VH World: Aimie
Say hello to Aimie! She's a friend of ours at Variety Hour, and has a pretty interesting story to tell. We went for a wander with her around the streets of Fitzroy on her latest visit to Melbourne, and she told us all about how her life and love of fashion is influenced by her experience with chronic pain.
Tell us about who you are, where you live and what you like to do?
My name is Aimie, I'm 27 and as of the last couple of years I live about 40kms outside of Albury in NSW with my parents and sister. Melbourne still very much feels like my home, too, though, and it's where I spent the majority of my time (on and off) since 2013.
I love singing. Before I became unwell I was pursuing a degree in music. I also love cooking and collecting cookbooks. I started a veggie garden in late 2019, my biggest project so far was growing a rainbow of tomato varieties!
I also start and never complete crafts like it's an Olympic sport, the latest obsession is shuttle tatting which is basically lace making with knots.
How has your life changed since developing a fistula and the resulting chronic pain?
Before becoming unwell I was living in a share house in Melbourne, working at the footy, seeing my friends all the time and studying at Monash. I was busy, I was independent and I was happy.
In December 2017 I went from slight discomfort at dinner for my birthday to unable to sit down by the end of the night. I had emergency surgery to remove an 8cm deep perianal abscess three days later and, unfortunately, it was not a simple healing period and I developed what is called a Transsphincteric Fistula. I'll let you google this incredibly sexy malady at your own risk, but suffice to say I mostly only sit when I can put a soft pillow down first and with a lean over to one side.
I've had 16 surgeries to try and correct what has become a chronic issue and I'm on waiting lists for more still. I'm in pain every single day, and even when my issue is eventually resolved there's a very good chance I'll have ongoing health problems as a result.
Despite your circumstances you remain quite positive; do you have any advice for others battling Chronic Illness?
I think the honest secret is having a really strong circle of friends and family, and letting yourself feel what you're going through. If I'm feeling overwhelmed by pain, or grief for the life I had been living, I'll let myself really sit in it for a couple of hours and then make a serious effort to shift my mood.
I have a pretty dark sense of humour which I think helps a lot and joking or very dryly talking about the ridiculousness of what I've been through and making other people laugh makes me feel a lot better. I truly mean that about the friends and family though, they make me feel stronger and seeing them gives me something wonderful to look forward to
How would you describe your personal style and how is it influenced by your health?
At the moment my style outlook is to look good, feel better. It's incredibly hard to maintain and motivate yourself when you're in pain or going through medical strife which I think a lot of women go through but when I do make that effort to dress up it lifts my mood and makes it easier to get through the outing.
The added confidence to know you look better than you're feeling most of the time is really important. In terms of how I actually dress when I'm off the couch it's a lot of dresses and skirts, florals and patterns.
What has been your experience of size inclusivity in fashion?
I'll be honest it's definitely gotten better but the bar is also on the ground, you know? Like when I was younger I felt like there were almost no options for a plus size teenager and I dressed a lot more mature than I wanted to.
Now I have more options and over the last few years I'm learning to curate a style rather than just take any option available, but it's a learning curve, I ask a lot of "does this look ok, or am I totally wrong?" Also it's a lot of fast fashion and online only or shops that claim to cater to plus sizes but won't use us in their advertising so we never see it to buy it.
It's exciting to be starting to find higher end, more ethical clothing options for "my size."
Why do you like to shop at Variety Hour?
I genuinely love what Variety Hour is doing, which is making clothes I can see myself and other women walking around in when I go to Melbourne. It's a camaraderie I usually only get with other plus size women that I now get to have with everyone. Plus, it's so much fun to wear! I feel like I'm in a piece of art, I know love and time went into the design process.
Favourite VH print?
I'm torn but I think I have to say Wildflower because my first VH piece was a Mirte dress in that gorgeous print but I do love the tomatoes SO much!
As a visitor in Melbourne, what would you recommend others to see or do when they are here?
Take advantage of the amazing arts culture and go to the gallery and see their latest exhibition, book tickets to see a musical or play, go to the footy as it's a right of passage and when you're not doing that participate in the rampant foodie culture; it's more than just incredible coffee! Try something you've never even heard of before. I like to try and bully my friends into getting micheladas (beer and tomato juice, it's good!) and Ethiopian food for example.
My favourite bars are Bad Frankie and The Everleigh (both conveniently walking distance or a short tram ride from Variety Hour) and are must visits on your trip.