Why is my body, your business?
It’s been a funny old week regarding body issues and body positivity. First let me say that while I of course work hard to promote body positivity and believe there should be a stage for all body types without an audience of shame, i know that there is a fine line. The line being that I don't want anyone to make me a role model for something that I could decide to change tomorrow. Now that is out of the way let me talk about the things that made me think this week.
Firstly, was scenario involving Esme. I take her to nursery on the bus. We sit in the same seats every time as our bus top is where the route begins. Esme likes these seats because she can use the head rest in front as a pretend steering wheel. On this particular journey, her time as formula one racing driver was cut short. A man of great girth, took the seat in front. His size encroached upon her ‘car’ and she was not in the least amused.
‘Yikes!’ she yelled.
‘That is the biggest man my eyes have ever seen!’ she shouted.
Without thinking, I threw my hand across her mouth, bringing her into a soft head lock.
‘Esme, be quiet right now’ I whispered through gritted teeth. my face growing hot with same.
Luckily he was on the phone none the wiser about the cutting description Esme had summarised. A few minutes later, she said more quietly this time
‘But mummy why does he need two seats?’
I waited until we were off the bus to explain to her that we cannot comment on people just because they are not the same as us. I think she understood. But ironically, there is absolute truth in the saying, if you want said truth, ask a child. She has no idea that her words could hurt, or that certain expressions regarding others are totally off limits. I had just about wrapped my head around that episode when I found myself on the receiving end of some body shaming ‘decorated’ as love.
A friend messaged me completely out of the blue, basically letting me know that whilst she loved me regardless of my weight, she knows that I’m trying and should be trying to drop some pounds. Chile, if i had a wig, it would've been blown off by her cheek and went flying down WTF street. There I was laid up in bed, trying really hard to catch up on Scandal, when it became apparent that someone else was also in bed, concerned with the state of my body. Needless to say, I was not a happy bunny. After I my initial pissy-ness wore off, I let her know that she was well out of order and that I would be giving this friendship some space.
In the space of two days, I had been the one complicit in body shaming (I’ll take the L for Esme) and I had been body shamed. Neither one felt great. But it was a reminder as to why I truly believe that when it comes to what people look like, we really should seek to remember that if we have nothing good to say, our traps should remain firmly closed. My mate even opened her suggestions with ‘I know you have deep dark issues with the B word’ the fact that she knows that I’ve struggled with my body for years, but she still attempted to ‘help’ me, makes me wonder if her words were coming from a place of kindness at all.
It also doesn't help that as social media will have it, even being curvy still comes with restrictions. A fast ass and wide hips get a pass, as long as it comes with a six pack. Thick thighs are cool, but they must be void of stretch marks. The trend of the perfect curvy body, seems to be just as debilitating as the supermodel waif trend of the 90’s. Young women are flying to foreign countries, alone, in search of the perfect ‘curvy’ body and unfortunately very few are returning home with what they paid for, if they return home alive at all.
I would also like to debunk the idea that if you see a woman - scratch that - anyone, working out that their end goal is to lose weight. It’s unfortunate that the only benefits of exercise seem to be in tandem with vanity. I exercise for those natural endorphins which have helped replace whatever was in those God awful Fluxotine tablets my GP had me on. I’ve worked hard to devise a system which keeps me from slipping under that dark cloud of depression and working out is a must if I want to keep at least half a smile on my face. If a smaller body is part of that deal, I’ll take it. But what a lot of people don’t know is that at my slimmest, I was living a life filled with such debauchery that weight never stood a chance to cling to me. I slept for four hours a night, medicated myself with drugs and booze, and ate whichever one meal a day my destructive boyfriend at the time prepared for me. I was just about surviving but in no way was I flourishing. And yet because my body was it’s smallest people seem to think that I was having the time of my life.
Personally, I’m working hard, everyday, to ensure that no matter, m]y weight or size, my mind is at it’s fittest. Training oneself to be strong enough to not let the words of your harshest critics take root and grow strong vines which can strangle your confidence, is the hardest workout I will ever face.
I’ll round these thought up with a polite request. When it comes to the matters of bodies other than your own; if you have nothing nice to say and especially if you believe that your critique comes out of love; keep your trap shut.
Mama C x