I never wanted to be the sort of woman who cared about a few extra pounds or a couple of wrinkles. After all, I have three daughters and I think it is rather important to be a good role model, at least in some areas. Since I drink wine like water, swear like a sailor, and gossip like a fishmonger’s wife, I have limited options when it comes to being a role model. So I picked body image as the mountain on which to plant my “positivity” flag.
For a long time, it was easy to stay perched on the top of that mountain. I had great genetics, a fast metabolism, and an active lifestyle, so I was basically a skinny bitch espousing the whole “love the body you have”, “it’s all about what’s on the inside” philosophy. Like a commoner version of Gwyneth Paltrow… If she actually ate food.
But I have come to see that while I am still talking the talk, I am no longer walking the walk. So, in keeping with the principle of full disclosure, I would like to admit a few things to those friends who sometimes kick themselves for being too self-critical (you know who you are):
- I did not stop going to the gym because of their lack of parking. It was the sudden realization that most of the people around me were the age of my eldest daughter. Plus the mirrors. So many mirrors!
- I did not stop going to yoga because it hurt my neck. Yoga does hurt my neck. But it hurts my ego more. I simply reached the point where I could not pose in downward facing dog in a room full of uber-fit, lycra-clad women, and focus on my breathing while my muffin top waggled, out in the open, for all the world to see.
- I do not weigh myself “every now and again”. I weigh myself all the time – like obsessively – and my inner voice berates me if the needle goes up a pound. My inner voice is a real bitch.
- I have a container of chocolate Slimfast meal replacement powder hidden in a kitchen cupboard, behind some canned corn. (FYI #1… no amount of flavoured milk can trick my tummy into believing it has consumed lunch. FYI #2… canned corn is gross.)
- I recently cleaned out the bottom drawer of my dresser and discovered that I have three swimsuits but fourteen cover ups! It has been at least two years since anyone saw me standing upright wearing just a swimsuit. Everything from my armpits to my kneecaps is fully towel-wrapped or sarong-ed, unless I am completely horizontal.
It is hard being a woman. We live in a critical world and we are surrounded by unrealistic expectations. Maybe “loving the body you have” is one of them. I don’t LOVE my 52-year-old body. I don’t HATE it, but I wouldn’t order it out of a catalogue full of younger, thinner, less-squishy options.
I do RESPECT my body. It has done some good work over the years. And in the spirit of respect, I will try to be more forgiving of the pounds and the wrinkles. I will also be more honest – with others and with myself – because when I toss my insecurities out into the light of day, they are usually revealed to be surprisingly small, and at least somewhat amusing!