I read somewhere sometime last week by someone I can’t remember (apologies I cannot give credit where due!) a fab insight that really plucked a tune (I.e., struck a chord).
It went along the lines of this: “If you had a size 9 foot you wouldn’t try and shove it in a size 7 shoe. Why do so with your body?”
Its context differed in that it was talking about women wearing too tight clothes or what not, but I took it in a different light that was like one of those cartoon lightbulb igniting moments; feet come in all different shapes, sizes, fine features and flaws and – for the majority most part – we accept them for how they are. Why the fuck can it not be the same go for our bodies?
I mean, if your tootsie was on the larger size at an 11, you wouldn’t not feed it in a bid to slim it down to a size eight-and-a-half. If you had knobbly pinky toes (are they still pinkys if on your feet?) you (for the most part) wouldn’t absolutely agonise over them and always wear sandals that covered them up completely (reminiscent of bat wings anyone?). And you wouldn’t shove a too-big foot into a too-small shoe. The pain would be phenomenal.
When did the love-hate affair with our bodies begin? When was it decided that being as slim as can be was largely regarded as the go? As one who openly battles with her own form day in and day out, never satisfied or content because it’s never thin enough, I despise that I’m so fixated on how big my thighs may be or how loose my singlet is. I hate – yes, hate – that my self esteem fully rests on how I’m feeling about my body everyday. All other achievements, accomplishments and aspects of my being that I should be proud of fall by the wayside into disregard; I don’t give an airborne fuck that I busted up to Everest Base Camp, that I have a degree, that I can make people feel special – if the scales don’t light up as under 50kg, all the other features of me pale so as to become invisible.
I mean, obviously I’m on the extreme end. When a, “You’re looking well!” comment or a, “You look much better with a bit more weight on,” can cause you to just manage to hold it together until you get home, whereupon you flop on the floor clutching your increased in size thighs as you howl in despair, you know you’re pretty fucked in the head. But many a person is to a degree the same; society tells us weight gain is BAD (not just a capital B, but the AD as well), even when perhaps it’s in a positive way (or weigh. Apologies. Couldn’t resist).
Working in a clothes shop I often see women coming in and declaring themselves as a size 8. Even when the design of the dress may be on the firmer side and really call for them to try the ten, you can see the thought horrifying them; it’s the number on the label they go by, and moving up to the next is considered appalling. Why should it matter? Why should needing the next size up strike some of these people with such dread? It actually makes me feel sick. And sad. Oh so sad.
I’m not meant to be a skinny girl. I’m not meant to be big either. Looking at my gene pool, what with lean, mean machine Henio and little dot Deb, I’d never naturally be overweight or even on the plumper side. But my obsession with being skinny and fixation on being thin has me terrified that if I eat a steak or mow into some mashed potato, I’ll become enormous and has me terrified of eating a number of edibles. Imagine that, beyond hysterical at the thought of consuming mere morsels. It’s fucking ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. I’m sick.
For the first time in my life I can admit that. Of course, it’s still tinged with a fair touch of shame, of embarrassment and humiliation, but I’m getting there. Marian Keyes helps me – if you’ve not ever read her Saved by Baking or her newest, Making It Up As I Go Along, try give it a geez. She’s making me see it’s not anything to be ashamed of. If people judge or remark or be nasty about it, they can fuck right off. You’re the brave one. You’re courageous. And they’re right arseholes who aren’t worth your time. (Oh how I so want to attempt to find my mate Marian – alas, a one-sided friendship, it must be said – when I catapult across to Dublin. I want to stalk her out so I can just say thank you to her).
It’s going to take time. Oh so much time. And effort. Alas, all the effort. But if I don’t do it now my life is going to be severely lacking – most likely, largely shortened as well – and the fear of that thought is starting to override the idea of an egg every morning.
I’ve accepted my long, narrow feet, complete with ET finger-like second toes with knobbly kinks and stubby pinkys toes (are they still pinkys if they’re on your feet? Must Google) in all their size nine glory.
I want the same for my body.