14 Nov My body, the enemy
When I was younger, like all children, I was full of aspirations and dreams. My goal in life was to be a professional dancer. I was determined that when I was old enough I was going to move to New York and go to the High school of Performing arts to further my studies, jumping on a yellow cab roof, singing “Fame” as loud as possible with my leg warmers keeping out the biting cold from those New York winds. I went to dance class four days a week and constantly danced around the house. I pirouetted in the lounge, tapped in the garden. I made my poor parents sit through my own dancing extravaganzas too many times. Whether or not I was actually any good I didn’t care because I never felt more alive than when I danced.
Ballet was actually my strongest class and I moved on to pointe shoes pretty quick. I was born with an abnormal toe and this became painful whilst I danced. I was going to have corrective surgery on the toe eventually so it seemed a pretty good idea to move it forward. The worst news I heard was that I would have to stop dancing for two whole months whilst it healed.
During my rest time something strange crept over my body. It was called puberty. It ruined my life (say that in a dramatic teenage angst voice for full effect) I chunked up big time. I wasn’t doing much exercise and eating everything I possibly could fit in my mouth so when I swaggered back into ballet class I had gone from kids clothes to a curvy 12. My teacher scanned my new voluptuous body and she made a comment that I will never forget to my dying day.
“You will never be a ballerina with a body like that”
I stopped dancing soon after, ashamed that I had let everybody down by gaining so much weight. I would be an embarrassment if I was on stage with all my fellow classmates. They were so slender and graceful whereas I was now this monstrous whale that cannot dance with a body like mine. I never wanted to wear tight Lycra again. Fast forward to twenty years or so and my body confidence is probably at the lowest it has ever been.
I am a massive foodie and whilst my diet is pretty well rounded I have three addictions which drag me down. Chocolate. Cheese. Pizza. I actually worry sometimes that my grave will say ‘she just wouldn’t put down the cheeseboard’. I love food so much that I cannot do diets because as soon as I know I can’t have something I want to eat ten trucks of it. As a result of this, I now have regular meltdowns about my body. You do not want to be near me when I have to go out-out unless you are good at catching rage-filled flying items. There is only one reason why this is happening.
My stomach is not flat.
I don’t know who made the rules that a stomach should be flat but it seems that it is indeed the rule. As a woman you are supposed to have a perfectly round, pert cellulite free bum. Hips with no extra love handle meat. Boobs that are big enough for men to play with but not too big so you have to wear ugly, supportive bras. No droopiness allowed either. A blemish free face, perfect straight teeth, no grey hairs, no body hair, full lips, arched eyebrows, manicured nails, no saggy knees. Not a single hint of a stretch mark but above all of this. A FLAT STOMACH.
I have an hourglass figure, big hips, ample boobage but a small waist. It sounds pretty good right? Well it ain’t. All my recent weight gain has gone directly on to my stomach and my hips – the hardest place to work off. I cannot do any of my last summer shorts up. I am also pretty poor right now, so my options for an impending sunshine holiday is either wear said bottoms with the button undone and hope they don’t fall down or try and go down a dress size in about 30 days. Obviously I chose to go with the latter, purchased a 28 day plan fitness cookbook and mentally prepared myself to be miserable and hangry for a month.
Then I just thought, why?
I’m going on holiday with my husband who still finds me attractive and my kids that love me regardless so why do I feel the need to lose a stone in less than a month?
The answer is because of strangers. The ones that are sat on the poolside that – inside my paranoid anxious mind – are thinking that I shouldn’t be wearing a bikini with a body like that. The cool group of twenty somethings, fresh out of university that are thinking I shouldn’t be wearing shorts with a body like that. The athletic couple jogging on the beach, their perfectly shiny hair swaying side to side thinking ooh she should wear a sarong with a body like that. They are blatantly not thinking this. They probably won’t even be looking at me, unless I fall over which I tend to do. I constantly compare myself to my friends and celebrities, thinking my body is disgusting and I should change this and wear that. I can’t even imagine posting a picture without taking a billion different (yet the same) versions. I also need me them filters. God knows I can’t survive without a Valencia. I am thirty three and I have popped out two kids and I forget to mention I am in fact only a size 10/12. It makes no sense to why I feel so excruciatingly embarrassed by my body.
My body is actually astonishing. Looking past the external façade of it all, I am in awe of what my body has withstood. I have a load of surgeries, multiple on my heart. A pre-cancerous cell cluster scraped from my cervix (which is also curved just to make it more unique i.e. difficult) without proper anaesthetic due to my complicated heart defect. I’ve put my whole arm through glass and bled so profusely I didn’t think I had any left in me. I’m prone to benign cysts. I collapse, I have severe panic attacks but most importantly I created actual human life. My internal body has never let me down. It may get broken from time to time but it always gets me better and makes me stronger. It is just the most beautiful, resilient, incredible specimen. All of this yet I am literally making myself crazy because I have a bit of a jelly belly. This stops today. I am so sick of this utter horse shit. I want to be healthy and strong but I don’t want it at the cost of my happiness. I have cellulite on my ass; my husband still wants to grab it. I have stretch marks, scars, saggy knees, goofy teeth, a witchy chin, chunky thighs, a rounder tummy, massive love handles but they make me. That is who I am.
The people that matter love me regardless. They like my kindness, my thoughtfulness, my witty humour. They don’t care if I ate one too many chocolate oranges. They are the voices that matter. Not some dance teacher that would smoke during class (true story) or some teenagers who asked once if I ate all the pies (I did, they were pork ones and they were fucking delicious!) not some clothes designer who thinks anyone over a size 0 is fat. Not some Kardashian who thinks that contoured, full lipped face with a naked body is the perfect role model look. I am not doing it. What I am going to do is go into my kitchen have some melted cheese and probably a chunky KitKat and look at all the fucks I used to give as I wave them all goodbye.