1983 – 2013 Still the same emotional girl…

"school leaver" 1983

Sixteen years old. I thought I knew it all. I had my O-levels under my belt (what is it with these flippin GCSE thingys anyway?) and I was leaving school – briefly. My 3 meter ribbon contained the signatures and kisses of all my 5th year peers (nowadays it would be year 10 – how weird is that?). I had signed the school heart-throb’s shirt, lingering slightly longer than necessary. I was coming back for 6th form in 6 short weeks. So why the sobbing, heaving red-eyed tears?

End of an era: It was an emotional time. I imagine it still is for most 16 year olds – the climax of the first big set of exams, the first pressure on young shoulders, the end of childhood, and the start of what happens next. Old crushes left school for good; one became a bus driver, another worked the tills at Tesco, still another is now a millionaire – funny, he was the shortest, least charming, least physically attractive boy in my class, but his life has been a massive success. As I recall, his grades weren’t as good as mine. Just goes to show, those first 16 years do not dictate what you will be. Remember that, my children.

"eighties looks"Eighties perm

It was “de rigeur,” the perm. I had thick, straight hair. My hairdresser complained about how much of it there was. (That has changed). There was not a hint of curl or body, just the kind of hair that today’s girls crave and re-create with straightening irons. The Eighties required big hair, and so there was the perm. It’s not a look I’m proud of. I also wonder why I wore my collar up, and what was with the hat?!



Factor what? Whilst the first hint of sunshine in 2013 drives me to slather the faces of my offspring – despite their protestations – with factor 50, the Eighties saw me rejoicing in the fact that my Spanish apartment (language degree, I know) had a flat roof. The Andalucian heat bounced off the whitewashed walls, and onto our olive-oiled bodies, frying our skin. We looked awful. We loved it.

"women's rugby"

One of the boys

Pre-nineties, girl-power had not yet made it’s mark. Girls at my University still balanced their intelligence and drive with their femininity and reserve. Me? I joined the rugby team. 3 points if you can figure out what position I played. It did me no favours, Girls didn’t get me, and boys thought of me as one of the lads. It was fun, but I still have pain in my ripped shoulder 25 years later.

Special K was a diet food. I remember begging my Mum to buy Special K. I was enticed by the fun and flirty ads, I had puppy fat, and I wanted to be gorgeous.

Of course, she wouldn’t hear of it, so I had to wait until I left home to try it for myself. I’ve always enjoyed it – it has a kind of malty satisfying taste that cornflakes fail to achieve for me. 30 years on, Special K have a new image. Gone is the mumsy couple, and in their place are sexy powerful women, with curves, and health. Special K also has a new recipe, although – and I’m being totally honest here – it tastes just the same to me, and as ever, it’s delicious. My kids request it as often as they want Coco Pops, and my husband is wondering where on earth Special K yoghurty has gone – it’s his favourite!

Some things have not changed. First, the ability to appreciate what an amazing body you have, when you’re still in it. This is me, aged 18, in 1985. Only now, aged 46, can I see how gorgeous I was. I thought I was a bit flabby. I had never dieted, I was never allowed. I did not know how unecessary it was! I don’t want this for my children. How can I make them see that healthy eating, exercise and a zest for life are all they need to look beautiful?

img152 (411x640)

Second, looks run in families. I’m guessing that it is only by the fashion you will be able to tell which is me, and which my daughter πŸ˜‰ (I still haven’t forgiven my Mum for that nappy)!

"spot the difference"

This post is for the BritMums/Special K “How I’ve changed Linky challenge.” I did this post because I wanted to share something with my daughter and son. We were sent a free box of Special K, to add to those already in our cupboard. Needless to say it’s all gone now.

30 thoughts on “1983 – 2013 Still the same emotional girl…”

  1. Very funny! I know it really shouldn’t be but I wrote a 1983 post the other and have the same 80’s perm anguish! Lovely to meet you yesterday *still have good pins*

  2. What a great post. I loved getting the see the different photos of you and how you’ve changed. I so desperately wanted a perm when I was younger, but luckily my mum stopped me, I’m pretty sure my poker straight hair would never have forgiven me.
    It’s so true what you say about not appreciating the body you are in, I look back at younger photos of me where I know I felt self-conscious and I would love to shake that girl. And as you say, I so don’t want that for my children, especially now I have a daughter. I think girls often have a slightly trickier path when it comes to body image. x

    • I wonder how on earth we can give our children the self-confidence to know what is good about themselves? It bothers me when I hear my daughter compare her physique to other girls already πŸ™

      • Don’t. The thought terrifies. And as their parent you just look at them and see perfection, you just can’t imagine how they could possibly be anything other than 100% happy in their own skin. Urgh, such a minefield. I think I’ll make the most of this teeny baby bit and hide my head in the sand. πŸ˜‰ x

  3. I was saved the perm because I gad incredibly curly hair anyway! Perms meant that suddenly at 12 I was no longer alone πŸ˜€

  4. I’m so loving these 30 years posts, especially the ones that were not babies in the 80s, makes me feel I’m not so ancient after all πŸ™‚
    lovely post and I agree, it’s a lovely way of sharing with your children.
    Oh, and it was lovely to meet you on Saturday too…ohhh so much loveliness in one reply πŸ™‚

  5. Super post, dreadful perm, I know nothing of Rugby so will pass on the challenge. Goodness me GG really is the image of you! Xx

  6. You still look great – it obviously suits you. Am so glad you are taking the reins with your daughter and the pressures on girls today (says she sighing with relief at having two boys! ;).

  7. Ohh I love your photos, it was like looking back in my album. not that I was ever that slim and gorgeous but the perm, baby oiled suntanned skin and leaving school – we all got our shirts signed.

    Fab, mich x

  8. What a fantastic post! I so enjoyed reading this – oh, I remember the 80’s so well, the perms, the collars – I was the last year to do O’levels, so that was ’87, I would have been 16 – I got an unclassified in maths, yes, I was that bad at it! …. and you were (and probably still are) a very gorgeous woman! X.

    • Ah, thank you! What on earth was it with those collars? I seem to remember wearing pearls over them as well – very strange

  9. Such a funny, lovely, brilliant post! Personally I think you look gorgeous all suntanned, but then I am a total sun worshiper (now desperately applying spf30 daily in a bid to reverse the damage done!). We constantly tell our kids how wonderful, clever, kind, beautiful they are – I worry that we will make them utterly big-headed, but I also hope to avoid or at least delay the inevitable insecurities x

  10. Love the slightly gender-bending look in the second pic. And how well your perm took. After 24 hours, mine always slumped into a slightly frizzier version of my dead-straight hair. One even burned off a section of hair, so I had a tuft growing out of the top of my head. Those were the days….

  11. Bloody love this Helen. Right up my alley, for obvious reasons. From one Helen to another – glad you lost the ribbon. Would have done nothing for you chances at copping off at 16. And that short, stupid, ugly boy who became a millionaire? He clearly had a lot of spare time (no girlfriends and all that) to dedicate to his career. Bet he has short, stupid, ugly kids though, not ‘funnee’ like yours!

  12. No way you are NEVER 46!!!
    Flaming eck woman is Special K your secret then? You certainly do look good.
    Fab post x

  13. I had huge back combed hair, which I stiffened with 2 cans of hairspray every day. I also remember electric blue eyeliner (my parents banned it but I would apply and remove it in the loos at school) and iridescent pink lipstick πŸ™‚
    Happy days x


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