WHAT A WOMAN TALKING ABOUT CHIPS TAUGHT ME ABOUT BODY IMAGE
A FEW months ago I was walking down the street in my local town when I caught a snippet of a conversation between a mum and daughter which took my breath away.
It was an ordinary conversation, general chit chat and it went a little something like this:
“Mummy, I’m so excited for dinner. I can’t wait to have fish and chips.”
“That’s great darling, Mummy is hungry too. I must go on a diet tomorrow though, I can’t have too many chips as they’ll make me fat!”
The girl, who was probably about seven years of age looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding her head. And then off they strode, hand in hand. Just a normal conversation between a loving mum and a happy daughter. Yet it has bothered me ever since.
Since that day, I have never talked about my body in negative terms in front of Elsie – or indeed in front of anyone else.
Since that day, if Elsie catches me walking around the bedroom naked, I walk with my head held high.
Since that day, if Elsie is in the bath with me and asks me about a certain body part, I answer her honestly and in a positive manner.
Since that day, I refuse to feel guilty because I fancy a Big Mac every now and then or I drink too much wine on rare occasions.
I am tired of hearing women say dreadful things about their bodies and I am sick of hearing about diets and dieting.
I hate it when I hear women rip another woman’s body to shreds because of their own fears or jealousy and I am angry. Angry and disappointed in all of us, that we have somehow allowed this culture of shame, negativity and criticism to happen.
Our relationships with our bodies are complex. We grow babies, we change shape, we get fitter, we get fatter, we get thinner, we get older. And throughout all of this, the world is watching.
Men desire our shapely forms. Models are photoshopped but held up as body ideals. We are told we must never get too fat. But are lambasted if we get too thin.
Our bumps are commented on and seen as public property. Our breasts are stared at, groped or found offensive. We are told what we can wear to cover up our bodies and also what we cannot.
And throughout all of this what do we do?
We turn on ourselves and each other.
We look in the mirror and hate what we see. We concentrate on our flaws and ignore our beauty.
We bitch about other women who are thinner or fitter than us. Why? Because we hate our own bodies so much that seeing a beautiful body makes us seethe with hatred.
We punish our bodies by starving ourselves or eating too much.
We show off our bodies as trophies or we cover them up because we’re ashamed.
We reshape them with cosmetic surgery or we just stop caring about how they look full stop.
We hate our stretch marks. We long for bigger breasts. We are jealous of other women. We dread getting older. We hate our bodies. Every. Little. Bit. Of. Them.
And so we punish and criticise and on it goes. The cycle of hatred towards our magnificent bodies begins and is passed on effortlessly, from one generation to the next.
When did we start thinking of our bodies as our enemies? And why the hell did we allow this to happen?
Because our bodies, our real, imperfect, functioning bodies do not deserve it.
They don’t deserve to be despised. They don’t deserve the awful things we say about them. They don’t deserve to be viewed through the cruellest of eyes.
We may refuse or struggle to love them, but on they go, loving and supporting us. Keeping us alive. Creating future generations. Breathing. Moving. Birthing babies. Giving pleasure.
Isn’t it time we showed them more respect? Isn’t it time we spoke about them more positively?!
If we don’t learn to love our bodies, we will never know what they are capable of.
If we don’t learn to love our bodies, neither will our daughters.
If we don’t learn to love our bodies, the world will continue to shape and mould us.
I am a mum. I am 35. I wear a size 10-12. I eat chips and I drink green tea. I put on weight sometimes and I lose it.
I have stretch marks. I have a mummy tummy. I often wish I was taller.
But I love my body – baby stripes an’ all. And so dear gorgeous women, should YOU.
Because maybe, just maybe, by showing our bodies less hate and more love we can turn this horrible, god damn awful body-hating culture around.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll never have to hear a mum teach her young girl, that our bodies are never quite good enough. Especially, god forbid, if we ever dare to treat ourselves to a few tasty chips.