Fat Ugly Day
Yesterday I had a FUD.
I might be jumping to conclusions but it appeared to happen immediately after I glimpsed my reflection in a full length mirror… for the first time in 4 months… in a vest top…and leggings. The bitter irony was I was exercising at the time said FUD occurred.
I concluded that lockdown had not been kind to me. Walking in circles it transpires does not a busy day make. Banging your head against a brick wall is not an activity that brings any known health benefits. I was now Amazonian… but at 5ft 3.75 this is merely code for stocky.
My FUD’s are rare and don’t last very long as my short term recall is rivalled only by the Squirrel Monkey and I then forget all about it. This one though bothered me and the fact I was ruminating on it at any length has been praying on my mind. Im sure it’s just “Lockdown Effect” where normal everyday things become hideously magnified through a lens of having waaay too little else to think about. Logically, I’m nearly 50 so what is it I am expecting from my physique exactly?
I’m not “big” by any means just “bigger”. Bits of me wobble. Bits of me jiggle. Im 49 years old so why feel so bad about it? What we expect of our bodies is nothing short of miraculous. Literally. I thought I’d do a bit of digging…
Thought I’d turn to The Body Positive movement for solace. They will make sense of this minor turmoil I thought. Turns out The B.M. won’t be accepting my membership application. They are very clear. I would be black balled on account of my “thin privilege” which, although the language sounds rather inflammatory, is a harsh truth. I get it; people don’t look at me with disgust when I eat in public and I don’t have to seek out specialist retailers just to buy a pair of pants, I’m a “normal” size. Turns out that The Body Positive Movement is not really about body image at all but about your actual physical size. I’m not “big enough” to join. I wonder what’s the minimum enrolment size is? If you drop below it do you have your membership card cut up; unsubscribed from the mailing list?
Chewing the fat, as it were, with friends about our bodies and someone mentioned another friend who’d recently lost a stone and gained a 6 pack. Incredulous, I examined the selfie being offered around as exhibit A and it was blatantly obvious that:
A. The lady in question had quiet clearly not had an 8llb baby jostling for space with her bladder at any time in her life.
B. The woman in question was also around 30 … age and time expand the mind as well as the the size of your upper arm.
And yet the lady in question was held up as an example of “this is what you could be” if you just tried harder, worked out more, ate less. We look at 25 year old models and feel despondent that we don’t look like that despite knowing how ludicrous that thought is.
What, though, makes someone confident in their naked self? What makes someone look beyond their dimples and the overhang and think “ooh don’t I look scrumptious”
The vast majority of those in my cohort are very much on the right hand side of a size 12 or a M if you are a man*. No-one I know has a nice word to say about their bods but, as we are bombarded with messages that tell us that we should be happy, sexy and confident in our bodies (as we are now “older and wiser” and know who we are #gome) that it’s becoming a bit of a taboo subject. No-one wants to admit they are not woke n wise.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to 1 thing: attitude. Not an I-love-my-curves attitude but the attitude of acceptance/avoidance/denial; you stop looking in the mirror unless you’re , at the very least, partially clothed. This is wisdom personified: stripped bare, you’re not going to be happy with it so just don’t go there. Be reasonable, you’re not 20 any more… go put some clothes on. It goes hand in hand with weighing yourself; it’s unlikely to be great news so don’t do it… in reality I don’t know anyone who really loves how their bodies, they just accept them. But there is difference between accepting with grace and style and contemptuous acquiescence: roughly grabbing the excess stating how disgusting it is.
We really do all come if different shapes and sizes and these shapes and sizes undulate over your lifetime. My body is my body; I’m not a pear or an apple but I will settle for being peachy. In reality, what our bodies do every second of every day is nothing short of magical. If you have battled disease, if you live with disability, if you’ve been pregnant … or none of these; you are amazing. Look after that amazing machine of yours though, don’t abuse it. Good old Yin and Yang again.
Do I want a taught washboard stomach and dimple free thighs? Yes… are they achievable? Of course … with counting calories, calculating macros, training, more training, constant monitoring of input and output and, without a doubt, some surgical intervention to tighten it all up. Such sacrifices I I simply can’t commit to. I don’t want it that much…. therefore acceptance is the order of the day.
Decades in, like a face that has lived, laughed, loved and cried is lined with these life lessons, so too are our bodies.
Feel better already
My gorgeous godparents, when I was having a struggle though my early twenties, gave me a card. It simply said:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.