It’s all about perspective this week. As a disclaimer, yes, you’re right there are much more important issues I could be writing about but let's face it, I am not blogging to solve the depletion of oil reserves or civil unrest in war-torn nations, it’s a blog, relax. When I look in the mirror I am rarely happy. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I am over the moon with my style, but there is always something about my body or face that I can be critical about. This awareness of how my body looks started in my very early twenties, a little later than many girls that I have spoken to, as it normally kicks in for the majority in your teens. I can only put this down to the fact that food was never an issue growing up, I ate home cooked meals and the scales were just an object in the bathroom but no one really used, I was an eighties kid so grew up playing out, therefore big dinners and playing ’tuggy' went hand and hand to make keep me healthy (and a little bit weedy).
Cutting a long story short in my late teens/early twenties I took up boxing, I loved it. The discipline, fitness and the fact that I could knock seven bells out of someone should I desire, was a nice feeling to have in the back pocket. It was 'proper boxing' too, not dicking about to music in a leisure centre on a Wednesday night, competing and being walloped in the face regularly. However, the muscle on my back and thighs that I had now acquired was giving me a very different look, I will call that look ‘ broad’, I gained around a stone and a half from when I started training and I was rock solid to the touch. At my peak, I was training twice a day and eating enough to ensure that I maintained my newly bulked physique. I was athletic and a good size 8, more a 10, and then one simple comment was like a paradigm shift, it was like one of those moments in a movie where everything blurs down a tunnel. It was a night out and I was wearing shorts (stylish ones, give me a break it was 2002 and I was in a Beach themed nightclub) and a girl (that bit is important) said to me ‘Your thighs look so strong which is much better than them being slim’....... Now, this may have been a compliment, albeit a backhanded one, but that was it, thigh circumference was very much on my radar from this moment right up to today.
I gradually started to reduce the type of exercise I was doing and even gave up a sport that I was good at and I loved, the bonus though being that I was now starting to have a much more feminine physique (but I can still knock you into next week should the mood take me). Watching what I ate was now a daily occurrence, a slippery slope of having a nice compliment about my figure was the incentive to keep going. As the bulk dissolved and the dress size declined it didn’t really stop there, it was all about maintenance, food intake since this point has therefore not been a diet but a lifestyle choice.
I have to openly say now that I have been fortunate never to succumb to what medical textbooks would define as an eating disorder but that does not necessarily mean that I don’t have issues with food. There I said it. Every day is a clean slate and despite the fact that I cannot do basic arithmetic for the life of me I could tell you approximately (to the nearest 10) how many calories I have eaten in a day. I operate on a strict week-day calorie budget that allows me the weekend indulgence. My working week is a miserable diet of protein bars and lean meat that if I just so happen to meet someone who dares to say ‘I am so lucky I am naturally slim, I just eat what I want’ I could club them to death with my Ryvita (die, die die).
When Kate Moss said ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ she was publicly vilified whilst I was thoughtfully nodding in agreement behind the safety of my egg white omelette. After all, people may consider me vain and I need to ‘live a little’ but to me how I look represents how I feel and for me I have chosen to be slim as the ticket to feeling good about myself, for others this aesthetic is a totally different look, no one is more right than the other, it is merely personal preference. It doesn’t mean that it is right for everyone and I would love to feel how I feel slim in a more curvaceous body - but it literally doesn’t fit for me. I admire so many different body types, I have no opinion on what others should look like body shape wise, your body, your choice. Some of my friends are skinnies, some are not, so what, my only prerequisite to my friends is that they are all pretty, obviously.
Public judgment is another massive issue, people can become fascinated by the willpower for me ‘not to eat the cake’ that it becomes public consumption that when I do indulge (which does happen, I just choose wisely) then it becomes open season for people to pass comment including ‘Surely you’re not eating! Bloody hell!’ or ‘Oh my god you’ll not eat until next year after that crisp’. This massively irritates me, when I see someone who is as wide as they are tall about to eat anything other than a celery stick I would never say at the top of my voice ‘you’re never going to eat that biscuit because you’re already a big fat cow’, no of course I don’t, because it would be rude, double standards I think.
Within 5lbs I have been the same weight now for over ten years, and there are benefits to this; I can justify spending a ridiculous amount on a piece of clothing as it is an ‘investment’, my pension pot is basically my wardrobe. My body size allows me to shop in the kids' department for most of my gym clothes, although this is largely as I am flat chested (not sure this is something to brag about). Lastly, I can fit between some fences, this is most appreciated by Dennis and Neville when they lose a ball over a fence, what would they do without me.
This post hasn’t been a review, an attempt to empower or anything about style, as of all things style isn’t defined by size. It is about the need for awareness, not necessarily about food but about passing your opinion about other peoples choices, however small they may be. Be nice to each other, as if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all, otherwise your next carbohydrate will come in the form of a knuckle sandwich from yours truly.