Pictured: Madeline Taylor.

Madeline in the Park in a Bra

"I’ve always had self-imposed rules with respect to what I wear because of the insecurities I had growing up, particularly surrounding body confidence and being a redhead. My family has a history of mental health issues including eating disorders. I don’t blame them for the stuff I struggled with but as a teenager it definitely had an impact on me. I would have been 13 years old when I started having problems with bulimia. You go through puberty and your body starts changing, but I think it was also because people (family and others) would make comments that they probably didn’t mean anything by, or didn’t realise would have a lasting impact on me, but they did.  I remember I was probably 14 or 15 when my boyfriend at the time asked me to dye my hair, and I did for the next six or seven years. 

My sister struggled with similar body confidence issues. Madeline is 69kg but the same shape as me, so just bigger and more muscular. But the way she dealt with her confidence issues was pretty amazing and super inspiring for me. She was just like, I don’t give a fuck what people think, and actually started dressing more outrageously to accentuate her body and show people, and herself, that she was proud of it. Madeline loves her body big anyway, so I thought that was a really good way to fight back.

I’m not the same as Madeline. She’s a real free spirit whereas I stress about everything. But what her approach has done is made me more confident. Looking at Madeline, and how free spirited she is, and how she really doesn’t care what other people think, it’s made me start to wear stuff that I never would have gone anywhere near before. 

For example, I recently bought some big orange Karen Walker sunglasses. The kicker for me is that they’re orange and so is my hair. I looked at them and thought, I’m not allowed to wear these. But then walking down the street I realised that nobody told me I couldn’t wear them, it's the comments others have made that’s meant I’ve always been self-conscious about things like that. These sunglasses, they’re great right? They’re ridiculous, but they’re great. And they sit right on my face so when I’m walking I can feel people looking at me. It will take some getting used to but maybe these are my "Madeline in the park in a bra" item, my thing that I wear to build confidence and to say 'I don’t give a fuck what you think'. Or my hair. When I was a kid, other kids would be mean about me being a ginger, but being older I've found that a lot of adults are actually really lovely and complimentary about my hair which is why I decided to let it get so long. It’s become my fuck you flag."

Conversation with fashion consumer Charlie Taylor.