Body Image: Built for use, not decoration.

The recent heatwave has me questioning my body image for the first time in quite a while.

It’s so much easier to like your body in the autumn and winter months.My legs look infinitely better swathed in thick black opaques, my arms enveloped in long sleeves. It being summer, we are of course expected to prepare for and unleash our ‘beach bodies’ onto the world. One of the benefits of not being able to afford a foreign holiday (again) this year is that I don’t have to submit to the demands for a beach body, and happily accept that my regular winter body will have to do.

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I don’t really own a summer wardrobe; living in Ireland my wardrobe adjusts to the seasons with either the addition or removal of a jacket. But with the temperature tipping 30 degrees this week, the usual jeans and a t-shirt uniform was unfathomable. I was desperate for something a little cooler, and yet as I stared into the chasm of my wardrobe each morning, I realised that I owned precious little that exposes my legs (or nothing that I would be happy wearing beyond the boundaries of my own back garden anyway). My legs: as white as a clean slice of A4, yet nowhere as smooth, regularly bruised due to ankle-biters, and certainly on the chunky side – they stay under wraps on all occasions. I don’t love my legs to look at, but they sure are handy for getting around.

But despite this heat-based wobble (a rarity, thank God), the truth is I’m more comfortable with my body than I’ve ever been. I’m 37, I’ve never been skinny, nor ever seriously overweight. I’m a classic pear, any weight I put on goes straight to the hips. My boobs are two cupsizes bigger than I would like them to be, and extremely lacking in the perk department since breastfeeding two babies.

I used to really care about the size of my arse. Especially when I was around 15; God, I hated my backside back then. The hours I spent worrying about it. Now, I can happily say I never give the size of my arse even a moments thought. Is it bigger than yours? Is it smaller than hers? At last, I actually do not care. Because you know what I finally realised after years of turmoil. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY ELSE IS THINKING ABOUT THE SIZE OF MY ARSE. And if, by chance, some sad sack does happen to glance it and think it’s a bit bigger than they would like. Well, we all know that says more about them than me. Do you ever sit around thinking about the size of your colleague’s arse? Or the fact that the woman you passed on the street has fat knees ? No, you don’t. ( I know you don’t). That’s the real problem of course, the 15 year old me, and millions of others like her. If only we could let them all know, that no-one cares, no-one that matters, and that they shouldn’t care either. They are all beautiful, 15 year old girls.

Of course, no-one is immune to the beauty of a nice pert bum or toned, golden legs, but I’ve finally come to accept that this is never going to be me. I have neither the genes nor the willpower to achieve such physical perfection. My skills lie elsewhere (hidden, deep, deep, inside). And quite honestly I’ve more things to worry about at this stage, than whether some stranger thinks I could stand to lose a few pounds.

I was doing some reading for another post last week, and was reminded of this quote, which I think perfectly encapsulates my feelings on this. It’s a quote about prettiness, and being female (it has been widely attributed to Diana Vreeland, but according to this article was actually written by author and blogger Erin McKean.)

“You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked female.”

This is my body, all year round, rain or shine : Built for use, not decoration.

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15 comments

  1. I don’t care about my arse: if I can’t see it, that means no one else can. But yes I do think about arses, because I always have one in my face when I’m commuting on the bike, and I get to stare at some fairly unique ones, cracks and all. Honestly, you rarely see an awesome one, so we should all just relax about arses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arse to arses !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw a great quote before ‘you don’t have to be pretty like her, you can be pretty like you’.. you might not fit today’s stereotypical description of ‘beauty’ but doesn’t mean you are not. Also, I completely gave up caring how I look on especially for nights out during college when I realized no one ever really pays any attention, so why waste time worrying about it! Life is too short

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love that quote !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. this was a nice read ❤
    I feel really insecure about my body shape after I gave birth, i sometimes think the way I see my body isn't the same way as others would see it. To me i look horrible from saggy breasts and tummy to stretch marks all over but to others I look normal and I get compliments in fact.Reading the quote you stated made me rethink that part of me is doing it so that others would see me as pretty and i really shouldn't do that.

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  4. Every year I have the same crisis regarding my summer wardrobe. I am more comfortable in trousers but when it is hot like this week that is just ridiculous. Shorts are a no go, too many thread veins, skirts make my hips look enormous so I am left with dresses but they are always made for teenagers or young 20 year olds with fabulous knees, at 49 I want knee grazing and elegant. Bring on winter! #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In such hot weather, I don’t think many would give a toss about how anyone looks. You have a positive outlook concerning body image that others could do with taking note of. Thanks for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG!

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  6. This is brilliant – you are so positive and also spot on. I sometimes feel self conscious these days when I go out in with slightly less coverage than usual and then I realise just what you said, no-one actually cares about my tummy rolls and slightly larger than I’d like thighs! On another note I never knew you were from Ireland! My other half comes from Moate in West Meath xx #fortheloveofBLOG

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    1. I’m from England (Newcastle ) originally but have been in Dublin nearly 15 years now – I am neither one nor the other at this stage

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! Its taken me until my mid 40’s not to care so much about my lumps and bumps, I agree with you that no one else is remotely interested or even looking!!! #brilliantblogposts
    Abby at http://www.peppermintcove.com

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  8. I love the line about your legs being as white as a4 mine are too. I hate the phrase beach body. This is something I am working on as my daughter is hitting the stage where I need to make sure she has a positive body image #fortheloveofblog (ps apologies for really late commenting I am so behind)

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  9. Love this post. Hurraa to not caring what other people think about the size of our bums. You are very right, the people that matter are not standing there considering how big or small it is 🙂 #bloggerclubuk

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 2travellingtots · · Reply

    *High Five* who cares what other people think? We all have different perceptions of ‘beauty’ anyway and the ‘Hubster’ and ‘the boys’ like me just the way I am….if only I could get the inner critic to shut up…#bloggerclubuk

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] feminists. My recent faves are Rape culture, parenting and lessons for my children and Body Image: Built for use, not decoration. She also has great, funny posts about the hard work of parenting in general, such as How to […]

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  12. morningfrost · · Reply

    Yes absolutely this!! I’m coming to terms with this recently as well. How liberating it is to get in a swimsuit and frolic about!

    Like

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