Tag Archives: Weight Loss

A Series of Lamentations: Body Confidence

In a society obsessed and unable to take the attention and (male) gaze away from women’s appearance, whether it be their body shape, clothes, hair styles, make up, legs, arms, body hair, fingernails, cuticles, pores, inner thighs, vaginas, phantom limbs… you name it, we’ve been scrutinised on it, so I thought this episode of A Series of Lamentations (said dramatically like I’m narrating Days of Our Lives) should cover the topic of body confidence. It’s something I’ve never written about, but write about sexual confidence freely and confidently. For me, the two are synonymous, but for so many women, the idea of being sexy is nonsensical; you can only be sexy if you look like the girls in the lad’s mags, right? Wrong… So very, very wrong, ladies!

As soon as I was catapulted out of the warm embrace of childhood and puberty rolled in like a thick, black cloud, catapulting my idea of self into a state of perpetual doubt, my beanpole limbs suddenly bending and stretching, pimples exploding onto my face like a surprise hailstorm in summer, I would cry and for years, enormous, fat tears would roll down my cheeks and sobs would escape my mouth as I looked on in horror at my naked self in front of a mirror. In spite of being born gloriously tall, I had a perpetual hunch in my shoulders, forced as a result of trying valiantly to appear small, petite and perfect like all of my friends were. I would take one of my long, bony (elegant, maybe?) fingers and prod at the almost non-existent pot belly that I had and wail that I was enormous, cursing my hips and size fourteen jeans that hung off my hips and perpetually retreated down my legs, as though wanting to rest around my ankles, a non-existent arse unable to keep them upright. My breasts, a reasonable D cup from the moment I hit puberty and further growing to the exponentially larger cupsize they are today, were far too small, too strange, too saggy and unappealing. I didn’t look like the girls in the films, or the magazines or the music videos; I wasn’t, as my mother described perfect and she was a proven god damn liar, if only she knew what I saw when I looked in that mirror…

As I got older, my metabolism abandoned me and all those nights I would order takeaways or eat convenient packets of party size crisps, huddled over a laptop writing essays, my body shape changed; it became softer, more round, my hip bones lost their definition altogether, replaced by rolls of extra skin that stretched violently, erupting in marks that highlighted my new body shape with sickening candour; my dress size soared through the roof and I looked at my jeans mournfully, longing to be able to get those size fourteen skinnies beyond my fat knees. Elasticated waistlines and baggy, loose fitting dresses became my staples. Jeggings were my saviour. When I went out, I wore black, thick tights, multiple pairs of spanx, anything that would slim me and make me look like the other girls in their crop tops, bare arms flung in the air, moving to the sound of the music; mine, shoved inside a cardigan, sleeves pulled over my sleeves, shuffling from side to side, hating them, hating me.

I fought with my body for so long, I became resolute that I was too fat, too unattractive, too boring to be anything other than the person that I was; I hated myself and it was a recurrent, constant theme in my life. I struggled with my body confidence until this year, twenty five years into my life. But it took me a while. When I first became single, my dad, bless him would say things like ‘lose a few stone, get your high heels on and go down to the rugby club and bag yourself someone who can throw you round the bedroom, even if you’re still a bit heavy!’ thinking that I would laugh and agree, which of course I did, he meant well and thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world even with an extra three stone strapped to my body, but it didn’t make me feel great. I didn’t want to be the person who people would look at for her body and then decide whether or not to have sex with me; I wanted someone to engage with me on an intellectual level, someone who would drink wine with me and stay up until the early hours of the morning talking about a stupid piece of music we both obsess over. I wanted someone to wrap their arms around my stomach and not be revolted that I don’t feel like a model, or someone who goes to the gym. I didn’t want to be someone who relied on their appearance to feel beautiful, I wanted to feel beautiful inside and out and be with someone who agreed.

I don’t feel too self conscious anymore; I have my moments and I sometimes ask my boyfriend to close his eyes if I’m leaving the room naked or with my stomach on display. For months I didn’t let his hands wander anywhere near my stomach and now his hands will wander and touch the ridges of my stretch marks; nonplussed that i was once a significantly larger human. I guess it’s a bit ass-backwards to say that Brain gave me body confidence, because he didn’t. I think it was the moment that I realised he liked me and I wasn’t a stick thin model I thought hmm, so to be attractive, I don’t have to be wearing matching underwear or look like an on-screen siren? I can just look like me? Okay… and I guess he helped, but to me that isn’t really the problem; if you have someone who helps you feel body confident that’s so great. But what about if you don’t?

When you’re single and reading articles on how to be great in bed or how to dress to impress, there’s the overwhelming, choking feeling of expectation and I think that’s what prompts so many fits of self-doubt and loathing within female society and if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I feel so unconfident in my appearance!’ then nothing I say will make you feel any better, it’s one of those things that creeps up on you like old age, or ill-fitting underwear; it’ll happen one day and you’ll just feel and act differently to the way you did before. When I realised that I was funny, smart and that my words had prompted someone to fall in love with me, I realised that no one actually gave a fuck about my stomach or the fact that I have a severe aversion to running or sit ups but me. I stopped caring what other people thought of me and started focusing on what I like about me. So what do I like about me? I like everything. I like my hair, I like my overly large eyes, I like my teeth that look like pegs and my nose that is slightly upturned at the bottom so that it looks like, as my dad lovingly describes, a ski jump. I like my sticky out ears and my hair that has no style other than the fact that I own it and no one else does. I like my breasts and my legs and my flat, long feet. I like everything about me and that’s something I never thought I’d feel. I stopped giving a shit about what society deemed sexually attractive or acceptable and I just embraced myself for being exactly who I am.

Now, thinking back to how unconfident I was, I feel sad that I spent so many years restricting myself and not doing things out of fear of being the fat one, that people would realise that I was fat… as though people didn’t already know… I wish I’d gone with my friends to Greece and finished my application for Camp America and went to New York to study when given the opportunity, but didn’t because I thought my appearance wouldn’t win me any friends. I regret that, I’m sorry about that and I lament it, as expected.

moi

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Obesity, Calories and Your Second Bottle of Wine…

One of the news reports this morning was that health officials within the European Union believe that by putting calorie contents on alcohol, as well as food, countries like ours will be able to tackle the persistent obesity epidemic that is the true scourge on our country; more so than fire fighters striking for four days over pension feuds, more important than tackling gender inequality, more important than attempting to stop the spread of Ebola and way more important than finding the thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants that have been lost by our government officials (how do you fucking lose people?). Instead, tackling fat people, who are, after all, the true evil lurking in our shadows, is the top priority and the most important and effective way is, of course, putting just how many calories are in our weekend tipples and this  is of upmost important to our government.

It continues to astound me that our government can still get away with releasing these ridiculous statements and genuinely and successfully manage to dupe countless people into concentrating on ridiculous things like their weight or appearance instead of focusing on the real issues at hand: That we still have countless people who are living below the breadline and even if they are in full time employment, they have to visit food and clothes banks along with the huge percentage of unemployed people to feed/clothe their starving families. That the unemployed are being blamed for the debt our country is in, but that we still dish out billions in charity to countries who are supposed to be worse off than ours, instead of taking that money and injecting it into re-establishing our crippled economy and society. No, the real issue at hand is how fat people are, how we can ignore starving people, because so many people are obese how can they possibly be hungry? People will lap this up and agree with the government, taking their frustrations out on the fat people, ‘Yes it is their entire fault, if they weren’t EATING ALL OF OUR FOOD, maybe i wouldn’t be eating Tesco value tinned tomatoes, THE BASTARDS!’ whilst the government rub their hands together and go back to pretending to run the country by sniffing the arse of the European Union, desperate for attention.

Calorie content labels don’t work:kobeburger

Unless you have made the active decision to lose weight by following a calorie controlled diet, you don’t really look at the calorie labels on food at all, do you? Unless you’re like me and are shovelling biscuit after biscuit into your mouth before thinking fuck… how many calories are in these biscuits? And then breathe a sigh of relief when you look at them and think no, four biscuits simply CANNOT equate to 250g, which is 400 calories. I think I might have had 50 calories, but even if it’s not, all I have to do is do a bit of a run and be really careful for the rest of the day and 400 calories is fuck all! So, ladies and gentleman, even when I’m reading the calorie contents of food, I don’t really care; if I want a biscuit, or four, I will eat them regardless of how many calories are in them, because I want to eat some biscuits. And that’s the same for pretty much everyone I know too. If I am being gluttonous, that is a decision I actively make, then I also make the active decision to counter-act that by eating healthy and trying to be more active later in the day.

It’s a common misconception that obese people actively choose to be obese; that they woke up one day and decided that they wanted to be fat – they don’t. Like a drinking addiction, a drug addiction, a sex addiction or a gaming addiction, to name but a few, a food addiction is exactly the same thing. For the majority of obese people, food is an addiction which could have stemmed from so many issues, including mental health issues. Obesity is not an active decision a skinny person makes one day, it’s not something that is as easy as choosing what to wear or deciding where to go over the weekend, and it’s something that you simply cannot control. No one wants to be obese, no one makes the active decision that they’re going to get so fat that they can’t have sex or go swimming or play with their kids… It’s an addiction. So when health officials release statements to try and tackle obesity, they are doing nothing at all, but further demonising the obese.

The simple fact is that putting calorie contents on food and drink is wholly ineffective to obese people. Health officials, by putting contents on packaging, have been able to wipe their hands clean of any responsibility and can actively not assist people in rehabilitating themselves if they choose to lose weight. If you are obese, it’s not as easy as going on a slim fast diet or sticking to 1500 calories or below per day, because it’s not a healthy way to come to terms with a food addiction. If it’s mental, then simply cutting down isn’t going to work – it requires attention, it requires assistance from professionals who can help people come to terms with their addiction and reassess their relationship with food. I’m probably a few stone heavier than I should be, which is something I’m relatively fine with, I lose weight slowly and do it by eating healthily and exercising – I don’t count calories and I don’t avoid certain foods in order to crash and get to my goal weight quicker because that does nothing for me, but I don’t need to actively assess my relationship with food and have my entire life overhauled in order to do so and that is where the government should begin in helping people with food addictions; it’s not as simple as letting people know what is in their food, it’s about supporting people in changing their bodies, their minds and their lives.

wine

Therefore, putting calorie contents onto alcohol is more counter-productive than it is useful. People who choose to drink alcohol are not doing so for the nutritional benefits; they are doing it because they want a glass of wine, or beer or cocktail. They either want one drink or the want to get shit faced – people know alcohol isn’t good for them, but drink it any way. Putting calories on the labels will do nothing to deter people who want to drink, just as putting calorie contents on a burger won’t stop us from eating it any way… alcoholics are not suddenly going to look at their bottle of whatever and think holy fuck, I should probably reassess my addictions or I am going to get SO fat! Just as much as someone with an eating addiction isn’t going to think, well… I’ve already eaten all those cakes today, best lay off the wine this evening… it just doesn’t work and trying to dupe us into thinking knowledge of calories is going to spur us into some kind of weight loss frenzy is short sighted and foolish.

Until the government acknowledges obese people are suffering from a food addiction, then we aren’t going to be able to ‘tackle’ obesity in a productive, healthy and supportive manner. That being said, weight loss is entirely subjective and if there is someone who is happy with their food addiction and content with the calories they consume in a day, there is nothing wrong with that. They are not a scourge on society and trying to vilify the obese by saying they are a strain on the NHS is almost as useful as the calorie labels on a box of beer; if obesity is a strain on our NHS, then we should be reassessing the manner in which we attempt to assist people who are obese. Simply telling people they need to lose weight is irresponsible and doesn’t help; proactive solutions that are supported by nutritionists and personal trainers would be far more successful in the long run, but sticking a few numbers on food/drink packaging is the more realistic and favoured approach because it’s cheaper for the government to do so. The real strain on the NHS is the fact that people need help and the government won’t help them, because it’s considered an unnecessary expense.

Maybe remember that the next time you think twice about your second bottle of wine: the labels are only there, so the government doesn’t have to support you if/when you really need it. Bottoms up!

win2

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