My Day In Elle

When it comes to confidence it’s all about context. For a long while now I’ve claimed to be totally cool with all my wobbly bits, as I stomped up hills or paddled canoes or dashed to the hardware shop in a tracksuit encrusted with paint and yesterday’s Weetbix. But back in November I had a real test of those convictions: a photo shoot for ELLE magazine!

I was so excited when they asked me to write about how I came to a place of bodily peace, lurve and understanding. But when it came to the accompanying photo shoot, you might say I had an old-fashioned Fat Girl Freakout. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’d written 1500… so wasn’t a picture and a half enough?

"I’m not Elleworthy," is what I whimpered to everyone who said I was being ridiculous. I thought they’d have to amend the slogan on the spine: The World’s Biggest Selling Fashion Magazine: Now Contains Morons!

I’d had my photo taken before under less daunting circumstances: just me in my own clothes with freelance stylists and photographers. This time it was in London in a posh studio with Real Magazine People, and they were supplying the clothes! I couldn’t sleep for a week beforehand. Despite giving them my measurements I feared they’d not find anything to fit me. I had visions of seams bursting; of buttons flying off and blinding nubile assistants.

I woke at 6AM on the day of the shoot to wash my hair. I dried it at 7AM. At 8AM I became convinced it looked greasy.

Shauna: Does my hair look greasy? I think it looks greasy.
Rhiannon: It doesn’t look greasy.
S: But I think it does, I used too much of your hair stuff. It’s more powerful than my hair stuff.
R: Is it?
S: Why didn’t I use my own? Why did I risk New Hair Stuff today of all days?
R: It doesn’t look greasy!
S: I think I better wash it again. Do you think I should wash it again?
R:   . . .
S: I don’t know. I can’t decide.
R: Well you better hurry up and decide. You only have two hours.
S: Oh my god what do I doooo?

Not only does my nervousness cause loss of appetite, there’s also severe indecision and paranoia. In the end I listened to the voice of reason that is my sister and did not re-wash my locks.

We met the lovely Sam and Anna from my publisher outside the studio and together we entered the temple o’ glamour. It was all high ceilings and huge windows and yawning white spaces. We sat on a plush couch and were offered refreshments, but I declined because my teeth were chattering so wildly that I feared I might bite a hunk out of a teacup.

The Elle People trickled in, and they were very nice and chatty. I began to relax. Then the hair and makeup artist got to work. She did a great job at disguising all those sleepless nights! Then she bouffed up my hair and pulled fancy moves with the straighteners. All I could do was gawk in amazement. Make up artist? Make up magician more like! Woohoo!

Next I met Bonnie the Stylist and she was gorgeous. She took me off to a dressing room with a rack of clothes and a neat row of swanky looking shoes all waiting to be caressed by my size eight hoof. She explained we’d be doing a series of portraits with a soft, elegant look. I nearly snorted because I saw myself as more suited to a rustic farm girl look.

She pulled a shirt off the rack and it looked impossibly dainty and pretty. Thankfully it fitted. The trousers did not. I couldn’t get them past my knees and I mumbled, Sorry! Sorry! I’m sorry.

I was so irritated that I’d said that out loud. What happened to the Happy Just Being Me stuff? I felt crushed and pathetic, but Bonnie was like a reassuring old Aunt trapped in the body of an elegant, tiny young woman. She told me not to worry about sizes and labels, and besides, she had plenty more trousers to try on. Soon I was clothed and climbing into a pair of high heels.

Dudes. Nobody warned me about high heels. I mean really high ones. I started to walk back into the studio expecting my legs to just, you know… walk? But instead I staggered like I’d been thrown out of a moving car. How do people wear those things all day? I was mortified by that entrance and the fact that I was clearly the elephant in the room… yet all this fuss was due to My Amazing Weight Loss?

It was one of those moments when I could stand outside myself and listen to the wild screaming match between my Old Thinking and New Thinking. Who will be the victor today? I hope you can understand how everything I’d learned over the past seven years could temporarily desert me. It was the context – a room full of glossy magazine people, cameras, bright lights, high-heeled clomping. I’d never felt like such a big fat fish out of water. My mind raced as I took my place on the wee set, Who have I been kidding? I should lose another ten kilos. Maybe twenty. Why did I eat so many bloody bagels in New York?

But then thankfully the New Thinking took over. The moment the photographer smiled and lifted the camera to her eye, I felt a massive rush of adrenaline and glee. I’m in London! In a studio! With fancy hair! And crazy shoes! Gettin’ me photie taken! For ELLE! This isn’t awful, it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.

I remembered my favourite Flight of the Conchords episode with Jemaine’s heartfelt speech about racism: "I’m a person. You’re a person. That person over there is a person. And every person… deserves to be treated like a person."  All the people in the room were persons, and they were treating me like a person. So I should remember to treat myself like a person, and not a lardy freak!

The camera was hooked up to a computer so the photos instantly popped up onscreen. That could have been daunting, especially when people were clustered around it with serious expressions, pointing to blown-up eyebrows, teeth and jawlines. But somehow once we were in the swing of things I could look at the images with a pleasant objectivity. It was fun doing all the poses too. At first I couldn’t stop laughing, so there were dozens of giant gummy grin shots. Then the photographer said, Look sad! So I looked out the window and saw an old lady shuffling towards a mailbox. I pictured a Royal Mail van burning around the corner and mowing her down. I think I even summoned a wee tear. Then she said, Pretend your secret crush has just walked into the room. Oooh. Cue demure blush. At one point I had to toss my hair around, like I’d just stepped out of the salon. Fun and games!

We had a lunch break. There was table full of freshly-cooked gourmet treats but I picked at a tiny wedge of quiche. Not because I’d gone all Starving Model but I didn’t want to get anything stuck in my fangs! I thought about models and how its no wonder they snort things and live on cigarettes and have tortured love lives. I can’t imagine anything worse than your career being based entirely on the way you look. How do they not explode from the constant scrutiny?

There was a basket of miniature bars of Green and Blacks chocolate. In all the flavours! OH I trembled with joy, or it may have been high heel instability. I grabbed one, clopped back to the dressing room and nestled it beside my Spare Bra. I had to bring two along – one black, one flesh coloured.

The rest of the shoot passed without incident, except for when my arms got STUCK inside a shirt! It was outfit change no. 5 methinks. The top was carefully placed over my head and outstretched arms, but when they pulled downward they couldn’t get very far. I felt like a right goose, trapped in designer cotton with my arms glued to my ears, but at least I laughed instead of apologising!

Afterwards, I changed into my civvies and was just about to head out when I remember my choccie. They were packing up the clothes in the dressing room. The stylist’s glamourous assistant smiled and scooped up the goods from the table.

"Here’s your bra and your chocolate!" she said.

She had the chocolate bar in one hand and my giant, ultra supportive bra in the other. She could have worn one cup as a hat, I swear. It was hilarious.

. . .

So the story is in this month’s issue of Elle, but it’s only this month’s issue for another half hour as the new issue comes out on the 30th. How’s that for timely blogging? Anyway, I’ve done a dodgy scan if you fancy  a peek. Gareth and I keep cackling over one frame in particular because it’s like the opening credits of Kath & Kim:

Over the shoulder
There’s always a joker in the pack.
Bwaaaaaaahhahahaa!
(apologies if you’ve never seen K&K!)

click for larger mugs
(click for larger)
Full story: page 1, page 2

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87 thoughts on “My Day In Elle

  1. Wow – that is so cool! How much fun to do a photo shoot, and have someone pick all your clothes, do your hair & your makeup. I’m a bit jealous of the fabulous high heels I bet you got to wear (I love me some high ones, but they do take practice).

    Thanks for visiting my humble blog – and for your nice comments! I am very excited to read your book.

  2. You look gorgeous – I especially like the top right and bottom left ones – so sultry. And it’s gonna sound weird, but the top right one is a little like Kate Moss, but hotter!!

  3. How cool! And you are incredibly pretty, like Molly Ringwald with a much better nose. HOTNESS!

  4. OMG, you’re absolutely gorgeous. Those photos actually brought tears to my eyes, they’re so good. It’s all very inspiring! And chocolate too…wow! Good for you :-)

  5. Such a well-written article, and beautiful photos, DG! If it were me I’d have them blown up poster size and placed strategically around my apartment ;).

  6. How cool! I’ve always thought one of the nice things about being famous would be that you’d get lots of really great pictures taken of yourself. Those shots are so lovely!

  7. Oh you look so beautifully beautiful!

    I saw a copy of the book in the Virgin megastore this morning, a couple of days before its release date in Aus. So I promptly hurdled over some bookshelves, karate chopped a woman on crutches, hurled a small child out of the way and did some kickass Charlie’s Angels moves over to the shelf… well I pounced on it anyway.

    It’s safely tucked in my handbag awaiting a phone-off-the-hook night at home.

    xx

  8. Oh you look so beautifully beautiful!

    I saw a copy of the book in the Virgin megastore this morning, a couple of days before its release date in Aus. So I promptly hurdled over some bookshelves, karate chopped a woman on crutches, hurled a small child out of the way and did some kickass Charlie’s Angels moves over to the shelf… well I pounced on it anyway.

    It’s safely tucked in my handbag awaiting a phone-off-the-hook night at home.

    xx

  9. WOW… fantastic!! and you are right about the Kath and Kim thing – the guy in the photo even looks like Brett! How is all this attention making you feel? The interviews and stories etc, it must be surreal.

  10. Gosh I’m all blubbery. Of the crying kind.

    You look beautiful and at peace.

    (I totally got the fat girl logistics part of the article too..)

  11. Have been lurking for sometime and have ordered your book. Couldn’t resist saying you look amazing in your photo shoot-a real foxy moron!

  12. OK, first, you look bloody gorgeous. Second….WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO SPILL THE BEANS??? Now I have to run around madly trying to find last months’ British Elle. Oh hang on, O/S mags are always a month or two behind. Phew.

    Oh and I’ve been haunting Angus & Robertson, hoping they’ll have your book on display early so I can strategically place 17 copies around the shelves. So far, no joy.

    :D

  13. Stunning!

    I think that would’ve been the most terrifyingly fantastic thing to experience. I’m so chuffed that it turned out so well. (As if it wouldn’t?)

  14. Your photos are wonderful but I bet you are also really chuffed at the strapline on the first page: “When writer Shauna Reid…..” YOU’RE A WRITER! ELLE SAYS SO! That’s so cool.

  15. Those are beautiful, and I love the way your hair looks. Were you ever able to duplicate that again?

    That pink looks amazing with your skin and your hair and if I were you, I’d go throw out all my clothes and wear nothing but that color. ;)

  16. Oooh…Shauna, that’s so awesome…you’re a regular celebrity now. Elle is so chic too. You look absolutely Fab, you gorgeous ginger you! That’s right GORGEOUS! So very proud of you, keep on keepin’ on!

  17. The photos are gorgeous and the accompanying article is perfect. The last paragraph made ME cry!

  18. You are amazingly pretty! That pink looks so lovely with your skin and hair. How much fun to be part of a fancy photo shoot. You’re awesome :).

  19. Oh. My. Goodness.

    Fan-bloody-tastic.

    Bet if you flew back in time to your five year younger self and told yourself you’d be all glam in Elle you’d never have believed yourself would you?!!

    You absolutely rock.

  20. The pics are lovely!

    BTW – my sister and I were in London earlier this month. Before we left I had checked out their site to get the name of the boots I wanted – my sister saw all the lovely footwear and said she’d get a pair too. When we got to the shop the boots I liked online weren’t as wonderful as I thought. The toes were too pointy and I have the probably irrational fear that when the boots are broken in that the pointy toes will curl up and I’ll be walking around looking like a big round leprechaun.
    My sister? No luck at all. And the shop girl didn’t look too kindly on me when I told my sister that she shouldn’t buy something unless she really loves them. However, she did end up finding something at Jones the bootmaker.

  21. …erm…I’m talking about the Duo shop, of course.

    Will run and pick up your book when I’m done work tomorrow. Totally forgot to check the shops for it when I was over. :-(

    As I said – the pics are lovely – the one on the left in the middle row is my fave. Very powerful and superhero-ish.

  22. Oh I love that you thought of Flight of the Conchords in your dark moment. I didn’t even know you got them over in Britain?? I love them to bits, they crack my shit up.

    You are a beautiful heartfelt person Shauna and you have metamorphis’d (sp??) into a very natural beauty that is worthy of gracing many magazine covers!!

  23. Bonny Shauny! What lovely portraits!

    Hey, the fashion magazine didn’t put you in cool-autumn-poo-colours, you officially have permission to wear PINK. Take that department store fashion advice!

  24. Shauna Shauna Shauna! You look totally gorgeous!!! Wow you have come such a long way! How exciting to be in Elle magazine! Gorgeous photos and great article. You are going places girlfriend! :)

  25. You truly are amazing, woman! And gorgeous to boot. You have every right to be very VERY proud.

    And only one more sleep until your book comes out in Australia. WooHOO! I have been scanning the bookshops just in case there is any chance they have put it out early, but no. I only hope they are not late with it here in little ol’ Perth. :D

  26. Well, I hope you don’t mind if I don’t post another major ego-stroke (But you looked GREAT!!!), but just wanted to congratulate you big time for all that you’ve accomplished in the last few years. You’ve lost so much weight, you’ve become a healthy person (mostly, right?), you’ve found love and marriage, and you’ve been able to see your own name in the bookstore.

    And all that completely aside from the fact that you’ve accomplished something that many of us never do … you learned to like Shauna. Just you, the way you are.

    How’s it feel to have accomplished so many dreams in such a short time?

    And again, congrats!!!

  27. I’ll join the chorus of other comments to say I too shed a tear while reading the article. You look STUNNING in those photos. Very purdy in pink indeed! Molly Ringwald ain’t got nothing on you!

  28. Absolutely fabulous!!!! Congratulations on the photo shoot – you look wonderful.

    I was so happy to get a phone call earlier today saying that your book has come in (one day early I might add). So I rushed down to the bookstore after school today and have it right here next to me hanging to be opened and read. You are now officially published in your home country!!! Congrats once more!!!

    Now off to read ………

  29. Hi darling daughter

    Sob! Sob! My baby has all grow’d up….sob! sob!

    You look so…..gorgeous…so very lovely. The outside matches the inside.

    Ray found your book today in Angus and Robertson in Goulburn. We went tonight (late night shopping) to check it out.

    Looking forward to hearing radio interview tomorrow. May have to let my students hear it as well.

    Love you
    Ma

  30. AWW MUM! You’ll make me blub, you ol’ softie. I mean, young softie!

    Thanks everyone for your lovely comments. Ain’t it amazing, the power of make-up and lighting! I think the neck is the only thing I can take credit for :P

    And thanks those telling me about book sightings in Oz… that is big kev excitin’, to be sure.

    Better get back to work, eep! xx

  31. AWW MUM! You’ll make me blub, you ol’ softie. I mean, young softie!

    Thanks everyone for your lovely comments. Ain’t it amazing, the power of make-up and lighting! I think the neck is the only thing I can take credit for :P

    And thanks those telling me about book sightings in Oz… that is big kev excitin’, to be sure.

    Better get back to work, eep! xx

  32. Shauna, you look absolutely beautiful .. and don’t you ever think otherwise !! I’ll have to remember to look for your book tomorrow.. will fill my weekend nicely :)

  33. Shauna, your article made me cry a little bit – in a good way of course! :)
    You’re a freakin’ inspiration, & I can’t wait to read your book & be inspired all over again.
    I’m so happy for you, that all your dreams are coming true – it couldn’t happen to a nicer & more deserving person.
    Thankyou for sharing :)
    (ps- sorry for getting all soppy, but you’re to blame for makin me all blubbery!)

  34. Hey Shauna! It’s got nothing to do with makeup and lighting – you are beautiful. Even though I dont know you personally – I’m so proud of you. Everytime I stumble across an article (you have a good publisher), I get so excited for you.

    You are an inspiration, a brilliant, witty writer and a credit to us good looking red heads ; )

    Right, enough! I’ll go and dry my eyes now after reading your article.

  35. You look fab- but can I just say “chicken!” I wish I had known before it was too late to buy the correct Elle.

  36. Gorgeous pics!! I think they should give you that pink blouse since it looks so ravishing on you. Congrats on your continued success! You are so totally deserving!!

  37. My copy arrived last night :)

    You look so amazing – what beautiful photos.

    Let me know next time you’re in London so I can be seen in public with you, the girl in ELLE!!! ;P

    xoxoxo

  38. Your article was great. I need to cut it out and pin it up next to my mirror. And maybe the mirrors of a couple of my friends while I’m at it. You’re such a wonderful inspiration. Thank you.

  39. You are gorgeous! How fabulous! I have lost 120 pounds, and I want to thank you for being an inspiration to me along the way.

  40. I love you-I just read your book- you are laugh out loud funny and you pinpoint the struggles of all the young girls out there that are told they are fat when they are little and believe it. There is so much I could say about how much I will treasure your book and stories like this one in Elle I don’t even know how to say it all in a blog comment. I live in New Hampshire, USA somehow found your book recommended on UK Amazon (never been on the site before) and got your book the day it came out maybe. Anyway – blah, blah, now I will stalk you because I want your confidence and love of your body. I am losing weight (still working at it- I so love how you point out that we all think those really mean thoughts to ourselves)but I am enjoying getting fit and being able to play soccer and basketball with my kids without say dying. Anyway – thanks soooo much for sharing your journey. -Kelly

  41. Awesome!! You do look alot like Molly Ringwald in those pictures!

    I’ve got my book on order from Amazon.ca, so it had better get here soon!

  42. Aww Jane :) Not chicken so much as bloody disorganised and trying to space out the Book Pimping posts a bit and then not realising until the 29th that the new ELLE came out on the 30th, hehe.

    Kelly – thank you a bazillion! Will drop you a note soonly!

    Cheers again folks. You rawk!

  43. Wooo!! I just opened up my issue of Who and found a double page spread on Dietgirl.

    You look beeauuutiful.

  44. Oh, wow. This is huge in all the right ways. I think my favorite part is that they identify you right off the bat as “writer Shauna Reid”. Finally the truth comes out!

  45. I’m in absolute shock–Elle Magazine? However, why should I be shocked when I already know how fabulous you are? That’s fantastic, Shauna. You made my day! Congratulations!

    PS Lovely photos!

  46. Woot! Congrats on all your successes Shauna, you look gorgeous in those pics. :) Wanted to say thanks for my book too (from the Scavenger Hunt). I’ve been away for a few weeks, but it was waiting for me when I got home. Must get stuck into reading it!

  47. Hi Shauna,
    flicking through my “WHO” magazine what do I see but a four page spread on you !! Diet girl!! So come lunch time I took myself off to the book shop & promptly requested a copy of your book. There I was in the food court of the shopping centre.. only 20 pages in .. with tears in my eyes… I cant wait to read the rest !!

  48. Hello,

    My friend has been saying how much she loves your blog & book for a little while now, and then I saw you in Elle so now I’m reading your blog, too. (God that was bad grammar – would you believe I’m a writer, too?!)

    I thought the Elle story was great, and I totally agree with you that finding inner peace and happiness is the key to feeling good about your body and staying motivated to eat well. Your life has to be worth living, or you’ll just slump in front of the telly and eat – as I know too well!

    Great reading about the story behind the story – thanks Shauna :) x

  49. Dude! I’ve been reading your blog for – ooh, couple of years now? Anyway, I was in t’hairdressers (Trevor Sorbie’s salon, to be precise dahlink – they do bargain same-day appointments, I’m not really that posh), and the lovely haidresser lady got me a couple of mags to read while she was chopping the old barnet. She brought over Grazia and Elle, and as I’d already read my friend’s copy of Grazia, I had a flick through Elle. Imagine my surprise when I spied Dietgirl lurking within! And looking totes hot to trot, as well.

    Anyway, glad I’ve now caught up on the story behind the pics – sounds like awesome fun, and glad you overcame your demons to some extent :)

    Kisses!

  50. OH! Also, I was killing time at Euston station last Friday, and saw your book in the branch of WHSmiths there. It was spine-out in amongst the other real life books, so I plonked it face-out on the top (eye-level) shelf for all to see. Ha ha! :)

  51. Hey Shauna – your book has made it all the way to Canberra! I took photos of it on the shelf at Borders! And then I made an ass out of myself by telling all the staff that I know you. Is she your friend? No, not exactly. Did you work together or something? No, no. How do you know her? Oh, I don’t know her, it’s more like I, you know, read her blog. Oh. (gives me queer look, wonders why I’ve got my camera with me…)

    Congrats, Shauna, on the book and the multiple magazine spreads. Clever clogs.

  52. You look STUNNING in those photos. Congratulations on another in what is getting to be a very long list of folks/publications who have recognized what a great writer and person you are.

  53. Wow…all I can say is that you are a walking advertisement for weight loss.

    Simpply stunning and very classy.

  54. Wow…all I can say is that you are a walking advertisement for weight loss.

    Simpply stunning and very classy.

  55. please ship my goods to me because i’m an adventist i will need to learn more

  56. The photos in Elle show that you are beautiful. The photos disappoint me because they only portray you as a pretty face. If the story is about body image, then isn’t it hypocritical of the photo editor to omit any images of your body? We know that you are not a heroin addict or a matchstick thin barbie doll. Please Elle magazine, “Show us the image of a woman of substance.” Apparently, the editors of Elle are too cowardly to show us ALL of a real woman.