The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

that? ‘Why didn’t you just go to a Big Dresses For Big Ladies Emporium?’ you ask. Be­cause I shouldn’t need a spe­cial shop — I’m not a fat freak! I wanted some­thing with a bit of a de­signer edge, that made a fash­ion state­ment. But the only state­ment most of those clothes made to me was: ‘You’re too big for top clob­ber, so bug off to the elas­ti­cated-waist­band shop.’

I read a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle re­cently in which a fash­ion jour­nal­ist ex­plained that cat­walk mod­els have to be thin so fash­ion buy­ers can vi­su­alise what the clothes will look like on hang­ers in the shop­ping for clothes, ever.’ It’s true. She re­lies on old stuff that fits and doesn’t worry about be­ing ‘ fash­ion for­ward’ be­cause other bits and bobs like rear­ing chil­dren, cook­ing, earn­ing a liv­ing, chat­ting, lov­ing and gen­er­ally be­ing a hu­man be­ing take pri­or­ity.

I think my up­set was com­pounded by a meet­ing I’d had a few days be­fore. With the re­con­struc­tion sur­geon. Fi­nally, it came around — I’m on the wait­ing list and some time next year I’ll be hav­ing the op. And then the fol­low-up op… We had a nice chat, then he needed to ex­am­ine the scar. So I slipped off the straps and flopped down my bra. Weighted down one side with the bulky pros­the­sis, it hung off my not-toned torso, while he felt along the flat, puck­ered wound that used to be my left breast. I nat­tered away, pre­tend­ing it didn’t mat­ter, but I found it all ex­cru­ci­at­ingly em­bar­rass­ing.

Then he needed to see my stomach, where the tis­sue for the new breast is go­ing to come from. To as­sess whether there is enough, he sits in front of you, you lean for­ward from the waist to bunch your belly flesh, and he grabs hold of your tum with his two hands, fig­ur­ing out the vol­ume. Don’t know the tech­ni­cal name for the ex­am­i­na­tion, but it could be called the Hu­mil­i­a­tion Deluxe. Af­ter that, he squashes around your belly but­ton and tells you that that’s where they’ll har­vest the tis­sue from, and you look down at your body and try to see it as he sees it — a med­i­cal spec­i­men — and then he says, ‘Any ques­tions?’ And the first one that pops into your mind is ‘Do you think I’m at­trac­tive? I’m hav­ing my doubts...’ You don’t ask.

Any­way, the dress was for a mag­a­zine photo shoot. I rolled on my Spanx un­der­neath, paid a for­tune to get my hair and make-up done be­fore­hand and bor­rowed a funky jacket from The De­sign Cen­tre in Pow­er­scourt Town­house...

Ah look, you do what you can, and for the rest — pass the Jaffa Cakes.

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