This morning I was happily walking back from dropping my kids off at school, passing a house crawling with builders. I am past my wolf whistling prime, but I was more than a bit gutted when instead of a cheeky toot, I heard one said to his mate 'Oh I thought she was a lot younger then that - thank god I didn't whistle'. His mates reply? 'Yeah, and she is a lot fatter up close as well'. Cheers for the early morning confidence boost lads, don't fall off your ladders or anything will you. Whatever happened to the good old days of 'get your t*ts out '?
Image from stock
The worst thing about it was not that two scruffy, ignorant dirt-mongers felt entitled to be judgy about my age and waistline, but that what they said kind of rolled off my back, because between you and I, what I say about how I look in my head is SO. MUCH. WORSE. As in think of the Daily Fail. Go the 'Sidebar of Shame'. Pick any article about Kim Kardashian, ever. Go to the comments. What they say is still nicer then how I speak to myself.
If it was just me you could put it down to some sort of mental health issue, but it isn't. I look at my friends and see beautiful, talented women. So many of them however, see nothing but a morass of faults, flaws and issues. Give a good few of 'em a compliment and you will hear a litany of everything wrong with them, usually starting with something being fat.
I am overweight - as in borderline 'obese' on the NHS scale. Not huge, I am currently a size fourteen (by which I mean sixteen but too bleeding stubborn to give in and buy clothes that actually fit) but big enough that I am well aware I am beginning to jeopardise my health. Certainly big enough to feel embarrassed by myself. And when I see an article suggesting that a size six woman should be mortified by a slightly rounded tummy, I know exactly why I feel so bad.
image sourced via twitter
Flick open any paper, pass any rack of mags and I defy you not to find a number with close in pap shots of some poor celebs ass, bearing a millimetre of fat and a MASSIVE BLOATED HEADLINE ABOUT HOW FAT SHE IS. The worst in memory being the night Kate Middleton gave birth, when OK launched their 'How Kate Lost the Baby Weight' edition. She was barely out of the pushing phase before the pressure to snap back into shape was on. How sick is that? And yet the only reason those articles exist is because we buy the mags, and click the links in our droves.
Is our obsession with the mighty pound (too many) good enough reason for the forensic cruelty I and millions of others show ourselves daily in the mirror? Were I to subject another human being to such merciless scrutiny, I suspect I would end up alone. Or editing Vogue, but that is by the by.
My utter loathing has gone so far, I banned pictures of myself. Of the few I have, I don't see the happy smiles that typically accompany a night out with my mates or a trip to the beach with my gorgeous family. I see the muffin top, the back flab, and the chunky arms. That sort of self-obsessive negativity does NOT a happy memory make.
And yet ask any trainer or psychologist the quickest way to stop someone losing weight? Negative messages. Nobody ever got better at something by telling themselves they were useless and crap. Athletes, scientists, entrepreneurs - they aren't successful because they think they are awful. They focus on what they can do, what they are great at, and they repeat it. And that is the key to losing weight. Making the right choice and then repeating it. NOT grabbing hankfuls of flab and shrieking at your husband about your disgusting testicle tummy (yes, really).
In my case, I decided to join the healthy (and doctor recommend) Slimming World a couple of weeks ago (after an incident where I walked an extra mile with my dog to avoid upsetting people with the sight of my huge thighs in shorts). The group advocates healthy body image, healthy weight loss and lifelong nutrition which suit me fine.
But health issues aside, on a wider scale, the problem is not a weight one. It's an attitude one. Until we learn to gauge our worth by our achievements and personality, not poundage, the obsession with size will continue and so will so much of our deep, completely unnecessary unhappiness with who we are. And the unhappier we are, the fatter we get, starting the whole vicious cycle over again.
So today I beg you. Don't buy the mags with the fat shaming on the front, don't click the link with Kim K's rear on it (seriously, she is tiny in real life) and don't buy a size smaller then you are in embarrassment at what the till people will think of your actual size (just me?). The sooner we stop, the sooner we all smile a bit more, and nothing is more beautiful than that.