I found myself watching some TV show about women and the way they see their bodies, and it got me to thinking. How do you feel about your body? Are you happy with it? Are there things that you’d like to change? How far would you go to change them? It’s funny, the relationship we have with our bodies, isn’t it? We’re stuck with them until the day we die but still, something about them still drives us to despair.
I have the worst view of me/my body. I’ve been treated pretty badly by various men in my dating history, and more than a few of them have had something to say about the way I look. I remember booty-calling The Fireman one drunken night and he said:
“You’re still incredibly sexy even though you’ve put on a bit of weight.”
I have NEVER forgotten that statement. I can remember exactly where we were and how he looked when he said it to me. The sun was just starting to come up, his blonde hair was spiked in different directions, and we were both on our backs, hands intertwined on top of the grey duvet cover. I remember feeling so satisfied. Like I’d been fucked good n’ proper, came hard and enjoyed the crap outta it. Up until that point, it had been the perfect booty call. And then he went and said those 13 little words that bounce around in my head to this day.
It wasn’t just The Fireman who made cruel jibes about my weight, though. It was one of The Hubby’s favourite things to do: putting me down with words sharper and more cutting than any knife. Ironically, I was actually heavier before I got married than when he started with the not-so-funny fat jokes, but it didn’t matter how much weight I tried to lose, he still found a way to put me down.
“I hate looking at your stretch marks. It’s like a looking at a map of the London Underground.”
“I cheated on you with her because I wanted to sleep with a woman with a smaller waist than me.”
“Maybe if you gave up chocolate for lent you’d start losing some of that extra weight.”
Even his mother had something to say about me when she met me the first time, and then every time she saw me or spoke to me after that. The skinny, athletic, marathon-running mother who would fat-shame me at every possible opportunity. It wasn’t a me-specific thing, though; she actually looked down her nose at everything to do with me and my family. She was obsessively mean and shamey. It was actually pretty disturbing.
Big Love had lots of things to say about my weight and the amount of weight I gained when I lived on The Other Side of the World. He plied me with compliments at the beginning of our dalliance, but those compliments soon turned into jibes and jokes. He did the same thing as The Hubby did: went on dates with (and possibly slept with) a bunch of girls who were skinnier than me, and there were countless times he’d rub those dates in my face. He went out of his way to be at the same club he knew I’d be at, with a beautiful, tall and slender blonde, to prove a point one night. It was his way of showing me that he could have any girl he wanted … and if I didn’t buck my ideas up and lose some weight, he’d do more than just take them on dates.
I currently fluctuate between 165 and 175 pounds. At 5’ 3-and a bit”, the slightest bit of weight gain is super obvious on me, and after putting on lots of contraceptive-implant weight, I found it fucking impossible to lose and then keep off.
The heaviest I’ve ever been was 220 pounds, on The Other Side of the World. I actually don’t blame Big Love for having a few things to say about my weight, but I really wish he’d done it in a kinder way. I don’t even think he meant to be cruel and insulting at the beginning, but rather than steering me towards a healthier lifestyle, he just poked and prodded me there by laughing at my weight gain and pointing out my newest range of flaws.
My goal weight is 145 pounds. That’s where I’d like to be … and apparently where I’ll be healthy, according to the NHS’s BMI system. Not that I pay too much attention to that, of course. I’ve got 38E boobs that weigh a whole person each … I doubt the BMI counters take massive tatas into account.
I do love my breasts, but I’m starting to wish they were perkier. I definitely hate my bingo wings too. Those could definitely do with some toning. I’ve got a great double chin which, unfortunately, seems to be a strong family trait. Even the skinniest members of my family have that damn double chin, male and female.
I’ve got love handles. My body shape is definitely hourglass-like, but not apparently the right kind of hourglass to fit in most hourglass clothes. The petite section of shops sometimes can be a help, but not always. My top half is a size 16 but if I wasn’t so busty, I reckon I could fit into a 14. Maybe a 12? Although that might be a stretch.
My bottom half is a 14 because I’m hippy. Sometimes I can fit in a 12, but it really does depend on what store I’m buying from. I can be a size 10 in one store (and over the flipping moon) and a size 18 in the next. Most shopping trips result in changing room tears.
Most guys date me because they’re boob-guys, but I occasionally lure in a butt guy. No one ever really compliments me on my legs even though they’re fairly toned from lots of walking plus drunken dancing in heels; it’s always tits and ass. But my ass has cellulite on it, which I hate, and I really wish it was a bit smaller. Even when I put on weight gain my waist to butt ratio is off. My waist is small and my hips/butt are big, so buying clothes is an absolute fucking nightmare.
I like my calves and hate my upper legs/thighs. When I self-harmed, that’s where I used to do it. The scars have mostly faded to a faint pink colour now, but there are a few pretty deep scars thrown in there and they’re the obvious ones. They’re wide and very scar-like. I remember the skin bursting open like a sausage on the grill as I slid the razor blade across it, but now I’d do anything I could to take those moments back. Seeing those scars are enough to make me stop doing it whenever I feel the need now.
When I look in the mirror, there are three versions of me that stare back.
There’s the one I am right now: I’ve been wearing the same pyjamas I fell asleep in last night, my hair scraped back into a messy bun on the top of my head, my hair dye fading, no makeup on, and red eyes – a mixture of tiredness and the joint I smoked a while back. Throw in some dark under-eye circles because I’ve not been sleeping well.
Then there’s a second version of me: the one that my lovers get to see. The only scruffy hair I have is from a good scrimmage around in the bed, but until that point, I’m poised, perfectly made-up, and with the sassiest lingerie on beneath my clothes that I can find and get away with.
There’s a third version of me, too. That one’s the version that the rest of the world sees. This one doesn’t leave the house without makeup, even just popping down to the shops. Eyeliner and mascara is an everyday must, along with a touch of concealer and a hint of blusher. I can’t survive without those things.
I don’t like ‘outside’ people seeing me without that face on. I call it my ‘war paint’. The rest of the world is no match for me when I’m wearing it, and I can take anyone and anything down in kick-ass, superhero style. But that version of me — the perfectly-coiffed one — is exhausting to maintain. The perma-smile makes my cheeks hurt, and after a while, my eyes are desperate to cry. Sometimes for no reason at all.
I wish I could find a version of me that I’m happy with. One that is a happy, content mixture of all three mirror reflections. One that doesn’t worry about her cellulite, or doesn’t feel as though she’ll look like a whale in a bikini on the beach, or doesn’t worry that people are looking at her scars. I’m not so sure that the happy, content point is possible, though. Even if I were to be happy with one part of my body, I’d still find a reason to hate another.
That’s the way it goes, right?
But how about you? What do YOU see when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with the reflection?