When I was studying with Sunny Gal, we had a really interesting conversation about another sewing blogger* – interesting because it spoke volumes about our relative attitudes to our own bodies.
‘What I really like about her,’ I said, ‘is that she’s clearly so comfortable in her own skin.’
Beth cast me a bemused glance. ‘Aren’t you?’ she asked.
I snorted with derision. ‘Of course not!’
Never have been, never will be. Such is my fate, and it’s one I long ago accepted. Why?
Partly, the old cliche of being British. We aren’t very good at self love, and if we are, we probably know someone close who will bring us down a rung or two.
Partly, because of the hand genes dealt me. I come from a long and glorious line of women whose bodies want to cling on to fat cells. There’s a wonderful black and white photograph of my great-great-great-grandmother perched on a tiny wooden chair outdoors in the family’s allotment. The phrase ‘Built like a brick s**t house’ springs to mind. You wouldn’t have wanted to argue with her – there was a lot of her. So I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to control my body’s desire to be obese. (If you think size issues are all down to over eating, I strongly recommend watching this Horizon programme, Why Are Thin People Not Fat.)
Partly because … well, we all need self-loathing on some level, don’t we? I mean, we don’t ‘need’ it but we do it. The turn of the wrist, the hair that’s too thick, the inability to run without tripping up – every single person has something they don’t like about their own body. It’s human!
I used to think that when I hit a certain advanced age, I’d stop caring. I relished my imagined future of drinking gin straight from the bottle, chain smoking Galloise, swearing violently at school children and smearing food down my clothes. Clothes that I hadn’t changed in days. Then, I realised that was never going to happen. If my fantasy truly was a reality, our Oldies would all be in jail! Yet, they’re not. Most people older than me still care about their appearance, and are upstanding members of society. (Note I said ‘most’. Yes, I am looking at you, local Mr Caretaker Man who I hate!)
So now I need to accept that being a little bit squirmish in my own skin is my fate until death. Damn.
What about you? Do you embrace your body or do you wish someone would drape a cloak of invisibility around your shoulders? I ricochet from one to the other, depending on mood, time of day and successful sewing. Are you equally flighty?
* You want to know who the sewing blogger is, don’t you? It was Handmade By Carolyn.
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