Back in 1989, Rae Earl poured her angst-ridden heart into her teenage diary. Eighteen years on, the diary has just been published...
In I989, I was an obese 17-year-old virgin whose one solace was scribbling my deepest desires and darkest thoughts into my diary.
‘Back then, I genuinely believed there was no chance I would ever lose my virginity. I was a 14-and-a-half-stone fat girl stuck in a small Lincolnshire market town: a big girl in a sea of thin girls, with an aching desire for a man. Unfortunately, this desire could only be satisfied with the sweet cuddle of a four-finger Kit-Kat. Or two, or three. Or, on a really bad day, five. Food was my lover, as the graveyard of Twix wrappers hidden behind my bed would testify.
‘Everyone seemed to be doing it – except me, the lonely fat girl getting none. So I began 1989 with one aim: to find a man who could ‘see through the fat’. Tom Cruise was taken. Jason Donovan was concentrating on his music career. George Michael was going out with that Chinese bird from the I Want Your Sex video. I had to look closer to home.
‘It was then that I discovered the convenient friendship. That relationship you have in your teens with a girl you don’t really like, but who serves a purpose to you – and you to her. Don’t get me wrong – I had some wonderful friends, but most of them, like my best friend Mort, lived in villages miles away. I had to have someone local to socialise with. That’s where Bethany came in.
‘Bethany made herself feel great by making me feel lousy. She told me I ate ‘like a pig’ and that ‘men did not like women who told jokes’. After an evening with Bethany, only one thing could ease the pain – a double portion of chips.
‘However, as much as Bethany used me, I used Bethany. In her short skirts, with iced-pink glossy lips, she was a Venus flytrap for men. I met two blokes through her that would become the focus of my teenage fat life. Blokes who would change the way I felt about love, life, and the way I looked.
The first was known by us as Battered Sausage – a code name developed by Mort. We spent hours in pubs and in his Cortina, listening to Erasure, laughing at everything and nothing. At first, I was convinced he was going to be my first boyfriend. But when, after months, the affectionate punch on the arm he gave me at the end of every night still didn’t progress to anything else, I kind of got the message that he wasn’t exactly interested in me sexually.
‘This first burst of unrequited love confirmed to me that chubby chasers didn’t exist in my world. But Battered Sausage taught me that, actually, some men do like women who make them laugh. My ego soared with his willingness to laugh at all my jokes, and, for the first time ever, I could imagine going out with a guy. We had all the components of a great relationship – just no sex.
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‘Every party followed the same pattern. I’d go with Battered Sausage, but end up perched by the fridge chatting to an endless stream of visitors, making toast and hiding from the fact that everyone else, including the man I came with, was snogging, flirting and shagging. The only up-side of my night was putting extra butter on thin girls’ bread.
‘Haddock (another code name thought up by Mort – she liked the chip-shop theme) was one of the beautiful people, and a good friend of Battered Sausage. He had a reputation for being a bit of a loner. This just added to his mystique. He was stocky but magnificent; crushingly good-looking with a floppy fringe and killer eyes.
‘When I first met him, I thought he was an ignorant public-schoolboy tosser. Don’t get me wrong, I fancied him – but I hated him, too. He was a prick from a loaded family and, as far as I was concerned, he needed taking down a peg or two. Months passed with almost constant verbal sparring between us. The chance to make a dent in this pillar of self-assurance was too tempting. So one night, at a party, I made my move. My weapon? A dark secret about Haddock that nobody else could possibly know, but that Battered Sausage had told me, months before, in private.