Thursday, April 29, 2010
I'll get this out there now so I can then move on to pleasanter subjects - I am fat. It is a fact of life. It wasn't always so, and I don't intend for it to always be the case, but currently, it most definitely is.
My weight is probably the area in which I most struggle to keep my understanding of myself untainted by the opinions of others. I suppose it is the most obvious thing about me - I don't need to say or do anything for complete strangers to know this piece of information about me.
The problem lies in the things so many people assume about me by knowing this one, superficial fact. They are taught to believe that I am lazy (or I would work off the fat by forcing myself to exercise), lacking in will-power (or I could not have allowed myself to become so grotesque) and even selfish (draining the public health system... apparently.)
I wish they had a Nigella attitude to fat - she once said in interview that when she sees an overweight person, rather than seeing something disgusting, she thinks about how delicious it must have been to get to that size. She said she only avoids being too large herself because her love of food is balanced by vanity. (I already adored her as a character not to mention her magical ability to put all that lard directly onto her extraordinary bosom, hips and bum - but when I read this she became my absolute goddess!)
I wish when people saw a big person, they were made to think about what a sensual, pleasure-enjoying, life-loving soul that individual must be; about how much FUN they must be to spend time with - not about how horrible they are. (I do suspect that at least a little of the fatty-hating comes from jealousy - it must be painful for women who slave away meeting society's expectations to be confronted with someone who doesn't seem to be burdened by such pressures.)
But I can't change what people think, I can only change how I react to it.
This is how I view my body. Firstly, I do NOT hate my body. It has some problems, certainly, and rather more than it did previously. For example, I am still pretty strong for a girl, but not as strong as I was. I can still move in most of the ways I want, but, admittedly, not as easily as when I was slimmer and fitter and more flexible. (I can also no longer do 50 dolly-spins in a row on a gym-bar... but what sane nearly-30-year-old would want to?) I also worry about becoming a mother - I would love to enjoy an easy and safe pregnancy, then be able to chase after a toddler who can depend on the full functioning of my body for their well-being, and ultimately to raise healthy people who are so natural with their diet that they never even have to think about it.
As for looks, my body was never perfect, and I never minded that. I learnt young that almost all women hate at least something about their own bodies, so I realised there was no use fretting over the few flaws in mine. There are a few more things to dislike about mine these days; my double-chin and hanging belly (which becomes rolls of belly when I sit) are certainly not attractive, nor are they signs of a body in highest health. And the former joys of wearing flattering and beautiful clothes have transformed almost exclusively into the art of hiding flaws.
But when I see myself - as I do in full, completely naked, in the bathroom mirror every morning - I do not want to turn away. In fact, I mostly like what I see; I see a quite lovely combination of womanly curves; a playful, sexy, wobbly piece of LIFE. Some mornings, I even join my reflection in a little groove - just indulging in being a woman, being naked, and being happy with myself.
Most importantly, what I LOVE about my body is what it does for me. It has five highly functioning senses to get me gorgeous pleasures - sex and cuddles, music and conversation, exotic perfumes and the fresh scents of nature, rainbows and sunsets and yes, rather a little too much indulgence in the joys of TASTE. On top of this, my womanly functions appear to be in full working order, I suffer very little ill-health, and this body of mine still gets me where I want to go.
To me a body is just the vessel for the mind. My mind is ME, my body is just the means of that person being alive in the world and experiencing all its wonders. I am aware that I could live longer and enjoy more future wonders if I took better care of this vessel. But then today's wonders are hard to forgo in the name of practicality! Especially when I'm being told that the real reason I should forgo that scrumptious blue cheese, that glorious creamy pasta, or that both delicious AND mentally-exciting glass (okay, bottle) of wine is merely to LOOK better.
What could be less important than looks? I tell the world this all the time. It's time I started believing it.
Monday, April 26, 2010
In the name of making a start, I'm writing an introduction to what I aim to do here.
Essentially I want to explore ideas of self-sufficiency, in a very broad sense. My independence - physical and mental - have always been supremely important to me. Currently the necessity to be able to be alone in the world are taking on new meanings for me.
This is my context: I am approaching 30, newly married, planning children, and finally taking the way I make money seriously. The impending 3-0 is pleasing me, not least because it has brought about a reflective tone to my thoughts - a sense of taking stock of where I am, where I want to be, and how I intend to get there.
My husband is all a person could want in a partner, and our love is the greatest thing I have achieved in life, and the backbone of my future. But we are at the stage in our relationship that I am suddenly in need of redefining myself as something separate to that love, rediscover the things I loved about myself before I found someone else to love me.
I am not planning to become a mother for another couple of years, primarily for practical considerations. There is also one very important thing for me before undertaking motherhood - to feel that should I have to, I would be able to do it alone. My father died when I was 9. When he was first diagnosed with cancer, several years prior to his death, my mother thought to herself "I can't do this on my own". She was gripped with fear at the prospect of having no partner to help her. As a result, she was even more paranoid, over-protective and clingy than she would have been otherwise. Her inability to be alone is still a burden on mysef. I am determined to never let such fears overcome myself, or my future children. Although I have left my former paganism behind, I still find the maiden-mother-crone model helpful. I see myself as a strong huntress, almost at the peak of my skills, preparing to use my strength to protect my future cubs. I imagine myself as a mama-bear and think about what I will need to undertake that role brilliantly.
My career, as always, is less interesting to me than anything else in my life. But I have learnt a degree of practicality. Money is something that is necessary to all my other life plans, and I now realise the ways that work best for me to make it. I have learnt that I need to feel good at what I do, but more importantly useful and productive - not destructive - in my society. I am trying to live my politics in everything I do; in how I make money and how I spend it. I still have a long way to go.
I wish to catalogue all the things in life that bring me closer to self-sufficiency. Welcome to my work.