"I am a military wife, or, rather, my husband is in the military. I work for a building surveying firm and I also work part time for Recruit for Spouses - a social enterprise to help empower military spouses. I’ve moved around the country quite a lot with my husband and his job. This has led to a rather dishevelled CV.

I’ve spent years applying for jobs, only to be met with disappointment, or, worse still, nothing. I understand that it costs time and money for companies to get in touch and say “thanks, but no thanks”; this still doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

Whilst I’ve been pretty much in continuous employment, it has generally been on temporary contracts, and, so, I’ve moved from job to job, losing self esteem and confidence along the way. You can spin this to show me as being resilient, flexible, adaptable, etc, but it gets tiring being the “newbie”!!  I’ve lost count of the number of different computer systems I’ve learned, and, it can be tricky remembering what company name to say when you answer the phone!!

Years of rejection/not feeling good enough have led to me seeking solace in food and alcohol. This has, in turn, led to me feeling so awful about what was happening to me, and trying to remedy it, that I have been diagnosed as suffering from an eating disorder. When you hear the words “eating disorder”, most people envisage extremely thin teenagers. I am far from that - I’m now a size 16 and am approaching my 40th birthday this year. I have two cats, Hugo and Lily, and a crazy springer spaniel called Eric, all of whom I adore. I love spending time with my animals - I believe that they help me when I'm stressed or feeling low. Mindfulness, rather than mind-full-ness!

I’ve spent the past few years trying to avoid cameras, where possible, yet, when I saw Jackie’s advert on Instagram back in March for real ladies to take part in the Polka Dots & Petticoats Pretty Ladies photo shoot, rather than recoiling in horror, I saw this as an opportunity to feel beautiful again. There would be an actual proper photographer who knows how to use the best angles and the light to make to make me look my best – much better than the usual unflattering drunken selfies that seem to make it onto social media nowadays!

I normally live in jeans or linen trousers, which, if I’m entirely honest, aren’t really that flattering and don’t make me feel that great – they’re just comfy! When I saw all those beautiful dresses lined up for the shoot, it was amazing! I felt like a child at Christmas! I picked out so many dresses and they all fitted perfectly! That never happens on the high street! Clothes from this era are super flattering to women of all shapes and sizes and this is why I think they’re so appealing. I’ve got to the point where I’m sick of hiding myself away. Why should I? All of these photographs we see now in the media photo-shopped to within an inch of their lives – nothing is real any more. It’s all very well telling yourself that you’ll wait until you’ve lost x number of lbs/stone, but, really, why? Why can’t now be our time? Nobody knows how long they have left. We need to live our lives to the full; wear the pretty dress, wear the lipstick, get ourselves out there, enjoy life. We are all beautiful – embrace it! I am, finally, learning to!"