I have a really confused relationship with my body. In some ways, I love it. It works very well, does everything it needs to and that in itself is something to be thankful for. Other days I look at myself and wonder if surgery really could make me look better.
For most my teenage/young adult life, I’ve been around size 16. My parents would bring up my weight with every conversation, it felt like, and at school, I couldn’t even bring myself to stand on a set of scales for a science experiment. I felt so confused when I was younger. I was brought up with my parents telling me that intelligence and creativity were so much more important than make-up and clothes, and I still feel that way, but when you get to a certain age, your physicality becomes an issued whether you want it to or not. I couldn’t understand why my achievements in school or my hobbies wasn’t enough for my parents to be proud of me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and they have supported me so much over the years through thick and thin; and I can see their logic even if I don’t think they’re right. The way they saw it was my unhappiness was down to me feeling “ugly” and not dating guys like every other girl that age, and being skinny would fix that. In my head though, it was always “I am what I am, why should I change for someone that can’t appreciate who I am now? And on top of that, is a man actually the answer to all my woes?” And to this day, I still feel like that. I’m not sure I’d want to date anyone who was held looks in such high regards. Not saying they have to be completely nonchalant, but I’ve always put intelligence before looks, and I’d hope to be with someone that felt the same.
So these days. I’m still the same size. The way I see it, my weight sits mostly in the right places, so I’m curvy as hell. I’ve got a reasonably pretty face and in it’s own way, I own my weight. I’ve made it suit me. I’ve started going to the gym recently, but not really to lose weight, but because studying art does leaving you sitting down for hours on end and I just want to move more. I’m going to say something strange: I’m terrified of losing weight. I’m scared that everything will just head south, or my body won’t firm up and I’ll be this bag of skin. Saying that, if I do, it’s just another change in my body, not the first and won’t be the last, I’m sure.
I really hate the attitude we have towards nudity in this country. When I was 18, i went skinny dipping with a German friend in a lake, which totally changed my views on nudity. I loved it. I loved being liberated from this idea that your body is a sexual organ, instead, your body is a living, moving natural being. Since then, I’ve had a lot less qualms about being naked in front of people, and travelling in Scandinavia has reinforced it for me. The sad thing is, I don’t know if I’ve got the same confidence here. Even last night, I was at a screening of The Room. I love the heckling, but there was one scene where the crowd were shouting “Jabba the Hutt!” because when the main actress leaned over, she had a few rolls, despite being a very normal sized woman. We’re so alien to the nude figure here, unless in some perfect representation of the Western ideal, that people think they have the right to judge when they’re challenged with something regular. I’m not sure if there’s a way that body issues will never exist in the way they do, but I’d be a lot happier if it was something for us, as women, to discover ourselves our feelings and we could remove patriarchy from the whole equation.