My green shorts have become A Thing. I didn’t intend it this way. It kind of evolved.

My green shorts and I climbed Icelandic volcanoes together in 2012...
My green shorts and I climbed Icelandic volcanoes together in 2012…

I bought my first pair of green shorts eight years ago from American Apparel during a trip to the US. They were on sale. I wore them for four years, every day, until the holes in the groin (from inner-thigh rub) became obscene. They become a grease rag for my bike. I then bought a replacement pair. Actually, my assistant Jo remembers buying them when she started working for me. Ergo, this pair is at least four years old. Same size, same colour, no need to try them on.ย  I’ve worn these ones virtually every day since – hiking, at yoga, at the gym, to the pool.

The other day, on a bush walk with friends, my mate and business partner Zoe (walking behind me as we climbed up the rocky face of a gorge) commented that there was probably only three hours of wear left in the shorts before they hurt her eyes.

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Behind the camera for a change! Shooting my I Quit Sugar For Life book, 2013

For the past six months I’ve been saying to myself, “OK, another couple of wears and a one more wash and I’ll go get another pair”. But I wash them once more, they appear perfectly fine, the idea of going to The Shops insults me to the core, and so…I keep wearing the same damn green shorts. This time however, Zoe is insisting. And is framing the disintegrated remainders as a keep sake for the office.

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My green shorts and I on Bondi beach

I’m aware that my green shorts have become A Thing. I’m slightly self-conscious about this, worried it’s all a little contrived. Someone even started a #greenshorts hashtag. Which I kind of cringe about.

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My family pulled out my green shorts at my 40th birthday party in January and made me wear them on my head… (along with the eye patch I wore as a kid)

But I’ve realised these green shorts have become something of a metaphor for what matters to me. And I write this post – and, indeed, wore the shorts so publicly and in such a humblebrag-y way for so long – as a way to communicate these values onwards and outwards.

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Green shorts on the run: A team exercise when I was the editor of Cosmo…seven years ago!
UM. Some of you might recognise these shorts from somewhere? Found them on a stylish Daneโ€ฆ
Um. Some of you might recognise these shorts from somewhere? Found them on a stylish Dane dude in Copenhagen (2012)

I like to work with what I’ve got. I like to fend. I like to work from leftovers, scraps, rejects. I like to avoid shopping, partly because it takes up valuable time. And Things make me unhappy. It’s the bother of having to store them and account for them and think about them. It all interrupts the flow of a morning. And of a life well-lived.

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Green shorts at Tamarama beach. Note the old phone on the grass beside me! I wore that red hat for six years.

Check out the video below. It seems green shorts are A Thing all over the world, with people of all ages… (This one’s courtesy of Jo. She sends me ridiculous things almost daily.)

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/96642599[/vimeo]

Stuff is also wasteful. Giving a shit about consumption and the planet broadly isn’t about decluttering. It’s about not buying stuff in the first place.

My mantra: Use up what you have fully before buying anything new.

I also believe the secret to sustainable wellness is to eat densely and exercise moderately every day. It’s the “every day” bit that counts. To support this, I advise minimising all palaver….like sporting equipment and fancy outfits. Have one outfit. Keep it in the one spot (I keep mine in a bucket in the laundry). I go to it. I put it on. I get out the door moving. So that I don’t have an excuse not to Just Move.

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Rock-jumping in my green shorts at Hanging Rock, 2011

I want to continue living this way for the rest of my life. It matters to me. My green shorts, then, are my totem.

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Jess

    I wear the same daggy things. At crossfit I’m the odd one out. I’m not there to look pretty, I’m there to look after myself.

    • word

    • Susan

      Good on you. I know what it’s like. I was the odd one out at the gym. I now just walk and find I can walk perfectly fine and have a nice time in 5 year old shorts and a hand-me-down singlet.

  • Amy Jo Beaver

    Love this! I have an inner struggle of wanting to have a bunch of clothing options for all occasions and not giving a f* and wearing my green shorts ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I have been a longtime admirer of your green shorts Sarah, and I definitely understand the connection to a ‘totem’ of your being, which so often plays out in terms of how we present ourselves physically. It becomes part of our identity. The most recent incarnation of this is that for 6 months of the year (hello, cold melbourne!) I cannot get moving into the day without my uniqlo puffer vest (black) for some reason it makes me feel like I ‘suited up’ for exercise? But looking back, it was once a red bucket hat, then red/blue running shorts, then a navy ripcurl hoodie… Its always active wear for some reason…
    Oh and I definitely have that compulsion to a)avoid the shops or b)minimise the pain by buying the same thing again, fast and dirty

  • You and your green shorts always make me smile. I don’t have too much money, and sometimes I get down because I don’t have many clothes – I lost a heap of weight, so a lot of them don’t fit, and like you, I wear things until they fall apart. It’s funny, because I have always been the type of person to wear things until they fall apart, but it has only ever mattered to me when people notice and point it out to me in a negative way. I was recently actually recognised on the street by a friend by a pair of shorts I wear fairly constantly, which I kind of loved – its hilarious!
    I recently wrote my own mini eBook, and was wondering what I was going to wear for it, stressing about it a bit. But I ended up wearing my favourite op shop dress that I wear probably twice a week, and in the end I felt great. I looked like me.
    When I received I Quit Sugar For Life, and was flipping through your pictures, I realised that you are wearing stuff you’ve worn for ages and it didn’t matter. You looked great. You looked yourself. Happy. It inspired me to remember what’s really important to me, and I just wanted to thank you for being so open and out there about sustainability the way that you are. It’s the kind of thing I have cared about for ages.
    I know I’ll get to a stage where I stop caring about what others think eventually, because I’m getting much better at it already. But you inspire me, and I just want you to know that.
    Thanks Sarah.x

  • jeanne

    They’re hideous. .you’re a public figure. .show some class and stop with the false modesty!

    • Petra McLean

      Woah… Disagree! Love them and all that you stand for, Sarah ๐Ÿ™‚ you speak to my inner greenie (that gets a little misguided sometimes)

    • SJ

      Completely disagree with this also, ludicrous that you’re suggesting Sarah should dress for anyone else but herself.

      Go the green shorts and anything else you wear that makes YOU feel like YOU Sarah! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • jeanne

        Am I suggesting that? Well up to a point..she IS a public figure and its hard to take her basically great message that seriously when shes playing the old Im just a daggy hippy healthy girl and I can prove it by wearing these old green shorts that just happen to show off my fab legs (and in some shots if you’re unfortunate enough to be facing the wrong way the whole gynea experience),all the while pretending its part of your green crusade..I mean seriously you cant recycle a pair of old jeans while working in Iceland or where ever she was.. I could care less what she wears in private but just admit you’re as vain as the rest of us and think you look hot in those hideous pants..And i stand by the statement show some class as a public figure be sexy and clever not obvious and tacky in the name of recycling..I know differences of opinion are hard to take but thats all it is..Im sure beautiful Sarah has lots of groupies who will still be outraged by my view. .

        • SJ

          I applaud your passion Jeanne…this is hilarious!

          • jeanne

            You know it is funny..And snowballing to the absurd..really girls lighten up..The point Im making hopefully not too offensively is if Sarah just had the gumption to admit that she also thouhht her legs looked fab in those things along with all the other noble reasons..Id Id Id still say those shorts suck but Id be in the camp of you go girl (I think)?

        • Ms jane

          Just wondering why she needs to admit she’s as vain as the rest of us and thinks she looks hot in those pants? Really I seriously would like to know?

          • jeanne

            Because for me personally its more honest and lends more weight to her world view..but thats just me

          • Ms jane

            I see what your saying but I guess I just don’t understand why she needs to announce to everybody that she looks hot. So what??? The post was about recycling and consumerism not her legs.

          • Ms Jane

            And btw I’m not getting my green shirts in a twist just as a 49 yr old woman I’m pretty sick of women judging other women so harshly especially criticising someone for their humility .

          • jeanne

            Was it just about consumerism..why the need for so many photos of her gorgeous kegs? Couldnt the point have been made with one shot of said ugly shorts..As I say Im all for the message but dont pretend that thats ALL its about

          • jeanne

            But you know what..As much as I love honesty in my role models..I bet you any money if Sarah was honest about looking hot she’d probably be shot down by some of you good people out there in audience land as being ip herself..so she damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t ha! Ps Never ever a fan of Tonys budgey smugglers either but hes definitely NOT one of my role models..

        • Jay

          I would have to agree. Sarah, I am sure there are more creative ways to get your message across than throwing in 8, yes 8, pics of you in your skimpy shorts. You look good Sarah, you know that…otherwise you would not have put 8, yes eight, pics on. Are you craving attention, compliments?

        • Alexa

          Considering the nature of this blog, perhaps your time would be better spent in a fashion forum. These ‘hideous pants’ it appears are stopping you from seeing the bigger picture.

    • strewth Jeanne!

      • jeanne

        Well what can I say Sarah your passion is diet and healthy lifestyle for which I applaud you. Mine is fashion and those shorts are a crime against womanhood and beautiful legs and all dont do you justice..

        • Jess

          But the shorts themselves aren’t the point. It’s just a point about being healthily and not needing new stuff. The shorts just draw out a point… U sort of cant miss them in the photos.

          • jeanne

            I take your point Jess..but I still find the pseudo humility irksome..but good women folk of the Sarah tribe..no need to get your green shorts in a twist it’s just an opinion..Not suggesting Im right..but that ssid thank God Julia didnt have a favourite pair of skimpy ugly gapey shorts she wanted to wear in piblic?

          • Nique

            i reckon its how she feels in the shorts – and not how they make her look (or not look). the memories, the experiences…they became something. and wearing them over aligns with her values. don’t you have anything like this in your cupboard jeanne?

      • SJ

        #firstworldproblems Sarah – your green shorts ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Jess

        I like your shorts sarah! I have a pair like that too and I have had them for 4 yeara and counting. Haha.

      • Charlotte

        I love that you have daggy awesome shorts that you love to wear all the time. Me too. Half my old favourite clothes when theyre on the line in the sun i can see straight through!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But theyre my favourites and they’re the most comfortable clothes ever so we just keep wearing them hey…until the sad day when the rips and holes come!!!! Some of us don’t give two hoots about fashion!!!

    • Guest

      wow, are you serious? We need more public figurs who peel back the payers on convenience and excess. Class to me is bucking the status quo and doing what’s right and real and from the heart.

      • jeanne

        As serious a I can be about a pair of greeeeeen shorts!

    • Really? We need more public figures that buck the status quo and peel back the layers on what excess and convenience really mean to us, our health and the planet’s. All she’s doing is illustrating this through the metaphor of a pair of shorts. Jeepers.

    • Johnlandau

      Judgement is “hideous”. “False” is when you adapt to mainstream, and pretend you’re something you’re not. Authentic says: I’m being myself; I’m wearing these shorts because I choose to, and what others think of me is none of my business. That’s true authenticity, true freedom, eh? Are you free?

  • Mascha

    I love your green shorts ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t ever not wear them!! Also the way you live and think about consumption… I’m slowly (very slowly) try to change my ways as well!

  • Ms Jane

    Your posts over the years have inspired me Sarah. I work at a gym where all the trainers buy new sneakers every 6 months. I’ve now been wearing the same pair for 4 years! I’ve also stopped buying new gym clothes and just rotate a few outfits. It’s all just stuff isn’t it

  • Terri

    Good for you!!!! I wear everything to the bone, partly because I have 4 kids & we homeschool (and I would rather spend money on books) and partly because it offends me to the core, the waste that is deemed acceptable by society. Not so long ago our ancestors had 2 sets of clothes (if they were lucky). It can be hard, I’m only 29 and of course would love to look hip and cool like my peers lol. But living a life I want my children to model and being able to go to bed with a clear conscience overshadows my ego ten fold ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Meg

    Silly question, but do you wash them every day?

    • nope. About every 3-4 wears.

      • Appleby

        I scanned this and thought you said every 3-4 years. I do hope this was not a misprint.

  • Enough Already

    I don’t understand why you need such a long justification to buy a new pair of shorts! As if readers care. I’ve actually seen you in your jogging gear around Potts Point & Circular Quay, & they were certainly not green jogging shorts you were wearing. So please don’t try & fool us into believing you only own one worn out pair.

    • Jo Foster

      Hi Enough Already,
      I’ve known Sarah for over four years now, and, seeing her 5/6 days a week all year round, I know for a fact she definitely wears her green shorts A LOT.
      Nowhere in this post does she say she doesn’t own any other shorts, and nowhere does she say she ONLY wears the green shorts… nobody is trying to “fool” anybody here.

      • Enough Already AGAIN

        So now you delete my reply?? Obviously no one allowed to offend boss lady!

        • Jo

          Sorry, what? I actually haven’t deleted anything. We don’t moderate the comments.

          • Enough Alreadyd

            Well my reply just disappeared. I simply said the comment “have one outfit” contradicted your response.
            Your team don’t moderate comments???…sheesh, this just gets better!

    • wednesday

      Haters gonna hate…judge less dude, you’ll be happier for it

  • I wear small amounts of things repeatedly too. I’ve repaired my black T bar sandals 3 times now and fear the end is nigh on that front – especially given my little man of 5 pointed out the rattiness of them just this morning. It makes me sad have to replace them, on all the levels you describe regarding your shorts.

  • Cheryl

    Hmm, I must have got the wrong message, using stuff ’till it’s all used up, is a value and a useful one. Coincidently it’s become a bit of a joke, the “green shorts” When you care sincerely about the planet, walk the walk or run in green shorts !

  • Love it! I have the same issue with my jeans…

  • lucy

    Same beach t shirt for last 6 years. Complete with holes. Makes packing a helluva lot easier

  • Loren

    Awesome. I get it. I struggling with my health. You have given me something to think about. Keep.it.simple.

  • Isabel

    Thank you again Sarah for the reminder. I struggle myself with wanting and buying too much stuff (you could classify me as a shopaholic), especially clothes and fashion items. I’ve always been passionate about it. But I’m also very passionate about healthy food (love your ‘I quit sugar’ book by the way), recycling, yoga,… For example, I hate food wastage and my family and friends kinda know it (I once took 3 black bananas out of the bin at the office to freeze and makes smoothies with them). I always use up leftovers and often cook from scratch. Since some time I try to combine these opposites. I commit to buy stainless steel, wood,… rather then plastic. I wash plastic bags :-). I really care about sustainability and want to take care of the environment. This is one of the reasons why I’m a fan of you since quite some time now. I think I read most of your posts about ‘less buying, owning less stuff, simplicity, sustainability,…’. And now for this winter (I’m from Belgium) I really wanted to be more conscious about my bad fashion habits. So far I almost only bought fairtrade, thrift, second hand, 100% wool or cotton, organic stuff. But still I’m buying too much of THAT (better) stuff. That’s why it’s called an addiction I guess. The combination of that and my longing for simplicity and therefore wanting to toss lots of stuff (to charity/second hand/friends off course, and often the stuff that’s not very sustainable because there’s acrylic/polyamide/polyester in it), make my wallet hurt too. So I’m not there yet. And now today, when I thought I really needed another wake up call, there’s your post. I want to THANK YOU for that! Keep on doing what you’re passionate about. You do that best. Love, Isabel x P.S.: I’ve always loved your green shorts (and I’m a fashion lover!). Nothing wrong with them, though I can’t buy them myself, since I’m in rehab… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Im known for wearing socks with holes..I hold onto them for as long as possible. No one can see, so who cares? ?

  • Daisy

    I love your stance on obscene consumerism. I’m working very hard at fighting it, so I love the inspiration. I do feel sad, however, at the need for individuals to voice their negative views and opinions of others. Where’s the love people!? If it offends, move on. We humans need to find the potential within to offer acceptance and compassion for all. It’s really not hard, and it feels so much better. Xxx

  • Cara

    Love it – my mantra is make do with what you’ve got.

  • I think I’ve seen it all now. Grown women having a full on debate about what another woman deems to wear. Personally, if I had the legs to wear those shorts, I’d be in them every day!

    Unfortunately (for me at least) I don’t but as someone who hates (ok LOATHES) shopping for clothes, I’ve got to say, I get the most wears possible out of my trousers/skirts because not doing so would mean I’d have to put myself through the hell of shopping.

    Keep doing what you’re doing SW!

    X

  • Susan

    If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

  • ihavetwofeet

    Hehe totally relate to the shorts. I have a couple of favourites from my teenage years (I’m now 26) that I swear have grown with me!

  • Sandy

    Hang on, it was not the same pair for 8 years! You state you wore 1 pair for 4 years then Jo bought you another pair which have lasted 4 years!!! So 2 pairs in 8 years is more like it

    • Wednesday

      Seriously?

  • Mina

    So it’s not just me then. I’m glad. Skinny jeans (froma time when I WAS skinny) = 8 years, white shorts = 3 years. I couldn’t find the same ones when they died. The replacements just didn’t fit the bill and I didn’t feel like myself. I love that you can be so comfortable in your own skin while at the same time, in other posts, you express that you can feel lonely at times. This is why I relate to you, this is why I follow your blog. You are real – despite your public persona.

  • monica

    This post comes exactly at the right time. Although I’ve never been a crazy shopper I decided to stop buying unnecessary things for at least one year. I’ve only been doing this since november, so I am not that far into my experiment yet but I love it. It’s kind of freeing not to think about it, especially now during christmas time. I’ve never been so relaxed and without this pressure of buying christmas presents weighing me down I can finally enjoy the pre-christmas spirit. Instead of expensive stuff, I’m giving my loved ones jars filled with self-made cake and hot cocoa mixes. And clothing wise it’s nice to experiment with what you have. And if this experience stays as positive as it is now I’m sure it will be a long lasting lifestyle change.

  • M

    Um, when do you wash them?

  • grace b

    I am of two minds about this sort of stuff.

    For one, I admire you dedication to the things that truly matter to you and your ability to laser in on what you value.

    On the other hand, I’ve been reading this blog off and on for years — probably close to five. And I’ve noticed that time and time again Sarah you write about yourself in a way that comes across as guarded, standoffish, and unapproachable. Cold, even?

    So I find the message that you send to be of course, the whole point, but it always seems to get bogged down for me that this is not a place to find connection but a place to field criticism.

    I highly recommend the book Accident: A Memoir. The author, after surviving a terrible horse riding accident, begins to come to terms with the way she has treated herself for most of her life. I do not begin to argue that I know your circumstance, Sarah. Just that as a long-time reader I sometimes wonder if you’d prefer to be high and mighty over deep, lasting connection.

    I will add that I have learned and gleaned a lot of tidbits and information and guidance here on this site that I have carried with me and I really wish you the best.

    I’ll go back in my corner now…

    • Kim

      That memoir sounds like an interesting read. Who was the author?

  • Jeanette

    I’ve committed to not buying any clothes or accessories for 12 months. This has only been for 3 months so far…… And I too find it very liberating…..

  • Emma

    Legend. If more people thought this way the impact of human life would become greatly reduced. I’ve been living out of a car with my better half for a year now touring Western Australia and we both love having virtually nothing material wise but gorge on stunning views, amazing beaches, running in new spots every day and meeting new people. Experiences and interactions with others definitely make the world go round ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Princess Elizabeth Sargent

    I totally get what you mean when you say that things make you unhappy. I spent years earning good money and buying crap and being unhappy. Then I got sick. Really sick. I had to leave my career in Melb and I moved to the Sunny Coast Qld. I (then we) bought a house and filled it with stuff. It went to crap and I drove away with my dog, one suitcase of stuff, my massage table and a box of towels. I’d never been happier. I was free. Now I edit crap all the time. I have a husband now that I collected on the way and decided not to get rid of. He likes a bit of crap – but understands my need to edit.
    I also have shorts and t-shirts that I wear until they are rags. My favorite purchases are usually things I’ve got from the op-shop.
    Clutter clutters your mind.

  • Christine Davis

    I admire your thriftiness! Perhaps I put too much weight on what others think, but presenting myself in public requires a minimum level of effort (never get a second chance to make a first impression, right?) Of course you could roll out of bed and be your glowing gorgeous self…no effort required!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Carla

    #greenshorts haha love it!! I’m exactly the same in that the oldies are always the goodies. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! x

  • Appleby

    Very interesting Sarah, although a quick scan of your ‘media + photos’ suggests you own more like 400 pairs of shorts, skirts, LBD’s… not sure whether you got these at The Shops or they just magically morphed out of your little green pants.

  • Appleby

    Same censorship policy as Pete Evans Facebook page?

  • Annie

    Green is a happy sort of colour. I’ve always worried though that the shorts are baggy at the bottom and can’t help wondering if they gape when you’re sitting or what people see if they’re below you when e.g. rock-jumping!

  • Appleby

    ‘Stuff is also wasteful. Giving a shit about consumption and the planet broadly isnโ€™t aboutdecluttering. Itโ€™s about not buying stuff in the first place.’

    Good point Sarah. I have decided not to buy any of the stuff you sell! Is this a good start?

  • alee

    This story reminds of me of my ‘Monday skirt’. It was a comfy floral skirt I used to wear to work on Mondays at my job years ago. I didn’t realise just how faded it was starting to look until the other girls in the office bought me a new floral ‘Monday skirt’ from the nearby second hand store. I liked it so it became my new Monday skirt and I retired the old one ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lise

    Who cares how old they are!!! My bestie got married in New York 15 years ago and Im still wearing a New York tee and a Gap tee that I bought there. I wear them all the time, gotta love the quality of ‘Fruit of the Loom’ tees. I go to Pilates in them , clean, run,

  • carina

    What’s it with yous Australians?First it was DURIANRIDER FROM 30-BAD ,the ORIGINATOR of the trend,who shows in torn t-shirts and now you.Is it perhaps something in your past genes that dictates the wretched condition of the apparel?
    Personally I prefer a bit of upper body flesh showing (DR!) than the crotch area, if something needs to show through a hole.

  • carina

    So,I see that you DO DELETE comments despite claiming otherwise.
    I am disappointed.

  • Harper

    I think the fewer choices (i.e., potential obstacles) we can have for our stuff makes life less stressful. A couple of years ago I decided I really needed new work shirts and the process of finding them was agony. But my five old shirts lasted 12+ years so hopefully I won’t need to shop again for a while! Variety is nice but I don’t really need it in my clothing.

  • San

    As long as my gym clothes are not transparent I keep on wearing them!

  • Marisa

    I don’t know how a post about shorts (or rather, the reason why they became a “thing”) could warrant some of these comments. I work in a very fashion-forward industry, in a very trend focused European city, and sometimes find myself questioning why I don’t subscribe to the latest trends… and why I still lovingly hand wash “machine washable” dresses that cost the equivalent of 15 AUD back when I bought them in 2008, just so they’ll last another month. It is not that I don’t care about my appearance, that I am lazy or even that I don’t like shopping (because I do, albeit mostly for other people). It is rather that I get genuine satisfaction from thrifty living and not being weighed down by stuff (or the impulse to jump on every fashion bandwagon that rolls by). In this regard, I can relate to Sarah. And as for questioning why she would have so many images of herself in her shorts in this post, how better to illustrate a post about her relationship to her shorts?

  • rachel

    I agree with your stance on consumerism and I think we should all be more conscious about the purchases that we make, yet whilst reading the blog post I keep seeing ads to BUY your books, or to shop from your sponsors… for something that you are so passionate about it’s a little bit contradictory.

  • You’re the bomb. Inspire me and my mother everyday! Everyone’s too opinionated these days.

  • Ash

    I just got this article via email, and what I took as Sarah expressing her passion for the environment and being sustainable (in the form of her “green shorts”) plenty of people (women) took as her being fake and “bragging” about her hot legs! seriously ladies, maybe if you got down off your high horses every now and then and went for a run you’d have hot legs too! Sarah is a business woman, she’s gotta eat as do all her staff so thats why she has ads on her site, and sells books. All women seem to want to do is cut each other down, how about we boost each other up and celebrate other people’s success instead of being a bunch of jealous a-holes!! Good on ya Sarah, keep it up!

  • anon

    this is so funny, I love it. I have no idea why I did this but I too wore very similiar green shorts to yours for years – gym, bushwalks etc until you could see my undies they were so worn my sister threw them out! I completely get you. recently diagnosed hyper thyroid and loving your book -thankyou. – sophie