I have put on weight since I've been in Germany. It's not my fault though. The concept of low-carb is positively blasphemous here. It's inconceivable for a day to pass without ingesting yeast in one form or another. Entering a Bäckerei is like entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for grown-ups. You need a will of reinforced steel to abstain from the sweet and savoury morsels that would tempt the Archangel himself. The variety of choice is staggering. Crispy, freshly baked bread rolls with sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, the list goes on. Not to mention the array of sweet, sticky and if your timing's up to speed, still warm toppings.
It's shameless temptation and I succumb to it consistently. I'm not so concerned about the weight gain. It's minimal and not unhealthy. This weekend at my in-laws however, I wondered if a flippant comment could have unfavourable consequences. On refusing a second (yeah okay, third) chunk of gateaux, no mean feat as it is deemed a personal affront to refuse cake here, I joked that it would only land on my hips adding to what the Germans descriptively call Huftgold (hip gold). I then observed Finje curiously eyeballing the area in question with an inquiring frown.
I endeavoured a sneaky back track manoeuvre. "Noooo mama just means she's full up darling". But she was having none of it and a brief but agonizing conversation followed. This took the form of pitiful squirming from me and some mumbled pathetic narrative about good nutrition. Well I was unprepared! I hadn't expected to be discussing body image until she was at least, I don't know, forty?
I shouldn't worry. Possibly only top trumped by the Scandinavians, the Germans are notably and fantastically body-confident. You only need to visit any beach on the Baltic for evidence. As the weather warms up the clothing gets discarded with abandon. This is however not, as some may suspect, blatant exhibitionism. The Germans are supremely and admirably accepting of their own and others body shapes. It's simply wonderful.
So I'm left with hope. When I cause to glance at the array of girly magazines stuffed full of their opinions of how they believe the female form should look and their models with, well, what size do they wear, eighteen months? I thank my lucky stars that my daughter will grow up with a mother who is careful to stay healthy but is accepting of her ever-increasing wrinkles and hip gold and in a country that supports those very efforts.