Silk or Leather, Or a Feather

Published February 25, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I just found myself having a little surprise cry.

Every night I scroll through Tumblr and have a look at all the bits and bobs people post.  I love Tumblr*, it’s full of inspiration, cuteness, discussion, news, cupcakes, fat positive photographs, laughs and food for thought.  So tonight I was scrolling through and came across this post from Marianne Kirby**, where she explains what she would like to have as her next tattoo.

I read the sentence that she has chosen to be part of her next tattoo, and my world stopped still just for a moment:


Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.


For those of you who don’t recognise it, it is a lyric from an Adam and the Ants song, Prince Charming.

As I read that sentence, something in me just clicked.  My 13 year old heart started beating so hard in my 38 year old chest.  A flood of memories came back to me, and I was almost instantly transported back to the early 80’s and my pre-teen/early teens.

And I cried.  I’m still crying on and off as I write this post.

I am not sure how I came to forget that sentence, that lyric.  It meant so much to me once.  I clung to it so hard, I repeated it over and over and over in my head.  It’s no secret that I was a bullied kid, nor is it a secret that I came from a background of domestic violence.  And I remember.  Oh how I remember, the feeling that nobody in the world cared about me, that everyone was cruel and hateful and that I was worthless.  But I also remember the lifeline that song threw me with that one lyric.


Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.


When I was feeling at my very lowest.  When I was being beaten, bullied, humiliated, shamed… that lyric would pop into my head, and I would hear that song in my mind, and I would just escape.  Escape into a world of dandy men and powdered and pouffed women, with their faces painted in bright colours, a world of silk or leather, or a feather.  A world that was bright and beautiful, a world where ridicule was nothing to be scared of.

I think that part of me shut that memory out.  It hurts so much to remember that time.  Because the PTSD is always close to the surface and sometimes it’s easier to forget than acknowledge things and let the emotions come back.  Thing is, something as simple as a lyric, or an image, or a piece of music, or a scent, brings it all flooding back.

But the thing is, that lyric STILL means a lot to me, just for different reasons.  Because after a lifetime of using the lyric to escape, I realise now that it’s reality, not escape.  Ridicule IS nothing to be scared of.  I used to be terrified of people making fun of who I was, so I hid in a persona that was not me.  I dressed how I thought others wanted me to dress.  I behaved how I thought others wanted me to behave.  Only to be absolutely miserable, and people ridiculed me anyway.  So I came to a point (with thanks to therapy and the Fatosphere) where I figured if I was going to be ridiculed, then I may as well be ridiculed for being, wearing and doing the things I love. The surprising thing was that being ridiculed ceased to be painful.  It became a reminder that I was doing something that was important to me.  Even if I had forgotten the source of that belief, the lyric that taught me that no matter how much fun people made of me, if I’m doing something that makes me happy, there is no reason to be afraid of that ridicule, to be shamed by other people’s narrow-mindedness.

And that’s what makes me able to get tattoos of fat ladies, shave my head for charity and wear bright colours and kitschy accessories.  I’m confident enough to wear silk or leather, or a feather.  Thanks to the knowledge that ridicule really is nothing to be scared of.

So thank you Marianne, for sharing your next tattoo idea.  I have to apologise though, because at some point in the future, we’re going to have the same sentence tattooed on us.  I feel like I can’t not get it permanently marked on me now.  But I promise that it will look nothing like yours and I’ll tell the story of how an old memory was brought back to me and reminded me of my strength.

Oh look, have the song while we’re at it.  It’s so camp and theatrical, I still love it:

*This is my Tumblr blog if you want a look.
**Marianne’s main blog The Rotund can be found here.  It’s one of the best blogs you will read.

11 comments on “Silk or Leather, Or a Feather

  • I was always under the impression that ridicule hurt more when it was for something I cared about. If I pretended, if I hid what was truly mine, no one could use it to hurt me. But people will find a way to hurt you, anyway, if they want. When I was in high school, my big sister (who’s ten years older) laughed at my outfit and said I looked like Punky Brewster. Though the outfit was not a true expression of who I was, it still hurt that my sister still saw me as a child.

    I must have looked so awkward trying to ape styles and attitudes I wasn’t truly passionate about. If I claim what is mine and act as I truly am, then if I must defend it, I can do it from my heart.

  • Oh Kath! How words and music can tear into us and find the truest core of ourselves, I know! ❤ I'm not familiar with that song or lyric, but it is powerful! PTSD is, like you said, always on the surface just waiting to stop you in your tracks. It is why I hate the band Journey. Nothing against them personally, but hearing it puts me right back to my abusive relationship and it makes me nauseous. I can't help that. My friends give me a hard time about it like it's a joke, but I don't think I ever told them why I hate them. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not the only one who can be so affected by music and lyrics. *Hugs*

    • If it helps hon, I promise not to play Journey around you (one of my favourite bands, so it’s a sacrifice, but one I am more than capable of making).

      I ended up having a very rough night last night. I am still a bit surprised at just how triggering reading that little lyric in Marianne’s post was. There was something in me that had suppressed it to a point where I had actually forgotten it, and when I read it… so much came flooding back.

      That said, I’m glad Marianne did mention it, because I am totally going to turn it into something empowering.

  • Thank you for this post, and for linking to that video–it’s so freaking awesome, I love it! I’ve always felt like music speaks to the most authentic me…the me that doesn’t always know how to be me out there in the world, sometimes. Music makes me like I know myself in a real way like nothing else can. I’ve been doing some life-changing, huge huge huge shifting kind of stuff in the past year, and am only now learning to not hide who I am, not present myself as how I think others want to see me (which is a sucker’s bet, anyhow…so pointless…what someone thinks of me can and will change for any reason at all, at any time…trying to manage that is beyond foolish). I’m rambling, and I hope this makes some semblance of sense; bottom line what I want to say is that this post is very meaningful to me, so thank you.

    Hugs and peace and major good vibes coming your way!

  • I’d never heard of Adam and the Ants, or this song, before! I’ll give myself a get out of jail free card, since I see (after googling it) that I wasn’t even born yet!

    Anyway- I’m glad that you can own this lyric for yourself, after a lifetime of feeling afraid of ridicule. How fucking powerful! I’m not there, just yet. I grew up in a huge Irish family- ridicule and embarrassment were always the name of the game. On one hand, it prepared me to fight for what I believe in, but on the other, it gave me a heaping pile of self-doubt. On my down days, I’m petrified of ridicule, and being teased. On the up-swing, I feel like a dragon! But maybe its not so much (for me) about feeling unafraid everyday, but rather staying committed to trying.

  • Totally stole the line and the sentiment for my FB status, with full credit to you and Mr Ant. I think there’s a few people on my friendlist who need to know it.

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