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.
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.