Just when you think capitalism has exhausted ways to make women feel shit about their bodies, there’s arm shapers. Yes, we are too wrinkly, too saggy, our tits are too small, our hips are to big, our thighs are too cellulite-y, our skin is not tanned enough (if we are white) or not light enough (if we are brown or Asian), our hair is too grey and too frizzy or too lifeless (always one or the other), our scalp has ugly dandruff (even if we can’t see it), our armpits are too hairy and then when we shave them they’re too ugly, our skin is too oily/dry/zitty, our necks are too wattled, our pussies are WAY too bushy, our knees are too rough, we don’t wear enough make-up or we wear too much make-up and look like whores (and NO ONE wants to be mistaken for a whore!), our teeth are too yellow, our bellies are too stretch-marked, our eyebrows are completely the wrong shape, our eyelashes are too short, our crow’s feet are too deep, we are unnatural and overworked when we have surgery to try to “correct” our disobedient bodies, and we are DEFINITELY too fat. Unless we are too skinny.
And now we are supposed to worry about “arm excess”???
Fuck it. I’m done. I’m not devoting a single further nanosecond to worrying about the ways in which my body doesn’t conform to the ideal. No one’s does and no one’s ever will.
I was strutting through one of the more fashionable parts of the city on my way to work the other day. I was feeling pretty cheerful – the sun was making a rare appearance and I was wearing my favourite little red dress, which is probably a little shorter than is generally advised for women with thighs of my size, but I’m pretty fond of my tree-trunk thighs so I don’t care. And then a woman approached me. She approached me very specifically, having not bothered the blokes or the slender women in front of me. And she handed me a little flyer and said, “New formula meal-replacement shakes. You should try them. They’d be good for you.” I’d been trotting along in my own little world not expecting to talk to anyone, so it took me several paces for the coin to drop: she meant weight-loss shakes! Instantly, I wished I’d handed the flyer back to her and said, “Oh, I don’t need these. I love my fat arse!” But that moment had passed. Instead I carefully screwed up the flyer and dropped it into the nearest bin, vaguely hoping that the woman was watching.
I carried on walking past all the dress shops filled with dresses that wouldn’t fit around one of my tree-trunk thighs, waiting for that sad sinking feeling to hit – that “Ohhhh no, a stranger thinks I’m fat” feeling. And then the most amazing thing happened – nothing. I kept strutting my way to work, pretty cheerful because the sun was shining on my thighs, exposed by my little red dress.
I’ve been reading a few fat acceptance blogs lately, many of which are awesome, inspiring, entertaining and bloody good reads.
I can’t personally identify with fat acceptance. I don’t identify as fat. I suspect I probably should. My latest purchases have been of the size 16 to 18 categories and my BMI is… actually, I have no idea, but I feel fairly confident that it wouldn’t put me in the “underweight” category. But looking around at the sum total of humanity, I don’t see myself as being too far beyond the top of the bell curve (and just to clarify – I don’t see any problem with being over the crest of the bell curve. I’m just not there.)
Besides, of all the women I’ve ever met, I am struggling to name a single one who is entirely happy with their body. It’s not just about fat, although it often is, even amongst women who are notably not fat (I once had the displeasure of listening to a professionally successful, tall, witty, smart, slender woman speak for an entire evening about her fat ankles. And you know what? They weren’t the most delicate ankles I’ve ever seen. Would I have noticed had she not spent the night bleating about them? Not a bloody chance.)
For me, it’s not just accepting my wibblier bits. It’s accepting my wild, greying hair, my too-small eyes, my too-big nose, my mix-and-match fingernails, my odd-shaped toes – and, yeah, the societally acceptable things too – my ogle-worthy cleavage, luscious lips, high cheekbones, shapely legs. It’s about loving every bit of me for exactly what it is, regardless of whether it elicits compliments or scorn, and loving the bits that elicit compliments not just because other people approve of them. It’s about accepting this collection of parts as the whole that is me.