I’m currently on holiday in the UK. At the moment we are staying with friends and I’ve been chatting with Nik about body image. I’ve been struggling with my weight and the older I get the harder it is. Gone are the days when I could eat what I want and stay thin. I was active and thin and now well I’m sort of motherly and plump. On holidays that gets worse. All those yummy puddings to try. All those choices on menus. It’s very hard to balance enjoying yourself and staying fit and healthy. Okay let’s rephrase that last sentence. Not exploding out of all my clothes from being a shovel faced eating machine.
I was kind of bitching about my body to Nik, about my thickening middle and looking like a mutant coffee bean. We started talking about body image. When I was young I was thin, but I had rather large breasts. You know I really hated them. I hated the attention they drew. Coming from an abused childhood going through puberty and then attracting unwanted sexual attention was really hard. It messed with my head in a big way that never really went away. I really hated having large ‘boobs’ for most of my life. It’s only now that I’m older that I feel better about my body or so I thought.
These days I’m obsessing about my weight. Now I can either just accept how I look or I can lose weight. Losing weight is proving hard but I do have some control over that part of me, if I really was serious about it. It is hard though, particularly with my lifestyle-desk jockey by day and writer who is desk bound in the evening.
My obsession about my weight is not just about body image. (I’m hedging I think) Being overweight for me is usually a sign that I’m sick. I get sludgey, my digestion goes haywire, my cholesterol gets ridiculous etc. I feel better and healthier about 10 kilos less than I am now.
But the bottom line is we all spend way to much time thinking about body image. We are conforming to some ideal that either we have created ourselves has been put there by the images that we are bombarded with by media. I’m not being pro-or anti obesity. I am overweight and I don’t think it’s healthy. It’s a product of a society of excess. We have in the western world more food and food choices than ever before. But that’s another issue…
If I go back in time, being slightly plump was fashionable. Call me Rubenesque, though really I’m not quite there yet. Lah! You see how hard it is to fit an image?
So navel gazing (if I could see my belly button) should reveal to me a body that is beautiful as it is, where it is. It’s the only one I’ve got. Most parts of it work appropriately. I can see, hear and talk. All blessings that I take for granted.
I wish we could be happy with the beauty we have, rather than measuring ourselves against an ideal but that’s life to a certain extent. I’m going to try from now own to accept who I am and try to be healthy, which means being a bit more trim, but my body is fine as it is.