana Del Rey was one of the most eagerly anticipated of 2012 and Ultraviolence in 2014 carries on the myth…but why would you do all that? And what does it have to do with being plus size and tall?
Well, I haven’t always been a super-hot, proud plus size diva with attitude, you know? In my teens and even up to my early twenties, I felt awkward. I felt like my limbs belonged to someone else for most of my teenage years, as I grew taller than all my girly mates and quite a few of the boys, too. I got a bit of teasing for that but most of my issues came from a rubbish self-image; I wanted to hide myself away but I was physically too big to just not be noticed. When I started gaining weight in my late teens, it opened up a whole new can of worms, and I now had two ways of not fitting in. I was Eloise, the girl who wore the badly fitting clothes that never seemed to look right on her, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose and who nobody really knew much about.
The thing is, you can’t really hide when you’re big and tall. I like the word ‘statuesque’ now – it sums up my body and my place in the world, which I’m totally at ease with taking up in full, thanks very much. I don’t really know what triggered my own metamorphosis but I started getting into plus size fashion, and reading a lot of the blogs that started around five or so years back. I realised I wasn’t the only one who was pissed off with being made to feel inferior about being fat, and I decided that I wouldn’t let anyone make me feel crap about my size anymore.
I started to quite literally unfurl. Instead of trying to find baggy clothes and tops that would cover me and help me disappear into the background, I found new places to buy my clothes, like FatPhrocks, and I started experimenting with my own style. My wardrobe opened up and the grey, black and browns just got trashed and replaced with peacock blues, pinks and oranges, fabulous maxi dresses and clothes designed for women just like me! I started wearing ‘statement’ jewellery, unusual pieces that people would comment on, and for the first time in my life, a few years ago, I bought a pair of shoes with heels over 2 inches. I LOVE those shoes. They are a signal of my independence from the old “Please don’t look at me” apologetic for taking up so much space Eloise.
I love fashion now, I still struggle to find things that suit me as a plus size and tall woman, but I don’t blame myself for that, I blame the fashion industry. I am who I am, I’m confident and proud and I deserve to take up as much space in the world as I need.
I guess you could say that my metamorphosis is complete!