The root of it all.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Like the majority of woman, I'm not happy with my body.  I know it's terribly cliche but I need to lose weight.  My belly is too large and saggy, my boobs are dusting my toes, I'm too tall (yes, really.  Rather absurd the notions we have regarding our own bodies)

I'm not thinnist nor am I fattist, truth be told i'm only ever me-ist.  Naturally I feel a pang of envy at those naturally thin woman yet equally so at the naturally curvier woman who look good, feel good and have accepted how beautiful they are.  The truth is we're all different and not only are we all different, we're all made to be different.  I've known many naturally slim people, you know the kind, they neither diet nor adhere to some punishing exercise routine yet they just are slim.  Likewise you get some naturally plus size woman who you simply can't imagine them being any other way without looking ill.  It's not the old excuse of heavy bones yet rather bone structure, some people are simply made to be the way they are.  The naturally thin can gain a few pounds and genuinely look like they've gained stones, it alters the way they look, the way they feel and not in a positive way.  Likewise those more curvier who don't accept themselves and embark on a tiring cycle throughout life of dieting only to regain the weight, yet rather than look more attractive or confident when they lose pounds or even stones they simply lose their look of Joie de vivre and look withered, older and awkward and lets be honest, bloody miserable.

So where did it all start?  Where did this negative image obsession start from?  When did you first become body image aware?

You may want to read an interesting blog post that proved quite thought provoking.  Don't worry i'm not going to spiral into an emo-fest where everything wrong in life is all down to Mummy and Daddy yet, as an adult and a mother there comes a point when we have to accept responsibility for our role in shaping our childrens societal tolerance and self acceptance.

Children are not born to hate, they are born of love and to love.  Take racism for example, this is a learned hatred. A child will notice  difference in skin colour just as they would in eye colour and hair colour, how they then decode this difference is generally down to the parent.  Both my elder children, upon starting school, asked me why some people had brown faces to which I simply replied along the lines of that everyone is different just like hair colour, eye colour, height etc.  They accepted this.  Why wouldn't they? It's the truth.  Homophobia is another learned hatred, upon asking why, on a Mr and Mrs gameshow, one couple were both boys I simply explained that love is love, some girls love boys, some girls love girls, some boys love girls and some boys love boys but it's all love.  Again, they accepted this.  The key is explanation not judgement.

Yet when did we first become aware of how we should look? As a child I certainly didn't read tabloids and other media outlets and nor did I for one second believe Barbie was based on real people. What I do clearly remember however, is being put on the Rosemary Connellys hip and thigh diet as a young child, as in 6-7 years old, by my mum.  I was porky, it's evident in plenty of old pictures. It's quite baffling really, we're told puppy fat is a myth yet we walked everywhere, my mother was incredibly strict on treats, I did tap, ballet, modern and troupe dancing and later disco.  I did ju jit su.  Yet, I was porky.  My mother decided I was too big which thus told me I was too big and so started the internal programming of 'must be slim.  I'm fat' that fat is wrong and unattractive and yes, bad.  Thus, being fat I must therefore be wrong, unattractive and bad.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't brainwashed and nor was my mother cruel, she was simply imprinting her own thinking onto us.  She's always been somewhat obsessed with her own weight and body image.

Fast forward to high school, I clearly remember a girl in my class calling me a 'Fat cow' .  In hindsight I wasn't fat, without the bloody dieting my puppy fat naturally dispersed anyway and I was neither fat nor slim.  Yet, it flipped a switch.  I became obsessed with calories and would feel euphoric if I managed to chuck my packed lunch in the bin and likewise would descend down dark paths of depression, binge eat on 'bad forbidden' foods and then spend evenings alone in my room, slashing at my stomach with scissors and inducing vomiting.  At age 15 I was about a size 6-8 and I was convinced with ever fibre of my body that I was fat, and ugly.  Meanwhile one of my brothers who was always slim, started on his road to obesity, gouging on chocolate bars en masse and stuffing the evidence down the back of the sink.  He's now morbidly obese.

By college, i'd live on Haribos mainly skipping breakfast, often skipping lunch and picking at my tea before rushing out to the pub.  I'd dance upon euphoric mania like some sugar fairy on acid then sink under the tsunami of self hatred and depression, hacking at my wrists with blades and swallowing painkillers like they were candy.

I still thought I was fat.  I look back at pictures of that time now and would sell several limbs and organs to look like that again.

Yet getting older, becoming settled in life comes a complacency and before I knew it the weight piled on, slowly at first and then, bam, one day I was technically obese (BMI 31) Google told me that was wrong, society told me that was wrong, my mother told me it was wrong. Back to the yoyo again then.

Last year I managed to get down to an impressive size 12, I felt like I was finally becoming who and what I was supposed to be.  I would be pretty.  I would be acceptable.  I would be normal. I would be god damn fucking super woman. I would be happy. Yet here I am a year later back up to a 14-16, again.

Life is too short to deprive ourselves.  I don't enjoy rigorous exercise and also feel that if a grueling regime of gym bunnying and eating salad is what it takes to be a normal weight, then how could that possibly ever be a normal weight?  Surely a persons normal weight should be whatever they are when they live day to day life keeping under the so-called calorie allowance and just well, living?

So we have society and media telling us we're too fat yet it goes back further then that.  I don't blame my mother, we each have our own neurosis, yet it did start in childhood which is why as a Mother, i'm trying to learn from my own experience.

We don't have forbidden foods in our house, anything in moderation.  We try to normalise chocolate, sweets and cake so they're not seen as contraband and are thus enjoyed and not craved.  We are relaxed and open   , you have to be with five people and one bathroom.  We don't hide our bodies, the children will see the reality of real people and not be beguiled with the myth.

I want my daughter to live her life realising that size is just another common denominator in life and it will not define who she is. That she is amazing, powerful, strong and beautiful.  That she doesn't have to change, for anyone.

I started this entry saying I need to lose weight, yet why?  Say's who? doctors who've never met me yet have reduced me to lines on a chart?  Magazines that I don't read?  Society that don't know me?

My husband thinks i'm fine the way I am.  My children occasionally joke about me being fat but hey, that's my own doing whilst being careful not to label others, I clumsily forget not to label myself. Yes, i'm pudgy.  I'm overweight.  I'm no longer obese though.

We all need to accept who and what we are and realise, it's okay.  We're beautiful.  We're amazing.

It's not the size of a person that makes them attractive, it's how they feel about themselves and in a smile.

That is what we need our children to believe.  That is how we need to teach our children to live.  Self love and acceptance starts in childhood.  We need to be careful what we say to our children, not just about them but about ourselves and others.  Teach them to see the positives and uniqueness in themselves and others.


  1. Wow. What a moving post. I am also not completely happy with my body (am a 14-16) and my mum does also have a rather odd relationship with food - although she never put me on a diet like yours. I also have a history of being unhappy with my body and also used self-harm as a teenager. I was anorexic at 16 and also tried making myself sick and took laxatives. I so don't want my daughter to end up as insecure about her body as I was at that age!

  2. I guess the difference is that we recognise what not to do so hopefully or children won't go through what we did.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, it's very much appreciated :-)


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