14 04 2011





I show up to work in my new studio on Saturday at 7 AM. I got fabrics and everything I need, but what I don’t know yet, is how to make a garment from the beginning. I’ve learned to sew quite well during the last three months, but I have no idea about pattern making.


I find a huge piece a brown wrapping paper and pin it to the wall. Then I draw an outline of my shape – something I will do many times in Eating Disorder Therapy – and cut it out.


Werner hobbles downstairs. His leg is in a cast, but even though he’s obviously in pain, he is in a friendly mood. He watches my attempt to figure out how to make a dress and laughs.

“I’ve never seen anything like that, but it looks like fun”. He stands close to me and I can smell shampoo and cologne on him – the smell from his upstairs hair salon.


Here it comes, I think. Payday. My dad always said that nothing is free in this world, especially not from older men who are generous and attractive. Well, so what, you’ve done worse for less, goes through my mind, but still, I step away from him.


He reads my mind. “Don’t worry, I’m into the very young ones, my weakness. I love the really young girls. Not to offend you, you are hot and attractive, but I’m taken. My little Yugoslavian apprentice upstairs is my girlfriend and I’m too old to keep up with her. You’ll meet her soon and I want you to make a very special dress for her. Deal?”

“Ok. Deal. I’d love to, Werner. But I have a lot to learn first. See this cut-out figure? That’s not how it’s done, but I’ll make it work somehow. I always do”

We look at the shapes, now spread out on the floor and I sigh.

“I can’t believe what a fat pig I am. Look at this. I used to be half of this”

“Don’t ever call yourself a fat pig again if you want to keep this place. The last thing I need here is a self-hating woman who infects my girls upstairs. You’re juicy and curvy and god dammit, accept it or throw yourself in a diet.”

I know better than to tell him about my countless unsuccessful diets. I’ve been on diets since I was 12 and the only ones that ever made me skinny, were speed and heroin.

“Naw, I’m not up to that right now.” I reply.

“Well then, work with what you have. I must go back upstairs, but I’ll send you one of my clients, a really nice lady who owns the restaurant next door. I told her about you and she is excited to meet you. You will like her”


With this he leaves me alone with my tools and fabrics. I start to work on my dress and somehow I figure out how to transform my two-dimensional copy of myself into a three-dimensional pattern. I take a deep breath and cut into my very expensive black knit fabric and then I just sew. A few hours later, with music blaring – Einsturzende Neubauten and The Fall – I try it on and I have to admit that this dress is really cool.


It’s tight and long and goes all the way up to my neck. I’m fat, but this dress makes me look curvy and sexy and when I check myself out in the huge mirrors, I feel almost high.


When Werner comes down to my cellar with his apprentice in tow, her almost unreal beauty floors me. She is skinny, of course, but so gorgeous, that she would even be beautiful with 30 pounds more on her. She talks in a little girl voice, but what she says sounds intelligent and way older than her 17 years.

“Werner, look at this dress! I want one just like it. Please? It’s just so, so, I don’t now, different and mysterious. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Werner winks at me. “Of course, baby! You’ll get one just like it. Monah, can you make a trace of her like you did before? I mean if it’s convenient for you, I’m sure you have hundreds of other things to do?”

“No, It’s my pleasure. I have enough fabric left over anyway.”

He kisses her on the cheek and leaves us alone.


While I work with her, she tells me about her drunk and violent father and she cries when she talks about her mother and her siblings. She lives with Werner outside the city in a converted farmhouse and is safe from her father’s abuse. I start to really like her.

A few hours later, she has a similar dress like mine and she looks stunning.


A warm feeling of accomplishment and happiness spreads through my body and my mind. I’m good for something. After all, I’m not a useless mental patient without a future, except relapses and prostitution anymore.


Werner loves the dress on her and invites me to come upstairs and get my hair done. For free. Until then, I’ve died and cut my hair myself all my life and even though, the half shaved, but grown in punk rock haircut was good enough to dance in LA Clubs, I’m ready for a little bit of professional help.


There is a reason he is Vienna’s number one hairdresser. He is a genius. He cuts and dyes and blows my messed up hair into a chic bob that is worthy of a blooming designer. The person that looks back from the mirror is a hot and confident woman, ready to take on the challenge to do what I always knew I was meant to be.


From this point on, that’s what all my designs are all about. Show it off. I don’t hide my fat ass in baggy jeans anymore. No more overalls, no more flat boots. I’m glamorously fat and no, I’m not proud of it, but this is the beginning of some kind of acceptance.


While I’m feverishly cutting and sewing, I have no idea that this will be the cornerstone of my career, but I’m aware that I’m on to something.


Most women I know are not happy with their bodies, everybody is on a diet or some kind of program to be thinner than they are and it’s just a never-ending cycle. I personally don’t know anybody who has really lost weight. Except Sassa, the girl I used to turn tricks with before I went to America. But she is dying from AIDS.


If I can find a way to design clothes that make me feel all right the way I am, than others will respond to that too. I don’t know how right I am, I have no idea that soon, I will be known and celebrated for that kind of work. Right now, I’m just so happy to work and not crave drugs and I don’t even notice that I have forgotten to eat.



One response

14 04 2011
Jeff Bozem

Another great slice of the semi (ok more than semi) autobiographical installments by one of the most gifted writers I know…….only prob with this format…is I always have to wait for the next….

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