Body image. I don’t write about this stuff normally. There are people who do it better. But it has consumed me in recent weeks, I have battled the image I have of myself and its imbalance with that I have of others.
Four years ago I started dieting, 3 years ago I hit my target weight. 11 st 9lb. I’d lost three stone. I was the lightest I had been for most of my adult life. Even lighter than my wedding day, the only bride in history to have her dress let out. I was proud, I felt great. It wasn’t hard. I changed my attitude to food. I stopped being quite so hard on myself. I felt, I’d turned a corner.
2 years ago, I changed my work and life circumstances, and some of the weight crept back on. Depending on what day of the week it is, because yes, my weight fluctuates massively, I am roughly a stone heavier than I was at target. 12st 9lb. And I hate it. So much that I have deleted that part of this post several times. And put it back in because it is fact, and actually, nothing to be ashamed of. 12st 9lb. There, I said it again. *twitch*
The problem is, I’m certain I hate it for the wrong reasons. Making it more difficult to do anything about. Because actually, probably, I’m okay. Maybe. Mostly. Sometimes. And if I’m not okay, who says that? What motivates their opinion? And do I really care what they think. Most days, No. Some days, sadly, yes.
The thing is:
I’m kissing forty.
I’m the mother of two children.
I drink, but generally only on the weekend.
I enjoy food, but rarely in gluttonous excess. Some foods make me feel crap, so I avoid them.
I like coffee, I take it with honey instead of sugar.
I swim more often than not, though maybe not as often as I should.
In clement months I can be found on the water with my paddle board. It’s a new thing. But I like it.
As a family we do stuff: walks on coastal paths, down the beach, in gardens.
My last Dr’s appointment, over a year ago, related to my menstrual cycle. The one before that, was to ask for help with my mental health. Neither are related to how physically fit or healthy I am (though we know, exercise benefits both), because overall, I’m probably alright.
So why is it that I feel so desperate to lose half a stone? Or maybe even, a stone. To flatten my stomach. To eliminate the cellulite. To massage away the double chin. To retrieve the breasts that are now so far south they have their own, Australian postcode. My husband loves me how I am. My kids don’t care and I’m pretty certain my friends don’t even notice. Yet, their opinion means nothing to me. Sorry, but it doesn’t. Not when it comes to body image. Because ultimately, my brain is programmed to judge how I look in the mirror. I don’t care how others look, so why does it matter to me how I look?
And how can I stop it? Is it an age thing? Will I wake up one day in the future and feel what I believe? That I am fine, just as I am.
I love fashion, yet find myself increasingly fazed by what’s on offer because it feels like it isn’t for me. Too tight, shows my belly off. WHO CARES? Too short, shows my thighs off. WHO CARES? Too young, WHO CARES? Too old, WHO CARES? Too much like the dress someone bought for my six year old daughter. WHO CARES? Who has the right to tell us these things are not for us?
Because whoever they are, I don’t value their opinion. It is judgmental. Prejudiced. Presumptuous. Short sighted. Ill informed. Irrelevant. I should be able to wear and do what I want. If I want. When I want.
But, and here’s the big but, how do you move on from those opinions, make decisions based on what you like or how something makes you feel, when that person full of opinions is the other half of you?
This isn’t a post to instigate love and support from my brilliant friends. I don’t want protestations of how gorgeous I am. Because that’s what we do, when someone complains about themselves, we tell them they are wrong. And that they are fabulous. In fact, I don’t really know what this post is. Just something I felt compelled to write. Because I hate the way women judge how they look. I hate the way I judge myself.
One day, I truly won’t care. I hope that comes soon. Before my youth (ish) has completely passed me by.
And yes, I do hear that irony klaxon, loud and crystal-decantered clear.