Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Book of me - My Physical Self

My Physical Self

This blog post is my response to the third prompt in Julie Goucher's 15 month blogging and writing challenge entitled The Book of Me, Written by You. 

I'm not sure how many people find it confronting to describe their physical appearance. It is not something one often  does. We display our physical selves through profile pictures on social media sites, passports and driving licences but the actual act of talking or writing about one's physical attributes seems challenging.
As a family historian, I have experienced the thrill of discovering  documents which record the physical characteristics of  ancestors. Despite being a convict, my three times great grandfather sounds quite rugged with his  'ruddy complexion, hazel eyes and a scar above his right eyebrow' and I must confess an instant bond of familiarity formed with my great great grandmother with whose 'brown hair, blue eyes and freckled appearance' I share. My olive ( but freckled) skin, however, comes from my father's Scottish background - Scottish or Roman influence I like to imagine!
I understand the historical significance of recording this kind of information. So here goes... and there's a fair chance  I should come out looking better to my own descendants, than my convict great great great grandfather who was described on the NSW Convict Indent as having 'a pock-marked face, numerous scars and large swollen veins on both legs'.

I have olive skin
As a child I was desperate to look like my younger sister. She was everything I was not - blonde, thin and tall. Most significantly, she had very long thick hair. While my sister was allowed to grow her hair gloriously long, my hair was cut very short and to add insult to injured pride, I sported a most dreadfully short fringe. Fortunately at a very young age I was blissfully unaware of just how really unflattering that fringe was. And in my very short hair, I ALWAYS wore a huge bow! As you can see in the photograph below, taken at the Oasis Gardens Swimming pool in Brisbane when I was aged two years, I even had a bow in my hair when swimming.... 
My hair was blonde as a toddler before it turned brown around age three, as in the above photograph. 

Throughout my childhood I dreamed of growing my hair long. My hair is quite fine and most likely that was the sensible reason that it was cut short throughout my childhood. I, however, constantly imagined myself with long flowing tresses like my sister, whose hair by the age of ten was still beautifully blonde and almost reached her knees.  While I dreamed of myself as a flaxen haired Rapunzel, alas, my hair remained dark and short! 

Me, aged three years with short hair and fringe.

Although I would not have been described as a chubby child, I undoubtedly inherited my Scottish McDade and Campbell ancestral short and distinctly not thin build. Ah.. if only my mother's Swiss blonde and lithe forebears' genes had been more stalwart and not passed me by!
I was usually the shortest in my class throughout my schooldays. Now, as an adult, I measure 5 foot 2 inches...and shrinking... With Scottish and Germanic stoutness clearly embedded in my genes, it is fortunate that in true Scots tradition, I enjoy a battle. My ancestors may have disgraced themselves at the battle of Culloden (another blog..) but I work persistently to win the Battle of the Bulge.

A cheeky 2 year old. Note the bow!

I have always enjoyed being able to say that I am 5 foot 2, eyes of blue'.

My Hands 
My baby grand daughter Primrose's hand holding mine. September 5 2013.

Primrose Jemima Florence White-O'Rourke 5/9/13 - 6/9/13


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