I’m really body conscious, but how can I stop my daughters being that way too?
Let me take you back to last Friday. I was at a funeral and a great aunt of mine (let’s call her Aunty Fatist) had not one, not two but three digs at me about my weight.
It really p*ssed me off.
Let me just start by telling you that I’m a size 12. Ok, so lately I’m quite a snug size 12, but still, a size bloody 12 my friends! I thought I looked ok. I was all in black for god’s sake. You can’t get much more slimming than that can you?
The first comment from Aunty Fatist, came just as the funeral ceremony had ended. I was quite sad. We had just buried my mum’s long-term partner, the love of her life and her soul mate. What better time to have a dig at someone about her appearance I hear you cry!
And so, as we solemnly and silently walked away from the freshly dug grave, heads bowed, Aunty Fatist nestled in beside me.
‘You’re looking very trim,’ she kindly commented as she slipped her frail hand around my waist.
‘Oh thanks.’ I said, rather flattered.
I felt her bony, old fingers grab intrusively at my love handles.
‘Oh actually, no you’re not!’ She chuckled.
What the actual F*CK?!
I laughed nervously, unsure how to react but put it down to inappropriate, batty old lady talk and decided to shrug it off.
The second pop from Aunty Fatist, happened at the wake. It was a double handed one this time, aimed also at my brother. She spotted him in the distance.
‘Your brother’s put on a few pounds hasn’t he?’ She said.
‘Has he?’ I asked. Here we go I thought, bloody fatist, old witch.
‘And you have too!’ She added, laughing in a ‘don’t take offence it’s only a joke’ kind of way.
Last time I checked, jokes were funny.
The last jibe came right at the end of the funeral, and was a little subtler. It was also another double whammy, as it involved my Aunty (mum’s sister). Just to put you in the picture, she’s probably also about a size 12. She looked lovely to me, attractive, womanly and curvy…
… But not to Aunty Fatist. Oh no, this skinny old hag had different ideas.
‘I was talking to your Aunt earlier’, she said.
Here we go again, I thought.
‘She asked me what your mother’s secret to looking so slim was. So I told her, why don’t you go and ask Rhiannon?!’
She laughed heartily once more at her misplaced ‘joke’.
‘I don’t understand,’ I said ‘What are you trying to say?’
‘Oh take the joke!’ She said.
I still don’t understand what she meant, but judging by the previous comments, I know it was another negative poke at me being a size 12, which in her eyes, is overweight.
Needless to say I was a bit upset by all these remarks. What the hell right did she have to put me down about the way I look? Imagine if I’d commented on her looks? Told her she’d gone to look like a rotting corpse with her wrinkly, baggy old face? And if she took offence to that, what if I’d turned around and told her to ‘take the joke!’
Well I wouldn’t would I, because that would be very unkind.
I should have just knocked her false teeth out. This however, may not have gone down very well at a funeral. If she’d started on me when we were standing at the edge of the grave, perhaps I could have shoved her in too? Maybe chucked some mud at her shouting ‘It should have been you, you COW BAG!’ (This is making me feel much better already by the way) But again, maybe not appropriate.
Don’t get me wrong; I can take a dig about my weight. I’ve had to deal with it all my life.
My body conscious back story…
I was always made fun of by various family members for being fat, including my own Nana. I’ll never forget the time I was ridiculed for having thighs that touched at the top, when I was a little girl at the beach in my swimming costume. Another one that sticks, is being laughed at hysterically the first time I wore a leotard, and was told I looked like a wrestler. On top of all this, I was always the chubby girl picked last in netball. ALWAYS.
But before you get the violins out, I’m ok. All that crap has made me who I am. I sure can laugh at myself, and it’s all character building, right?
Still, all the negative pokes at my weight over the years, hasn’t really given me a thicker skin (thick thighs my friends does not equate to thick skin), and so I do still get hurt when people make remarks about my body.
But, why did I get so bothered by Aunty Fatist’s comments? Why can’t I just shrug it off and be all ‘well this is me, I’ve never been skinny, take it or leave it’? Because, following the lovely Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) on Instagram makes you realise that you don’t have to be super skinny to be beautiful. Super fit Bryony Gordon and Jada Sezer running the London Marathon in their pants all curvy, confident and strong was a total joy to see, and as for Clemmie Hooper (@motherofdaughters), well she’s an absolute peach, with her – ‘I’m just gonna eat caramel slices and let it all hang out because I grew four babies in there’ attitude… I LOVE them all! I think they’re amazing. They’re fantastic role models on a fearless (well overdue) mission.
So why can’t I let it all hang out and love my flab, my wobbly bits, my softness and my stretch marks? Why can’t I just accept what I’ve got and be more body positive? Is it because I’ve grown up with these comments and so I’ll never feel like my body is ever good enough? I’ve always been body conscious. Even when I was 16 in Ibiza in 1996 when I was a tiny size 8/10, I still felt fat then.
Maybe the comments hurt because she hit a nerve, in the sense, I know I probably could lose a few pounds at the mo? Only this morning I was mopping the floor and my bingo wing flopped against my body and actually made a fart noise. I kid you not. It was hideous and I was horrified. You know like when you were a kid and you did that hand in the armpit farty thing? Well my flabby arm actually did that on it’s own. I hated it. It made me feel vile, so there is no denying, I do feel nicer when I am a few pounds lighter. I feel healthier, and happier and my clothes fit better.
Maybe I am a lost cause? Maybe I’ll never be body positive? I have been on every diet known to man and have always obsessed about my body image, but the question now is – how can stop my daughters becoming as body conscious as I am?
Well, for starters…
- I’d never make fun of them or make negative comments about their bodies, because I know how hurtful it can be.
- I’ll try to be a good role model by exercising (I do exercise pretty consistently with two gym sessions, two runs and a yoga session every week, as well as cycling around town whenever I can).
- I’ll eat healthily and provide them with healthy balanced meals (which I mostly do… apart from when it all falls apart at the weekends).
- I will not have any scales in the house and definitely will never talk of being fat.
- If they raise the issue of being over weight I will always strive to deflect by telling them they are kind, helpful, happy and generous.
- I will always steer conversations away from body image.
- I will never go on a diet.
I don’t really diet anymore anyway, and I most definitely would never mention the ‘D’ word in front of my girls. If my clothes begin to get tight I just always try to eat a little healthier by cutting things out (mostly lager and crisps), and doing more exercise.
Andrew Hill a body image and behavioural specialist says ‘It is absolutely crucial that mum should never say she is on a diet, all the people I have dealt with for eating disorders had a mother – or a father – who demonstrated obsessive behaviour around food.’
And there we have it. It is pretty safe to say Aunty Fatist is obsessed with weight and body image and must be hugely body conscious. And guess what? Both her daughters have had eating disorders.
So yes, maybe I could do with cutting back on my weekend boozing, weekly take aways and evening treats over the next few weeks. I should probably also up my exercise, to shift a pound or two so that my size 12 jeans are not so snug (ok I can’t actually breathe when seated these days), but I am definitely NOT on a diet… Not for anyone, and especially not for Aunty Fatist.
… As for being more body positive, never gonna happen, but I can make sure my girls are less body conscious. I’ll never poke fun or put them down because of their weight and I’ll focus on what’s important – being kind, healthy, intelligent and nice.