Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My body

Billy Bragg, 'Sexuality' - 

"I'm sure that everybody knows how much my body hates me,
It lets me down most every time and makes me rash and hasty."

Sometimes it honestly feels like my body is out to get me. What with the food allergies, the headaches, the migraines, the SPD during both my pregnancies and the infertility prior to that, it's not hard to feel that body and I are not really the best of friends. I try to feed it well, I exercise (well some of the time I do) and I watch my weight and yet.....
....and yet I rarely if ever feel happy with it. Sometime I even hate it (and the fact it is only 'sometimes' now is actually an improvement). I stand in front of the mirror and I see an ageing, plump, saggy body that doesn't look like the 'me' I feel inside. I fight to make it finish an exercise workout, I knock back pints of water to try and stop it reaching for a piece of chocolate and I curse it when I have to stop and clench to cough. I know a good body, like a good car needs looking after but I wish it didn't feel like we were at war with each other.

To be fair I've not had the best role models. Today magazines are full of celebrities who have 'already lost their baby weight', like baby weight is something to be ashamed of and that we should all be able to do it (even if we can't afford the personal trainer, nanny and chef that they used). They airbrush pictures to such an extent some celebs would be barely recognisable in 'real life'. (Look here) The media has never been a friend to a positive body image. But they are not the only ones to blame.

Take an earlier role model for girls, Barbie for example, if we assume that as a 'real' woman she'd be about 5foot 9 inches then her chest would be 39 inches, her waist 18 inches and her hips 33 inches. Her weight would be about 7 stone 12lbs which gives a BMI of 16.24 (which is so underweight we'd call her anorexic). Because her neck is so long she wouldn't be able to hold her head up and because her feet are so small (a size 3) she'd probably not be able to walk or even stand without help. And the makers Matel apparently consider this to be a fuller figure. Frankly it scares me that I still think she is beautiful and it terrifies me that my children might too.

And my earliest role model, my Mummy? I look back at photos of her at the age I am now and I see a beautiful lady, a lean, fit, healthy body, great skin, great legs, lovely hair but what I remember is her standing in front of a mirror picking herself apart, at the time I don't think she liked her own body either.

Really want my girls to have a positive body image. I wish I'd banned the Disney dolls which are really little different to Barbie before they started creeping into our home and I also wish they'd never seen the Winx club (cartoon girls so disproportioned they make Barbie look tame) but they are here now. So what can I do? I try to be as positive about my own body as I can be. When they point at my stretch marks I tell them they are tiger stripes and how much I love them because they were a gift. I try never to talk about dieting, just sensible eating. I tell them how interesting it is to watch our bodies change as we get older.

And I hope, I really hope that in talking to them more positively it wont just be them that feels good about their own body, I hope that I'll start to feel better about it too.

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