Suddenly carrying another human being around all the time has obviously limited my wardrobe options quite a bit. People keep giving me well meaning advice on retro style maternity wear but fact is I can’t afford it. I am a part time children’s librarian. I have to make do because I can’t spend hundreds of dollars on a temporary wardrobe and buy furniture and clothes for previously mentioned new human being. So please note that I’m not looking for advice on maternity dresses.
I was going to a party last weekend wearing a roomy comfortable and pretty flattering black dress – which I predict will be my uniform the next months for all the above reasons and I saw a couple of women wearing tanktops and leggings. They weren’t particulary fit or the opposite, just pretty average I suppose like myself. A few pounds too much in the wrong places if you ask the magazines – muffin tops, flabby arms, you know. And watching them being extremely comfortable in the heat, playing with their kids it dawned on me. Am I actually brave for wearing what I (usually) do or am I like those lizards who flash a colourful collar to scare predators off and then scamper off into the bushes?
I would never ever wear such form fitting – to me unflattering – clothes in public. I would be so caught up in how people saw me, or how exposed I would feel. I preach wear what makes you comfortable but am I really just hiding behind peacock feathers to avoid people actually seeing me?
That kind of bravery, to just be me, no make up, no novelty prints or jewellery to define who I am, I don’t have that. But I think I need to find it. Because I want my kid to see women as real people – sure I want him to know who I am also defined by my dresses and colourful shoes, because that is also me – but also the real me. No feathers, no fake eyes on my butterfly wings. The me who doesn’t hide my too big butt and thighs in giant skirts because I actually really think I look wrong.
Because that’s the problem. I preach love yourself but I don’t love me. Not really. I suffered from anorexia (untreated) for years (christ, was there anything that girl didn’t suffer from as a teen, I hear you ask? Yeah, I never had OCD…so there’s that) and to be honest I still wish I had the strength to not eat… It’s fucked up, I know that. But truth is most people never really recover from eating disorders. The thoughts and ideals never really leave you.
But I need to stop. I can’t use words as fat and gross about my body anymore for a start. I can’t talk about going on diets and needing to lose weight. Because I am not fat. I know that rationally if not emotionally. And even if I was, that is not a constructive way to talk about yourself. And if I keep saying these things around my kid, even if they don’t affect him directly, he will come to see them as normal. That women needs to be super skinny and miserable if they are not. That a wobbly tummy and thighs are disgusting and needs to be hidden away.
I can talk about being healthy. Being strong. Those are the ideals we should teach our kids. And that being healthy and being skinny aren’t the same. I know plenty of fat people who are much healthier than I am but who are viewed differently because we as a society don’t differentiate between the two. I know super skinny people who are extremely unhealthy but have a high metabolism so no one will ever confront them with being a burden to society because of their life style. Also I won’t use the word overweight because that signifies that there is a ‘normal weight’ – but I don’t believe there is. You can be healthy and fat. You can also be healthy and skinny.
We need to be brave. To accept our bodies for what they are, not for what they could be or what we wish they were. But skinny, fat, in between, we are all ‘real’ people. Real women don’t have curves, they aren’t a certain height or are even necessarily born as women. Real women are you and me. Real women are soccer moms in sweats, models in haute couture, they are cross fitters and couch potatoes. You as a woman define what you are. A mom, a workaholic, a librarian, a teacher, a lorry driver. A sister, a wife, single. Gay, bi, asexual or straight, born with a vagina or not. You are a real woman.