You know, since I had children, I’ve been a little larger than I was previously. It’s a fairly common complaint/ situation, there’s even an entire blog devoted to a celebration of it, the shape of a mother. In my case though, a little larger is still on the slim side it would appear. I bought a pair of jeans today, they’re a size 12, and the bit of flesh that sags over the top of them (they are hipsters, although I didn’t realise that at the time I bought them) isn’t nearly as big as it was just a few weeks ago before I took up swimming again.
So I’m nearly the size 10/12 I used to be before children, and I feel like I ought to apologise. When I’ve talked with friends who are trying to lose weight after children, I’ve always been told, but you’re so slim already. I’m not, you know. Or maybe I am, I guess, but that isn’t the point. I weigh more than I want to weigh, and I definitely have more spare flesh around my midriff than I’d like. Not that I’m aiming for super model status, but I’d like to be fit again, and I’d like to not have to apologise for wanting that. The call for submissions to the carnival of feminists this time talks about “feminism and fat (preferably,…focusing on the positive aspects in a celebratory spirit rather than on eating disorders on the subject of which a substantial body of research/literature already exists â€“ we fat advocates are catching up, however!)” and it depresses me. Not that there are fat advocates – oh no, please feel free to advocate anything you like. But that once again, I’m left apologising for being the shape I am, and wanting to be less of it.
You see, when I was a teenager, I hated sport. Or rather, I hated team sports, wearing grey knickers under too big gym slips, having terribly jolly hockey teachers at my private school (I was on an assisted place, shall I apologise for that too as well?) make jokes about buying me braces by charging ppl who couldn’t score goals. So yes, I hated sport. And running with my dog, or swimming with my friends, or walking up to the stables to muck out, ride and so on didn’t count as sport. So I never realised that I was pretty fit. Then five years of martial arts at university didn’t count as sports either – but all those sit ups and 5 or more 2 hour practise sessions a week did something. My body was used to being fit, even if I didn’t really realise it at the time, and even giving up exercise and having children, it seems to remember what it used to feel like. Give it a few regular sessions of swimming and things are settling back again, and I’d like to celebrate, but I’m terribly afraid I’m going to upset my friends who struggle to lose the pounds, and that somehow it’s not feminist to be happy about being thin.
I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being any size. If you are happy (and that’s the key point) with how you are, then bully to you. I don’t have any problem with that. Seeing acres of flesh creeping out over the top of too small trousers doesn’t turn me on, but I’m willing to accept that that is the fashion. (And I’ll save the rant about who the hell designs fashion for some other time, right after I’ve hitched my rapidly slipping jeans up, and bought some hipster underwear to get away from the whale tail thing.)
One thing does worry me though.
I bought my daughter a skirt today. My beautiful, tall, active, blonde 6 year old daughter an age 7 skirt. She rushed off to try it on and came down not quite happy. She was going to insist that it was lovely – she adores clothes, expecially feminine clothes(unlike her grossly unfeminine mother who seriously considered dungarees from the sale today) and didn’t want to admit that the skirt was uncomfortable. But I looked closely at her, and realised it was digging into her waist. Or where her waist will be, after puberty kicks in, and where it isn’t right now. She’s a child, she doesn’t have a waist. She isn’t the same size as every other six year old (which I obviously know, given that I bought an age 7 skirt) not that I’ve noticed all six year olds being the same size.
And that’s my point. I know you were all hoping I was going to get to it. How do we expect women to grow up valuing all the sizes that we can be, accepting each other for what we are, when it would appear we expect all six year olds to be the same size? So we are already telling many of our children that they are too big, or too small, too thin or too tall. They aren’t, it’s a joke. They range around some statistical norm just as much as adults do – possibly more. So why can’t we just sell clothes by height and waist, much as we do for adults? Would it really be so terrible to admit that children range in size, that not all six year olds have a 21 inch waist or are within 110 to 116 cm in height?
Just a thought. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m sure I have other things to go off and feel guilty about.
Oh, here’s one more thought. How about if we stopped making each other feel guilty, accepted help and support from one another and concentrated on making life better all around? Do you think it could work?