“So fat you would sink a ship” but now I'm the next Jane McDonald
Laura Carter, 27 from Essex always wanted to be a singer from a very early age, she had the voice but she also had the weight, so would an offensive comment help change her life?…
“What do you want to be when you are older?” My mum Pauline, 57 asked me when I was four.
There was only one answer.
“I'm going to make it as a lead singer on a cruise ship mum.” I said.
“I'll support you but you know it will be hard work.” She said.
“I know mum but I will never give up.” I said.
What I didn't know then but I do now, that it would take every ounce of effort to make it as a professional singer.
I had always struggled with my diet since I was really young.
My parents Pauline and Phillip, 60 were very strict on what I ate, because I had serious food allergies.
I was even admitted to Great Ormond street hospital with skin problems due to the food I ate.
I couldn't eat wheat, diary or any E numbers.
So if I went to kids parties my mum had to make my own special food and it wasn't very exciting.
While the rest of the kids ate chocolate and drank fizzy pop. I ate rice cakes and drank Apple juice.
As soon as soon I was old enough to choose my own diet, I started to eat high fat foods. I must have been about twelve and my parents couldn't keep an eye on me all the time anymore.
Maybe it was an act of rebellion or maybe because I just wanted some tasty food!
I would eat the food I wasn't allowed. I would eat bread, fizzy drinks and chocolate.
I did get rashes but not as bad as when I was a child. I didn't need hospital treatment, I guess my body was growing out it.
But eating all this junk food did make me quite chubby. From the ages of twelve to fifteen I was always the big girl. One of my mates was really thin and we were known has “fatty and skinny.”
By the time I was 14 I was about 13 stone.
I even began to make myself sick if I thought I had eaten too much food.
But it wasn't until I was 16 and attended college that I really started to pile the pounds on. I was still singing but totally stopped dancing.
I would eat chocolate dipped in hot chocolate, sausage rolls and instead of eating one sandwich I ate two. I think it was the amount I ate rather than what I ate. My stomach was stretched and I could never get full.
I also started gigging in the evenings and would get takeaways and drive-thru McDonalds in the early hours of the morning.
But when I went to North Hertfordshire University to study Musical Theatre I really put a lot of weight on.
I tried loads of different diet techniques, but they never worked.
I took tablets from the doctor, a milkshake meal replacement diet and Weight Watchers.
I even took laxatives for a couple of weeks. It just made me feel really ill, and I couldn't go anywhere because I needed the toilet all of the time.
But throughout all of this time I sang whenever I could. I would sing at parties, on the karaoke and even in the bath.
My dream was always to be a headline singer on a cruise ship and I wasn't going to let anything get in my way.
After university I worked as a singer in Portugal, Spain and Tenerife. But I felt far too fat to go for the role I had always dreamed of.
What made it worse was I felt huge and the effort of singing was taking it out of me. My body was not strong enough to allow me to sing the way I wanted. I could not hold the notes as long as I knew I could. Basically I was too fat to perform.
I also stopped teaching dance as I thought everyone would laugh at me.
Off the stage I was also suffering with health problems. I had to sleep on my front, my asthma got really bad, my knees hurt and I got sciatica.
However the biggest blow was a comment made by a total stranger in a bar.
I was singing in Colchester in a pub in May 2010.
I was struggling again and was not able to hit the notes. I knew in my heart I wasn't doing well.
Suddenly someone in the crowd shouted out
“You are so fat you could sink a ship. You look like Mandy Dingle” He said.
My dream was to sing on a ship not sink one!
I was too upset to reply. I just got off the stage as quick as I could.
When I got home that night I cried for hours. For the next month I would binge eat, refused to leave the house and cancelled all my gigs. I had to accept it, I was too fat to sing.
After a month I eventually had to leave the house and bumped into my friend's aunty Gina, 35. She used to be really fat but had a gastric bypass operation and looked amazing.
I got home and called my mum
“Are you ok dear.” She said as she answered the phone.
“Mum I think I'm going to get a gastric bypass operation.” I said.
“I don't think you should its very dangerous.” She said,
“Mum, remember that little girl who said she would never stop until she was lead singer? Well she isn't there anymore. At this rate I will be 40 stone.” I said.
“If that really is how you feel then go for it, you promised you would never give up so this must be serious.” She said.
The next day I saw my doctor and she put me forward for a gastric bypass on the NHS
I had let myself go and it was affecting my career, my health and my confidence. This had to be the answer to my problems and would give me my last chance to reach my goals.
On 4th January 2011 I went under the knife and the operation was a success.
I was only ill for a week or so. I was in hospital for four days and the weight started to drop off.
I started on liquids for four weeks and slowly built up to tiny amounts of food, but it would fill you up. I couldn't eat more than the size of my fist in food and I don't eating any junk food.
Over the next year I lost ten stone. I had lost half my body weight. It was unbelievable.
I felt, looked and acted like a different person.
I was now focused on becoming a lead singer on a cruise ship.
After I lost eight stone though, I was singing in a small venue in November 2011 and I saw a guy smiling at me. I could tell he knew about music.
When I got off the stage he introduced himself as Joe, 25
“Are you Spanish?” He asked.
“No I'm from Essex.” I replied.
“I fell in love with your voice and then I saw you, you are so hot.” He said,
“That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time.” I replied.
“I mean it. I am singer also. I have a good feeling about us.” He said.
And he was right, within two weeks we were completely in love and we recently got engaged. We also did a singing contract together.
Then I noticed an audition for a lead singer on a cruise ship.
This time I was ready to put myself forward to have my own show as the headline act, I was confident and I got the job. My dream ever since I was a child had become true.
I started as a headline act in November 2012 and I have loved every minute of it.
I have been all over the world as the leading singer on luxury cruise ships, singing to huge audiences.
Now Joe and I travel the world as headline acts. We are setting our sights on Vegas.
My story is a case of its not over until the “used” to be fat lady sings. I am now one of the most in demand singers on the cruise ship circuit.
I am so glad I got the gastric bypass operation. It has totally turned my life around. I got the man and the job of my dreams. I am even looking forward to wedding shopping, as I can now fit in one.
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