|2006, aged 25
I know you think you have to wear those big, black, baggy clothes because you are so hideously fat – but actually, you are quite skinny. Make the most of it. Why not borrow some of your sister’s clothes, or ask your mum to buy you something in your size, rather than just wearing hand-me-downs from your cousin and a male family friend, both of whom are 7 years older than you. Nobody will stare at you if you wear a skirt, a pair of shorts, a top in any colour other than black.
Nobody cares that you have a brace. Most people probably don’t even notice. And in 15 years, you will have forgotten you even had it. Your teeth won’t stay perfectly straight after it’s taken off any way. Don’t worry about it.
Work harder at your GCSEs. We all know you’re capable of getting passable grades without studying, but imagine what you could achieve if you put your mind to it. Instead of sitting there, reading about the things you’ve heard in Manic Street Preachers lyrics, read about something that’s actually on the curriculum.
You don’t need to keep dying your hair funny colours so that you can hide behind it. You’re fine just as you are. You don’t need to rush out and get as many piercings as you can fit onto your body as soon as you can get away with it; you’ll just end up with a bunch of random scars all over your body later in life.
I know you’re depressed, and life seems miserable, and you’re living the teenage angst nightmare… but it’s really not so bad. Get out and get some exercise. You’ll feel better for it and it might actually improve your confidence. Allow yourself to have some fun.
|2004, aged 23
The most important piece of advice you could be given though – realistically, nobody cares about the finer details of how you look, because they’re too busy worrying about their own issues. You don’t need to hide behind your hair, cower in the corner, be scared to answer questions in class. Nobody is that bothered.
Things will get worse before they get better, but man alive will they ever get better. You will be happy eventually; just hang on in there!
You may have noticed the photos in this post are not of me when I was 15. This is because there are literally no photos of me aged 15. I can’t find a single one. I seem to have been that horrified by my appearance that I refused to stand in front of a camera. The photo in this post is one of probably about 10 taken of me during that time.