I’m at the stage in my life when all my friends seem to be having kids and/or getting married. I’ve been to three weddings in the last month.
Watching these celebrations of relationships, I’ve become aware of my own relationship… with my body. Are we destined for a happy life together? Let’s see… In preparation for these recent weddings, I have:
- stopped eating bread
- drunk Puritee every night for a month in an attempt to trick my metabolism
- eaten meals off a side plate to cut down my portion sizes
- lived off Special K for a week
- Eaten nothing but protein for a four day stretch
Is that nice? I think not. In fact, if my bod was a child, I’d be in trouble for maltreatment. Seeing my dieting attempts in black and white makes me think it’s all a bit, you know, crazy. And why have I bullied my body this way? I think you can guess: so I wouldn’t feel upset when I saw the wedding photos.
When I first heard about one wedding, I was feeling brave and bought a lovely outfit: champagne pleated skirt, red silk t-shirt, knockout gold wedges. I want to look fabulous, I said to myself in an encouraging fashion.
So why did I end up in a floor-length dress and cardigan? Because I couldn’t face catching a glimpse of my upper arms in a mirror. I punished my body for not losing weight, and hid it in fine knits.
I was bridesmaid at another, and bought a very slinky purple number – my derrière got some attention, let me tell you.
Your curves look great in this, I told myself. But even after the Special K and the waist cincher, the day of the wedding found me sobbing about my side view. What’s wrong with this picture…?!
This sounds terribly self-absorbed. Weddings are about other people, after all; I know it ain’t all about me! But there’s something about weddings – including the sheer amount of photographs – that ups the ante. We women put more pressure on our bodies to be thinner or more tanned. Ever burst into tears trying to pick an outfit for a night out? Blamed your body because a dress wouldn’t fit right? Well, chuck in a bride, a groom, and a four-tier cake and that feeling is magnified ten-fold.
As someone who blogs about fashion, I feel I should be positive about my body – show it off and big it up. I just find that really hard. Pearl W was teasing me the other day about the fact I used to leave my head off blog photos:
Baby steps! I’m not saying it’s right to feel this way – it strikes me as really sad – but I know I’m not alone. A lot of us have complex relationships with our bodies, often starving them, depriving them, resenting them and hating them. Would we ever treat someone else like that? I doubt it.
Of course, it doesn’t help that we can’t move for media-proffered diet tips. Even Kate Middleton was rumoured to be on the Dukan Diet in the run-up to her wedding, and not a day goes by without someone somewhere commenting on her weight. (It’s that she’s “too thin”, but the emphasis is still on her size, no? All she’s done is pre-empt criticism that she needed to drop a few pounds.) I see the whole Kate phenomenon as emblematic of what many of us women feel – that eyes are on our bodies, judging. And that losing weight for a wedding should a given, whatever it takes.
I wanted this to be a chipper post, I really did, but it’s been on my mind lately and I’d love your feedback. Last night, Claire tweeted something in response to a convo about weight loss that gave me a slap round the face:
She’s dead right, as I’m sure you know: forcing your body to change isn’t always the answer – accepting yourself should be.
Christopher Hitchens said, “We don’t have bodies; we are bodies”, and I can’t help thinking that sentence holds the key to it all: if I started thinking of my body as my self, rather than something that I own, I might be a little kinder and more forgiving – impending nuptials or no.
So, where does that leave me? Weddings are lovely, of course, but to quote Samantha Jones:
“I’ve been in a relationship with myself for…years and that’s the one I need to work on”.
After all, we’re together now, for better or for worse…
What kind of relationship do you have with your body?
What tips have you got for those who need to work on it?
This post is one of a series of monthly posts by the Feminist Fashion Bloggers.
Read the rest of the ‘Dating and Relationships’ roundup here.
Join the discussion in the Google group here.