On my body

My body. It’s been with me almost 23 years of my life now, and it’s gone through a fair amount of changes in its time. But it’s only recently that I started realising just how much I am aware of these very same tiny changes that my body goes through day to day, week to week, month to month.

I don’t know if any else goes through this. I would, however, say that women are perhaps more likely to be aware of their bodies, and the changes that they undertake. This is a big generalisation, and I’m basing it on very little other than my understanding of how popular culture influences my own awareness of my body.

However, I’ve come to the realisation recently that my body is never going to look like this:

(As a sidenote, I’m NOT saying that the above model’s body shape is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s definitely the popular ‘ideal’ for a lot of women at the moment – but I’m not here to skinny or fat bash anyone).

Even if I dieted for years of my life, and lived in the gym, I highly doubt I could achieve that with my body. There’s a few reasons for this:

– Genetics. This is the biggest one. When I look at my sister, my mother, my cousins and my aunties, I can see that genetically, none of us are ever going to be super models. We’re average to short in height (I’m 165cm, or 5″4, and the rest of my family is within 5 -10cm  either side of this). Additionally, I have a tummy. I have never, ever, ever been able to shake my tummy. It’s just a funny little bit of fat that I seem to be genetically predisposed of. even at my skinniest, I still have a tummy. I’m slowly learning to accept that my tummy appears to be my life partner, and I’ll never be able to shake it.

– I have breasts. Specifically, I have moderate to large sized breasts. Sure, when I lose weight, a little bit of them disappears – but I’ll never be able to go without a bra.

– I have muscles. After spending years pitching in softball, and lifting weights at the gym, I have an impressive set of biceps. This, in itself, is neither here nor there. But society does seem to have an aversion surrounding women having muscles.

My weight, like many other women’s, can fluctuate. It can go up, and it can go down. And I am hyperaware of when it does so, along with almost everyone around me. I went in to an old workplace of mine a few weeks ago, and ran into a former colleague of mine that I hadn’t seen for a good two years. The first thing she said to me? “You look so skinny! You’ve lost weight!”.

Now, in this time I had also completed my Honours degree, moved house, changed jobs, and had one relationship break up, followed by another new relationship. Obviously, this was not all evident on my face – but I find the need to comment on my weight upon immediately seeing me a bit strange. Sure, maybe after a minute or two of idle chit chat, that one can be slipped into conversation. But for all this colleague knew, I could have been incredibly ill for the last two years – hence the weight loss.

I’m not advocating an extreme amount of political correctness here – but I am drawing attention to the fact that a person’s weight (or change in weight) is amongst the first things society comments on/notices.

This hyperawareness of my own, and of other’s, bodies, is exhausting. The slightest change in my hair colour, my tan, or my weight is inevitably commented upon by others – and mostly, these others are women. The comments are rarely negative – in fact, a lot of them are compliments – but they don’t fail to lessen the idea that everyone is aware of, and observing, changes in my body.

It’s strange.

3 thoughts on “On my body

  1. I am so glad you wrote this post.
    I too have a little “tummy”. Not only is is because as a woman I have my reproductive organs on the inside, as opposed to the outside like men, but also it is genetics that the women in my family tend to be on the shorter side and on the curvy side.
    I do have a set of scales, but it is not the first thing I use every day. In fact it seems other people are the first to notice when I lose or gain weight before me! I never know how to respond to “you’ve lost weight” when it wasn’t intended and I had no prior knowledge of that fact. Do I take it as a compliment, as I am /sure/ it is intended? Do I take it as an insult or a slight jab, in that I needed to lose weight?

    I dislike how weight and fitness is so obsessed over in today’s society. My brother is a “protein junky” with all the supplements, gym memberships and fitness gear that comes associated. I don’t watch any of those Biggest Loser or other reality shows. I do not have any problem or issue with people wanting to be fit and healthy. What I object to, is that people (ie the general public) only focus on the unhealthy side of weight ie the overeating/unhealthy lifestyle choices/etc that I know do exist for some people. What they don’t look at, is the fact that weight can be gained or lost when someone is sick, on certain medications, in certain life circumstances and even with mental illness.

    And don’t get me started on the BMI shit.

    I am glad you are coming to accept your body as it is, not what others want it to be.
    I hope more women (including myself) can too.

  2. I was having similar thoughts recently. My elderly next door neighbour (a nice enough bloke, but he does talk a lot) was talking to my husband and I about some gym equipment he was looking at giving away.

    He said to me, “you need it! He doesn’t, but you do. You’ve gained weight, you have!”.

    I actually wasn’t offended by the mention of my weight – I have gained weight in the past three plus years. But in actual fact, I am healthier and fitter than I was three years ago – not to mention happier, smarter, more confident and a lot more relaxed.

    I love my body now in a way I never could three years ago. I am going to a gym now that I work from home, to make sure that I keep fit and strong, but any weight loss that happens will be a byproduct, not my ultimate goal.

    It’s a really awesome feeling to look at yourself and your life and say “I’m happy”.

  3. Pingback: An ode to my tummy (and the Tough Bloke Challenge) |

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