Do you think our mothers suffered from the same body image issues we do?
I’m fairly certain that my mum was too busy surviving as a single, working mother in the sixties, to waste time worrying about the danger of her muffin top creeping out of the top of her jeans or if there was a wide enough gap between her thighs.
Does that make us more shallow these days, or simply more informed?
It’s not like we have any more free time than they did to spend on ourselves. With more women working these days, as well as raising families, competing at the school gate and trying to put the healthiest food on the table at the end of a long day, why do we still beat ourselves up by letting our appearance get us down?
I suppose we could blame the influence of more magazines, tabloids, the social media sites and role models they choose to propagate, that build up this dangerous image of the perfect woman as a skinny-assed bitch. It’s only very recently that they’ve been taken to task and forced to accept some responsibility for their power and taken the risk (!) of putting more average, (I won’t say ‘real’ because I know that offends a lot of women), women on their covers.
But I’ll be honest, even at the age of 50, I’m still a little vain when it comes to my body; which is strange when I’m aware that this should be the time of my life when I can put the rude finger up at expectation and with all that middle-aged wisdom I’ve acquired, I should no longer give a toss about what other people think.
But I like fashion and I like looking good – for me – and I get sucked into the photo-shopped falseness fed to us by social media. Very deep down, I aspire to be that gorgeous, skinny, quinoa-fed, crusty type of vegan sexiness, that traipses around in Docs and daisy headbands and still manages to look great.
Even though I know that in reality I take a lot more work than that.
It’s not like I’m that vain in terms of my natural assets – I can be out of the front door within twenty minutes, as long as I’ve been able to plan my outfit for at least five days beforehand.
When it comes to skin and bone …I’m actually okay with mine.
Apart from a chubby stage in my early twenties, even the fact that I’ve never been, nor could ever be accused of being heroin chic-thin, doesn’t bother me. Although like many women, my tummy is my ground zero, and I can’t even blame my two babies for it, because it was always susceptible to inexplicable growth spurts, well before I created them.
I was as skinny as a pole until I hit my early twenties, when I migrated to France for a couple of years of self-discovery, promptly discovered lager and gained about ten kilos in ten days. I remember around the same time I had some medical tests done and the doctor described me as ‘over-nourished’ in his report, much to the delight of my father.
I was always ‘big-boned’ rather than big-breasted. I wonder if it’s politically incorrect to call someone ‘big-boned’ now?
Over time, rather than working hard to lose the appendage of my tum, I’ve learned all the fashion tips on how best to disguise it, because although these days I can still lose weight almost anywhere on my body if I put my mind to it – usually off my boobs first – it sticks as steadfast as a limpet to my belly.
Luckily, I’ve always had a penchant for the shift dress and loose tops, so my problem area is not really a biggy, style-wise, not until I have to don a swimming costume, anyway – too often here in Sydney – and I revert back to the self-consciousness of a teenager on Prom night, who has convinced herself she looks like she’s at the beginning of her second trimester.
Admittedly, my weight hovers above where I’d like it to be on the scales, yet not beyond the realms of no return – although I might have been reassuring myself of that fact for a very long time. My goal has always been to stay within the range of a British size 12, so whenever my body veers eerily close to a size 14, I send myself to food purgatory for a few weeks and breathe in when I go shopping or have my photo taken. I know that alcohol is the culprit, but until I’m ready to conquer that particular form of self-medication as well as accept the new portion limitations imposed by menopause, I know that my weight will continue to fluctuate on a daily basis.
God! I do sound like I have a body image problem. Yet for my age, my body is fine – not perfect, but okay. Decent pins and small breasts – which I’ve always loved for they’re manageability and non attention-seeking attitude, and now that they’ve become less dense with age, I celebrate the fact that they’re too inadequate to rest beneath my navel.
I imagine that I have acquired the face that is redolent of the life I’ve lived.
Some grey hairs continue to fight for their place in my parting through the bleach to remind me how old I am, there is the Rosacea that taints my face whenever I get stressed or to remind me to eat more healthily, the persistent excess hair on my upper lip and the black rings under my eyes that have always been there, making concealer my best friend and top luxury item should I ever be sent to a desert island with the chance of bumping into any other human female life form.