When I was a child I watched my mother dislike her body for being overweight and my father never understanding from his permanent stick figure that she really found it difficult to lose weight. I watched her try diet after diet and struggling to eat food she didn’t want to and to not eat food she did. She eventually gave up “proper” dieting and just tried to be a bit more careful about what she ate without trying to lose. My father was willing to be supportive but he still wanted a proper meal and a cheese board, and to take my mother out for meals. So he never really acknowledged her struggle.
I had no problems with my weight as a child or teenager but I absorbed what I watched from my parents. I remember feeling confident in the way I looked and dressed, able to strut as I walked and I remember how good that felt.
I think, although one can never be sure that I lost all that when I became pregnant. My then husband used to criticise me for putting on weight but when I suggested he cut back on cooking with cream he refused. Much like my father he pointed out what was wrong with me whilst refusing to take any action himself. Ex2 used to tell me that I could do with losing weight but he also said that he would love me regardless but that I would feel healthier if I did. I appreciated the fact that he tried to make it about me rather than him without responding to the criticism.
As a mother, through one pregnancy or another, I spent 40 months of my life being pregnant and some 70 odd months breastfeeding. Add onto that all those sleepless nights and that’s a good portion of my life when I didn’t really care what I looked like, I just wanted to eat, feed and sleep. I lost sight of me, I lost sight of that sexy woman I could be. And I didn’t feel it any more either, I felt tired and battered around the edges. I wasn’t interested in dressing up and looking good, and quite frankly, after ex1 and ex2, I didn’t really feel the need to evoke any interest.
So maybe I put on weight in order to hide and I’m still doing it. Maybe not. It seems a slightly glib answer.
For years I stopped buying more than the absolute minimum of clothes on the basis that if I had no nice clothes to wear then I’d lose weight. That didn’t work. Now I do try and buy clothes but feel that all the styles that I look no longer fit my figure. Also, high street shops stock very few clothes in larger sizes so it’s not a happy experience and I do most of my shopping online. I used to enjoy going clothes shopping.
I’ve lost confidence, as I’ve said before, but what else have I lost? I’ve lost a lot of time being unhappy with myself and that cannot be recuperated so I need to stop wasting any more of it. I’ve struggled with friendships and social contact both in and out of the workplace but that started well before I put on weight.
I might not look as good as I want to, or feel I look like I want, but I still go out and have fun and ignore the little voices telling me I don’t look good. While I have lots of male friends, I don’t even think about wanting to take my clothes off in front of anyone, not even in the dark. There are other reasons all tangled up there too. I don’t want to get close to someone in a relationship as I don’t want to feel vulnerable.
What have I gained from my body image? A whole new awareness of how appalling the diet industry is, the scapegoating that obesity gets, how much public pressure there is on women to be that one size and look. I’ve met, both in real life and on the internet some wonderful people, mostly women, who spread positive images and messages about health, size and empowerment. I’ve always been one for rejecting the majority opinion and felt that I was doing it on my own. I’m not alone any more. Not ever.
Even my father, the other day when I said that the boys hadn’t been outside since Christmas (a whole week) said they would get obese. I couldn’t believe it. They’re so healthy and spend so much time outside during term time running around. As if one week is going to change their lives like that.
As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. I anticipate that whenever I get through this, whatever that actually turns out to mean, I shall be stronger, with even more of a kick-ass attitude than I already have.
Beautiful You, by Rosie Molinary is available at Amazon (click on the picture) and her website is Rosie Molinary