The whole body issues topic isn’t exactly new so I’m not expecting to break any new ground here. However, a couple of things have come up this week and I’ve had this idea rattling round my head about how we start turning on both ourselves and our very own bodies. Perhaps we allow ourselves to be manipulated, this could be the case.
To put it bluntly, I keep hearing about Real Women and it’s getting on my tits.
I’ve been many sizes and I’m pretty sure all of them have been very real. I’ll probably be a lot of different sizes in the future and none of those will make me into an imaginary woman. The fact that the phrase “Real Woman” is often followed by “not like those stick insects” is just plain insulting to everyone. No one wins here. It’s a bit like the Bukowski poem about the bucket of crabs trying to get out by pulling each other down. So let me be very clear that I would never want to add to the body-shaming bullshit. Be whatever size you are.
I get it, I really do. The media has a disproportionate representation of lithe, young, beautiful women (and perfectly toned, young, beautiful men, let’s not forget that). But you can’t claim “Real Woman” as a label. Really you can’t. It’s divisive and serves no purpose but to get us squabbling amongst ourselves. I’m probably adding to it now, if you want to interpret it that way, but it isn’t my intention. Who decided we should use Real Women to define anyone over a certain size thereby denying anyone else existence?
Online and in real life I have friends who are all sorts of sizes and, unless one of them has a broken limb or has accidentally tucked her skirt in her pants, I barely notice their bodies. I’d go so far as to say I egotistically assume they’re all about the same height and size as me. I honestly give that much of a damn. Most of the time I spend with my friends I’m within about three feet of them so I never get a full length view, they could well have replaced their legs with springs and I wouldn’t realise. I bet you feel the same.
If you’ve read this far, I’ll push on. A few things brought this post on.
This morning I was accidentally watching TV and there was a segment trying to tie it into London Fashion Week. The presenter refered to the models as “chunky” in one breath and (no doubt after having the producer screaming in his ear) called them Real Women in the next. To which I thought, oh for fuck’s sake, keep digging why don’t you? You probably heard of Wayne Sleep describing the dancers in the Big Ballet as “fat” earlier this week too. The dancers took him to task, and deservedly so, but the R word was dragged up yet again to distinguish the dancers from “stick insects”.
I’ve been overweight, I was teased terribly as a child and it still stings to think about*, I also put on loads of weight in my 20s so I’m not a stranger to being the “wrong” size as an adult. I’ve also been one of those “stick insects”. But I’ve been pretty real whatever number was on the tag of my shirt and so has everyone else.
I’m deviating from the sewing with this post but I think it all ties in. I’ve deliberately kept this brief and there’s a lot more that needs examining but I needed to get this down to stop myself having endless debates in my head. Having a twitter chat with Kate helped. The fact that I was cutting through a cemetery at the time gave me pause for thought too.
To paraphrase a friend and all round good guy, “I’ve spent a long time hating (my body) but it’s never said a bad word against me”
* 32 years later and still, fuck you both, Natalie M and Kara W.